In a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority (PA) chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in London on Tuesday, Kerry reportedly finally promised to veto a PA resolution bid at the UN Security Council after flip-flopping on US action.
A PA official said the PA threatened that it will submit the draft resolution on Wednesday regardless of the veto, in a push to get the UN to recognize the PA as a state and demand Israel withdraw from Judea and Samaria within two years.
"Kerry told the Palestinian delegation: 'we will use our veto,'" the official said of the meeting, which was also to include Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi. Kerry has until now not given a clear statement on whether or not the US will veto as it traditional has on such motions.
Erekat responded by telling Kerry if the US vetoes, the PA would apply to join all international organizations and conventions, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), in a further breach of the 1993 Oslo Accords beyond the conventions it joined earlier in the year torpedoing peace talks with Israel.
Aside from the PA resolution, France is also drafting another version setting a two-year deadline for reaching a "peace treaty," without explicitly demanding Israeli withdrawals.
However, Mohammed Shtayyeh, a senior member of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, said France "accommodated" to the PA version, saying "we have merged. We don't have two texts now. There is one single text. We have happily accepted the French text when the modifications have been added."
Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting with Erekat, Kerry said it is "imperative" to lower tensions in Israel, saying "many of us share a deep sense of urgency about this. But we're also very mindful that we have to carefully calibrate any steps that are taken for this difficult moment in the region."
When asked what kind of resolution the US would consider supporting at the UN, Kerry said the administration has "made no determinations...about language, approaches, specific resolutions, any of that."
He added that the US believes no one should "interfere or do something that might be perceived of as interfering in the course" of Israeli elections slated for March 17.
The statement is telling given reports that US President Barack Obama's administration and its European allies would like to use the PA proposal to put pressure on Israel, but are also concerned that such a betrayal of Israel may have the effect of solidifying support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ahead of the elections.
Another supporting indication of those reports came in Shtayyeh's statements, when he said the US wanted the draft resolution to be postponed until after the elections which the PA rejected.
"What we're trying to do is have a constructive conversation with everybody to find the best way to go forward," Kerry added. "We want to find the most constructive way of doing something that...will not have unintended consequences, but also can stem the violence."
AFP contributed to this report.