Quartet initiative failed, says French foreign minister

AFP , Saturday 1 Oct 2011

Alain Juppe has urged the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to reach a final deal before the end of 2012

France's foreign minister, Alain Juppe, said Saturday that an initiative of the International Quartet on Israeli-Palestinian peace had failed and that direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should resume.

"The initiative of the Quartet" (the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia), which announced a bid Friday to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, "did not succeed," Juppe said at a press conference with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini.

"We think that the status quo is dangerous for everybody and that it is necessary to return to the negotiating table," he said.

Frattini, for his part, said the European Union should "continue to push the two parties to urgently restart negotiations".

The Quartet's proposal calls for talks to begin within a month, for both sides to produce concrete ideas on security and borders within three months, and for a final deal to be reached before the end of 2012.

It came shortly after the Palestinians submitted their bid to join the United Nations as a member state.

Frattini said a failure of the UN bid could cause "a fracture between the West and the Arab world ... or even worse, may provoke a division within the European Union."

"To avoid all this, we must remain united and work for the resumption of negotiations," he said.

Both ministers criticised the green light given by Israel Thursday for the construction of 1,100 new homes in Gilo in annexed East Jerusalem, which Frattini said "does not assist the peace process".

Juppe said the decision "gives the Palestinians a pretext or reason to refuse to return to the negotiating table".

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