Quartet on the Middle East
The Quartet on the Middle East or Middle East Quartet, sometimes called the Diplomatic Quartet or Madrid Quartet or the Quartet, is a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. The Quartet comprises the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Russia; the group was established in Madrid in 2002, recalling Madrid Conference of 1991, as a result of the escalating conflict in the Middle East. The Quartet's current Special Envoy is Kito de Boer, who assumed the position after the resignation of Tony Blair in 2015; the initiative to establish the Quartet evolved following the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000 and the futile cease-fire attempts that followed. On October 25, 2001, representatives of the EU, UN and the US and Russian governments met Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and jointly expressed support for his policy of implementing cease-fire and security reforms in the Palestinian Authority.
During the Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas in April 2002, the representatives of the same four entities met in Madrid and again called for implementation of cease-fire agreements brokered by the US government before. In the same meeting, they agreed to transform their quadripartite cooperation into a permanent forum for follow-up of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. James Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank, was appointed Special Envoy for Israel's disengagement from Gaza in April 2005, he stepped down the following year because of restrictions in dealing with the Islamic militant group Hamas and the withholding of money from the Palestinian Authority, risking its collapse. Tony Blair announced that he had accepted the position of the official envoy of the Quartet, the same day he resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as a Member of Parliament on 27 June 2007; the approval came after initial objections by Russia. The United Nations were overseeing the finances and security of his mission, before his resignation on 27 May 2015.
The present special envoy from November 2015 is the Dutch national Kito de Boer. Tony Blair periodically travelled to the Middle East following his appointment as Special Envoy. On a trip there in March 2008, he met with Israeli leaders to discuss recent violence. A planned meeting between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen was postponed due to recent fighting. In May 2008 Blair announced a new plan for peace and for Palestinian rights, based on the ideas of the Peace Valley plan. In an August 2009 interview, Blair said that he would like to see Hamas and Hezbollah included in peace talks but under the right conditions, that religious leaders should be more involved in the peace process, that resolving the conflict could be easier than it was in Northern Ireland. In a speech given in Israel on August 24, 2010, Blair criticised the campaign of "delegitimization" being carried out by enemies of Israel and proponents of the Palestinians, which refuses to grant Israel its legitimate right to its own point of view and self-defense.
"Don't apply rules to the Government of Israel that you would never dream of applying to your own country," he said. He characterized such double standards and prejudice as being an "affront to humanity" which "it is a democratic duty to counter." High Representative: Federica Mogherini Foreign Minister: Sergei Lavrov United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process: Nikolay Mladenov Special Envoy: Kito de Boer Secretary of State: Mike Pompeo Despite the significance attached to the Quartet's part in promoting the peace process, many of its statements are repetition of previous statements and no significant changes in policy by either the Israeli government or the Palestinian Authority have occurred resulting from a Quartet meeting. The Quartet has been fiercely criticized for its ineffectiveness; when Tony Blair held the function of Quartet representative, in December 2012, Palestinian officials said that "Tony Blair shouldn't take it but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home.
They said his job, the body he represents, are ′useless, useless′". The Center for Middle East Policy said in February 2012 that "The Quartet has little to show for its decade-long involvement in the peace process.... Having spent most of the last three years in a state of near paralysis, having failed to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking UN membership and recognition in September 2011, the Quartet has reached the limits of its utility.... The current mechanism is too outdated and discredited to be reformed. Instead of undertaking another vain attempt to'reactivate' the Quartet, the United States, the European Union, United Nations, Russia should allow the existing mechanism to go into the night,"; the Quartet's meetings have been held on the following dates: Road map for peace Soviet Union and the Arab–Israeli conflict Quartet Principles Office of the Quartet Representative US Mission to the UN archive of press releases pertaining to the Middle East UN News Focus: Middle East archive of Middle East Quartet statements Joint Statement by the Quartet, upon meeting in London, 1 March 2005 Joint Statement by the Quartet, upon meeting in Moscow, 19 March 2010 Middle East Quartet Statements U.
