Robert Serry, March 26, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The international community should create a new “peace architecture” to replace UN Security Council Resolution 242, outgoing UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry said Thursday during his final briefing to the Security Council.
Serry – speaking just days after the US said it will reassess its Middle East diplomacy, leading to speculation it may support a UN Security Council resolution setting parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal – said that since the parties at this time do not seem ready to restart talks, “we should not rush them back to the table.”
Rather, he said, if the world believes in a two-state solution, and the sides are unable to agree on a meaningful framework to resume negotiations, “the international community should seriously consider presenting such a framework for negotiations, including parameters, to achieve this.”
“It remains the primary responsibility of this council to play its role in developing a new peace architecture for resolving the conflict at long last,” he said. “Security Council Resolution 242 embodying the key principle of ‘land for peace’ is nearly half-a-century old.”
Serry noted that American attempts to solve the conflict during his seven year tenure have not been met with success, and that the Quartet has largely failed to live up to expectations.
He told the Security Council that “real progress in achieving a two-state solution and ending the longest occupation in modern history would go a long way towards improving regional security and strengthening moderate forces in the region.”
UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted shortly after the Six Day War in 1967, has long been the cornerstone of diplomatic efforts, calling for negotiations between the sides based on the principle of “land for peace” and secure and recognized borders for Israel.
Serry’s comments, interpreted by some in Jerusalem as advocating an imposed solution, were immediately challenged by Israeli officials.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor held a press conference in New York saying that not only was the international community not demanding anything of the Palestinians, but was assisting their efforts to destroy any chance for progress toward a peace agreement.
Israel’s position has long been that as long as the Palestinians believe the world will set the parameters of an accord, thereby imposing an agreement, they will not feel any need to compromise with Israel around the negotiating table.
“Anyone who believes that there is a substitute for direct negotiations is fooling themselves,” said a government official in Jerusalem. “Peace will not be advanced by passing resolutions in New York, but by Israelis and Palestinians seriously discussing the issues that separate them. Everything else is blah, blah.”
The official said there can be no peace without the Palestinians recognizing the legitimacy of the Jewish state, and without them finally taking Israel’s legitimate security concerns seriously.
Serry is stepping down after seven years and a very uneven relationship with Israeli officials, that culminated with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s call last year for him to be declared persona non grata for working inside the UN to transfer $20 million from Qatar to pay Hamas salaries.
Serry told the Security Council on Thursday he was “frankly concerned” by “many of the hardline statements” put forward during the campaign by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that call into question Israel’s commitment to the twostate solution.
“I urge the incoming Israeli government to seize the opportunity of a fresh mandate to quickly demonstrate in words and, more importantly by actions, this commitment,” he said.
Prosor took aim at this comment, saying that if actions were more important than words the international community should be paying attention to the PA actions that torpedoed the diplomatic process. These actions, he said, included walking away from negotiations in favor of unilateral activity against Israel in the international arena, giving prizes to terrorists and forming a unity government with Hamas, which calls for Israel’s destruction.
Serry added that any diplomatic process must begin with “prioritizing Gaza,” meaning that “we recognize that we cannot possibly hope to pick up the pieces of a shattered Israeli-Palestinian peace strategy, leaving Gaza as it is.”
The envoy called for a “reconstruction hudna,” or a freeze of all military activities above and below ground over at least a three-to-five-year time frame.”
He also called for an intra-Palestinian political reconciliation, further opening Gaza’s crossing for the movement of people and goods, and international political and financial support for a Palestinian “Government of National Consensus.”