Kerry: Peres and Livni Told Me UN Vote on Palestine Would Help Netanyahu and Bennett

Kerry tells EU diplomats that UN resolution would reinforce Israeli hardliners, can wait until after the elections; Bennett, Likud accuse Livni of putting political interests ahead of those of Israel.

Reuters

U.S. State Secretary John Kerry said in a lunch meeting with the ambassadors of the 28 European Union states recently in Washington that Hatnua Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and former President Shimon Peres asked him to prevent a vote on the Palestinian issue in the UN Security Council from taking place before the elections in Israel, so as to avoid reinforcing Israeli hardliners, Foreign Policy reported Friday night.

The Likud and Habayit Hayehudi parties responded to the report by accusing Livni of political sabotage.

According to the report, which cited diplomats who attended the lunch, Kerry told the ambassadors that the U.S. will not allow a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinians peace process to be made by the UNSC until after the Israeli elections, on March 17.

Kerry noted that such a resolution at this time would only boost the Israeli elements who oppose the peace process. However, he did not rule out the possibility that the U.S. would support a modified version of the resolution, which would not set a timetable for ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and won't settle any of the core contested issues ahead of future negotiations.

Diplomats said that Kerry noted that Peres and Livni told him that a UN decision that would put pressure on Israel before the elections would serve the political interests of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett.

Kerry said that Livni “told him that such a text imposed by the international community would reinforce Benjamin Netanyahu and the hardliners in Israel,” as well as the hardliners in Palestine, the European diplomat told Foreign Policy. Another diplomat said Kerry's message was that UN action at this time would only go to strengthen the Israeli right.

In response to the report, a joint statement by the Labor Party and Hatnuah said that Livni "is opposed to any Palestinian effort to force a unilateral solution on Israel, a position that she has long stated publicly and in meetings with the Americans. She did the same this time."

Livni is "proud that she successfully protected Israel's essential interests in the Security Council," the statement continued.

"Livni is convinced that it is possible to safeguard Israel's security interests by means of correct diplomacy – which will only happen if Herzog and Livni establish the next coalition."

'Livni crossed a red line'

Bennett accused Livni on Saturday of "political sabotage," claiming that she had crossed a "red line" by orchestrating "an assault on Israel."

"She is orchestrating actions that will hurt Israel, behind the incumbent government's back, all in order to undermine the Bibi-Bennett [campaign]," he said. ”With all due respect, Ms. Livni's interests don't come before the state's interests."

Bennett urged Labor leader Isaac Herzog to call Livni, his running mate, "to order."

Likud, too, accused Livni of putting her political interests ahead of those of Israel.

"This goes to prove that Tzipi [Livni] and Bougie [Herzog] are only interested in replacing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who is standing firm in the face of Palestinian demands and pressures – so that they can make dangerous concessions and compeletely fold to international pressure," the party said in a statement.

"Anyone who wants to prevent the establishment of a second Hamastan in the heart of Israel must vote for Likud." 

A senior official in the U.S. State Department said in response to Foreign Policy that Kerry made it clear both publicly and in private talks that no steps should be taken to interfere with the Israeli elections.

The official noted that Kerry is continuing to discuss with foreign partners the options for preventing a downward spiral of events, and for creating better conditions for resuming the peace talks.

Jordan late Wednesday submitted a draft United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an end to the Israeli occupation by 2017, on behalf of the Palestinians. The resolution sets a two-year deadline to reach a solution to the Palestinian issue.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday made his first public remarks about the Palestinian initiative, saying that unilateral moves would result in a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.

Netanyahu said that Israel would not allow that to happen, and reiterated that Israel would not accept unilateral dictates. "We will always maintain our security," Netanyahu said.