Israeli leaders blasted Secretary of State John Kerry as “ignorant on the issues” and “the worst secretary of state in history” after a speech Wednesday they derided as “pathetic.”
Kerry on Wednesday defended not only the Obama administration’s belief that a two-state solution is essential for Middle East peace, but also sought to rationalize its role in a U.S. Security Council resolution that condemned Israel for building settlements in the areas conquered in the Six-Day War.
The Six-Day War of 1967 saw Israel gain territory it has not relinquished, including the Golan Heights bordering Syria, the West Bank, which includes East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are largely dominated by Palestinians, although Israel has built settlements in those lands to attract Jewish settlers. Those settlements were condemned in the resolution that the U.N. Security Council approved Friday.
Kerry on Wednesday said creation of a Palestinian state “is the only way” to create “just and lasting peace.”
Kerry said the U.S. could not “in good conscience” block the U.N. resolution. In the past, it had used its veto power on the U.N. Security Council to do just that.
“Friends need to tell each other the hard truths,” he said. “And friendships require mutual respect.”
Kerry also called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government the “most right wing in Israel’s history.”
Israeli officials hit back immediately
“Like the Security Council resolution that Secretary Kerry advanced in the UN, his speech tonight was skewed against Israel,” said a statement from Netanyahu’s office.
The prime minister said Kerry “obsessively dealt with settlements,” a subject that has long divided the United States and Israel.
Kerry avoided “the root of the conflict — Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries,” Netanyahu’s statement said.
The statement built upon other denunciations of Kerry’s speech and America’s policy.
“This step is a pathetic step. It is an anti-democratic step because it’s clear that the administration and Kerry’s intention is to chain President-elect Trump,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Army Radio.
Erdan said Obama administration officials are “pro-Palestinian” and “don’t understand what’s happening in the Middle East.”
Oded Revivi, chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council, which supports West Bank settlements, also attacked Kerry.
Kerry is “the worst secretary of state in history,” who “chose to stab his closest ally in the back,” Revivi said.
He called Kerry a “stain on American foreign policy” and “ignorant of the issues.”
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