Ma'an News Agency
May 22, 2011 - 11:00pm
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=390191


Members of the Middle East Quartet and the EU's foreign policy chief came out in full support of statements made by US President Barack Obama this week, urging Israel and Palestine back into direct talks.

The Quartet members, including the US, EU, UN and Russia, issued a statement saying all were "in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."

The body "expressed its strong support" for the vision laid out by Obama.

High Representative of the EU's Union for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton also came out in support, saying she "welcome[s] the important statement delivered by President Obama."

In a Thursday speech which set out a broad policy supporting Mideast nations responding to calls for change and better representation, the US president also warned Israel that its security would be at risk if it failed to engage in talks.

The president said negotiations should begin on the basis of the 1967 armistice lines and include negotiations for land swaps where Israeli settlements could be traded for lands outside the borders.

Obama also plainly said that a Palestinian initiative to go to the UN and seek recognition of an independent state would not work.

Ashton said she "warmly welcomed President Obama’s confirmation that the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, secure and recognised borders for both sides, an Israel whose security concerns are met, and an agreement on the issues of Jerusalem and refugees."

Given the change in the Middle East, Ashton said, peace "is more urgent than ever," adding that the EU "will do whatever is possible, working with our Quartet partners, to help both parties choose the path of peace and engage in successful negotiations."

The Quartet statement underlined the need to move forward "on the basis of territory and security" and said that would provide "a foundation for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final resolution of the conflict through serious and substantive negotiations and mutual agreement on all core issues."




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