Behind the scenes, the U.S. and European governments are still working hard to find a path out of this impending diplomatic crisis. According to U.S. officials, European officials, and experts close to the process, the Western powers are considering a new statement from the Middle East Quartet, which is made up of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. Two key items under negotiation are language referring to the Jewish character of Israel and a U.S. proposal to add timelines to the statement calling for new negotiations.
“The timelines are an idea that the Americans have presented,” former Congressman Robert Wexler told The Cable. Wexler, now the president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, just returned from a four-day trip in the region, where he met with officials on all sides.
The idea is that a new Quartet statement would specify that new Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would begin within four to six weeks — with a specified end date, either in six months or a year.
“The Palestinians seemed open to it,” Wexler said, cautioning that no side had made any commitments to support such a statement. “The Israelis are less excited about the timeline, but they understand the Palestinians can’t just have an open timeframe.”