Ma'an News Agency
January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday met EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Amman as the Quartet's latest deadline passed.

The Quartet of peace mediators -- the EU, US, UN and Russia -- set a Jan. 26 deadline for the resumption of direct talks.

Despite five meetings between Israeli and Palestinian envoys in Amman in January, the parties failed to agree on a starting point for negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called for more talks.

"We continue the talks with the Palestinians and we call on them not to abandon the talks," he told the Knesset.

In October, the Quartet asked both sides to submit proposals on borders and security within three months. The PLO submitted its documents on Jan. 3 but Israel did not comply with the request.

"If we determine the borders, it is possible to return to negotiations, but the Israelis don’t want to determine the borders," Abbas said Wednesday.

UN Security Council President Ebrahim Ebrahim on Tuesday expressed disappointment that Israel had not come forward with proposals on borders or security, but said the PLO's submissions were "emblematic" of its commitment to a resolution.

Ebrahim, representing South Africa at the UN, suggested the international community should reassess the effectiveness of the Quartet model.

Israel's continued settlement activities made the reality of a two-state solution "a distant, if not a pipe dream," he warned.

Abbas' adviser Nabil Abu Rudaineh told Reuters TV on Thursday that Israel's refusal to stop building illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land was the obstacle to negotiations.

"Until this moment, we did not reach direct talks because the Israeli side, until now, did not commit itself to stopping settlement construction."

The last round of direct negotiations collapsed within weeks in September 2010 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a partial freeze on settlement construction despite pleas and offers of incentives from Washington.

Abbas says the PLO's next move will be decided after consulting with an Arab League committee in Cairo on Feb. 4.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017