Netanyahu tells Kerry: Imposed Palestinian state deal will endanger Israel

Unclear whether US will use veto to stymie Palestinian statehood bid.

Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome.  (photo credit: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE)
Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome.
ROME – Emerging from a three-hour meeting in the Italian capital with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will “do everything possible” to make sure the UN Security Council does not impose a solution on Israel.
Netanyahu said that Israel reserves the “freedom of action” to repel both the Palestinian and French proposals expected to be brought to the Security Council in the near future, but would provide no details about what steps Israel might take in response.
Asked whether he left Rome feeling more or less confident that the US would use its veto in the Security Council to prevent the acceptance of a resolution detrimental to Israel, Netanyahu said that he is “confident that what he had to say was heard.”
Netanyahu said that Israel’s expectation is that the US would stick by its position over the last 47 years, since Security Council Resolution 242 following the Six Day War, that any solution to the conflict must come through negotiations, and not be imposed from the outside.
“We will not accept diktats on this,” Netanyahu said, “and we see no reason for the US to change its position.”
Netanyahu said that Kerry did not condition a US veto on any particular action. The prime minister acknowledged that Kerry understands well the likely deterioration in the situation that acceptance of the Palestinian resolution could lead to.
The Palestinians have said that they would bring to the Security Council as early as Wednesday their proposal calling for a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines within two or three years.
Netanyahu, who very rarely says what interlocutors in his conversations tell him, would not say whether he received a commitment from Kerry that the US would use its veto.
The French proposal – which has come up against some opposition from France’s European partners Germany and Britain – calls for the two sides to conclude negotiations leading to a state within two years, but not for the Palestinians to take steps important to Israel – such as recognizing it as a Jewish state. This was also very problematic from an Israeli perspective.
Netanyahu spoke to French President Francois Hollande some 10 days ago and made clear Israel’s strong opposition to the process they were leading. The step is being shepherded by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Regarding the Palestinian threat to take Israel to the International Criminal Court if the Security Council does not accept the resolution, Jerusalem has made clear that this is a “field that more than one side can play on,” and that Israel can – and will – retaliate.
In comments to the press immediately following the meeting with Kerry and before he left Rome, Netanyahu started off his comments to the press by sending his condolences to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Australian people for Monday’s terrorist attack in Sydney.
He said that international Islamist terrorism does not respect borders, and the struggle against it needs to be global.
Netanyahu characterized the meeting with Kerry as “serious and deep,” as it dealt with a number of issues in addition to the Palestinian track, including Iran, Syria, and Islamic State.
Netanyahu said he told Kerry that efforts by the Palestinians and some countries in the region to impose a solution on Israel would lead to a deterioration in the situation and endanger Israel. “Therefore,” he concluded, “we will oppose this forcefully.”
The US was seen as attempting a delicate balancing act: moving the diplomatic process forward, providing the Palestinians with a political horizon, not wanting to use their UN veto, and not wanting to lend their hand to the imposition of a settlement on Israel that Jerusalem does not feel meets its fundamental requirements.
And all that must be done in a way that will not be interpreted by the Israeli public as heavy-handed interference in its general election.
Kerry is to travel from Rome to Paris, where he is scheduled to meet his French, British, and German counterparts. From there he will travel to London and meet with an Arab League delegation led by Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
The delegations are also scheduled to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who issued a statement saying that France is trying to promote a resumption of the peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians on a “credible basis.” France, a statement put out by Fabius said, is closely coordinating with the Arab League “to restore a climate of confidence and offer a political horizon to the parties.”
Before meeting with Kerry, Netanyahu met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for the first time.
The official reiterated Israel’s position that the bottom line of an imposed Palestinian state would be the entrance of Hamas into Judea and Samaria. This, the official said, has been borne out by various surveys among the Palestinians as well as by recent statements by Hamas leaders.
Such a move, he added, would be “deadly” for Israel, the Palestinians, and peace.
Israel, the official explained, is opposed to unilateral calls for a Palestinian state, because it makes demands of Israel but not of the Palestinians.