| Updated at: 0051 PST, Wednesday, September 22, 2010|
UNITED NATIONS: The world sponsors of the Middle East peace process met Tuesday in a bid to defuse a crisis over Jewish settlements as Palestinians warned the next 10 days will determine the future of the talks.
Representatives of the Quartet -- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- were set to urge Israel to extend its freeze on construction in the occupied West Bank which expires next week, according to diplomats.
Shortly before the Quartet meeting, a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who is in New York for talks, said the next 10 days will be key for the future of the Middle East peace talks.
"The next 10 days will be decisive and determine the fate of the direct negotiations with Israel," Nabil Abu Rudeina told media.
"There is a very large international effort made to overcome the obstacles in the way of direct negotiations. In particular, the obstacle of the settlements," he said.
A senior diplomat involved in the talks said that a statement by the Quartet will call for Israel to extend the settlement freeze while urging the sides "not to endanger the peace efforts."
A planned press conference following the meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly was nevertheless called off at the last minute with officials citing an electricity cut as the reason.
The dispute over the settlements has threatened to undermine the fledgling efforts by the United States to revive the Middle East peace talks after their official launch in Washington last month following a nearly two-year hiatus.
The Palestinians have repeatedly demanded that Israel extend a 10-month freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, which expires this weekend, in order for the talks to continue.
Abbas said after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel that "the world must understand our need to halt settlement activity."