Palestinian FM Rejects Quartet Proposal for Not Addressing Settlements, Israeli Withdrawal

Proposal calls for setting agenda for new peace talks with a goal of a deal by the end of 2012; U.S. says timeline is 'realistic and serious.'

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki rejected on Saturday the Quartet's proposal to renew peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Speaking to a Palestinian radio station, al-Malki said that the Quartet's proposal does not call for a settlement freeze and an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, and therefore isn't sufficient.

In a statement on Friday, the Quartet - the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia -- said it wanted to see comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and substantial progress within six months.

The statement followed a day of high-stakes diplomacy over the Middle East which saw Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submit a formal application to the UN Security Council for recognition of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki in Jerusalem, October 2008Credit: Tess Scheflan

Also on Friday, a U.S. official said that the proposal by the Quartet of Middle East mediators - according to which Israel and the Palestinians should meet within one month to agree an agenda for new peace talks with a goal of a deal by the end of 2012 – was "realistic and serious."

In a briefing to reporters, the official said the proposal provides "a credible, serious alternative path and we believe that both sides, if theyre true to their words, will find a way to respond favorably to this." He added that "the idea of offering this timeline gives the parties a sense that this is not open-ended, that there are real goals and that theres a serious process underway.".

The UN Security Council will take up the Palestinian bid for full statehood and UN membership on Monday. This is an unusually fast development compared to the normal tempo of the United Nations.

Council president Nawaf Salam of Lebanon told reporters on Friday that the 15-member council would begin discussions at 1900 GMT Monday to take up the application submitted earlier Friday by Abbas to the UN Secretary General. Ban passed the document hours later to the council, whose approval is needed for UN membership and full recognition of statehood.

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