Monday, December 15, 2014 11:31 am
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday angrily rejected a Palestinian bid to set a UN deadline for an end to Israel’s occupation as he headed to Rome for high-stakes talks with US top diplomat John Kerry.
“We will not accept attempts to dictate to us unilateral moves on a limited timetable,” the Israeli leader said in a statement before flying to Italy.
He was due to meet Kerry later Monday in the US ambassador’s residence here, as Washington seeks to avert an end-of-year showdown at the United Nations Security Council.
The Palestinians have said they intend to submit a draft text setting a two-year deadline for an end to the decades-long Israeli occupation of their lands as early as Wednesday.
France is also leading European efforts to cobble together a resolution which would require a return to the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
US officials have said Kerry is aiming to learn more about the European initiative, which could place the US administration in a quandary.
Traditionally the US has used its power of veto at the UN Security Council to shoot down what it sees as moves against its close regional ally, Israel.
But there is a growing impatience in Europe to end the impasse in the peace negotiations amid fears that the Middle East risks spiralling into even greater chaos.
Several European parliaments have called on their governments to move ahead with the recognition of a Palestinian state.
US officials told reporters accompanying Kerry that Washington has not yet decided whether to veto or back a European-led UN initiative.
The US administration opposes moves to bind negotiators’ hands through a UN resolution — particularly any attempt to set a deadline for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank.
A US veto risks however running contrary to Washington’s avowed aims of a Palestinian state and would anger key Arab allies — many of whom have joined the US-led coalition against Islamic State militants.
– No ‘diktats’ –
Netanyhau seized on Monday’s hostage seige in Australia as proof that Israel had to uphold its security in its turbulent region.
“In the reality in which Islamic terrorism is reaching out to all corners of the globe, we will rebuff any attempt that would put this terrorism inside our home,” the Israeli prime minister said.
“We will stand firm in the face of any diktat.”