09/24/2007, 00.00
MIDDLE EAST - UN
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Quartet backing for November peace conference

According to Condoleezza Rice the solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is closer. Syria and Saudi Arabia have also been invited to the conference promised by Bush.

New York (AsiaNews) – UN, United States, Europe and Russia are ready to give their full backing to the the Middle East peace Conference due to be held this November.  These were the comments of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the end of talks with representatives of the so-called “Quartet”, presided over by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Rice confirmed that there is an opportunity to move toward settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that "we should not miss”.

Members of the Arab League have also been invited to the peace conference promoted by President Bush.  They include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. Only two, Egypt and Jordan, have peace deals with Israel and some, notably Syria and Saudi Arabia, remain technically at war with the Jewish state.

Either way the Arab League has long sought a regional peace conference, offering Israel diplomatic relations with all Arab states in exchange for a solution of a Palestinian state.

Rice said it would be "natural" for Syria, Saudi Arabia and 10 other Arab League members to participate, however, she added, under certain conditions: “We hope that those who come are really committed to helping the Israelis and the Palestinians find a way through. And that means renouncing violence; it means working for a peaceful solution”.

Just last week Rice was in the Middle East and plans to return to the region soon to continue the planning for the meeting.  Her visit coincided with Israel's decision to declare the Gaza Strip, which the radical Hamas movement seized in June, as "hostile territory." That designation dealt a potential blow to efforts to bolster moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who now runs only the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israel on Sunday approved the release of 90 Palestinian prisoners in a goodwill gesture to Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

 

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