U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says nothing should be allowed to get in the way of Israel's elections in March, as Palestinians prepare to introduce a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would set a deadline for Israel's withdrawal from Palestinian territories.
In comments to reporters Tuesday before meeting with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in London, Kerry said it is imperative to lower tensions so there is an opportunity to find a path toward genuine peace.
"We all understand the challenges that are presented by this conflict," the secretary said. "We all understand that there are pent-up frustrations on both sides and they run deep. We all know the risk of escalation is constant and it's real."
The United States has made "no determination" about any possible U.N. resolution regarding Palestinian statehood, he added.
Israel has scheduled parliamentary elections for March 17.
After meeting with Erekat, Kerry spoke with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby.
The talks in London follow Kerry's multi-stop effort Monday to assess the situation, which included talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome and the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany in Paris.
Proposal could be submitted
Palestinian diplomats say their proposed resolution could be put before the Security Council on Wednesday.
The proposal, circulated by Jordan, sets a two-year deadline for the end of Israeli occupation.
Another proposal being discussed by France, Britain and Germany would set a deadline only for the resolution of peace talks.
A Security Council resolution would need the approval of nine of the 15 members. Any of the five permanent council members can veto a resolution. That group includes Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States, which has used the prospect of a veto to prevent previous council action related to Israel.
U.S. State Department officials said Monday there are "certain things" the U.S. would not support, and officials have made it clear the U.S. prefers using negotiations rather than setting hard deadlines through a council resolution.
Netanyahu also expressed Monday after the three-hour meeting with Kerry that Israel does not want others to "force conditions" that he says will endanger the country and "lead to deterioration in the regional situation."