Liberman to convene Israel’s ambassadors to Europe in bid to thwart ‘Palestine’ gambit

Foreign minister aims to thwart Palestinian Authority bid for UN status upgrade

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday ordered an emergency gathering this weekend of all Israeli ambassadors to European countries in order to coordinate Jerusalem’s attempt to thwart a Palestinian bid to upgrade to nonmember status at the UN.

Liberman was planning on personally flying to the meeting, set to take place in Vienna, Maariv reported.

The Palestinian Authority plans to ask the UN General Assembly at the end of November for recognition for Palestine as a nonmember state, a move that Jerusalem has denounced.

Washington also opposes the unilateral move planned by the PA. In a recent visit to Ramallah, American special envoy David Hale told the Palestinian leadership that such a move could lead to economic and other sanctions.

A source told Maariv that the EU “weakly” objected to the move and isn’t “threatening the Palestinians with any consequences” in the event that the gambit goes through. The Foreign Ministry also reportedly fears a scenario in which one or more EU member countries would support the PA’s bid.

A senior Foreign Ministry official told Maariv that Liberman planned to instruct the ambassadors “to pass on clear messages as to why the Palestinian move is destructive — not constructive — for the relationship between Israel and the PA.”

The diplomats will also be told what measures Jerusalem plans to use in retaliation against the PA if the request is made. The goal is to show Europe that such a move would “not only fail to bring the sides back to the negotiation table, but would further deteriorate the relationship between [Israel] and the Palestinians,” the official said.

The 27 ambassadors will reportedly be told to clarify that a unilateral move by the PA at the UN would force Israel to react. Some countries in Europe have a “false picture” about the next step, and that picture needed to be clarified, the unnamed source said.

While the Foreign Ministry was attempting to block the PA’s move, Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said it would happen before negotiations between the sides were resumed.

“When we return from the UN General Assembly and are a nonmember state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital, the way to direct negotiations will be open to achieve security and stability on this basis,” Abu Rudeineh told Reuters.

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