UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The quartet of Middle East peacemakers is calling on the Israelis and Palestinians to demonstrate their seriousness in reaching a settlement in the next year.
Meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, top diplomats from the United Nations, United States, Russia and the European Union said in a statement that both sides should take "every possible step" to make ongoing U.S.-mediated negotiations a success. The quartet also called on the parties to refrain from any action that would undermine trust or prejudge the outcome of the talks.
The quartet added that positive messages from Israeli and Palestinian leaders are important to enhancing the prospects for reaching a deal.
The latest round of peace talks began earlier this year.
U.N. peace mediator Tony Blair said the Israeli and Palestinian sides spoke constructively about their resumed negotiations. He said Friday's meeting heard a report on the economic initiative that is accompanying the peace talks.
"We have to make sure that we start to get the changes within the Palestinian economy which are not just about private-sector investment but are about easing restrictions, about Palestinian capacity, so that the economy isn't simply going in very small steps forward but is moving forward fast," Blair told The Associated Press in an interview following the meeting.
The Palestinian Authority is suffering from an estimated $350 million gap in its current budget, which it is seeking to fill with donor help.
The U.N. convened a Palestinian donor meeting earlier this week on the sidelines of the meeting of world leaders.
Blair said he believes the donors will come through with their pledges to plug the budget gap.
Associated Press writer Amir Bibawy contributed.