UNITED NATIONS, April 29 (Xinhua) -- A senior UN official said here Tuesday that both Israelis and Palestinians are required to make difficult choices at this moment because "they should realize that not making a choice is the most detrimental choice of all."
"Difficult choices are now required of the parties," Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said when he was briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in the region. "They should realize that not making a choice is the most detrimental choice of all -- namely to accept that we are going down the path of a one-state reality on the ground."
"This is a time for the parties to reflect whether they wish to live up to their stated commitment to the two-state solution, or whether they will by default let it slip further away," he said.
The two-state solution, widely backed by the international community, means a secure Israel to live in peace with an independent State of Palestine.
"First and foremost, they must refrain from steps which will render futile any efforts to find a way back to negotiations and salvage the two-state solution," he said.
"Both sides have to convince each other anew they are partners for peace," Serry said. "If Israel is serious about the two-state solution, it must recognize the negative impact of continued illegal settlement activity. Palestinians in turn should be reflective of their actions in international fora."
Last week, Serry underlined the importance for the parties, at this critical juncture, to refrain from measures that run counter to creating an environment for continued meaningful negotiations.
Under an agreement announced Wednesday, the Fatah party and the Hamas movement will start discussions to form a unity government within five weeks and hold general parliamentary and presidential elections within six months. The accord, largely hailed by Palestinian factions, disappointed and irked Israel and the United States, both of which have branded the Hamas movement as a terrorist group.
"The international community and the region should also reassess its role if we remain convinced -- as I do -- of the importance of the two-state solution, and ask what we can do to persuade the parties to make the right choice," Serry told the 15- nation Security Council. "It is important to avoid escalation diplomatically and on the ground."
"I believe we must use the current moment of reflection for a discussion on a substantive basis for an early resumption of talks, building on the U.S. effort of the past nine months and relying on continued U.S. engagement," he said.
As the final date for the nine-month negotiation period expired on Tuesday, the U.S.-sponsored peace talks stalemated following dispute on releasing prisoners and freezing Israeli settlement activities for extending the talks for another nine months.