Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Middle East peace a “great disappointment.”
Kerry’s speech earlier Wednesday affirmed the United States’ commitment to a two-state solution to the Middle East and called Netanyahu’s government “the most right-wing in Israel’s history.”
“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 said.
Netanyahu spoke in reply using English, a sign that his words were meant to be heard by Americans.
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“Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unrelenting campaign of terror that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish State,” he said, later adding, “Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders.”
Kerry’s remarks were “almost as unbalanced” as the U.N. Security Council resolution on Friday that condemned Israel for building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Netanyahu said. The resolution was passed because the U.S. chose to abstain rather than using its veto power to block the resolution’s passage.
Netanyahu criticized Kerry for “attacking the only democracy in the Middle East” and also noted the Obama administration was “in its waning days.”
The Israeli prime minister said Kerry had failed to convince anyone.
“Is that all he’s got?” he said in a short Hebrew statement that preceded his English speech. “A full hour, and that’s all he has.”
Netanyahu said Kerry ignored the reality of Israel’s diversity.
“Maybe he doesn’t realize it, but Israel is only place in the Middle East where Christians can celebrate Christmas. All of this doesn’t interest the U.S. secretary of state, unfortunately,” Netanyahu said.
Kerry drew a “false moral equivalence” between building settlements and Arab terrorism, Netanyahu said, and showed he fails to comprehend the reality of the Middle East.
“How can you make peace with someone who rejects your very existence? … This conflict is, and it has always been, about Israel’s very right to exist,” he said.
“I can only express my regret and say that it’s a shame that Secretary Kerry does not see this simple truth,” he added.
Netanyahu made no secret of his anger with the Obama administration.
“We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence the U.S. organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the Security Council,” he said, promising to share this intelligence with the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Israel “looks forward to working with President-elect Trump” and lawmakers from both parties “to mitigate the damage this resolution has done, and ultimately to repeal it,” Netanyahu said.
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