Netanyahu: Israel will thwart UN moves towards Palestinian state

Netanyahu: Israel will thwart UN moves towards Palestinian state
As John Kerry heads to Rome for talks over Syria and Palestinian statehood, the Israeli prime minister lashes out.
3 min read
14 December, 2014
The last US-sponsored peace talks collapsed in April 2014 [Getty]
Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected talk of withdrawing from occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank within two years, ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry. 

"We... stand against the possibility of a diplomatic assault, that is an attempt to compel us by means of UN decisions to withdraw to the 1967 lines within two years," said Netanyahu.

The Israeli state was established in May 1948, occupying the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day war. It pulled out of besieged Gaza in 2005, but continues to control the Strip's borders and airspace.

When in Rome, Kerry will also meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to discuss developments in the Middle East, where Moscow is pressing a new initiative for peace in Syria.
     I assume an anti-Israeli proposal will draw a US veto. That's how it's always been, and that's what we hope will happen. 
- Yuval Steinitz, Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister. 

The US Secretary of State will then meet chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and a delegation of Arab foreign ministers in London on Tuesday.

Erekat will likely call on the United States not to use its UN Security Council veto to block the proposals, Palestinian officials said.

Israel 'a solitary island'

Netanyahu said an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories would bring "Islamic extremists to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem".

Speaking ahead of the weekly meeting of his cabinet, he said he would raise the issue in Rome with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Monday.

"I will tell them that Israel, to a large degree, stands as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism that are washing over the entire Middle East," the Israeli leader said.

"Until now we have successfully withstood and repelled these attacks."

Veto fears

The Palestinian leadership plans to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding the end of Israel's 67-year occupation by November 2016.

The Arab League has backed the text, but it has run into opposition from the United States, which has repeatedly vetoed resolutions seen as undermining Israel.

France too stepped in last month - along with Britain and Germany - to try to cobble together a resolution that could find consensus at the 15-member council.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, speaking on Army Radio, said it appeared the United States "is not eager to use its veto" on the Palestinian statehood issue but was seeking "maximum coordination" with Netanyahu.

Netanyahu and Washington have repeatedly clashed over the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank - deemed illegal under international law - leading to speculation that a frustrated US might soften its opposition to unilateral statehood steps.

But Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters: "I assume an anti-Israeli proposal will draw a US veto. That's how it's always been, and that's what we hope will happen."

The Palestinians have said they would like a draft resolution to go to a vote before the end of the year.

The text would call for a return to negotiations with a view to achieving the internationally favoured two-state solution by which Israel and a Palestinian state would co-exist.