UN seeking Mideast mediators meeting on Israel-Palestinians

June 5, 2020 GMT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Mideast envoy is trying to arrange a meeting of key global mediators to discuss prospects and threats to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United Nations said Friday.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it would be beneficial to have a meeting of the so-called Mideast Quartet — the U.N., U.S., Russia and the European Union — take place “as soon as possible.”

He was responding to a question on whether it was imperative for the Quartet to meet before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with plans to annex parts of the West Bank starting next month, in line with President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan.

Dujarric said Nikolay Mladenov, special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, is holding discussions with the parties on holding a Quartet meeting.

Last month, Mladenov told Israel it should abandon its plans to annex parts of the West Bank, including the strategic Jordan Valley and dozens of Jewish settlements, warning that going ahead would violate international law and deal “a devastating blow” to the two-state solution.

He also called on the U.S., Russia and EU to work with the U.N. to quickly come up with a proposal to enable the Quartet to take up their mediation role and work with countries in the region for peace.

The U.S. plan envisions leaving about one third of the West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967, under permanent Israeli control, while granting the Palestinians expanded autonomy in the remainder of the territory.

The Palestinians, who seek all of the West Bank as part of an independent state, have rejected the plan, saying it unfairly favors Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said the Palestinians will no longer be committed to any signed agreements with Israel or the U.S. following Israel’s annexation pledge. He has called for negotiations under international auspices, including by the Quartet, to advance a two-state solution.

Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, reiterated at a a press briefing Friday that the Trump peace plan is “not set in stone” and said the administration has been working to bring Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table to discuss it.

“Until we have dialogue, there’s going to be nothing,” she said. “So I’m really stressing, and really pushing, whether it be through a Quartet” or engagement with Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors at the U.N. that “we have — you have — to get to the table.”

The Quartet was established in 2002 and has been criticized for its failure to get either Israel or the Palestinian Authority to change their policies and negotiate an end to their decades-old conflict.