NEW YORK — The United Nations’ chief envoy for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, says he is afraid time is running out for a negotiated two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Serry said in the past month there has been a continued effort to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians amid what he called worrying developments on the ground.
“The effort to restart direct talks has not reached a breaking point, but there has not been a breakthrough either and that is increasingly a concern. While talks remain stalled, events on the ground continue to move in the wrong direction,” he said.
Serry said the Palestinian Authority faces an acute financial challenge. He said Saudi Arabia has announced a contribution of $100 million and Israel has transferred half of the monthly tax collections to the Palestinian Authority two weeks early. He called on others to consider a timely donation.
Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour focused his remarks to the Security Council on what he described as the continuation of Israel’s illegal settlement campaign - a major obstacle on getting peace talks restarted.
“Settlements run counter to the formula of ‘land for peace’ on which the entire Middle East peace process is built. And Israel’s illegal actions continue to undermine all efforts to resume that process, including via direct negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, on the basis of the well-known parameters,” Mansour said.
Israel’s representative, Haim Waxman, called on the Palestinian leadership to drop preconditions and rejoin Israel in direct negotiations.
“The government of Israel is prepared to work hard to achieve lasting peace with the Palestinians through direct negotiations. The people of Israel are prepared to make painful compromises to reach this noble goal. Yet as we wait for them to return to the negotiating table, the Palestinians continue to take unilateral steps that will not bring us one inch closer to peace,” Waxman said.
United States representative Jeffrey DeLaurentis urged both sides to end unilateral actions that he said jeopardize efforts to achieve peace. DeLaurentis repeated that the United States does not accept the legitimacy of Israel’s settlement activity. He also warned that the Palestinian Authority faces its worst financial crisis ever.
“Israel, the donor community and the Palestinian leadership are all taking steps to address that crisis, but the financial gap remains large and the consequences of failing to close that gap are severe,” DeLaurentis said.
The U.S. representative also told the Security Council that any further rocket fire on southern Israel from Gaza is simply unacceptable.