Israel on Wednesday condemned US Secretary of State John Kerry for saying the West Asian nation’s settlements were jeopardising peace in the entire region. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu said Kerry’s statements were “unbalanced” and that he appeared “obsessively focused” on the settlements. He added that Kerry had “paid lip service to the unremitting Palestinian campaign of terrorism” against Israel.
During his 70-minute speech on Wednesday, Kerry had said, “The two-state solution is the only way to achieve just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. That future is now in jeopardy.” The “two-state solution” prescribes separate nations for the Israelis and the Palestinians and calls for an end to “illegal settlements”. The idea is to treat Palestine as an independent nation within pre-1967 ceasefire lines in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Kerry said though Netanyahu supports the two-nation solution in public, his right-wing government’s agenda was driven by most extreme elements. “The result is that the policies of this government, which the prime minister himself just described as more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history, are leading in the opposite direction. They are leading towards one state,” he said.
Meanwhile, US President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday pledged support to Israel and said his government would not allow Israel to be “treated with such total disdain and disrespect”. “They used to have a great friend in the US, but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this [the UN resolution]! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” he wrote on Twitter. Trump will take his oath of office on January 20.
Trump was referring to the US’ sudden change of policy towards the crisis. For the first time in nearly 40 years, the country has refrained from vetoing the United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an end to Israel’s settlement building. The resolution was passed on December 23. West Bank and East Jerusalem are home to more than 5,00,000 Jews who have set up around 140 settlements in the region since 1967. International law does not allow the settlements, though the legal status is contended by Israel.