Barak Ravid
November 9, 2008 - 8:00pm

Israel and the Palestinian Authority presented the Quartet for Mideast peace with several agreements on Sunday on the way negotiations will proceed next year on the conflict's core issues.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who updated the Quartet at Sharm el-Sheikh with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said she was convinced she has not repeated the mistakes of Camp David in 2000.

She said although no deal was reached this year, both sides are determined to continue talks.

Livni and Abbas stressed "the need for continuous, uninterrupted, direct bilateral negotiations."

They asked the international community to support the parties' efforts in the framework of the Annapolis process, the Quartet said in a statement read by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. "The Quartet emphasized the importance of continuity of the peace process," Ban said.

Livni also called on the Quartet - comprised of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia - to let Israel and the Palestinians handle matters on their own. Both parties realize they're on the same side and that the Israelis and Palestinians know best which steps are appropriate and when to implement them, Livni said.

Livni decided several months ago that it would be impossible to reach a detailed agreement with the Palestinians this year because neither side was ready and major gaps remain on the core issues.

She also thinks the alternative - a partial agreement or agreement in principle - is worse because it will not actually end the conflict. That's why she opposed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's proposal to Abbas, which included a resolution of the border issue and a partial solution of the refugee issue. The question of Jerusalem was deferred.

Livni was concerned that if Israel and the Palestinians did not reach an agreement, the Annapolis process would fail and talks would come to a standstill, which would put pressure on Israel or spark violent clashes. She was haunted by the results of the 2000 Camp David summit, whose failure was followed by the second intifada.

Over the past three months, Livni and her Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia, have been working to figure out how to make the transition from the 2008 negotiations to talks in 2009.

Both sides have agreed that there is nothing to be gained by a partial deal and that the international community must be convinced that the process is progressing and that they should allow it to move forward without pressure or foreign initiatives.

Israel and the Palestinians scored a victory when they convinced U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to withdraw her request that they present a document summarizing the negotiation achievements at the UN General Assembly in September.

Livni to Russian FM: Hezbollah weapons embargo must be enforced

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Livni told her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during the Sharm summit on Sunday that Moscow must respect a weapons embargo on Hezbollah.

Livni said a very clear message must be sent to Syria and Iran to halt the flow of Russian-supplied weapons to the Lebanese militant group.

All flow of weapons, direct or otherwise, violates UN Security Council resolutions on the matter and leaves the world no option but to respond with force, Livni warned Lavrov.


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