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The meeting of the diplomatic Quartet, comprising the UN, the United States, Russia and the European Union (EU), the second such session this month at principals’ level, will discuss the Palestinian unity government accord reached in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and yesterday’s talks between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Besides Mr. Ban and Ms. Rice, the others participants are Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, representing the EU Presidency.
In a weekend interview with UN Radio, Mr. Ban said he hoped that with the establishment of National Unity Government by the Palestinians the vision would soon be realized where Israeli and Palestinian people can live in peace and prosperity side by side.
This is the two-State goal of the Quartet’s Road Map peace plan, launched several years ago, which originally set the end of 2005 as the target date for such a solution. “With the National Unity Government we hope that the Palestinian Authority and Israel will further engage in a peace process between the two parties,” Mr. Ban said in the interview.
Ever since Hamas won elections early last year and formed a Government, Israel stopped handing over tax and customs revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestine Authority, and international donors suspended direct aid, calling on Hamas to commit to non-violence, recognize Israel and accept previously signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Quartet reiterated these principles following the Mecca unity government accord in which Hamas, Mr. Abbas’s Fatah and independents will share portfolios.