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Israel settlement activity "serious setback" to peace process: UN Mideast envoy

12-15-2010 09:59 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- The UN envoy to the Middle East on Tuesday expressed concern over serious setbacks in the Middle East peace process, in light of Israel's failure to extend a freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel's decision poses "a serious set back and I have also made very clear for the United Nations where we stand that we will continue to consider settlements as illegal under international law," the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert H. Serry, told reporters following a briefing to the UN Security Council.

Israel's plan not to renew a moratorium on settlement construction in the areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem recently stalled a series of United States-mediated peace tacks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Serry underlined that next year will be a "critical" year in the stagnant peace process, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have called for a comprehensive agreement to the conflict in 2011.

"Despite the setback we should not lose sight of what needs to happen next year," said Serry as he called for "vigorous negotiations" on all final status issues.

Meanwhile, the UN envoy urged the international community and the Quartet -- a diplomatic group consisting of the UN, the U.S., Russia and the European Union -- to facilitate the peace process.

"The credibility of the international community will be at stake next year if we don't see results," he added.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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