S. State Department President Welcomes Quartet Principals to White House, press release from meeting of the Quartet Principals on 20 December 2002 "Tony Blair's UN Role May Conflict with New Job with JP Morgan Chase" by Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press, January 10, 2008
Israel Electric Corporation
Israel Electric Corporation is the largest supplier of electrical power in Israel. The IEC builds and operates power generation stations, sub-stations, as well as transmission and distribution networks; the company is the sole integrated electric utility in the State of Israel. Its installed generating capacity represents about 75% of the total electricity production capacity in the country, it transmits and distributes all the electricity used in Israel, including power generated by other producers. The State of Israel owns 99.85% of the company. After British forces conquered Palestine, they had to deal with conflicting demands rooted in Ottoman rule. For example, on 27 January 1914, the city of Jerusalem had granted a Greek citizen, Euripides Mavromatis, concessions for the supply of water and the construction of a tramway system in the city. Work under these concessions had not begun and by the end of the war the British occupying forces refused to recognize their validity. On 12 September 1921, the British formally signed the “Auja Concession” which granted Pinhas Rutenberg's Jaffa Electric Company a 70-year concession granting it exclusive rights to generate and sell electricity in the administrative District of Jaffa, authorized Rutenberg to generate electricity by means of hydroelectric turbines that would exploit the water power of the Auja river.
However, Mavromatis challenged the concession claiming that his concessions conflicted with the Auja Concession and that he was being deprived of his legal rights. The Mavromatis concessions, in effect despite earlier British attempts to abolish it, covered Jerusalem and other localities within a radius of 20 km around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the end, Rutenberg's company concessions remained and the company built a power plant that produced electricity using diesel-fueled engines, by 1923 Jaffa Electric Company's grid covered Jaffa, Tel-Aviv, neighboring settlements, the British military installations in Sarafend. In 1926, Rutenberg founded the Palestine Electric Company Ltd, granted the "Jordan Concession". Rutenberg merged Jaffa Electric Company into that company, which in 1961 was renamed the Israel Electric Corporation Ltd. Rutenberg built a hydroelectric power station at Naharayim on the Jordan River, which opened in 1932. Pursuant to the Concessions, the Company was granted the exclusive right to generate and distribute electricity and to sell it throughout the Mandate for Palestine, except in Jerusalem and its environs.
The plant produced much of the energy consumed in Mandatory Palestine until the 1948 Palestine war. Other power plants were built in Tel Aviv and Tiberias. Jerusalem was the only part of Mandatory Palestine not supplied by Rutenberg's plants. Mavromatis defended the concession for Jerusalem granted to him by Ottoman authorities, resisted Rutenberg's attempts to build a power station that would serve Jerusalem. Only in 1942, when his British-Jerusalem Electric Corporation failed to supply the demands of the city, did the Mandatory government ask the Palestine Electric Company to take over the supply of electricity to Jerusalem; the Concessions expired after 70 years, ie. on 3 March 1996, from that time Israel's Electricity Sector Law - 1996 has applied, replacing the Electricity Concessions Order of 1927 of the Mandatory authorities. The IEC is one of the largest industrial companies in Israel and operating an extensive nationwide power distribution network fed by 17 power station sites with an aggregate installed generating capacity of 10,899 MW.
Most of the base load electricity is generated using coal, though by the end of 2010 the company expected the majority of total installed generation capacity to be in the form of natural gas plants. In 2009, the company sold 48,947 GWh of electricity. To meet projected future electricity demand, an IEC capital investment program provided for the addition of 2,578 MW of installed capacity by the end of 2011. In addition, the government of Israel was seeking private companies to generate an additional several thousand megawatts by the middle of the 2010s, which would be distributed by the IEC; the Orot Rabin power station owned by the IEC has Israel's second-tallest structure, a chimney, standing at 300 m, while Tel Aviv's distinctive Reading Power Station was one of its earliest. Israeli former Olympic sailor Shimshon Brokman has worked for Israel Electric Corporation since 1988, from 2006 as Head of the Fuel Management Department; the company's current CEO is Ofer Bloch. IEC provides power to the Palestinian territories.
