PM to meet with Ban Ki-moon in New York

Netanyahu to ask UN chief to rebuff PA’s unilateral statehood bid; Arab League Sec.-Gen. says he wants the UN to lead peace process.

cave of the patriarchs 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
cave of the patriarchs 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon next week in New York and is likely to urge him not to support a Palestinian bid for unilateral statehood, government officials told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday night.
The meeting comes as tension continues to mount between Israel and the UN, whose bodies often single out Israel and accuse it of breaking international law.
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On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry suspended cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization with respect to all activities related to the Cave of Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that relations with UNESCO with regard to these two sites would not be restored until it retracted its statement last week that two ancient biblical sites were an integral part of the “occupied” Palestinian territories.
Ayalon said that the Palestinian Authority was behind the statement, which he added, was issued by the automatic Arab majority on the UNESCO board.
It is another attempt by the PA to delegitimize Israel, he said.
These kinds of decisions only serve to distance any change for peace and understanding between the two nations, Ayalon said. It also turns UNESCO into a “rubber stamp” for the PA, he added.
On Tuesday Ayalon accused the PA of replacing violence with a political campaign to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the international community.
In recent months, Palestinians have increasingly spoken of bypassing Israel and turning to the international community through the United Nations to seek formal recognition of a state along the pre-1967 borders.
On Monday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told Fox News Radio that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League want to the United Nations to lead the peace process with Israel.
The league will give the US a chance to break the current stalemate in negotiations, but there is no reason why the peace process should not be led by the UN, he said.
“I’ll tell you, in all candor, that the prevailing view is that the peace process has failed,” he said.
Palestinians have insisted that they will only negotiate with Israel if it halts settlement construction, or, at the very least, reinstates its moratorium on new building in the settlements, which expired on September 26.
The US and the international community have also called on Israel to renew the moratorium.
Israel has refused to do so and has called on the Palestinians to hold direct negotiations without preconditions.
Still, right-wing politicians fear that Netanyahu might still give in to international pressure, even as they remain hopeful that the US will reduce its pressure on Israel now that the Tuesday’s midterm elections gave the Republicans a majority in the House of Representatives.
Before the premier leaves for the US, he will meet with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who will be in Israel on Thursday.
During his five-day trip to the US, which starts on Sunday, Netanyahu is not expected to meet with with US President Barack Obama, who will be in Asia at the time.
He will, however, meet with Vice President Joe Biden in New Orleans, at the start of his trip. Both men will be there to address the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Netanyahu will then travel to New York, where he will meet Ban on Monday. He expected to solicit Ban’s support for a negotiated peace process, according to government officials. But the agenda for that meeting has yet to be finalized, the officials said.
Netanyahu is also expected to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, though a meeting has yet to be scheduled.
Speaking in the Knesset on Wednesday, Netanyahu threw his support behind a US-led peace process and thanked Obama for all his efforts on Israel’s behalf.
“I greatly appreciate the efforts being made by President Obama’s administration to find a way to advance the political process. I know we have the desire to advance it, and we are taking action, as we have in the past,” he said.
He called on the Palestinians to hold direct talks and to drop their conditions for such negotiations.
“I hope,” he said, that the PA is “not looking for excuses to avoid direct talks with us that would advance security and peace between us.”
He said that Israel has refrained from issuing its own conditions, but insisted that the Palestinians fulfill their obligations, such as halting incitement, said Netanyahu.
Material presented to the security cabinet that morning, he said, showed that Israel’s right to exist had been negated in PA school books and in the PA-controlled media.
“I mention this here not to dwell on this matter, but rather to demonstrate that preconditions could be brought up,” he said. He explained to the Knesset that a mechanism had been created to monitor the incitement.
Netanyahu defended Israel’s commitment to peace and to a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians.
Should the peace process fail, he said, “It did not fail because there was a lack of activity by the Israeli government. It failed because of the assumption made by the PA that perhaps they could circumvent or avoid the need for direct negotiations by moving straight on to international dictates or coercion,” he said.
The Palestinians, have assumed that the international community would back them, he said.
He warned the Palestinians that if they continue to pursue this course, “we will seriously examine whether or not we have a partner for peace and security.”
Jordana Horn contributed to this report.