On the heels of his visit to Rome, it was reported on Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke several days ago on the phone with French President Francois Hollande and asked him to halt the French UN initiative being promoted by foreign minister Laurent Fabius.
The French initiative incorporates a United Nations Security Council resolution that sets a two-year timetable for achieving a permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which includes a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines and land swaps.
“I told Hollande that I think this move is a negative one and will backfire,” Netanyahu told reporters after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome. “Such a move is contrary to a peace agreement, it will thwart all future negotiations and bring about an escalation,”
“Hollande listened, and I don’t want to say what he said, but I said things very clearly,” he added.
Netanyahu insisted that Israel will respond to unilateral Palestinian moves. “We reserve our freedom to act and respond to different situations,” he said. “There is no point in me revealing possible responses. They understand that if they take that step there will be countermeasures,. They cannot take lightly the possibility that we will act against them, in a variety of arenas. Two can play in this court. There are many arenas – some direct and some more distant. I am not talking about violent actions.”
Earlier Monday, a senior official in the prime minister’s entourage told reporters that “what is at stake now is a resolution at the UN Security Council to try to force Israel to accept the creation of a Palestinian state unilaterally and within a certain time frame.”
According to the unnamed official, “the consistent American policy for the past 47 years has opposed such unilateral steps; there is no reason for that to change, and we expect that it won’t change.”
The senior official added that Israel would reject any attempts to dictate unilateral actions. “International support for such a unilateral measure would open the door for Hamas to enter the West Bank. Such a step could be destructive for Israel and the Palestinians. Demands are being made of Israel without being made of the Palestinians, and that is why we will oppose [such an initiative].”
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Monday said that the Palestinians don’t yet have the support of nine UN Security Council members for a resolution that would recognize a Palestinian state. In an interview with Nazareth-based radio station Ashams, Erekat said the Palestinians expect to receive support for such a resolution from countries like France and Luxembourg.
The Obama administration, meanwhile, is said to be split over which stance the United States should take in the UN Security Council. According to AP, during a White House meeting last week, Obama’s top foreign policy aides appeared unable to agree on an approach to France’s potential resolution.