UNITED NATIONS — The quartet of Middle East peacemakers is calling on the Israelis and Palestinians to demonstrate their seriousness in reaching a settlement in the next year.
Meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Friday, top diplomats from the United Nations, United States, Russia and the European Union said in a statement that both sides should take “every possible step” to make ongoing US-mediated negotiations a success.
“The quartet reaffirmed its determination to lend effective support to the efforts of the parties and their shared commitment to reach a permanent status agreement within the agreed goal of nine months,” the group said in a statement released Friday.
The quartet also called on the parties to refrain from any action that would undermine trust or prejudge the outcome of the talks, and commended the leaderships of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “and their commitment to remaining engaged in sustained and continuous negotiations to address all of the core issues.”
The quartet added that positive messages from Israeli and Palestinian leaders are important to enhancing the prospects for reaching a deal.
During the meeting, the group received an update from US Secretary of State John Kerry on the progress since the talks resumed in July, as well as a joint briefing on the negotiations by the chief negotiators from both sides, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat.
UN peace mediator Tony Blair said the Israeli and Palestinian sides spoke constructively about their resumed negotiations. He said Friday’s meeting heard a report on the economic initiative that is accompanying the peace talks.
“We have to make sure that we start to get the changes within the Palestinian economy which are not just about private-sector investment but are about easing restrictions, about Palestinian capacity, so that the economy isn’t simply going in very small steps forward but is moving forward fast,” Blair told The Associated Press in an interview following the meeting.
The Palestinian Authority is suffering from an estimated $350 million gap in its current budget, which it is seeking to fill with donor help.
The UN convened a Palestinian donor meeting earlier this week on the sidelines of the meeting of world leaders.
Blair said he believes the donors will come through with their pledges to plug the budget gap.