Tuesday, April 12, 2011

US blocks European Mideast peace bid

UNITED NATIONS — The United States blocked a European bid to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace process at an international meeting this week, diplomats said Tuesday.
Washington would not agree to the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East holding a meeting in Berlin on Friday, diplomats said. Top officials from the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations had already had one meeting in March pushed back.
Britain, France and Germany had wanted to use the Quartet meeting to propose the outline of a final settlement to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
They have been pressing for a Quartet statement, setting out the framework for a deal such as borders and a land swap, which they hoped would revive direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Highlighting the trio's disappointment, a European diplomat said: "We think it would have been high time for the Quartet to have a strong political message out there, so we regret this meeting will not take place."
"There is increasing frustration on the Palestinian side," said a diplomat from another European Union nation. Both diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told AFP the three European nations "have been working at the highest level for the acceptance of these parameters to pave the way for the resumption of direct talks. It appears that Washington is not yet ready to accept this outline."
"It is very unfortunate," he added.
"We all know that if one wants to advance peace in the Middle East you don't put the Palestinian question on the backburner, you put it on the front burner. There has to be a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians."

Mansour said that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will go to France to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy early next week.
The United States set a target date of September this year for an accord on setting up an independent Palestinian state.
Direct Israel-Palestinian talks ended in late September when Israel refused to extend a moratorium on settlement building in the occupied territories. Israel has insisted that all issues, including the settlements, should be hammered out in direct talks.
The United States vetoed an Arab resolution put to the UN Security Council in February that would have condemned the Israeli settlements.
Germany, France and Britain expressed concern after that vote about the Middle East deadlock. On a trip to Israel last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make progress in the peace process

Source:  AFP

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