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U.N. envoy urges diplomacy for peace talk

Nov. 21, 2011 at 3:56 PM   |   Comments

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The top U.N. envoy to the Middle East Monday urged Israeli and Palestinian officials to submit concrete proposals to revive the Middle East Peace talks.

Robert Seery, U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said Israelis and Palestinians have worked with the diplomatic grouping known as the Quartet, made up of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States, but must refrain from provocative actions and statements, the United Nations said in a release.

"We have to find a meaningful diplomatic path forward," Serry told the U.N. Security Council during a briefing.

Even though the meetings of Palestinians and Israelis with the Quartet have been constructive, "direct negotiations without preconditions, in which the parties would be expected to table territorial and security proposals within 90 days, are still not taking place," Seery said.

Serry said provocations damage consultations and make resuming direct negotiations difficult.

Israel said it will withhold $100 million in Palestinian Authority tax revenue following Palestinian membership in UNESCO.

"Withholding this level of funding would cripple any government, let alone an authority under occupation," Serry said, adding the withholding also threatened the state-building gains made by the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority should find ways to contribute to de-escalating the situation and improving the "prevailing divisive climate, including in the international arena," Serry said, to create an environment conducive for direct talks.

"Gaps of trust, perception and substance remain between the parties. It will not be easy to overcome them," Serry said. "However, I appeal to them to de-escalate, refrain from provocations and adhere to their obligations, enter direct negotiations, and come forward with concrete and negotiable proposals."

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