Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel would stand up against any possible diplomatic assault at the United Nations, telling ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that the Palestinian resolution calling for the end to occupation by 2016 would be rejected.
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"This is an attempt to compel us – by means of UN decisions – to withdraw to the 1967 lines within two years, he said. "This will lead to Islamic extremists to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem. We will not allow this. We will strongly and responsibly rebuff this. Let there be no doubt, this will be rejected."
A delegation of foreign ministers from Arab countries will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday and urge him not to impose a veto against the Palestinian-Jordanian resolution should the draft be brought to the United Nations Security Council for a vote in the coming weeks.
The meeting between Kerry and the Arab foreign ministers will be held in London a day after the secretary of state's urgent talks with Netanyahu in Rome.
Prior to his talks with the Arab ministers, Kerry will meet with a Palestinian delegation comprising chief negotiatior Saeb Erekat, and the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence service, Majid Faraj, Palestinian minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki told the Ramallah-based Al-Ayyam newspaper.
Kerry initiated the meeting with the Palestinians in London - as well as the meeting with Netanyahu in Rome - as part of his attempts to try to understand how flexible the two sides are, and whether there is a possibility of reaching a compromise. Kerry spoke by telephone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday and asked him to send Faraj and Erekat to meet with him in London; his invitation to Netanyahu was extended earlier in the week.
The meetings Kerry will be holding over the next few days with Netanyahu, the Palestinians, the Arab foreign ministers and his European counterparts are part of the American attempt to prevent a diplomatic confrontation in the Security Council over the Palestinian issue, or to at least postpone the confrontation for as long as possible.
"There are a lot of different folks pushing in different directions out there, and the question is can we all pull in the same direction," Kerry told reporters during a visit to Colombia. "That’s what we’re looking at."
"We're trying to figure out a way to help defuse the tensions and reduce the potential for more conflict and we’re exploring various possibilities to that end," Kerry told reporters in Bogota when asked whether there is a resolution the U.S. could support.
It is still unclear whether Kerry plans to present Israel and the Palestinians with a new proposal or a compromise. In any case, it will be very hard for him to achieve such a compromise. The Palestinians are determined to push their resolution forward in the Security Council, while Israel, which is now in the midst of an election campaign, has rejected any such move in the Security Council out of hand.
Over the weekend, Kerry met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on the sidelines of the climate conference in Peru to talk about a European proposal on the Palestinian issue. He also called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday to discuss "developments in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the region, as well as current initiatives at the UN," a U.S. official said. The two agreed to meet today in Rome to discuss the matter. Later he talked to Abbas, the State Department said in a statement.
The delegation of Arab foreign ministers, headed by the secretary general of the Arab League Nabil Al-Araby, will meet Kerry as part of their lobbying effort of meeting with the foreign ministers of all the permanent members of the Security Council to enlist support for the Palestinian move. The Arab foreign ministers will meet on Tuesday morning in Paris with Fabius and discuss an alternative resolution being formulated by France to present their reservations and comments.
The main difference between the French proposal and the Palestinian-Jordanian one is that the Palestinian resolution proposes a time table of two years to end the occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while the French resolution allocates a two year period for reaching a permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
"If the French side relates positively to our comments we will relate positively to the French draft resolutions if they are brought to a vote in the Security Council," said Al-Maliki. "But as of now we are still committed to the Palestinian-Jordanian resolution," he added.
After the meeting with Kerry in London, the Arab foreign ministers will also meet British foreign minister Philip Hammond, and possibly with Lavrov.
Jordan's UN Ambassador Dina Kawar said earlier this month that she hoped a resolution could be put to a vote in December or January. "Waiting until April and therefore probably facing a Palestinian draft in the Security Council in January, vetoed by the Americans, will just make the situation worse," said a senior Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "If there is a window of opportunity for a consensus resolution it might be this month," the diplomat said.