The Middle East Quartet published on Friday a new timetable for re-launching negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
According to Reuters, the Quartet, which comprises the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia, said in a statement it would like to see comprehensive proposals within three months on issues of territory and security, and substantial progress within six months.
Israel’s Channel 10 News added that the Quartet’s timetable calls for a first meeting between Israeli and PA representatives to take place within four weeks. According to the report, during this meeting the two sides will express their commitment to a timetable which will see a peace agreement reached by the end of 2012.
The Quartet’s statement says that following the six-month progress period, the Quartet will hold an international conference in Moscow in which it will conduct consultations with both parties.
A donors’ conference is also being planned, Channel 10 said, in which world countries will express their support for a Palestinian state led by the current Fatah Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad.
The Quartet’s representatives called Israel and the PA to refrain from what they termed “provocative actions” in order to ensure the effectiveness of the negotiation process. The Quartet members stressed that they intend to remain actively committed to the process and hold meetings with the parties on a regular basis.
The statement also notes that the Quartet recognizes the PA’s achievements in preparing its state institutions and promises that the Quartet members will review the steps they can take to be actively involved in the PA’s state institutions.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later said that the Quartet proposal was a concrete one and urged the sides to seize the opportunity to negotiate.
“The United States is very pleased that the Quartet was able to issue a statement today with a concrete and detailed proposal to begin a negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians without delay or pre-condition,” Clinton was quoted by Reuters as having told reporters.
“The Quartet proposal represents the firm conviction of the international community that a just and lasting peace can only come through communications between the parties,” she added.
Channel 10 reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office has not yet responded to the Quartet statement. Netanyahu’s spokesman, Roni Sofer, told Channel 10 that Netanyahu’s office is studying the contents of the statement.
The Quartet’s statement came following the speech given by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas which officially launched the PA’s unilateral statehood bid to the UN.
Abbas used the speech to attack Israel and blame it for “occupying Palestinian territories” for 63 years, that is, from the 1948 founding of the Jewish state, not The 1967 Six Day War. Netanyahu later gave a speech of his own, in which he publicly extended his hand for peace and urged Abbas to return to the negotiations table.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)