Twenty years of endless negotiations and conflict in the Middle East since the signing of the Oslo Accords has undermined the belief that peace was possible, but the same 20 years of peace efforts had also demonstrated that fair, reasonable and legitimate solutions could be found, said Robert Serry, United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, in his briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday.
Asking Israelis and Palestinians to act responsibly, he urged them to avoid actions that risk undermining the prospects for resumed negotiations.
"The negotiating teams have been engaged in several rounds of talks and we encourage both sides to accelerate and intensify their discussions."
Mr Serry pointed out that efforts for renewed peace prospects in the Middle East should not be neglected amid the turmoil elsewhere in the neighbourhood.
He noted that the international community has for long supported the vision of a two-state solution and now has a responsibility to give these efforts a chance.
"But the onus to sustain an enabling environment lies with the parties. Both should refrain from actions that risk undermining the prospects on negotiations.
Serry said, any substantial political initiative must yield early dividends with tangible improvements to security and socio-economic conditions for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
The top U.N. envoy in the region also welcomed a recent Israeli government decision to increase the number of work permits for West Bank Palestinians by 5,000 and said he looked forward to further steps of economic cooperation and easing restrictions on access and movement of Palestinians.
However, he pointed out that settlement activity continuing in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem is "counterproductive."
He termed as "particularly worrisome," the clashes occurring between Palestinians and settlers.
"We do not underestimate the challenges ahead and the momentous efforts required to sustain and successfully conclude negotiations within the prescribed timeframe," Mr Serry said.
"It is for the negotiators to identify and narrow these gaps, and for their leaders to take decisions in the best interest of their peoples. And the international community, including key regional stakeholders, must now show unity and resolve in assisting the parties in moving forward," he said.
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