World Bulletin/News Desk
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would tell U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel will rebuff any moves at the United Nations to set a timeframe for a withdrawal from territory Palestinians seek for state.
The State Department has said the two men will meet in Rome on Monday to discuss various proposals for a Palestinian state that are circulating at the United Nations.
Kerry will then meet Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and a delegation of Arab foreign ministers in London on Tuesday, who will urge for the United States not to use its U.N. Security Council veto to block the proposals, Palestinian officials said.
Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators collapsed in April of this year over Israel's refusal to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so. Since then, Palestinians have made unilateral efforts at the U.N. to form their own state in the occupied West Bank and in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The talks aimed to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the roots of which date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous "Balfour Declaration," called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
Jordan circulated a Palestinian-drafted resolution to the 15-member Security Council last month calling for Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory to end by November 2016. The Palestinian draft resolution will seek to apply the "two-state solution," providing the Palestinians with an independent state within pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, according to recent statements by Abbas.
France, Britain and Germany are in efforts to draft a resolution of their own that could draw wider consensus.
Netanyahu, who is in the middle of campaigning for a March election, will also meet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi along with Kerry.
"I will tell both of them that Israel stands, to a great extent, as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism washing over the entire Middle East," Netanyahu said on Sunday in public remarks to his cabinet.
He said Israel now faced a possible diplomatic offensive "to force upon us" such a withdrawal within two years.
"This will bring the radical Islamic elements to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem. We will not allow this. We will rebuff this forcefully and responsibly. Let there be no doubt, this will be rejected."
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, speaking on Army Radio, said it appeared the United States "is not eager to use its veto" on the Palestinian statehood issue but was seeking "maximum coordination" with Netanyahu.
Netanyahu and Washington have clashed frequently over Israeli settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, leading to Israeli media speculation that a frustrated U.S. could soften its opposition to unilateral statehood steps.
But Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters: "I assume an anti-Israeli proposal will draw a U.S. veto. That's how it's always been, and that's what we hope will happen."
Washington, which hopes to maintain its Arab allies in its coalition against the ISIL militant group, hopes to avoid using its veto to torpedo the Palestinian draft resolution.
Last Mod: 14 Aralık 2014, 16:25