A senior UN diplomat says neither Palestinians nor Israel has ‘the luxury of time’, warning it could get too late to establish a Palestinian state.
"I’m afraid the two-state solution is fading if the parties still think they have the luxury of time," Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (al-Quds) on Tuesday.
The UN official said that 70 percent of Israelis and 55 percent of Palestinians support the two-state solution, denoting an increasing air of pessimism on the Palestinian side.
Meanwhile, Serry warned Israel of flaring tensions with Arab states who "see the land for a Palestinian state being eaten away by facts on the ground.
"Israel would be well advised to understand the consequences of the two-state solution fading: either lose demographically or become an apartheid state," he said.
Serry also explained that the Palestinians have to "address the issue of refugees because the very essence of two states means two homelands for two peoples."
The Middle East Quartet — which is made up of the UN, the European Union, Russia and the US — held a summit in the Russian capital Moscow in March where they announced a 24-month deadline for Palestinians and Israel to reach a negotiated settlement based on a two-state solution.
"I sincerely hope that the birthright of a Palestinian state will be agreed upon within the next 24 months. Otherwise it may be too late," Serry warned.
According to Serry, the UN fully supports US efforts to resume negotiations. But on the contrary, results of a recent opinion poll indicate that support for US President Barack Obama’s mediation efforts is plummeting among the Palestinians.
Nearly 78 percent of those surveyed were skeptic of a purported US-Israeli dispute over the latter’s settlement expansions in the West Bank, seen as the main obstacle on the way to lasting peace in the Middle East, saying the division is "not serious."