Jerusalem — International mediators failed to reach a breakthrough in efforts to achieve a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as the two sides yesterday reiterated the long-held positions that caused talks to break down over a year ago.
The envoys from the Middle East Quartet, comprised of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, met the officials separately in Jerusalem.
A Quartet statement said simply that the envoys “continued to encourage the parties to resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions” and “called upon the parties to create a conducive environment for restarting talks and urged the parties to refrain from provocative actions.”
Efforts to revive direct talks have so far failed, as the Palestinians say Israel must first freeze settlement construction, and Israel insists on talks without preconditions.
Emerging from the a parley with former British Premier Tony Blair and other Quartet officials, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could not come about so long as Israel continues building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Palestinians would be ready to negotiate, but only once Israel freezes its constructions in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and accepts the lines that existed before the 1967 Middle East war as a clear term of reference to the talks.
Also yesterday, Israel’s inner cabinet did not change a decision from two weeks ago, to freeze the transfer to the Palestinian Authority of tax revenues collected on its behalf.
The decision to freeze the money — revenues Israel collects on behalf of the
Palestinian Authority on goods passing through its ports heading towards the West Bank or Gaza Strip markets in response to the Palestinians’ successful bid to become a member-state of Unesco. — dpa