Palestinians: Quartet peace plan contains 'encouraging elements'
PLO secretary general Yasser Abed Rabbo says Palestinians eager to restart talks, but Israel has to first impose settlement freeze.
A senior Palestinian official said Thursday that the Middle East Quartet's proposal for renewing negotiations with Israel contained some encouraging elements, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas convened top officials to discuss the matter.
"The Quartet statement contains encouraging elements and we call on Israel to announce its commitment to the principles and points of reference it identifies," Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary general of the PLO, told reporters after the meeting.
Abed Rabbo said that despite the encouraging elements, it is not enough to resume negotiations. The Palestinians are eager to restart talks, but Israel first has to commit to all references in the Quartet statement, "especially concerning the borders of 1967 and stopping settlement activity," he said.
After the Palestinians' bid to seek full membership at the United Nations, the Quartet of Mideast mediators - the U.S., the UN, the European Union and Russia - called for the resumption of talks and a deal within a year. The Quartet statement did not specifically refer to the two Palestinian demands, but listed a number of speeches, UN resolutions and other documents that contain them.
Abed Rabbo also said the Palestinians will keep pursuing UN.recognition. Currently, the 15-member UN Security Council is reviewing the issue. The U.S. has already said it would veto the request should the Palestinians muster the required nine votes.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told reporters Thursday that the Palestinians have secured eight votes so far, and that they are lobbying for more support, including from Bosnia and Colombia.
Despite the certain U.S. veto, the Palestinians are pushing for a majority in the council, in part to show that their statehood bid has international support. Malki told reporters that eight council members … Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Lebanon, Nigeria and Gabon … are expected to vote for Palestinian membership.
The Palestinians also retain the option of seeking recognition as a non-member observer state from the General Assembly.