It is one of three sources of power for the Gaza Strip, the West Bank. Palestine Electric Company, founded in 1999 as a subsidiary of Palestine Power Company LLC, operates in the Gaza Strip power generating plants with a generation capacity of 140 MW, it has been granted by the Palestinian Authority an exclusive right to generate electricity in the Gaza Strip and sell it to Palestinian Authority owned or managed institutions for 20 years, which may be extended for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms. The company does not have any fuel for its generator. Gaza receives some power from Egypt, though supply is unreliable. Palestine Power Generation Company Plc, founded in 2010, operates a natural gas power generating plant in the West Bank. On 23 February 2015, IEC intentionally cut off the West Bank power for about 45 minutes due to unpaid debts. Two days it again cut off power, stating it was a warning to the Palestinian Authority to begin paying down the debt, which at that tim
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
History of the Arab–Israeli conflict
The Arab–Israeli conflict is a modern phenomenon, which has its roots in the end of the 19th century. The conflict became a major international issue with the birth of Israel in 1948; the Arab–Israeli conflict has resulted in at least five major wars and a number of minor conflicts. It has been the source of two major Palestinian uprisings. Tensions between the Zionist movements and the Arab residents of Palestine started to emerge after the 1880s, when immigration of European Jews to Palestine increased; this immigration increased the Jewish communities in Palestine part of the Ottoman Empire by the acquisition of land from Ottoman and individual Arab landholders, known as effendis, establishment of Jewish agricultural settlements. At the time, Arabs lived in an feudal existence on the effendis' land. Demographer Justin McCarthy estimated from Ottoman census data that the population of Palestine in 1882–3 was about 468,000, consisting of 408,000 Muslims, 44,000 Christians and 15,000 Jews. By the eve of World War I, these numbers had increased to 602,000 Muslims, 81,000 Christians and 39,000 Jews, plus a similar but uncertain number of Jews who were not Ottoman citizens.
The first Statistician General of Israel, Roberto Bachi, give similar numbers except for a lower count of Muslims in 1914. During the time of the Mandatory Palestine, the Balfour Declaration signed in 1917, stated that the government of Great Britain supported the establishment of a "Jewish national home" in Palestine; this exacerbated tensions between the Arabs living in Mandate Palestine and the Jews who emigrated there during the Ottoman period. Signed in January 1919, the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement promoted Arab-Jewish cooperation on the development of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine and an Arab nation in a large part of the Middle East, though this event had little to no effect on the conflict. In 1920, the San Remo conference endorsed the 1916 Anglo-French Sykes–Picot Agreement, allocating to Britain the area of present-day Jordan, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, Iraq, while France received Syria and Lebanon. In 1922, the League of Nations formally established the British Mandate for Palestine and Transjordan, at least fulfilling Britain's commitments from the 1915–16 McMahon–Hussein Correspondence by assigning all of the land east of the Jordan River to the Emirate of Jordan, ruled by Hashemite king Abdullah but dependent on Britain, leaving the remainder west of the Jordan as the League of Nations Mandatory Palestine.
While the British had made promises to give both Arabs and Jews land, the British claimed they had never promised to give either side all of the land. Rising tensions had given way to violence, such as the 1920 Nebi Musa riots, Jaffa riots of 1921. To assuage the Arabs, due to British inability to control Arab violence in the Mandatory Palestine any other way, the semi-autonomous Arab Emirate of Transjordan was created in all Palestinian territory east of the Jordan river; the conflicting forces of Arab nationalism and the Zionist movement created a situation which the British could neither resolve nor extricate themselves from. Pogroms in Russia and the Ukraine as well as Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany created a new urgency in the Zionist movement to create a Jewish state, the evident intentions of the Zionists provoked fierce Arab attacks against the Jewish population; the British-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, led opposition to the idea of turning part of Palestine into a Jewish state.
In search for help in expelling British forces from Palestine, thus removing the enforcer of the Zionist enterprise, the Grand Mufti sought alliance with the Axis Powers. The response of the British government was to banish the Mufti, curb Jewish immigration, reinforce its police force; the Jewish leadership "adopted a policy of restraint and static defense in response to Arab attacks" and criticized the British for "what they regarded as Britain's retreat from the Balfour Declaration and its conciliation of Arab violence." It was at this time that critics of this policy broke away from the Hagana and created the more right-wing militant Irgun, which would be led by Menachem Begin in 1943. For a list of Irgun attacks on Palestinian civilians and policemen during this period, see List of Irgun attacks during the 1930s. A British Royal Commission of Inquiry that came to be known as the Peel Commission was established in 1936. In its 1937 report, it proposed a two-state solution that gave the Arabs control over all of the Negev, much of the present-day West Bank, Gaza and gave the Jews control over Tel Aviv, present-day northern Israel, surrounding areas.
