Hamas and PA attacking Israel on two fronts, Netanyahu charges
Prime minister says he expects world powers to shoot down Palestinian statehood bid at UN
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lumped together unilateral diplomatic moves by the Palestinian Authority and rocket fire from Gaza terror groups Sunday, saying they added up to Israel being attacked simultaneously on two fronts.
Netanyahu called on “those responsible in the international community” to reject the Palestinians’ petition to the UN Security Council for an Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in 1967, speaking a day after reports surfaced that a political rival had told Washington letting the bid go through would help Netanyahu at the polls.
The prime minister also accused the PA of attempting to undermine Israel’s very existence, and asserted that Ramallah hoped to deprive the Jewish state of the ability to ensure its own security.
On Wednesday, Jordan submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council defining the terms for Palestinian statehood as well as an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, in a move one Israeli minister said was tantamount to a declaration of war.
“Israel is being attacked simultaneously on two fronts,” Netanyahu said during a Hanukkah candle lighting with soldiers at an army base Sunday night.
“It is attacked by the terrorism of Hamas and other terrorist organizations, and is also subject to the diplomatic offensive led by the Palestinian Authority, which is intended to strip us of our right to defend ourselves and directed at eliminating the legitimacy of our existence,” he said.
Israel, the prime minister said, was pushing back on both fronts.
Netanyahu’s comments came two days after a rocket was fired into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, landing in an open area and causing no damage. The Israeli air force later responded to the attack, hitting a Hamas factory that was producing cement to rebuild the terror tunnels destroyed and damaged in last summer’s war, according to Israeli officials.
The cross-border fire was the first serious exchange since Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in late August, ending a bloody 50-day war.
Addressing the Palestinians’ diplomatic bid, Netanyahu called the conditions set forth in the UN Security Council draft resolution “unacceptable.”
“We expect those responsible from the international community to reject the bid, but in any case, we will oppose it and obviously we will not follow any diktats,” he said.
The statement came a day after reports surfaced that Hatnua party head Tzipi Livni had asked US Secretary of State John Kerry to delay the Palestinian UN bid for statehood until after elections, lest it strengthen Israel’s right-wing, including Netanyahu.
Livni, who came under fire from Netanyahu’s camp and other right-wing factions Saturday night, said Sunday she had asked Kerry to shoot down the bid, not delay it.
Foreign Policy magazine, which originally reported the story, said 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 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.
On Thursday, the US stated that it would not support the Palestinian statehood resolution which was presented to the UN by Jordan.
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,” she 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.
AFP and JTA contributed to this report.