Middle-East quartet issues a joint statement

The Quartet of international mediators for the Middle East issued in Washington on Friday a joint statement calling for "an immediate, comprehensive, cease-fire" in the Palestino-Israeli conflict.

The statement points out that "all Palestinian individuals and groups must end all acts of terror against Israelis, in any location." The Quartet called on the Palestinian leadership "to work with the U.S. and others to restructure and reform the Palestinian security services." "As calm is established, Israeli forces should withdraw from Palestinian areas and the pre-Intifada status quo on the ground should be restored," the statement reads.

The Quartet expressed concern "at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank" and called for "increased effort by the Government of Israel to ease the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza." It also called on Israel to continue monthly transfers due to the Palestinian Authority. Apart from that, Israel should "avoid actions that undermine trust and create further hardship for innocent Palestinian civilians, including demolition of houses and civil infrastructure." The document underlines that "Israeli settlement activity must stop".

The statement was signed by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Secretary of State Colin Powell, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the European Union representatives.

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