Envoy: UN action can't replace Mideast talks

AP News
Posted: Dec 15, 2014 12:00 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N.'s top Mideast envoy warned Monday that Security Council resolutions addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be a substitute for peace negotiations between the two sides.

But Robert Serry said council action would be "a major step," and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hopes a council vote will spur renewed talks.

Serry spoke to the council after the Palestinians announced they will push for a council vote this week on a resolution setting a November 2016 deadline for ending Israeli occupation. France is also spearheading negotiations on a resolution that would set the outlines of a peace deal, with a binding time frame.

Prospects for approval of either resolution appear dim, however, because officials from the United States, Israel's closest ally, say Secretary of State John Kerry does not consider either of the drafts acceptable.

The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — lands Israel captured in 1967. Netanyahu has said an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank could pave the way for a Hamas takeover there, as it did in Gaza after Israel's 2005 pullout.

Serry told the council that Israel's early elections in March and "the deadly diplomatic vacuum can be no excuse for either side to let the present situation get worse."

He said actions by parliaments of several European countries recommending that their governments recognize a Palestinian state highlight the growing impatience and lack of progress in achieving a two-state solution, and the increasing pressure on governments "to promote an end to the conflict once and for all."

"I feel 2014 changed the course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the future is more uncertain than ever," Serry said, adding that a one-state reality is "on the parties' doorstep if they fail to address the present deadlock."