(Updates with Palestinian reaction in fourth paragraph.)
Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair fell short of his goal of bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
Blair and other representatives of the so-called Quartet of international mediators, who held separate meetings with the two sides in Jerusalem yesterday, persuaded them only to present new proposals on the issues of security and territory within three months aimed at trying to revive talks, according to a Quartet statement issued today.
“Both parties expressed their readiness to engage with the Quartet, on the basis of its Sept. 23 statement, to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions,” it said.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat reiterated that talks could not take place unless Israel freezes all settlement construction, a condition the Israelis have ruled out. “We have agreed to meet again” with the Quartet representatives, though no date has been set, he said by phone today.
Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho said after the meeting yesterday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to start direct talks immediately “with no preconditions.”
In its Sept. 23 statement, the Quartet, representing the U.S., the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, said it hoped to bring Israelis and Palestinians together for at least a preparatory meeting within a month to arrange direct peace negotiations. Talks broke down more than a year ago over the issue of a settlement freeze.
The Quartet proposal calls on Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks with an aim of reaching a comprehensive solution to the conflict by the end of 2012.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman yesterday called Abbas “the biggest obstacle to peace” in an Israel Radio interview and said that his resignation “would be a blessing.”
Blair and his colleagues requested in yesterday’s meetings that the two sides “refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective,” according to the Quartet statement. It said the Quartet envoys would meet regularly with the two sides over the next 90 days.
--Editors: Ben Holland, Heather Langan
To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Jerusalem at firstname.lastname@example.org; Saud Abu Ramadan in Jerusalem at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Louis Meixler at firstname.lastname@example.org.