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Middle East Quartet meets with Palestinian, Israeli leaders

Dec. 18, 2015 12:09 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 19, 2015 7:25 P.M.)
Israeli forces take position on the roof of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City during clashes with Palestinians on Sept. 28, 2015. (AFP/Thomas Coex, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Middle East Quartet envoys this week arrived to Jerusalem and Ramallah to discuss concrete moves towards resolving a recent escalation in violence.

A joint press statement from the envoys said that representatives from the European Union, Russia, US and United Nations met on Wednesday and Thursday with their Palestinian and Israeli counterparts.

Meetings were held with officials from the Israeli Prime Minister’s office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as officials from the PLO and the Palestinian Authority.

Participants reportedly discussed “current conditions on the ground and concrete actions to demonstrate their commitment to the two-state solution.”

The Quartet Envoys in the statement stressed “the importance of opposing unequivocally incitement and violence and de-escalate the situation.”

This week’s meetings were the most recent to take place amidst ongoing efforts by international actors to quell recent violence that has left at least 124 Palestinians and 19 Israelis dead since Oct. 1.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned earlier this month that key Israeli policies were "imperiling" the viability of a two-state solution and pushing the PA toward collapse.

He reiterated his condemnation of Palestinian acts of violence, but stressed that key Israeli policies -- including control over Area C, settlement activity, and home demolitions -- were pushing the region away from peace.

"President Abbas spoke more despairingly than I have ever heard him about the sense of hopelessness the Palestinian people feel," Kerry said, referring to a meeting the two held during a visit to the region at the end of last month.

While he acknowledged that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had stated his commitment to a two-state solution, he said it was "important that that not become a slogan, not become a throwaway phrase -- that it becomes a policy."

Israeli policy in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have made a contiguous Palestinian state impossible, and Palestinian leadership has threatened to abandon security coordination with Israeli forces if Israel continues to ignore past peace agreements.

PLO Central Council member Muhammad Shtayyeh meanwhile cautioned earlier this month that the PA will face “extreme difficulty” in surviving the current situation for much longer.

Shtayyeh asked: “If Israel is intending to kill teenagers everyday, who have a lack of means for living...with all of the aggression that Israel is employing, how long can the Palestinian leadership maintain this reality?”

The PLO official referred to the continuation of the PA as “unsustainable" amid the “political impasse” between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, as well as a lack of a political horizon among the Palestinian leadership itself.
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