The U.N.'s top Mideast envoy is challenging the Security Council to step up and lead the way to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Robert Serry in his final briefing to the council on Thursday said the international community should seriously consider presenting a framework for negotiations that "may be the only way to preserve the goal of a two-state solution."

He also sharply criticized Israel's illegal settlement building, saying it "may kill the very possibility of reaching peace on the paradigm of two states for two peoples."

Serry spoke a day after Israel's prime minister struck a conciliatory tone as he was formally chosen to form a new government following an acrimonious election campaign.

The Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. quickly told reporters he totally agrees with Serry's comments.