U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have made considerable progress since restarting peace talks at the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis Conference in November 2007. This was especially highlighted by the recent UN Security Council Resolution.
At a recent meeting of the Quartet for Mid East Peace – the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia – Secretary Rice said the conclusion of a final treaty is in the interest of Israel, the Palestinians, and the United States. "The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue, and there should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967," she said.
Including the Annapolis Conference in 2007, more than fifty nations and international organizations have joined in the peace effort known as the "Annapolis process." The Quartet has played a key role by building confidence on both sides by helping implement a series of diplomatic and security measures outlined in its "road map."
While Israeli and Palestinian leaders fell short of their goal of a comprehensive peace agreement by the end of 2008, a pledge to continue negotiations was made by Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to the Quartet at a November 2008 meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt and later supported by UN Security Council Resolution 1850.
The Resolution has four key elements. First, it confirms the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations and endorses the parties' brave efforts. Second, the Resolution reiterates the importance of fulfilling obligations under the Roadmap and the need to avoid activities that would undermine the final status negotiations. Third, the Resolution underscores that peace will be built upon mutual recognition, freedom from violence and terror, the two-state solution, and previous agreements and obligations. Lastly, it underlines that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be aligned with efforts toward broader regional peace. The Arab Peace Initiative is an historic proposal in this regard. And as Arab states should reach out to Israel, so should Israel reach out to Arab states.
Secretary of State Rice noted, "Progress is being made, but it is incomplete, and sustained political will, as well as international support, is required."