MOSCOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti) – Palestinian authorities are pushing to expand the “Quartet” on Middle East conflict settlement, Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Sahib Oreikat said Tuesday.
“There is a quartet, but its activities have been frozen. We would like this quartet to work more effectively, because the quartet represents peace. If the quartet’s members are expanded, then we’re all for that because the entire world is talking about that right now,” Oreikat, a Palestinian National Authority negotiator, said during a press conference in Moscow.
On July 30, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said Moscow expects a ministerial-level meeting of the Middle East Quartet to be held during the UN General Assembly session this September.
The Middle East crisis is now centered on the Israeli-Hamas standoff, which began in the late 1980s. Originally formed as a Palestinian offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas does not recognize Israel as an autonomous country and demands Palestine be reformed based on its 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital.
Since the 1990s, Hamas paramilitary brigades have been carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel and its people. In 2006, Hamas beat Fatah, the ruling secular party, in legislative elections. Since then Hamas has significantly increased its influence over Palestine, becoming a powerful political force in the region, with headquarters in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The latest attempt to revive talks between Israel and Palestine was launched by the United States last year, but produced no results. US mediators first directed the sides towards a comprehensive peace agreement, then compromised for a deal on temporary peacekeeping principles, but have recently struggled to even bring the two sides to the negotiating table.
On July 8, Israel launched an offensive against the Hamas movement in response to the military group’s rocket attacks. On July 17, Israel switched to a ground offensive to destroy the network of Hamas tunnels along the Gaza border with Israel.