Quartet tries to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks

October 9, 2011 - 2:25 PM

BRUSSELS (AP) — An international group of envoys will contact the Israelis and the Palestinians shortly to try to restart Mideast peace talks on hold since 2008.

Envoys from what the Quartet — the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — met Sunday in Brussels to hash out a strategy as international pressure to reach a peace deal mounts.

The Palestinians and Israelis have angered each other in recent weeks — the Palestinians by requesting U.N. recognition as a state and the Israelis by announcing they would build 1,100 new housing units in east Jerusalem.

"We will be contacting the parties to invite them to meet in the coming days," said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who hosted the meeting. "I believe we have made good progress."

An Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in line with government protocol, said Israel has been "repeatedly calling for the restart of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without preconditions. We were ready yesterday, we are ready today and we will be ready tomorrow to restart the process."

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said there would be "no problem" to resume negotiations, if the Quartet could persuade Israel to curb settlement building. If not, "we would be making the mistake of negotiations for their own sake," she said.