Serry: Time running out for negotiations

The Jerusalem Post (Link) - Abe Selig (April 28, 2010)

With developments on the ground filling the void left by stalled peace negotiations, neither Israelis or Palestinians have the �luxury of time� if they want to realize the two-state solution, said UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, while speaking at the Hebrew University on Tuesday afternoon.

�The consequences of not having a two-state solution is no solution � it�s a one-state solution,� Serry said.

According to Serry, 70 percent of Israelis and 55% of Palestinians support the two-state solution, �but the figure on the Palestinian side is actually declining.�

�Yet despite this mood of increasing pessimism,� he continued, �I haven�t given up hope.�

Serry explained that such hope was rooted in his belief that �the two-state solution is befitting [both parties�] best interests.�

�Let me begin with Israel,� Serry said. �If Israel�s strategic interest in the region is to stop extremist Islam and work with moderate Arab states, [those moderate Arab states] feel undermined by Israel�s actions in Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.

�They see the land for a Palestinian state being eaten away by facts on the ground,� he continued. �And Israel would be well advised to understand the consequences of the two-state solution fading. [Israel will] either lose demographically or become an apartheid state,� he said.

The Palestinians, Serry explained, had to �address the issue of refugees� � namely the right of return � �because the very essence of two states means two homelands for two peoples,� he said.

But most important, said the UN special coordinator, was getting both sides back to the negotiating table.

�I�m afraid the two-state solution is fading if the parties still think they have the luxury of time,� he said. �As the Quartet underlined in Moscow [in March], a negotiated settlement [based on the two-state solution] could be reached within 24 months.�

Serry added that the UN was �fully supportive of US efforts to resume negotiations � in fact, I believe the international community has never been so united on the issue of a two-state solution,� he said.

�I sincerely hope,� he continued, �that the birthright of a Palestinian state will be agreed upon within the next 24 months. Otherwise it may be too late.