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Ashrawi: Quartet must hold Israel to account

Jan. 10, 2012 8:17 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 11, 2012 6:05 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Quartet of international peace mediators is thwarting the possibility of a Palestinian state by failing to hold Israel accountable, PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said Tuesday.

Ashrawi met Tony Blair in Ramallah and told the Quartet representative that the peace envoys must learn from past mistakes and change course, a PLO statement said.

"If it wants to achieve any results, the Quartet must hold Israel accountable, demand that it cease and desist all settlement activities and support our peaceful diplomatic efforts to achieve a viable, independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital."

The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators -- the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States -- has overseen two rounds of unofficial closed-door talks between Israeli and Palestinian envoys in Amman in January.

But the PLO will not return to full negotiations until Israel stops all illegal settlement building and commits to 1967 borders, Ashrawi said.

"With the great disproportionateness in power between Palestine and Israel, Palestinians are still asked to negotiate with the occupying power to get permission from Israel to achieve freedom."

She added: "Unless Israel refrains from all illegal settlement activities and commits to 1967 borders, the Palestinian people will not return to negotiations."

The last face-to-face negotiations collapsed within weeks in September 2010 when Israel refused to extend a partial freeze on illegal settlement building.

The PLO says Israel's expansion of Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land threatens the viability of the Palestinian state it would be negotiating for.

The Israeli organization Peace Now said Tuesday that the Israeli government broke all its settlement-building records in 2011.
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