The British were to maintain control over Jaffa, Jerusalem and surrounding areas. The two main Jewish leaders, Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion had convinced the Zionist Congress to approve equivocally the Peel recommendations as a basis for more negotiation; the Arabs, rejected it while demanding cessation of immigration and land sales to Jewish people. The Arabs' demands prompted the British to stop Jewish immigration, thus preventing refugees from escaping the Holocaust. Jewish violence against the Mandatory Palestine continued to mount throughout the half of the 1940s, with attacks by the Irgun, assassination of British authorities officials by the Lehi, the 1946 King David Hotel bombing. In 1947, the population wa
Status of Jerusalem
The status of Jerusalem is disputed in both international law and diplomatic practice, with both the Israelis and Palestinians claiming Jerusalem as their capital city. The dispute has been described as "one of the most intractable issues in the Israel–Palestine conflict", with conflicting claims to sovereignty over the city or parts of it, access to its holy sites; the main dispute revolves around the legal status of East Jerusalem and the Old City of Jerusalem, while broader agreement exists regarding future Israeli presence in West Jerusalem in accordance with Israel's internationally recognised borders. The majority of United Nations member states hold the view that the final status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiation, have therefore favored locating their embassies in Tel Aviv prior to a final status agreement. However, in recent years the international consensus to abstain from expressing a viewpoint on the city's final status has shown signs of fragility, with Russia, the United States and Australia adopting new policy positions.
Furthermore, the proposal that Jerusalem should be the future capital of both Israel and Palestine has gained international support, with endorsements coming from both the United Nations and the European Union. From the end of the Ottoman–Mamluk War in 1517 until the First World War, Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire. Since the 1860s, Jews have formed the largest religious group in the city and since around 1887, Jews have been in the majority. In the 19th century, European powers vied for influence in the city on the basis of extending protection over Christian churches and Holy Places. A number of these countries established consulates in Jerusalem. In 1917 and following the First World War, Great Britain was in control of Jerusalem; the principal Allied Powers recognized the unique spiritual and religious interests in Jerusalem among the world's three great monotheistic religions as "a sacred trust of civilization", stipulated that the existing rights and claims connected with it be safeguarded in perpetuity, under international guarantee.
However, the Arab and Jewish communities in Palestine were in mortal dispute and Britain sought United Nations assistance in resolving the dispute. In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem being established as a corpus separatum, or a "separated body" with a special legal and political status, administered by the United Nations. Jewish representatives accepted the partition plan, while representatives of the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab states rejected it, declaring it illegal. In May 1948, the Jewish community in Palestine issued the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel. Israel became a member of the United Nations the following year and has since been recognised by most countries; the countries recognizing Israel did not recognize its sovereignty over Jerusalem citing the UN resolutions which called for an international status for the city.
With the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel and the subsequent invasion by surrounding Arab states, the UN proposal for Jerusalem never materialised. The 1949 Armistice Agreements left Jordan in control of the eastern parts of Jerusalem, while the western sector was held by Israel; each side recognised the other's de facto control of their respective sectors. The Armistice Agreement, was considered internationally as having no legal effect on the continued validity of the provisions of the partition resolution for the internationalisation of Jerusalem. In 1950, Jordan annexed East Jerusalem as part of its larger annexation of the West Bank. Though the United Kingdom and Pakistan recognized Jordanian rule over East Jerusalem, no other country recognized either Jordanian or Israeli rule over the respective areas of the city under their control. Following the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel declared that Israeli law would be applied to East Jerusalem and enlarged its eastern boundaries doubling its size.
The action was deemed unlawful by other states. It was condemned by the UN Security Council and General Assembly which described it as an annexation and a violation of the rights of the Palestinian population. In 1980, Israel passed the Jerusalem Law, which declared that "Jerusalem and united, is the capital of Israel"; the Security Council declared the law null and void in Resolution 478, which called upon member states to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city. The UN General Assembly has passed numerous resolutions to the same effect. Israel took control of West Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, while Jordan had taken control of East Jerusalem. Israel rejected corpus separatum at the Lausanne Conference of 1949 and instead indicated a preference for a division of Jerusalem into Jewish and Arab zones, international control and protection only for holy places and sites. In 1949, as the UN General Assembly began debating the implementation of its decision of 29 November 1947 regarding the establishment of Jerusalem as a separate international entity under the auspices of the United Nations, Israel declared Jerusalem Israel's "eternal capital".
