London: The United States is trying to carefully navigate a path forward as Palestinians seek to push hopes for a Palestinian state to the top of the UN agenda, top US diplomat John Kerry said on Tuesday.
But as the Palestinians threaten to submit a draft text tomorrow to the UN Security Council, Kerry hinted Washington did not believe now was the right time as Israel gears up for snap elections in March.
Speaking to reporters just before meeting with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat in London, Kerry said he had had a series of "candid and constructive conversations" during his three-day whirlwind trip to Europe.
"Many of us share a deep sense of urgency about this, given the constant threat of escalation and the dangers of a downward spiral of violence," the US secretary of state told a press conference.
"But we're also very mindful that we have to carefully calibrate any steps that are taken for this difficult moment in the region. We all understand the challenges that are presented by this conflict."
Amid reports of competing Arab-backed and French-led resolutions, Kerry has been meeting his European and Russian counterparts as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to gauge support for the Palestinian UN push.
The Palestinians have said they will submit an Arab-backed draft text to the UN as early as tomorrow which would call for a withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian lands within two years -- a timetable the US would oppose.
France is putting together a more nuanced version setting a two-year timetable for concluding a peace treaty, without mentioning the withdrawal of Israeli forces.
Asked what kind of resolution the US might be able to support at the UN, Kerry insisted the US administration has "made no determinations... About language, approaches, specific resolutions, any of that."
Traditionally the US has used its power of veto at the UN Security Council to shoot down what it sees as moves against its close ally, Israel.
While Kerry refused to detail any of his private conversations, he stressed the US believed no-one should "interfere or do something that might be perceived of as interfering in the course" of the Israeli elections.