Middle East

Kerry discusses Palestinian bid to end Israeli occupation

John Kerry (2nd right) speaks to the foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK in Paris (15 December 2014) Image copyright AP
Image caption John Kerry discussed the draft resolutions with his German, French and British counterparts on Monday

US Secretary of State John Kerry has met the chief Palestinian negotiator in London over moves to set a timetable for an end to the Israeli occupation.

He was expected to urge Saeb Erekat not to push for a UN Security Council vote on a draft resolution calling for Israel to leave the occupied territories by November 2016.

A separate draft would set a two-year deadline for a final peace treaty.

Israel has sought reassurances from the US that it would veto both resolutions.

After meeting Mr Kerry in Rome on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he saw no reason why Washington would not "stand by its position for the past 47 years that a solution to the conflict will be achieved through negotiations".

Direct peace talks brokered by the US collapsed in April.

'Forcing conditions'

After his visit to Rome, Mr Kerry travelled to Paris to discuss developments with his counterparts from the UK, Germany and France.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Several European parliaments have called on their governments to recognise a Palestinian state

He then flew to London for Tuesday's talks with Mr Erekat and a delegation from the Arab League, including its secretary general Nabil al-Arabi, and the representative of the Middle East Quartet, Tony Blair.

Jordan circulated the Palestinian-drafted resolution last month, and Palestinian officials said they would push for a UN vote.

The Palestinian representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour, has said the draft might be submitted on Wednesday and could be put to a vote as soon as 24 hours later. However, Jordan's representative Dina Kawar has said she is not expecting any developments this week.

Another draft resolution, being formulated by France, would call for a return to negotiations on a final peace treaty to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict within two years.

It does not mention an Israeli withdrawal, but does lay out some of the parameters of a permanent deal, including using the ceasefire lines which separated Israel and the West Bank before the 1967 Six Day War as the basis for those of a future Palestinian state.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he was seeking a "resolution that everyone can get behind".

"Even if the Palestinians have a text in their hand, the Americans have already said that they will veto it," he told the AFP news agency.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The French-drafted resolution says Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank are "obstacles to peace"

In the past, the US has vetoed Security Council several resolutions concerning Israel, a close ally.

A senior US state department official said it had not yet been decided whether to block the French-drafted resolution, but noted: "There are certain things we would never support."

Mr Netanyahu made clear on Monday that he rejected France's proposal.

"Attempts of the Palestinians and of several European countries to force conditions on Israel will only lead to a deterioration in the regional situation and will endanger Israel," he warned.

There is growing impatience in Europe at the failure of the peace process and several European parliaments have called on their governments to recognise a Palestinian state.

The UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, has said any resolution outlining the parameters of a final status agreement would be important but "not a substitute for a genuine peace process that will need to be negotiated between both parties".