Quartet: a Palestinian state "within two years"
Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) – A freeze all Israeli settlements and revival of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in order to arrive "within 24 months" at an "independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security with Israel and other neighbours”. This was the call today by the Mideast Quartet (UN, United States, Russia and the EU) at the end of a meeting.
The meeting in Moscow was held at the highest level: it was attended by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – who read the final declaration - the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
"The Quartet - the statement continues - reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Arabs and the creation of a peaceful Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is the fundamental interests of the parties of all states in the region and the international community."
The quartet finally condemned the Israeli government's decision to allow the construction of 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem and "urges the Government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity" and "refrain from demolitions and evictions”.
The position taken by the Quartet comes at a time when the United States and Israel appear committed to overcoming the sudden cooling of their relationship created by the announcement of new settlements in East Jerusalem, during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden that was intended to launch "proximity talks" between Israelis and Palestinians and thus to promote the mission of the Middle East envoy George Mitchell.
In fact on the eve of the meeting in Moscow there was a telephone conversation between Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In this regard, the spokesman for the premier, Nir Hefetz, merely said that Netanyahu has proposed a number of "steps to build mutual trust."