International Meetings to Discuss Peace Process

The Mideast Quartet—consisting of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia—is set to meet on Sunday to discuss the Israel-Palestinian peace process. The meeting comes just two weeks ahead of a quasi-deadline called for last month by the Quartet for the sides to resume talks. Then on Monday the EU Foreign Affairs Council is set to discuss the peace process as well.

The international discussions come as peace negotiations remain suspended. The Israelis accepted the Quartet call for talks to resume with some concerns they intend to air at “the appropriate time,” while the Palestinians have shown some support while also sticking to preconditions before returning to the table.

US spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters on Tuesday the Quartet envoys were set for a meeting in Europe on Sunday, according to a transcript of her comments distributed by the State Department. When asked by a reporter what regarding the Palestinian matter would be discussed, Nuland said, “I would expect that they’ll discuss the full range of issues in front of them.”

Europe is also the site for Monday’s Middle East-focused meeting for the EU Foreign Affairs Council. The meeting will cover the situations in Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as the Israel-Palestinian situation. Iran and Belarus are also set to come up. According to a schedule released by the EU press office, the Council “may adopt conclusions on some of these subjects.”

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, which she said included preparations for the upcoming Quartet meeting. According to a press release, Ashton said she and Abbas had “a long, open and frank discussion to update one another on developments” since their last conversation in New York during the UN General Assembly week in September.

Despite the stalemate in peace talks, Ashton remains focused on trying to get the negotiations restarted. “My objective, in line with the Quartet statement, is clear: to do everything possible to find a way to bring the parties back to the negotiating table and reach the permanent solution that will meet the aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis,” said Ashton.

“Only negotiations can bring a lasting resolution to the conflict.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 6, 2011)