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Mideast Quartet Urges Israel, Palestinians to Fully Respect Gaza Truce


World powers have urged Israel and the Palestinians to fully respect a truce in the Gaza Strip as violence in the region threatens to undermine the deal.

Diplomats from the "quartet" of Mideast peace brokers made the appeal Tuesday after meeting in the German capital, Berlin. The quartet includes the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

In a statement, the quartet also said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators must urgently make progress on their goal of reaching a peace deal by the end of this year.

The quartet reiterated its call on Israel to freeze all settlement activity and urged "continued Palestinian efforts" to fight terrorism.

The quartet met on the sidelines of an international donors conference for the Palestinian Authority. More than 40 countries pledged $242 million to strengthen Palestinian police and legal institutions.

International Middle East envoy, Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair told the conference that Palestinians need to build a judicial system to help establish the infrastructure for a Palestinian state.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a joint meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia in Berlin Tuesday to discuss peace efforts. Rice said both sides continue to negotiate "seriously."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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