Netanyahu to Tell Kerry: Israel Expects U.S. to Veto Palestinians' UN Bid

Senior Israeli official says U.S. should maintain its policy on unilateral measures, ahead of leaders' Rome meet; Kerry staff nixes scheduled photo op; Palestinians say will submit UN draft resolution this week.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Netanyahu arrives in Rome ahead of his meeting with Kerry, December 15, 2014.
Netanyahu arrives in Rome ahead of his meeting with Kerry, December 15, 2014.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

ROME - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome on Monday, where he is expected to request that the U.S. continue its years-long policy of vetoing resolutions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the UN Security Council.

"What is at stake now is a resolution at the UN Security Council to try to force Israel to accept the creation of a Palestinian state unilaterally and within a certain time frame," a senior official in the prime minister's entourage told reporters en route to Rome.

"The consistent American policy for the past 47 years has opposed such unilateral steps," the official continued. "There is no reason for that to change, and we expect that it won't change."

The senior official added that Israel would reject any attempts to dictate unilateral moves. "International support for such a unilateral measure would open the door for Hamas to enter the West Bank," he said. "Such a step could be destructive for Israel and the Palestinians. Demands are being made of Israel without being made of the Palestinians, and that it why we will oppose [such an initiative]."

Kerry's staff, meanwhile, canceled the photo op scheduled to take place at the start of the meeting Monday.

The Palestinian Authority said Sunday that it plans to submit a draft resolution on ending the Israeli occupation to the UN Security Council either late that night or the following day, and will seek a vote on it as early as Wednesday, senior Palestinian officials said.

The Palestinian draft calls for recognizing a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines and setting a two-year deadline for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank.

In recent weeks, various spokespeople for the American government, including Kerry, have said that they oppose unilateral measures from the Israelis and Palestinians.

The White House, however, has not elaborated on its position regarding a possible UN Security Council vote on the Palestinian issue. Various senior American officials have been vague on the subject, adding that the U.S. would decide how to vote only after it has seen the resolution's wording.

That ambiguity prompted concern among officials in Jerusalem, who fear the U.S. intends to change its policy and not impose a veto on the Palestinian initiative at the United Nations.

Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On urged Netanyahu to adopt a more practical negotiating stance vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

"Israel must support [Palestinian President ] Mahmoud Abbas' efforts for recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN, and to conduct negotiations between the two governments as equal partners," Gal-On said.

"Netanyahu has lost all international influence; country after country has recognized a Palestinian state, while Israel has stuck its head in the sand like an ostrich," she added. "The result will be Israel's inability to determine its own future borders as part of a negotiated agreement."

Netanyahu must adopt a more practical approach to solving the conflict that resolve the impasse Israel faces, she said.

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