Foreign Minister Murray McCully has given notice to the United Nations Security Council that New Zealand will begin work again on a resolution on the Middle East peace process.

Two years ago negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were suspended.

In a hard-hitting speech in New York this morning, Mr McCully said that since then, violence had escalated, Israeli settlements had continued and trust between the two parties had been further eroded.

"And the council has been largely a spectator."


He said it was becoming increasingly apparent that the two-state solution involving Israel and a Palestinian state could be moving beyond reach.

"If matters continue as they have for the last two years without action from this council and others, the two-state solution will be dead," he said.

Other initiatives were taking place outside the council in the Quartet [UN, United States, Russia and the European Union], amongst the Arab League and through a proposed French conference on peace.

There was some debate as to whether a Security Council resolution focused on preserving the two-state solution, stopping violence and rhetoric and stopping settlements would be better before or after the French conference.

New Zealand had drafted a resolution last year but was persuaded there would be insufficient support at the time.

"However the situation has deteriorated further and the threat to the two-state solution has become greater," Mr McCully said.

"So New Zealand will, over the coming weeks, resume the conversation about the sequencing and content of a focused council resolution as the views of the French representatives and the Quartet take greater shape."

The efforts of those parties were vital, he said.

"But they are not sufficient and they cannot absolve this council of its responsibility to lead.

"It is our absolute conviction that a council resolution is an essential ingredient in the steps that lie ahead - the only issue is its timing and relationship to external processes."

New Zealand would find it hard to understand how a text with the limited purpose and focus he had outlined could be too strong to be acceptable to other council members.

In the current circumstance, extreme positions would almost certainly fail and serve only to consign the council to continuing to preside in silence over the demise of the two-state solution.

The council's immediate task must be to preserve the ultimate goal of a two-state solution and to put the council's weight behind the first steps on that path.

"New Zealand is committed to seeing this council resolve a clear plan over the coming weeks.

"Between the work of the Quartet, the Arab League, the French initiative and others, there is a vitally important role for this council."

New Zealand's two-year term on the council ends in December.