UN Mideast envoy expresses concern over impasse in peace negotiations

08:24, May 20, 2011      

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The UN envoy to the Middle East on Thursday expressed concern over the lack of trust and current impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The statement came as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert H. Serry briefed a meeting of the UN Security Council on the Middle East.

The peace negotiations are at a standstill, as Palestinian leaders ended U.S.-brokered direct talks with Israel in September, following Israel's refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement construction.

"We are worryingly stuck regarding the search for a two-state solution," said Serry, "There is a genuine lack of trust, and no credible initiative has yet been taken that could overcome the impasse."

"In the absence of negotiations, and amidst continued Israeli settlement expansion, the Palestinians are preparing to approach the United Nations in September to seek recognition of a Palestinian state," he added.

While popular demonstrations and political change continue to sweep the Middle East and North Africa, Serry warned that the Arab- Israeli conflict will not be immune to such "dramatic developments ".

With only a few months away from the internationally recognized September deadline for negotiation of a framework agreement for Middle East peace, Serry urged all parties to give the recent reconciliation agreement between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas a chance.

"There is a state-building agenda that has ensured Palestinian institutional readiness for statehood in the West Bank, and there is now a unity process in its infancy," he said. "We urge all parties to give this process a chance, while reminding the Palestinians of the importance of agreeing on a government that can live up to the expectations of the people and meet the concerns of the international community, and support negotiations with Israel."

"But with September just around the corner, a meaningful political initiative offers the only prospect of reaching September with the various dynamics in play working together toward one objective: a negotiated two-state solution," Serry added.

Meanwhile, Serry reiterated UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's serious concern over recent clashes that took place in the region and called on all parties to refrain from further provocations.

Four people were killed and dozens injured on May 15 when members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators attempting to infiltrate the security fence between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights.

Israel took control of the Golan Heights, the dominating plateau, from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The United Nations set up Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in 1974 and established the security zone to separate the areas controlled by Israel and Syria, prohibiting each side from deploying military forces in the zone.

Source: Xinhua
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