Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni, who is set to run on a joint ticket with Isaac Herzog’s Labor party in the March elections, said she was proud to have guarded Israeli interests at the UN in convincing the US to stall a vote at the Security Council on the recognition of Palestinian statehood.
A joint statement released by Labor and Hatnua Saturday stated that” Livni [consistently] opposed any attempt by the Palestinians to impose a new reality on Israel by taking unilateral steps. This was her consistent approach, in public, and in private to the Americans, and this is her stance today.”
The announcement came hours after Foreign Policy reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry told his European counterparts to hold off on the Palestinian UN bid at the recommendation of Livni and former president Shimon Peres, who told him international pressure on Israel would only play into the hands of the right-wing camp led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Saturday, Livni and Herzog were largely taking credit for the fact that the US has been blocking progress in bringing the Palestinian bid urging recognition and an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines to a vote.
“Livni is proud to have preserved key Israeli interests at the Security Council. Israel’s security interests can be safeguarded with the right policy, which can only come to pass if Herzog and Livni form the next government coalition,” read the statement.
Earlier, Foreign Policy reported that at a recent annual luncheon with the 28 European Union ambassadors, Kerry said that a UN vote before Israeli elections would only benefit those who oppose the peace process, like Netanyahu and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett. Kerry also intimated during the gathering that the US may support a Security Council resolution if the wording were appropriate, but he did not elaborate.
Kerry said the US would not allow the resolution to come to a vote before the Israeli elections, set for March 17, according to the report.
“Kerry has been very, very clear that for the United States it was not an option to discuss whatever text before the end of the Israeli election,” a European diplomat told Foreign Policy.
The diplomat also said that Kerry spoke about a warning issued to him by Livni and Peres that a favorable UN vote “imposed by the international community would reinforce Benjamin Netanyahu and the hardliners in Israel.”
Another European diplomat said Kerry’s message was that UN action would “give more impetus to more right-wing parties, that there was a risk this could further embolden the more right-wing forces along the Israeli political spectrum.”
The diplomat said the US has been too “vague” on what steps could be taken at the Security Council after the Israeli elections.
A response to the report issued by the State Department stated that Kerry has said in public and in private that “any steps should be taken that would interfere with the Israeli election.”
On Thursday, the US said it would not support the current resolution put forward by the Palestinians setting the terms for statehood and an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
Washington has seen the text of a draft resolution circulating in the UN Security Council and “it is not something that we would support,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
“We wouldn’t support any action that would prejudge the outcome of the negotiations and that would set a specific deadline for the withdrawal of forces,” Psaki said.
She did not rule out a statehood-related resolution per se, saying the United States wanted “further consultations.”
Psaki noted that the Palestinians “are not pushing for a vote right now,” and said it was unlikely the measure would face a vote soon.
Jordan presented the measure on Wednesday to the UN Security Council on behalf of the Palestinians, who said they were open to negotiations on the text.
Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel would never accept “unilateral diktats” while his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed the draft as a “Palestinian gimmick.”
Washington has repeatedly vetoed Security Council resolutions seen as undermining its close ally Israel.
The Palestinian draft resolution sets a 12-month deadline for wrapping up negotiations on a final settlement and the end of 2017 as the time frame for completing an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
A final peace deal would pave the way to the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as a shared capital, according to the text.
“There is no basis for consensus on the text as drafted and that is why we need to do some work,” said a Security Council diplomat.
France, working with Britain and Germany, is pressing on with a separate text on reviving the peace process, but it was unclear when that effort would yield results.
“We are continuing our work on a consensus text. We are working on the European text and we will see if we can make progress,” said a European diplomat.
A nine-months, US-brokered effort to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians failed spectacularly in April. The US blamed both sides but put an emphasis on continued Israeli settlement activity as the main culprit.
A month after talks broke down, a Yedioth Ahronoth feature, reportedly based on a briefing by former special envoy to the negotiations Martin Indyk, quoted unnamed US officials offering a withering assessment of Netanyahu’s handling of the negotiations, indicated that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had completely given up on the prospect of a negotiated solution, and warned Israel that the Palestinians will achieve statehood come what may — either via international organizations or through violence.
AFP and JTA contributed to this report.