EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton said Thursday that she believed “urgent progress is needed towards a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that ends the occupation that began in 1967.”
Ashton made the statement following a meeting with US special envoy to the peace process George Mitchell, who had just returned from talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, where he asked that sides return to indirect negotiations seeking solutions to the core issues of security, borders, refugees and Jerusalem.
“We recall that the European Union and the United States are firmly committed to working in concert to make progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace and the establishment of a contiguous, viable and sovereign state of Palestine alongside a secure state of Israel,” she said in a statement.
On Thursday evening, officials with the Palestine Liberation Organization said they would not return to talks as long as Israel continued settlement construction. Earlier in the day, Arab foreign ministers said talks should not be started without a substantial proposal for peace from Israel.
In light of the events, Ashton said she and the US would “stress the importance of intensified coordination within the Quartet, as well as of close cooperation with Arab partners, building on the Arab Peace Initiative”, and “commend the work of the Palestinian Authority in building the institutions of the future State of Palestine. We reaffirm our commitment to continue to work in partnership, along with their allies around the globe, to support the work of the PA to build the institutions of its future state.”