J'lem seeks ‘critical minority’ against statehood bid by PA

PM wants ability to put forces on W. Bank heights; on return home, Netanyahu says he found wide US support for Israel’s basic demands.

[Bibi glasses] Binyamin Netanyahu 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
[Bibi glasses] Binyamin Netanyahu 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu left Washington on Tuesday night confident that the US will veto any UN Security Council resolution in September recognizing a Palestinian state, senior officials said.
The officials’ comments came even though US President Barack Obama – both in his Mideast address last Thursday and in his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday – did not explicitly mention a veto.
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He did, however, come out very strongly against the planned Palestinian move.
The US views such a move, according to Israeli officials, as something that will only worsen the conflict and is in direct contradiction to US policy over the past 20 years of reaching a negotiated settlement.
While the Israeli assessments are that the UN move will have support from certain Western European countries, the government’s overall approach now is to to put together a coalition of 30 to 40 democracies – various EU countries, Canada, Australia and others – to oppose the move in the General Assembly.
This “critical minority,” it is hoped, would go a long way toward depriving the the Palestinians of the moral victory they are seeking by taking the measure to the UN.
Although they have a builtin majority in the General Assembly, they are keen on support from the world’s democracies, and not only from countries like Chad and Venezuela. While Obama is believed to be making this case during his current trip to Europe, Israeli officials believe more coordination on this and other matters is needed within the administration.
Another area in which coordination with the US will be critical has to do with Netanyahu’s demand – backed by Obama – that a future Palestinian state be non-militarized.
Israeli officials downplayed perceived differences between the US and Israel regarding an Israeli military presence on the Jordan River in any future agreement.
While Obama, in both his Mideast speech and AIPAC address, said a Palestinian state would have borders with Egypt, Israel and Jordan, this does not mean, according to the officials, that he has ruled out an Israeli military presence there.
Indeed, during his speeches he said that provisions must “be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.”
Netanyahu has spoken of an Israeli military presence on the Jordan River, but has refrained, at least publicly, from spelling out what that means. Israeli officials said that he has not ruled out an Israeli presence as part of a multi-national force, and that he has also said that any provisions on the Jordan River would be evaluated over time to determine whether they could be changed.
Netanyahu made sure during discussions in Washington, however, to stress that he was not only concerned about preventing smuggling of terrorists and missiles from Jordan into the West Bank – but that any agreement would also have to ensure that Israel has the capability to put military installations and forces on the commanding heights in Judea and Samaria.
Upon his arrival in Israel Wednesday evening, Netanyahu characterized his visit to the US as “important,” and said that he found wide American support for Israel’s basic demands.
“First and foremost, a recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people; the need for secure borders, and complete rejection of Hamas,” he said.
Netanyahu said he laid the foundations in the US for a diplomatic program around which the vast majority of Israelis could unite.
“The time has also come for the Zionist parties to unite around these principles.”
Likewise, he said, the time has come for the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel’s just claims.