By Ria Novosti
The Palestinians have reiterated that they will only resume peace talks with Israel if it stops all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories, the official Palestinian WAFA news agency said.
The statement came after the Quartet of international mediators of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (comprising Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union) agreed on Sunday to invite the Israelis and Palestinians to meet “in the coming days,” according to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
“We are ready to return to negotiations based on 1967 borders if all Israeli settlement activity is stopped,” Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh was quoted by the news agency as saying.
The Palestinian statement also came the day after the Israeli authorities announced their plans to construct some 300 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state. In late September, the Israelis approved the construction of another 1,100 houses in East Jerusalem.
After the Quartet meeting in Brussels on Sunday, Ashton issued a statement, saying: “I believe we have made good progress and will keep in close contact with Quartet partners and colleagues in the region with view to meet and move things forward.”
During the talks in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on September 23, the international mediators called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace talks without preconditions within a month and commit to seeking a deal by 2013.
The statement came after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas formally asked the UN to recognize a Palestinian state.
Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke off in September last year, when the Palestinians withdrew from negotiations over Israel’s refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.