An official on behalf of the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators said on Wednesday that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed to make proposals on issues of territory and security within three months.
The announcement came following separate meetings between a Quartet delegation, headed by Middle East envoy Tony Blair, and PA and Israeli officials.
A UN official was quoted as having told Reuters on behalf of the Quartet, “The parties agreed with the Quartet to come forward with comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months in the context of our shared commitment to the objective of direct negotiations leading toward an agreement by the end of 2012.”
The Quartet envoys also called on the parties to “resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions” and said they would meet the parties regularly over the next 90 days.
The Quartet – which comprises the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia – is pushing a timetable for talks it presented last month.
The timetable calls for comprehensive proposals within three months on issues of territory and security, and substantial progress within six months. A peace agreement would be reached by the end of 2012.
Israel has already accepted the Quartet’s plan, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office reiterated on Wednesday that Israel was interested in restarting direct talks without preconditions.
The PA, however, is still adamant on presenting preconditions for direct negotiations. Reuters reported that the PA’s negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said after the meeting with the Quartet officials, that the entity is “prepared to sit at the negotiating table as soon as the Israeli government freezes all settlement construction and accepts clear terms of reference, specifically the 1967 borders [1949 armistice lines –ed.].”