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In parting shot, Kerry tears into Israel over settlements

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about Israeli-Palestinian policy, today, at the State Department in Washington.

WASHINGTON >> Secretary of State John Kerry tore into Israel today for settlement-building, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of dragging Israel away from democracy and forcefully rejecting the notion that America had abandoned Israel with a controversial U.N. vote. Netanyahu accused the Obama administration of a biased bid to blame Israel for failure to reach a peace deal.

In a farewell speech, Kerry laid out a two-state vision for peace that he won’t be in office to implement, but that the U.S. hoped might be heeded even after President Barack Obama’s term ends. He defended Obama’s move last week to allow the U.N. Security Council to declare Israeli settlements illegal, the spark that set off an extraordinary and deepening diplomatic spat between the U.S. and its closest Mideast ally.

“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 in a speech that ran more than an hour, a comprehensive airing of grievances that have built up in the Obama administration over eight years but were rarely, until this month, discussed publicly.

Netanyahu pushed back in a hastily arranged televised statement in which he suggested he was done with the Obama administration and ready to deal with President-elect Donald Trump, who has sided squarely with Israel. The Israeli leader faulted Kerry for obsessing over settlements while paying mere “lip service” to Palestinian attacks and incitement of violence.

“Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders,” Netanyahu said from Jerusalem.

The dueling recriminations marked a low point for U.S.-Israel relations, and a bitter end to eight years of frustrated ties between Obama and Netanyahu, who quarreled repeatedly over settlements, the peace process and Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

It was unclear what impact Kerry’s speech, coming in the final days of the administration, might have.

Netanyahu expressed concern that a French-hosted summit next month could lead to an international framework that the U.N. Security Council might then codify with Obama’s assent, boxing Israel in. Yet Kerry seemed to rule out the possibility Obama would take more parting shots, such as promoting that type of U.N. resolution or recognizing Palestinian statehood.

The diplomatic fracas erupted last week when the U.S., in a departure from past policy, decided to abstain rather than veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem a violation of international law. Israel was incensed, and today, Netanyahu claimed Israel has “absolute, indispensable evidence” the U.S. actually spearheaded the resolution.

Netanyahu offered what he called proof of U.S. collusion: a document, leaked to an Egyptian newspaper, that purports to be a Palestinian account of a December meeting between top U.S. and Palestinian officials. But White House spokesman Ned Price called it a “total fabrication” and added: “This meeting never occurred.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded to the speech by reaffirming that he’s ready to resume peace talks if Israel halts settlement construction.

Kerry, unveiling a six-part outline of what a future peace deal could look like, deviated from the traditional U.S. message that foreign powers shouldn’t impose a solution. His outline tracked closely with principles long assumed to be part of an eventual deal, and Kerry insisted he was merely describing what’s emerged as points of general agreement.

Though Kerry faulted Palestinian leaders for insufficiently condemning violence and terrorism against Israelis, most of his speech focused on Israel. He said the two-state solution, the basis for all serious peace talks for years, was “now in serious jeopardy,” and called Netanyahu’s’ government “the most right-wing in Israel’s history.”

He invoked the widespread concern that the growing Arab population in Israel and the Palestinian territories will eventually make Jews a minority in Israel, creating a demographic crisis for Israel unless there’s a separate Palestinian state.

“The settler agenda is defining the future of Israel. And their stated purpose is clear: They believe in one state,” Kerry said.

The U.S, the Palestinians and most of the world oppose Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians for an independent state. But Israel’s government argues previous construction freezes failed to advance a peace deal and that the future of the settlements — now home to 600,000 Israelis — must be resolved in direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

While Israel’s Arab population has citizenship rights, the roughly 2.5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank do not. Israel has annexed east Jerusalem, where Palestinians have residency rights but few have citizenship, in a move not internationally recognized.

Kerry said a future deal would have to ensure secure borders for Israel and a Palestinian state formed in territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, with “mutually agreed, equivalent swaps.” He said both countries must fully recognize each other, ensure access to religious sites and relinquish all other existing claims. Kerry also called for assistance to help Palestinian refugees.

Yet he offered fewer details about how to get to such a deal, given the failure of so many previous attempts, including his own nine-month effort that collapsed in 2014. He urged Israelis and Palestinians to take “realistic steps on the ground now” to begin separating themselves into two states.

Kerry reiterated that the Obama administration’s commitment to Israel was as strong as that of previous presidents, but he also noted that previous U.S. administrations had also abstained on certain resolutions critical of Israel.

Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, hasn’t commented publicly on the resolution or the resulting spat.

Associated Press writers Josef Federman and Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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    • silly statement. Israeli actions, if fully carried out, would endanger Israel, inflame Muslims in the Mid East and endanger USD lives and interests. Kerry is so right. And Netanyahu is a dishonest guy. Nobody has done more for Israel than the USA. Billions in aid and arms have been given under Obama. Israel is no ally of the USA and someone finally needed to stand up to their coercion and shibari. We have suffered a great deal, including 9-11, because of our “alliance” with this country.

      • Yes, we should abandon our only friends in that desolate region because standing by them may enrage barbaric caliphate advocates and potentially place us in danger from delusional muslims. You profess to be a Christian. Read the Bible and learn who first inhabited those “occupied” lands. Study history to discover that there was no 19th or 20th century Palestine, rather there were Jordanian and Egyptian territories seized by Israel after it was viciously attacked by those countries.

