January 26, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State warns Middle East peace in jeopardy, Israeli PM calls Kerry speech “unbalanced

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From Caribbean Herald

slams for growth of settlements

• Netanyahu slams Kerry comments against Israel

• Netanyahu said he was “unbalanced” and “obsessively focused” on settlements

NEW YORK, U.S. – In his final days as U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry on Wednesday was highly critical of Israel for settlement-building, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of dragging Israel away from democracy.

He also clearly rejected the idea that America had abandoned Israel by deciding to abstain in the controversial UN Security Council vote.

In his speech, that lasted over an hour, Kerry laid out his two-state vision for peace in the .

He also defended U.S. President Barack Obama’s action last week to allow the UN Security Council to declare Israeli settlements illegal, which has angered Israel and set off a diplomatic spat between the U.S. and its closest Middle East ally.

The two-state solution essentially calls for a final settlement that would see the creation of an independent state of within pre-1967 ceasefire lines in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, living peacefully alongside Israel.

“Friends need to tell each other the hard truths and friendships require mutual respect,” he said at the State Department, in his parting shot.

“If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace,” Kerry stated.

Airing grievances that have built up in the Obama administration over eight years, Kerry also reiterated that the Obama administration’s commitment to Israel was as strong as that of previous presidents, but also noting that previous U.S. administrations had also abstained on certain resolutions critical of Israel.

The outgoing Secretary of State also unveiled a six-part outline of what a future peace deal could look like, going off track from the traditional U.S. view that foreign powers shouldn’t impose a solution.

And although Kerry faulted Palestinian leaders for not condemning violence and terrorism against Israelis enough, most of his speech was focused on Israel.

He said the two-state solution was “now in serious jeopardy,” and called Netanyahu’s’ government “the most right-wing in Israel’s history.”

“In the end, we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution,” Kerry said.

“We could not in good conscience turn a blind eye to Palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence. It is not in U.S. interests to help anyone on either side create a unitary state.”

Responding to Kerry, Israel’s prime minister called his speech biased.

Netanyahu said he was disappointed with the speech, which he said was “unbalanced” and “obsessively focused” on settlements.

He claimed Kerry had “paid lip service to the unremitting Palestinian campaign of terrorism” against Israel.

He also added that the conflict centred on the Palestinians’ refusal to recognise Israel’s right to exist, but Kerry “does not see the simple truth.”

Netanyahu said Kerry “obsessively dealt with settlements” and barely touched on “the root of the conflict – Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries.”

He added that he did not need to be lectured to by foreign leaders and looked forward to working with Donald Trump, who has vowed to pursue more pro-Israeli policies.

The president-elect, too, tweeted on the issue, in support of Israel, saying he would not allow the country to be treated with “disdain and disrespect.”

He urged Israel to “stay strong” until he assumed office next month.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also slammed the outgoing president and Secretary of State.

“It is a sign of their radicalism and refusal to defend American interests that Obama and Kerry choose to attack the only inclusive democracy in the Middle East – a strong, steadfast ally of America – while turning a blind eye to the Islamic terrorism that grows daily,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “These acts are shameful.”

In a statement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was convinced peace with Israel was achievable, but stood by his demand that Israel halt settlements before talks restart.

The latest flashpoint between the U.S. and Israel comes following the U.S. decision to abstain from a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building in territories disputed by the Palestinians, leading to an angry response from Israel.

Reacting to Kerry’s speech, Ali Abunimah, director of the Electronic Intifada website, said “John Kerry just gave an eloquent eulogy for the two-state solution.”

“His detailed critique of Israeli settlements and occupation was striking in its forthrightness – rare from U.S. officials,” he continued.

“But it serves more than anything as an indictment of the United States, which funded, enabled and protected the brutal reality Palestinians have lived under for so long.”

Meanwhile, dozens of Jews in New York gathered in front of the United Nations headquarters on Wednesday to protest the UN Security Council resolution that demands Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the ‘occupied’ Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”

Protesters held Israeli and American flags as well as signs reading “U.S. out of UN and UN out of NY.”

Some also displayed posters saying “Good Riddance to Hussein Obama,” to address what many in the crowd called “a betrayal” from the U.S. toward Israel.

For more on this story go to:  http://www.caribbeanherald.com/index.php/sid/250530559

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