Izrael accepts Quartet peace plan, urges Palestinians to follow suit

Netanyahu and eight key cabinet ministers welcome Mideast Quartet’s call for fresh talks, but express concern over timetable for discussions of core issues.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his eight senior cabinet ministers decided Sunday to support the Middle East Quartet’s plan for renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within a month without preconditions.

„Israel welcomes the Quartet’s call for direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions,” Netanyahu’s bureau said in a statement.

The statement added that Israel has a few concerns about the Quartet’s plan which it will bring up during the negotiations.

„Israel calls on the Palestinian Authority to do the same and to enter into direct negotiations without delay,” the statement said.

Diplomatic sources noted that Israel’s concerns are rooted in two major subjects – one being the timetable which allocates only three months for negotiations on border and security issues, and the other that the issues of Palestinian refugees and the recognition of a Jewish state are scheduled for a later stage in the negotiations.

Sunday’s discussion was the second time Israel’s cabinet met on the subject. Last Tuesday, Israeli ministers discussed the Quartet’s proposal for more than five hours but eventually failed to reach a consensus.

The plan, presented two weeks ago at UN Headquarters in New York by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, calls for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to renew direct talks within a month, to present proposals on borders and security within three months, and to reach a final agreement by the end of 2012.

Israeli government officials said they believed PA President Mahmoud Abbas will prefer to see his statehood bid through in the UN rather than renewing dialogue with Israel.