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Quartet Will Meet to Jump Start Peace Process

The European Union said Friday that the Middle East Quartet will meet Sunday in Brussels as part of a wider effort to restart the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

EU spokesman Michael Mann said Friday the focus would be to maintain momentum in encouraging the parties to return to negotiations.

The meeting comes amid international pressure to reach a peace deal by the end of 2011, fueled by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ request two weeks ago that the UN recognize an independent Palestinian state. The Security Council is reviewing the request.

Mediators from the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia have been meeting sporadically in a thus fruitless effort to bring the two sides together again. The Quartet had its most recent meeting on September 23 in New York.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his eight senior cabinet ministers decided Sunday to support the Quartet’s plan, saying in a statement that “Israel welcomes the Quartet’s call for direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions.”

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