UN leader Ban Ki-moon warned Thursday ahead of key vote on UN recognition of a Palestinian state that the Middle East peace process is on "life support".

But he told a UN meeting that only "direct negotiations" between the Palestinians and Israelis can lead to a permanent settlement.

Ban called on the Israeli and Palestinian leaders "to breathe new life into the peace process which is now on life support" because of the negotiations deadlock between the rivals.

"What is needed now is political will and courage. Leaders must show a historic sense of responsibility and vision. Israelis and Palestinians must break out of the zero-sum mentality," Ban told a meeting on Palestinian rights

The UN General Assembly will vote later Thursday on a resolution granting Palestine observer state membership of the UN. It is certain to win despite opposition from the United States and Israel.

Ban noted that the General Assembly vote comes 65 years to the day after the assembly voted a resolution on the division of the Palestinian territories into a two-state solution that "remains tragically unfulfilled".