Quartet to Resume Efforts to Renew Peace Talks
The “Quartet” of Middle East peace mediators announced on Wednesday it had decided to give new impetus to trying to get Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume peace talks, this time with the help of key Arab states, Reuters reported.
“We have decided to work together … on concrete steps on the ground in the absence of the peace process in the Middle East and have decided to reutilize the Quartet’s activities,” the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after a Quartet meeting at the United Nations.
“This crisis that has been there for decades, out of all the crises in front of us, is the one that is still possible to solve,” she added, according to Reuters.
The Quartet, made up of the United States, United Nations, the European Union and Russia, was set up in Madrid in 2002 as part of efforts to find a comprehensive settlement to the conflict between Israel and the PA.
In 2011 the group suggested a timetable which it said would bring forth a peace agreement by the end of 2012, one of several initiatives proposed by the Quartet which have failed.
The group has been mostly silent over the past year as it let U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry try to broker a deal between the sides. Kerry’s efforts ultimately failed when the PA torpedoed talks by requesting to join 15 international agencies in breach of the conditions of the negotiations.
Rather than formally expanding the Quartet’s membership, the group’s latest idea is to have more frequent top-level consultations with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the Arab League to ensure the region is better engaged at a time of tumultuous change.
The Quartet also said in a statement it would “hear” other stakeholders.
“The Quartet underscored that the status quo is not sustainable and stressed the importance of both sides’ demonstrating, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to a two-state solution in order to rebuild trust and avoid a cycle of escalation,” the statement said, according to Reuters.
The Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, but he stepped down from his role in May.
The Quartet’s announcement follows repeated calls by France for the creation of an international “contact group” that would consist of UN Security Council members, Arab states and the EU with a view to reviving the peace process.
It had wanted to push for a U.N. Security Council resolution setting the parameters and calendar for talks, but has abandoned that idea with little prospect of a consensus.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he welcomed “the enlargement” of the Quartet, according to Reuters.