Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed hope that the United States will continue to support Israel at the United Nations by opposing all resolutions on the creation of a Palestinian state.
Addressing the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Washington’s most influential pro-Israel lobbying group, Netanyahu said on Tuesday that he was ready to “immediately” resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
“A Security Council resolution to pressure Israel would further harden Palestinian positions and thereby could actually kill the chances of peace for many, many years,” Netanyahu said via satellite video link from Jerusalem.
“And that is why I hope the United States will maintain its long-standing position to reject such a UN resolution.”
Netanyahu claimed that while he is immediately ready to begin talks for a two-state solution, his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, is not.
“I am willing to begin negotiations immediately, without preconditions. Anytime, anywhere,” Netanyahu said.
The former chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority Saeb Erekat, however, told Al Jazeera it was Netanyahu who was not serious about negotiations.
“He [Netanyahu] is the one who continues to build settlements and continues talking about negotiations while settlements are expanding,” he said.
“If he wants to continue, he should stop the expansion of settlements … that is an obligation, not a precondition.”
In his speech to AIPAC on Sunday, US Vice President Joe Biden took a tougher line than many US politicians, calling on Netanyahu’s government to demonstrate its commitment to a two-state solution and saying that settlement expansion weakened prospects for peace.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed concerns last month that a stalemate in the negotiations between Israel and Palestinians is reaching the point of no return for a two-state solution.
“The time has come for Israelis, Palestinians and the international community to read the writing on the wall: The status quo is untenable,” Ban wrote in an opinion piece published in The New York Times.
“Keeping another people under indefinite occupation undermines the security and the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.”