Palestinians urge Quartet to back peace plan

The Palestinians are determined to become an independent state by September.

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2011, 09:40 AM IST

New York: The Palestinians on Thursday urged the United States and other Mideast mediators to demonstrate "bold leadership" and endorse the outlines of a peace agreement proposed by European nations to revive stalled negotiations with Israel.

Riyad Mansour, the top Palestinian diplomat at the UN, reaffirmed to the UN Security Council that the Palestinians are determined to end Israel`s occupation and become an independent state by the September target set by the mediators and endorsed by President Barack Obama.

He expressed regret at "the loss of momentum" toward achieving a peace settlement, including the repeated postponement of meetings of the Quartet mediators — the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia.

A Quartet meeting tentatively scheduled for April 15 to discuss the outlines of the peace settlement proposed by Britain, France and Germany was canceled because the US didn`t think it would produce anything that would help restart direct talks.

UN political chief B Lynn Pascoe told the council "the Quartet remains committed to convening such a meeting as soon as possible”.

Mansour said "a clear endorsement" of the European proposal by the Quartet would "seriously contribute to revival of the political process on a credible basis”.

The plan calls for an immediate halt to settlement activity by the Israelis, a solution to the question of Palestinian refugees, and agreement on the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both countries and on borders before the 1967 Mideast war, with approved land swaps.

It also calls for security arrangements that respect Palestinian sovereignty and protect Israel, and prevent a resurgence of terrorism.

Obama announced in September 2010, as US-brokered direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed, that a peace treaty should be signed in a year, but those talks collapsed weeks later after Israel ended its freeze on building settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians.

The Palestinians insist they will not resume peace talks until Israel stops building settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — lands it captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel maintains that the Palestinians should not be setting "conditions" ahead of negotiations and that settlement building didn`t stop them negotiating in the past.

US Ambassador Susan Rice said the United States continues to consult with the Israelis and Palestinians "as well as to work with the Quartet and our partners in the region, toward our shared goal of a two-state solution”.

She reiterated US opposition to Israeli settlement building but stressed that negotiations between the two parties are "the only path to a solution that resolves all issues”.

Israel`s UN Ambassador Meron Reuben repeated Israel`s call for the Palestinians to rejoin direct talks "without delay”, but made no mention of settlements or the Quartet.

"Israel`s commitment to recognise a future Palestinian state must be met with an equal acknowledgment that Israel is the Jewish state for the Jewish people," Meron said. "The Palestinian leadership must be unambiguous in its recognition of my nation`s right to exist and take real steps to prepare its population to live side-by-side with Israelis."

The Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, has recognised Israel, but the rival Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, has refused any recognition.

Mansour told the Security Council that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to go to Gaza as soon as possible to promote reconciliation and unity "with the aim of ending this division and dark chapter in our history”.

Bureau Report