Kerry is set to meet Netanyahu in Rome
Kerry is set to meet Netanyahu in Rome Flash 90

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday he hoped to head off an end-of-year showdown at the United Nations over the Palestinian Authority's planned push for statehood in meetings next week in Europe.

"There are a lot of different folks pushing in different directions out there, and the question is can we all pull in the same direction," Kerry told reporters during a visit to Colombia.

The PA are carrying out a major campaign aiming to submit to the UN Security Council a draft resolution setting out a two- or three-year timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea, Samara and "East Jerusalem" - a euphemism for parts of the capital the PA is demanding, but which encompass areas apart from the east of the city.

They have said they would like to see the text submitted before the end of the year, prompting a surprise meeting next Monday in Rome between Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"What we're trying to do is figure out what makes sense," Kerry told reporters in Bogota.  

"We're trying to figure out a way to help defuse the tensions and reduce the potential for more conflict, and we're exploring various possibilities to that end, which is why I'm also meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu."

The PA's UN push comes amid tensions in the region and as a wave of European countries have seen parliamentary votes urging their governments to recognize a "state of Palestine."

The Portuguese parliament meanwhile became the latest to press for recognition of Palestinian statehood "in coordination with the European Union," adding that the government should "choose the moment best suited" for the decision.

France's upper house voted Thursday to urge its government to recognize "Palestine" hard on the heels of a similar motion in the Irish parliament on Wednesday.  

Lawmakers in Britain and Spain have already passed their own motions and Sweden has gone even further, officially recognizing "Palestine" as a state, in a move that prompted a furious Israel to recall its ambassador.

Kerry led a nine-month peace bid that collapsed in acrimony in April, and Washington has long opposed what it calls "unilateral" moves to achieve statehood, which it says will only come through a negotiated deal. 

Previous agreements signed by the PA forbid it from taking such "unilateral steps."

Demands for 'action' 

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington's position had not changed, and stressed there was no draft resolution yet.

"But the fact is there are a number of countries out there that want to see action at the UN that are pushing for that," Psaki told reporters.

"There are a number of countries out there who have taken their own action, even non-binding action. And so this is an appropriate time to have the discussions."

Kerry suggested that he may be traveling on from Rome to other European capitals, but did not specify details.

On the margins of a UN climate talks in Lima on Thursday, the top US diplomat had discussed the tensions in the Middle East with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius. France is believed to be among those looking to craft a UN resolution.

And on Friday, Kerry telephoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss "recent developments" in Israel and the region, along with initiatives at the United Nations, Psaki said.

Russia and the United States both hold veto power at the UN Security Council.

Kerry also phoned Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the situation in the Middle East, a senior state department official said.  

The official said Kerry had "expressed his condolences" over the death of Ziad Abu Ein, a PA official and convicted double murderer who died Wednesday after being pushed during a confrontation with Israeli soldiers.

The incident has triggered protests and clashes in Samaria, as the PA blamed Israel for "killing" the 55-year-old official, who had a history of heart problems and high blood pressure.

AFP contributed to this report.