Mideast Quartet officials are due to arrive in Israel next week to meet with advisers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to discuss new efforts to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
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On Wednesday, representatives of the Quartet of Middle East negotiators – the United States, United Nations, Russia, and European Union – will meet in Brussels in order to discuss possible steps to renew the peace process.
Israeli and Palestinian representatives were invited to the meeting, however Netanyahu decided not to cooperate and not send his adviser and peace talks representative Yitzhak Molcho to Brussels.
The Palestinians, however, have sent Saeb Erekat, who recently resigned from his position as chief Palestinian negotiator.
Netanyahu has voiced his reservations to the meeting, fearing that by agreeing he would open the door to international influence on the terms of the renewed talks.
Netanyahu told the Quartet members that he will only send his adviser Molcho if there would be a joint meeting between him and Erekat, but the Palestinians opposed the idea and demanded separate meetings.
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office indicated that Netanyahu had been in contact with the U.S. administration in an attempt to find out the purpose of the Brussels session, and its purported goals, before making his final decision, but did not receive answers.
Netanyahu was about to announce that he plans to completely boycott the meeting, but at the end the sides arrived at a compromise wherein Quarter officials will arrive in Jerusalem next week and meet with Molcho. "At the moment we understood there will not be direct negotiations, we had no reason to fly there (Brussels)," said a source in the Prime Minister's Office.
In two weeks, a meeting of foreign ministers of the Quartet will take place in Paris, where potential solutions to the core peace issues would be presented. The Russian foreign minister said Sunday that the purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the borders of a future Palestinian state and the security arrangements that Israel is demanding.