Quartet: 'Settlements' are an obstacle to peace

Middle East Quartet yet again blasts Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Quartet members meet in New York
Quartet members meet in New York

The diplomatic Quartet, which pilots the efforts to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), on Friday blasted Israeli “settlements” and claimed that they are an obstacle towards peace.

The Quartet is made up of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

"The Quartet emphasized its strong opposition to ongoing settlement activity, which is an obstacle to peace, and expressed its grave concern that the acceleration of settlement construction and expansion ... (is) steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution," the group said in a statement after meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, according to the Reuters news agency.

The Quartet released a report in July in which it called on Israel to halt its construction in Judea and Samaria, but also called on the PA to stop inciting to violence and terrorism.

The Quartet in recent years has been on the sidelines, allowing the U.S. to spearhead efforts to broker a deal. Those efforts failed in 2014 when the PA unilaterally applied to join international organizations in breach of the conditions of the talks.

Recently, France and Egypt have tried to revive the talks, with France seeking to hold an international peace conference, while Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has publicly called on the sides to resume stalled talks.

On Friday, the Quartet heard from France and Egypt about their efforts to resume peace talks. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that while the path to peace was narrowing, it still existed.

"It's true that listening to [PA chairman Mahmoud] Abbas and [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu's speeches at the UN, you can't say their views are converging ... but we can't accept the fait accompli. That would lead to despair and violence," he said, according to Reuters.

Israel has rejected the argument that the communities in Judea and Samaria are the obstacle to peace, a claim made by U.S. President Barack Obama during his meeting with Netanyahu in New York this week.

In Obama's speech before the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, the President said that the Palestinians should certainly end incitement to terror and recognize Israel, but also said that "Israel must understand it can't permanently continue to build on Palestinian land."

Netanyahu, in his UN speech, noted that Abbas has continuously refused to meet Netanyahu for peace talks, and stressed yet again that he is willing to meet the PA chairman at any time.

(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.)