The US will continue to protect Israel in international forums from delegitimization efforts and unfair criticism, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro stated on Wednesday, though he stopped short of saying it would vote against a UN Security Council Resolution proposed by France that spells out the parameters of a two-state solution.
Israel is opposed to Palestinian efforts to pass a resolution through the Security Council that would call explicitly for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital. The French have said they are moving forward on wording of a resolution that would present the parameters of a final deal and set a time line for negotiations.
“We will never support a resolution that attacks Israel, or delegitimizes Israel, or unreasonable criticism. There are other options,” Shapiro said in an Army Radio interview. “I won’t say whether we will or not support or vote on a resolution we have not seen,” he said in reference to the French proposal.
“We are trying to find a way to preserve the two-state solution as a realistic solution during a period without negotiations, and to bring the sides back [to the talks] – even at a later period – and to defend Israel against threats of isolation and delegitimization,” he said.
Shapiro said the US would discuss diplomatic plans with Israel after the formation of a new government.
“I assume that the Israeli government will take into account the international situation, and if Israel is committed to two states, we will talk about the best way to move forward toward that goal, even during a period when its impossible to hold direct negotiations,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely expected, soon after a new government is formed, to deliver a speech similar to the Bar- Ilan address he gave after his election in 2009, reaffirming Jerusalem’s commitment to a two-state solution under certain conditions.
The day before the most recent elections in March, Netanyahu said in an interview that the conditions in the region were currently not ripe for a Palestinian state, and agreed with the assertion that one would not be established under his tenure.
Washington jumped on those comments as a sign he was no longer committed to a two-state solution, and said that as a result it would “reassess” its position regarding Mideast diplomacy. This was interpreted in Jerusalem as a threat to withdraw diplomatic cover from Israel in the UN Security Council.
The magazine Foreign Policy reported earlier this week on its website, however, that the US was quietly pressing France to delay presenting its Security Council proposal until after June 30, the deadline for a final deal between world powers and Iran on its nuclear program.
According to the report, the US wants the French to delay their proposal until after the administration wins congressional support for the Iran deal, not wanting to jeopardize that support by pushing forward with another proposal opposed by Israel.
According to the Foreign Policy report, the US moves to delay the French have also led to speculation among diplomats that Washington might be backing away from its plans to pursue action on the Middle East at the UN.
Nevertheless, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said Monday that if the new Israeli government is seen as “stepping back from its commitment to a two-state solution,” it would make it more difficult for the US to support Israel in the international community.
“[O]ur ability to push back on efforts to internationalize efforts to address Israeli-Palestinian issues has depended on our insistence that the best course in achieving a two-solution is through direct negotiation between the parties,” she said.
The Prime Minister’s Office opted not to react to Sherman’s comments.
In a related development, Netanyahu used a meeting with South Korean Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Hwang Wooyea on Wednesday to compare the pending Iranian nuclear deal to failed international efforts to prevent North Korea from acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Referring to the 1994 deal with North Korea, Netanyahu said it had been stated at the time that the agreement would “moderate North Korea’s aggressive behavior.
It was said that it would integrate North Korea into the family of nations, and unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
The prime minister said he was concerned that the framework deal with Iran signed in Lausanne in March was repeating the same mistake.
“I think that ‘freeze and inspect’ is not an adequate substitute for ‘dismantle and remove,’” he said of the deal, which relies heavily on an inspection regime by the International Atomic Energy Agency. “And in fact, there’s not even a real freeze, because under the Lausanne framework, Iran is left with the ability to develop, with R&D, advanced centrifuges that actually advance its nuclear program. And needless to say, I don’t think there’s any effective inspection. So I think the repetition of these mistakes is a great historic blunder.”
Netanyahu said Israel and South Korea had an “excellent relationship” and that they were both “amazing success stories, two democracies facing adversity, hostility from our neighbors, but spectacular economic success, not because of raw materials, but because of the raw material of the brains and hearts of our people.”
In a later meeting with Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of the State of Maharashtra in India, he publicly invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an official visit.
Since the time he and Modi met in September in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, Netanyahu said there had been a “tremendous” strengthening of the Israeli- Indian relationship.
“It’s time that Prime Minister Modi came to Israel,” he said. “This is an invitation. We have many, many areas of cooperation for good things, and also hard times.”