Netanyahu to Tell Kerry Israel Will Resist Pressure to Make Withdrawal

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at Ciampino military airport ahead of his meeting with Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Rome on Sunday. (REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool)
Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at Ciampino military airport ahead of his meeting with Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Rome on Sunday. (REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he would tell Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel will rebuff any moves at the United Nations to set a timeframe for a withdrawal from territory Palestinians seek for a state.

The State Department said the two men will meet in Rome on Monday to discuss various proposals for a Palestinian state that are circulating at the United Nations.

Kerry will then meet Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and a delegation of Arab foreign ministers in London on Tuesday, who will press the United States not to use its U.N. Security Council veto to block the proposals, Palestinian officials said.

Jordan circulated a Palestinian-drafted resolution to the Security Council last month calling for Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by November 2016.

France, Britain and Germany are working toward a resolution of their own that could draw wider consensus.

Netanyahu will also meet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi along with Kerry.

“I will tell both of them that Israel stands, to a great extent, as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism washing over the entire Middle East,” Netanyahu said on Sunday in public remarks to his cabinet.

He said Israel now faced a possible diplomatic offensive “to force upon us” such a withdrawal within two years.

“This will bring the radical Islamic elements to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Yerushalayim. We will not allow this. We will rebuff this forcefully and responsibly. Let there be no doubt, this will be rejected.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio that it appeared the United States “is not eager to use its veto” on the Palestinian statehood issue but was seeking “maximum coordination” with Netanyahu.

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