March 12, 2013 - 12:00am

The next few months will be " make-or-break" time for the fate of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, UN Middle East peace envoy said here Monday.

"We feel that the two-state solution for the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is on life support and see 2013 as a critical year to get things moving in the stalled peace talks," Robert Serry, who has served as a special regional coordinator for the past five years, said during an event hosted by the One Voice non- governmental organization in the Tel Aviv University.

"If we don't make any real progress, then we are heading for a worse situation," he said.

The UN envoy took notice of the fragile state in the region, mainly concerning the ongoing civil war in Syria and the refugees flooding into Jordan and Lebanon.

"It's difficult to predict what's going to happen in the Middle East at the end of the day. Israel is strong and can weather these challenges. But the government should ask itself what this region would look like in the near future, in the day after," Serry said.

Speaking on the prospects of restarting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which came to a halt in 2010 due to Israel's continued construction in the West Bank settlements, Serry sounded cautiously optimistic.

Serry said he believes the new Israeli government being formed and the U.S. administration with a planned visit will open a new window of opportunities, adding that "it's not a wide one. I think we could try to reverse the dangerous situation into a more promising one in months."

He also expressed his relief that Tzipi Livni, Israeli former foreign minister, will be in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's next government.

"I hope the new cabinet will show serious intent in the coming months to actually get back to a process of meaningful negotiations," Serry said.

Meanwhile, he called upon the Israeli government to make gestures to support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's leadership in Ramallah, and warned that Abbas will have no choice but to make unilateral steps in international institutions if there is no future for the peace negotiations.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017