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Mideast ‘Quartet’ Urges Restart of Peace Talks

The “Quartet” of Middle East peace mediators urged a prompt resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians after a meeting in Munich on Sunday and voiced concern about the slow pace of reconstruction in Gaza, damaged in last year’s war.

Talks broke down last April with the Palestinians angry at continued building of Jewish settlements in occupied territory and Israel furious at attempts to bring Hamas, which officially denies Israel’s right to exist, into the Palestinian government.

“The Quartet underlined the importance of the parties resuming negotiations as soon as possible,” the group comprising the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia said in a joint statement after their meeting in Germany.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Russia’s Sergei Lavrov and deputy U.N. head Jan Eliasson reiterated that talks must respect Palestinian aspirations for statehood and Israel’s security concerns.

“The Quartet is deeply concerned over the difficult situation in Gaza where the pace of reconstruction needs to be accelerated to address the basic needs of the Palestinian population and to ensure stability,” said the diplomats.

They urged donors to disburse the more than $5 billion in aid for the Palestinians pledged last October in Cairo to repair damage from the war in the tiny coastal territory. More than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis died in the fighting.

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