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U.N. envoy: Israel deadlock standing in way of Palestinian state

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinians are ready for statehood but prevented by the deadlock in peacemaking with Israel, the United Nations’ special Middle East envoy said.

“The Palestinian Authority has, in key areas, reached a level of institutional performance sufficient for a functioning state,” Robert Serry, the special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said in a statement Tuesday summarizing his briefing to the U.N. Security Council.

Given the efforts of the West Bank administration of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Serry said, “The Palestinian Authority is ready to assume the responsibilities of statehood at any point in the near future.”

He lamented, however, the “profound and persistent deadlock” in peace negotiations and, while commending Israel for its confidence-building efforts, faulted the West Bank settlements.

“Without a credible political path forward, accompanied by more far-reaching steps on the ground, the viability of the Palestinian Authority and its state-building agenda — and, I fear, of the two-state solution itself — cannot be taken for granted,” Serry said.

Palestinian and Israeli delegates faced off at a Security Council session Tuesday, with the former appealing for statehood recognition and the latter saying there can be no alternative to direct talks.

The Palestinians have indicated they might campaign at the U.N.’s General Assembly in September for countries to endorse their claim on sovereignty in all of the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, suggested that the Palestinians lacked credibility given that Hamas controls Gaza and has not submitted to Abbas’ authority.

Addressing his Palestinian counterpart, Prosor said, “On behalf of whom will you present a resolution in September? Mr. Abbas or Hamas? Will it be on behalf of both the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terrorist organization, which advances a charter calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews?”

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