JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel, the Palestinians and the Middle East Quartet will meet in November to review progress in US-backed peace talks launched nearly a year ago, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Thursday.
Citing a senior official in Jerusalem, the paper reported that the meeting would be held in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on November 27, the one-year anniversary of the US conference that relaunched the negotiations.
The two sides formally revived the peace process after a seven-year hiatus under the auspices of the Quartet, which groups the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.
The negotiations have made little visible progress since then however, despite Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s joint pledge to try to reach a full agreement by the end of 2008.
An Israeli official confirmed to AFP on condition of anonymity that such a meeting was in the works.
“During this meeting, the date and place of which have not yet been established, Israelis and Palestinians will for the first time present a summary of their agreements and differences,” the official said.
At last month’s UN General Assembly, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the Quartet had expressed interest in such a conference but had not yet agreed on a firm date.
The two sides remain deeply divided on the core issues of the decades-old conflict, including the future status of Jerusalem, the fate of some 4.6 million Palestinian refugees, and continuing Israeli settlement activity.
The talks were dealt a further blow last month when Olmert resigned amid a series of corruption allegations, plunging the Jewish state into what could be months of political turmoil and uncertainty.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who has been heading the negotiations, is now struggling to cobble together a new governing coalition in a bid to avoid early general elections which could bring the right-wing Likud party to power.