Mideast Quartet to meet in latest bid to renew peace talks

Germany hopes talks will prove ‘urgent’ impulse to renew negotiations between Israel and Palestinians; Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon to be among conference attendees.

The Mideast Quartet – consisting of the United Nations, European Union, the United States and Russia – are set to meet next month in an urgent bid to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the German government announced on Friday.

Quartet members, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are to discuss the situation in the Middle East, at the Munich Security Conference on February 4-6.

Germany hopes the talks will provide an “urgently required impulse” for Middle East peace negotiations, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Washington succeeded in relaunching direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians in early September, only to see the negotiations grind to a halt three weeks later when Israel’s partial moratorium on building in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank expired.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to return to talks until Israel freezes construction on the land it captured in a 1967 war.

Other conference participants will include European Council President Herman van Rompuy, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, British Premier David Cameron and NATO’s top commander in Europe, Admiral James Stavridis.

At the end of her visit to the region last week, the EU’s Ashton called on the Quartet to “meet as soon as possible to help find a solution to the current impasse,” adding that the Security Conference would be a good opportunity for the meeting.

Abbas “demanded” that the Quartet draft a new peace plan several weeks ago, saying that it must be based on UN Security Council resolutions that call for establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Abbas said the international community needs to formulate a peace plan that is consistent with international resolutions instead of continuing in a process that is managing the conflict but not solving it.

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