The Middle East Quartet powers on Sunday called for a “speedy resumption” of Israeli-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace talks, urging both sides to avoid any action that could undermine efforts to settle the conflict, AFP reported.
The Quartet is made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, and has been unsuccessfully trying for several years to force the sides to resume peace negotiations.
Talks between Israel and the PA collapsed in April despite the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a deal.
Kerry was able to force the sides into a six-month negotiation period, but the PA torpedoed those talks by requesting to join 15 international agencies in breach of the conditions of the negotiations.
Since that time, the PA has increased its diplomatic efforts against Israel, trying – and failing – to pass a resolution at the UN Security Council setting a 12-month deadline for Israel to reach a final peace deal and calling for a full Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria by the end of 2017.
When the UN move failed, the PA followed by applying to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) and threatening to file complaints of war crimes against Israel. The ICC has since opened a preliminary probe into possible war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians.
On Sunday, Kerry met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, European Union foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini and UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference to review the situation in the region.
"The Quartet underlined the importance of the parties resuming negotiations as soon as possible with a view to reaching a just, lasting and comprehensive peace," a statement quoted by AFP said.
The Quartet also "recalled the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative — with its vision for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict — and the vital role of Arab partners," it said.
The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 demands that Israel withdraw completely from Judea and Samaria, at which point the 22 Arab countries would supposedly normalize relations with Israel.
"Pending the resumption of negotiations, the Quartet called on both parties to refrain from actions that undermine trust or prejudge final status issues," Sunday’s statement said.
The Quartet was set up in Madrid in 2002 as part of efforts to find a comprehensive settlement to the conflict, with the Arab Peace Initiative approved by the Arab League the same year.
In 2011 the group suggested a timetable which it said would bring forth a peace agreement by the end of 2012, one of several initiatives proposed by the Quartet which have failed.