Ban "welcomes the decision by both Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to begin direct negotiations, following the statement of the Quartet and at the invitation of the US government," the United Nations said in a statement.
He "believes that negotiations are the only way for the parties to resolve all final status issues and he calls upon both sides to show leadership, courage, and responsibility to realize the aspirations of both peoples.
"We should all be aware that this is an opportunity that must not be wasted," the statement read.
In the first direct talks in 20 months, Netanyahu and Abbas will meet face-to-face in Washington on September 2 with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Those negotiations will come a day after Netanyahu and Abbas meet separately with US President Barack Obama, Clinton announced Friday.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II have also been invited for bilateral talks with Obama on September 1.
Backed by the diplomatic Quartet -- the United States, Russia, the United Nations and European Union -- the parties will "relaunch direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues, which we believe can be completed within one year," Clinton said.
Ban added that the opportunity "must be seized so that the hope of a better future for the people of the region to live in peace, security and freedom can be fully realized."