After Israel conquered East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 during the Six-Day War, which it characterised as self-defence, Israel argued that it had the stronger right to the city. Israel argued that Jordan had no rights to any land west of the Jordan River, had taken the West Bank and East Jerusalem by an act of aggression and therefore ne
2010–11 Israeli–Palestinian peace talks
Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority have been taking place since September 2010 as part of the peace process, between United States President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The ultimate aim of the direct negotiations is reaching an official "final status settlement" to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict by implementing a two-state solution, with Israel remaining a Jewish state, the establishment of a state for the Palestinian people. In early 2010, Benjamin Netanyahu, imposed a ten-month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank as a gesture for the Palestinian Authority, after publicly declaring his support for a future Palestinian state, however he insisted that the Palestinians would need to make reciprocal gestures of their own; the Palestinian Authority rejected the gesture as insufficient. Nine month direct negotiations between Israel and the PA relaunched, after nearly two years of stalemate.
In early September, a coalition of 13 Palestinian factions began a campaign of attacks against Israeli civilians, including a series of drive-by shootings and rocket attacks on Israeli towns, in an attempt to derail and torpedo the ongoing negotiations. Direct talks broke down in late September 2010 when an Israeli partial moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank expired and Netanyahu refused to extend the freeze unless the Palestinian Authority recognized Israel as a Jewish State, while the Palestinian leadership refused to continue negotiating unless Israel extended the moratorium; the proposal was rejected by the Palestinian leadership, that stressed that the topic on the Jewishness of the state has nothing to do with the building freeze. The decision of Netanyahu on the freeze was criticized by the United States. Direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government have continued for many decades and remain a complicated issue to resolve; when President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, he has made peaceful settlement of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict a top priority of his administration, appointing former Senator George Mitchell as his peace envoy.
In March 2009 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Israel. She said that Israeli settlements and demolition of Arab homes in East Jerusalem were "unhelpful" to the peace process. Clinton voiced support for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu supports Palestinian self-government but did not explicitly endorse US and Palestinian visions for Palestinian statehood. Upon the arrival of President Obama administration's special envoy, George Mitchell, Netanyahu stated that any resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians will be conditional on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. So far the Palestinian leadership has rejected a US-backed proposal extending a settlement freeze in exchange for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, as this issue had not been sufficiently clarified by Israel at that time. On June 4, 2009 Obama delivered a speech at the Cairo University in Egypt in which Obama addressed the Muslim world.
The speech called for a "new beginning" in relations between the Islamic world and the United States. With respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the President stated that "the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states" and called upon both Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations. In addition, during the speech Obama added that "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements" as it "undermines efforts to achieve peace, it is time for these settlements to stop."On June 14, in what was understood as a response Obama's Cairo speech, Netanyahu gave a speech at Bar-Ilan University in which he endorsed, for the first time, a "Demilitarized Palestinian State", after two months of refusing to commit to anything other than a self-ruling autonomy when coming into office. Netanyahu stated that he would accept a Palestinian state if Jerusalem were to remain the united capital of Israel but open to all religions, the Palestinians would have no military, the Palestinians would give up their demand for a right of return.
He claimed the right for a "natural growth" in the existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank while their permanent status is up to further negotiation. In general, the address was viewed as a significant turnaround from his hawkish positions against the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. On July 12, 2009, Mahmoud Abbas told Egyptian media that he would not cede any part of the West Bank to Israel, that he would demand territorial contiguity between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, that he would never waive the Palestinian right of return. In a letter to U. S. President Barack Obama, Abbas demanded that any peace deal be based on the 1967 borders and the Arab Peace Initiative. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected any "middle ground solutions", saying that the Palestinians would reject any deal between the U. S. and Israel that would allow any construction to continue in Israeli settlements. On 23 August 2009, Netanyahu announced in his weekly cabinet meeting that negotiations with the Palestinians will begin in September 2009 and will be launched on his visit to New York, after he had accepted an invitation from President Barack Obama for a "Triple Summit" there.
He added that there is progress with special envoy George Mitchell, though there is no full agreement on everything, there will be more rounds of meetings until September. On the same day, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas said there would be no negotiations so long as Israel continued West Bank settlement construction