Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to tell US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome on Monday that Israel is adamantly opposed to any unilateral step at the UN Security Council to impose a solution or set a UN deadline for withdrawal from the West Bank.
Netanyahu, speaking at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, said attempts to get the Security Council to force Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines within two or three years will fail.
Kerry flew to Rome on Sunday to begin discussions on various proposals being formulated on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that are expected to be taken to the Security Council in the coming weeks. The US is keen on bridging the proposals and coming up with a resolution that it will not be forced to veto in the Security Council.
Netanyahu is scheduled to leave for Italy on Monday morning and to return on Monday night.
Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Kerry is scheduled to fly to Paris for meetings with his French, German and British colleagues, as well as EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
He is expected to meet with Palestinian representatives and a high-level delegation representing the Arab League foreign ministers in London on Tuesday.
A Palestinian-Jordanian proposed resolution is expected to call for a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, including in east Jerusalem, within two or three years.
A French proposal calls for Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement within two years, and implies that if this does not happen, the Palestinians will be recognized as a full state by the United Nations.
The French are looking for support for the proposal from fellow EU powers Britain and Germany who, according to Israeli officials, have raised objections to certain elements of the proposal.
Upon arrival in Rome, Kerry met immediately with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
In addition to discussing the Middle East, the two were also expected to focus on the Ukrainian crisis.
Netanyahu, who is also scheduled to meet during his one-day trip to Rome with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, said he will tell both Kerry and Renzi that Israel “stands as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism that are washing over the entire Middle East.
Until now we have successfully withstood and repelled these attacks, and now we also stand against the possibility of a diplomatic assault – i.e., an attempt to compel us, by means of UN decisions, to withdraw to the 1967 lines within two years.”
Such a development, he said, would lead to bringing “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.”
At an appearance in Nazareth saluting Christian Arabs serving in the IDF, Netanyahu said on Sunday evening that European parliaments that are voting to recognize “Palestine” should listen to what Hamas leaders have said in recent days.
“They are saying that they will take control of Judea and Samaria,” he said, “that they will establish there a second ‘Hamastan’ as a base for the destruction of the State of Israel.
We did not let them do that, and we will not let them do it.
This is what I will tell my colleagues during the meeting in Rome.”
One official said that Netanyahu will tell Kerry that the Palestinians must not be given diplomatic incentives for not negotiating.
“If the Palestinians believe that by refusing to negotiate they will still see progress, then why negotiation? Why give them a prize for refusing to engage with Israel?” The last time Netanyahu and Kerry met was in Amman with Jordanian King Abdullah II on November 13, to try to tamp down tensions in Jerusalem. This will be the first meeting between the two since the world-power negotiations with Iran were extended on November 24, and the Iranian dossier is also expected to be a major focus of the talks.
Asked if it was not unusual to hold a high-level diplomatic meeting on the Palestinian track just as an election campaign was beginning, the official said that there are “over three months before elections, and the idea that business of government will come to a stop is not serious.”