Middle East Quartet to Renew Peace Efforts in Late January

UN calls on Israel to immediately transfer frozen tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority.

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A meeting of the Middle East Quartet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 27, 2013.
A meeting of the Middle East Quartet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York September 27, 2013.Credit: Reuters

The Middle East mediation group known as the Quartet will meet later this month to discuss ways of promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The planned meeting was announced by United States ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power during the Security Council's monthly Mideast debate. Power described the status quo as "unsustainable" and urged both sides "to exercise maximum restraint and avoid steps that threaten to push Israeli-Palestinian relations into a cycle of further escalation."

Envoys from the UN, the U.S. the European Union and Russia will meet in Brussels on January 26.

Relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been in a downward spiral since the collapse of peace negotiations in the first half of 2014 and the 51-day Gaza war last summer.

The Security council recent rejected a Palestinian-backed resolution demanding an end to Israeli occupation within three years, at which point the Palestinians applied to join the International Criminal Court.

The perilous state of Israeli-Palestinian relations was summed up by UN Assistant Secretary-General Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen during Thursday's meeting.

"Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis have taken the challenging steps, or made the bold decisions, required to begin the process of reversing the ever-widening trust deficit between the two sides," he said. "Instead, we have witnessed developments which may unfortunately further reduce the likelihood of talks resuming in the future."

Toyberg-Frandzen called on Israel to immediately transfer the estimated $127 million in tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for December. Israel froze the funds in response to the PA's ICC application.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of remaining "committed to the three no's. He will not negotiate, he will not recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and he will not make peace." He accused the Palestinian Authority of committing "every form of diplomatic treachery" last year by abandoning peace talks, forming a government with Hamas, honoring "convicted terrorists" and breaking its word by signing up to join dozens of treaties and conventions including the ICC.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, warned that the situation is "becoming more fragile and volatile by the day while a peaceful solution remains elusive due to lack of political will and the intransigence of Israel." In Jerusalem, which has seen clashes over access to holy sites, "tensions are raging as Israeli violations and crimes push the situation to a precipice," he warned.

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