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Israeli PM rejects Palestinian timetable

By Agencies in Jerusalem and Rome | China Daily | Updated: 2014-12-16 08:01

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected on Monday any Palestinian attempt to set a deadline through a UN Security Council resolution for Israel to end its occupation.

"We will not accept attempts to dictate to us unilateral moves on a limited timetable," he said in a statement before heading for Rome to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"We will stand firm in the face of any diktat."

Palestine on Sunday announced it would present a draft resolution to the Security Council on Wednesday setting a two-year deadline for Israel to withdraw from occupied Palestinian territories.

Kerry and Netanyahu were scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the vote, with the US expected to veto the draft.

Netanyahu on Sunday ruled out the possibility of a withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

European countries have been trying to put together a draft which would win consensus at the 15-member Security Council, with the new text simply calling for a return to peace talks aimed at achieving a two-state solution.

Previous rounds of US-brokered talks between Israel and Palestine have failed.

The Obama administration is in a diplomatic bind on the Middle East.

The United States is reluctant to do anything right now that can be perceived as interference in Israel's elections, while being pressed by close allies to endorse an Israeli-Palestinian negotiating framework that largely adheres to US policy.

France is drafting the UN resolution that proposes a two-year timetable for talks. The draft speaks of the 1967 Middle East borders as the basis for dividing the land, which US President Barack Obama has publicly backed, but it doesn't include the Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Diplomatic gridlock

The US has long opposed the idea of the Security Council imposing a framework for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. But for Washington, simply vetoing the plan could have pitfalls.

A veto would upset Palestinians and perhaps some Arab allies frustrated by years of diplomatic gridlock. Several are fighting alongside the US right now against the Islamic State.

It would risk angering France as well as other European countries that want to broaden peace efforts after countless US-led mediation failures. US credibility as a peace broker could be damaged as a result.

At a White House meeting last week, Obama's top foreign policy aides were unable to agree on an approach to France's potential resolution.

Kerry suggested steering away from the effort at a time of increased Middle East violence and with Israeli elections a couple of months away, according to a US official familiar with the discussion.

Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, supported engaging partner countries to see if a compromise is possible, said the official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter.


(China Daily 12/16/2014 page12)

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