Quartet to Urge Israel to Extend Settlement Freeze

Mideast negotiators comprising U.S., UN, EU and Russia believe that he freeze has had a positive impact as the two sides seek a peace deal within the next year.

The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators will on Tuesday call on Israel to extend its settlement moratorium, saying the freeze has had a positive impact as the two sides seek a peace deal within the next year, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.

"The Quartet noted that the commendable Israeli settlement moratorium instituted last November has had a positive impact and urged its continuation," said the statement, due to be issued by the Quartet, which comprises the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

Tony Blair and Benjamin Netanyahu

The United States is concerned that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians could collapse in the coming days over the dead end in the talks on the settlement building freeze. America's ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, on Monday told European Union envoys in a briefing that the Obama administration's worry stems from the fact that both sides are holding steadfast to their positions.

European diplomats say Cunningham stressed during the briefing there is still no solution to the deadlock. The U.S. ambassador added that the Obama administration was pressuring both Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement on the issue.

French envoy urges sacrifices from Mideast leaders

On Tuesday, a French envoy urged Israel to extend its freeze on settlement construction and said the U.S. needs European help to broker peace.

Valerie Hoffenberg - France's envoy for economic aspects of the Mideast peace process - told The Associated Press, "The United States can't do it alone."

Hoffenberg is leading Palestinian and Israeli high school students on a joint visit to Paris, part of France's efforts to encourage peace.

She said Israeli and Palestinian leaders "know they have to make sacrifices" and said she expects Israel to make some gesture on Sunday, when the settlement freeze ends.