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Quartet Warns Violence, Settlements Undermine Mideast Peace

by Margaret Besheer June 30, 2016

Violence, terrorism, Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and the situation in the Gaza Strip are severely undermining the prospect of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the Middle East Quartet is warning in a new report.

The Quartet is the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. Its report was expected to be published Wednesday, but has been delayed until Friday.

The report focuses on the major threats to achieving a negotiated peace and offers recommendations on the way forward, the U.N. Special Coordinator for the peace process Nickolay Mladenov told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

"These negative trends can and must be urgently reversed in order to advance the two-state solution on the ground," Mladenov said.

On June 3, French President François Hollande hosted a meeting of Arab and Western diplomats to lay the groundwork for an international conference on the issue before the end of this year.

"The French initiative launched in Paris on June 3rd and the Quartet report mutually reinforce each other and have a common goal – to put the peace process back on track," France's U.N. envoy François Delattre told reporters.

"We will shortly engage in setting up working groups to create a package of incentives," he continued. "We will also closely study all recommendations by the Quartet in order for all efforts to converge."

The Palestinians have welcomed the French initiative, but Israel has been cool to the idea, saying it sees no benefit in an international conference. But diplomats say something must be done to break the impasse between the Israelis and Palestinians or risk the demise of a two-state solution.

Mladenov noted that the "underlying message from Paris was clear, we must act decisively now or continue dealing with the damaging repercussions for years to come."

Those consequences include the on-going violence between the two sides, highlighted by the stabbing death Wednesday of a 13-year-old Israeli girl on a settlement in the West Bank by a 19-year-old Palestinian youth. He was shot and killed by security forces.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the region earlier this week. He told both sides that a solution cannot be imposed from outside, but "must be based on direct negotiations on the final status issues."

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