ROME - Secretary of State John Kerry met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the United States and Israel developed their responses to a draft U.N. resolution that would set a two-year timetable for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.
Before departing for the talks in Rome, Netanyahu took a hard line and said he would not allow others to dictate conditions for negotiations that might compromise Israel's security. For the U.S., however, the issue is trickier.
The Obama administration is reluctant to do anything right now that can be perceived as interference in Israel's forthcoming election in March, but it is being pressed by close allies to endorse a negotiating framework that largely adheres to U.S. policy.
The resolution proposed by France still hasn't been formally introduced. The draft speaks of the 1967 Mideast borders as the basis for dividing the land, which President Obama has publicly backed, but it doesn't include key Israeli - and U.S. - conditions such as Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
An American veto would upset Palestinians and perhaps some Arab allies frustrated by years of diplomatic gridlock. Several are fighting alongside the U.S. right now against the Islamic State group.
And it could also split the U.S. from close European partners that are seeking to broaden peace efforts after countless U.S.-led mediation failures. America's credibility as a peace broker could be damaged as a result.
At a White House meeting last week, Obama's top foreign policy aides were unable to agree on an approach to France's potential resolution.
One U.S. official familiar with the discussion said Kerry suggested steering away from the effort, while Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, supported working with allies to see whether a compromise is possible.
The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said "the account of the substance of that meeting is inaccurate." She didn't elaborate.
Netanyahu made clear Monday he wasn't happy with France's proposal.
"The attempts of the Palestinians and of several European countries to force conditions on Israel will only lead to a deterioration in the regional situation and will endanger Israel; therefore, we will strongly oppose this," Netanyahu said in Rome.