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Quartet Keeps Pressure On Israel Over Settlements

The Jewish settlement of Har Homa in Arab east Jerusalem
The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators has urged Israel to extend its settlement moratorium and called on Palestinian and Israeli officials to ensure their nascent direct peace talks continue.

The statement issued by the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly came just days before Israel's settlement moratorium is due to end on September 30 -- a deadline that many fear imperils the fragile peace negotiations.

"The Quartet noted that the commendable Israeli settlement moratorium instituted last November has had a positive impact and urged its continuation," said the statement.

The Palestinians have threatened to leave the negotiations if settlement construction resumes when the partial moratorium expires, while Israel has said it will not extend the freeze, even for a limited period.

The United States is trying maintain momentum in the peace talks, which resumed on September 2 in Washington with a diplomatic push from President Barack Obama, and has set a target of resolving the main issues in the decades-long dispute within a year.

-- Reuters