    • Correction, the Obama Administration cannot be trusted to stand behind allies. That message is well known over the past four to eight years. President Obama needs to just leave office quietly and stop further poisoning U.S. relationships with our allies.

      • Billions, not millions. In September, Obama announced the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance to Israel in US history — $38 Billion.

    • Trump promised to make peace in the middle east, yet all he wants to do is escalate the conflicts going on over there. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Palestinians declare all out war like you see in Syria if Israel takes the same mass settlement annexation stance that Trump now vows to support.

  • If Kerry is so proud of the US “action”, why didn’t the US vote? It didn’t vote, it abstained.
    Typical of Obama polices — take no position and claim victory.

    • All this commotion about an abstention, huh? All the UN did was to uphold their traditional position so whatʻs the big deal? Itʻs more about whoʻs on your side.

  • How can this rant be justified. Kerry and his boss Obama are due to leave office in less than a month and he now wants to air their dirty laundry. WHY? Is it so important to their bruised egos that they have to rip Israel on their way out. Remember, initially the Obama administration denied having anything to do with the UN resolution. Now it’s obvious they had a lot to do with it. This is the legacy that Obama is leaving and he wants to teach Trump how to deal internationally????

    • IRT AhiPoke, I like MaguroPoke and completely agree with your post. The resolution today and to reach long into the future as a “One State Solution”. In many of the Settlements, the Jews are living in Peace with the Palestinians and there has been intermarriage. Time with the dream for a One State will resolve this situation among cousins.

    • Thank you secretary Kerry for speaking the truth with measured and restrained tone. Even though Israel has established an apartheid regime that violates the basic human rights of Palestinians, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of resentment, rebellion and violence, their weak loyalty to the US stands out amongst other mideast nations who want to do us harm. The fact is, American support for Israel and the Saudis are the prime drivers of terrorism against the USA.

      Since Reagan, the US has been against illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas. Regardless of Netanyahu and Trump’s little tantrums over the US abstaining from a unanimous security council vote, Obama was consistent with this policy. His refusal to do Netanyahu a political favor by acting against US policy could be payback for Bibi’s weasely actions over the past two years. So what, Bibi? Quit whining.

      It’s also time for Trump to quit whining, put on his big boy pants and prepare to govern. Tweeting more insults won’t MAGA.

      • Absolutely clueless rant. When my daughter can go to Saudi Arabia [or any muslim country] rent a car, drive to the center of their capital by herself, stand on a soapbox and preach the Gospel of Christ —> then and only then will I think that these wicked muslim countries are anything but barbaric. Israel is a gem amongst wasteland. Grasp what you are a pawn of, Israel is our only friend in the Middle East and the only Free State where everyone – muslim, Jew and Christian can have rights and their own religions.

        • “Israel is our only friend in the Middle East and the only Free State where everyone – muslim, Jew and Christian can have rights and their own religions.”

          1. Innocent Palestinians and other Muslims in Israel do not have the same liberties as Jews.

          2. Israel may be our “strongest ally” in the region, but this says little. The Mideast is a quagmire and if Netanyahu wants to go it alone. Let him.

          3. If Netanyahu truly appreciated America’s friendship, and the burden this has placed on the US, he would have put an end to the illegal settlements than embarrass America and inflame hostility towards the US.

          When the post-Trump backlash sweeps America, Netanyahu’s disloyalty will be remembered.

    • I just don’t understand that aspect. Democrats don’t support Israel yet the Jewish vote goes their way. I think the UN is pretty much a money pit for our contributions. They don’t do much. US is throwing Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East under the bus. A real shame.

      • “Democrats don’t support Israel.” Give me a break.

        Would you say that someone isn’t supportive by pointing out that a friend’s obnoxious behavior continually makes enemies, especially when the friend keeps asking you for handouts to deal with these problems? Do you think an older brother or parent does the right thing by withholding criticism or consequences because an obnoxious little boy throws tantrums and demands money money money?

        Most American Jews, half the Israeli population and most of their press are critical of Netanyahu and constantly scolding the right wingers for making a bad situation worse. Don’t you ever leave your fragile infornation bubble to read the news from Israel?

        True loyalty, which seeks honor for a friend. It is not blind to mistakes and misconduct. That kind of loyalty would be Gangster loyalty.

        • If they are so against Netanyahu’s government, how come many go into those settlements the government have built into those territories….hmmmm if most of Israel are for peace with the Palestinians why go live in those homes built by the government??????? So far most of the violent acts acted onto the US have been by muslims, can you issue an event where a jewish person has acted malice to any American?

        • South, the settlements are being supported, financed, built and occupied by a small fraction of the Israeli people – the far right religious nut jobs. Sadly, Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer is one of them and Tweety Thumbs has picked this pro-settlement Zionist extremist to be the new US ambassador to Israel.

          Perhaps Kerry’s speech and the US refusal to block the UN resolution was a response to the Dumpster’s radical break with established US policy.

  • What BS, the US must stop immediately any support of ISRAEL.This is just empty posturing on the part of Kerry & OBAMA. 38 billion dollars tells the true story, and it is appalling! There is absolute disregard for Palestinian rights by both ISRAEL & US. Neither country, ISRAEL or US, demonstrates respect for International Law, UN Resolutions, or Human Rights! Suffering children, families are ignored.

    • “There is absolute disregard for Palestinian rights by both ISRAEL & US”

      The West Bank Palestinian Arabs and their allies have repeatedly tried to destroy Israel with invasions. Historically, their goal is the elimination of Israel.
      This has been going on since 1948.
      How would you react if you had a neighbor like this?
      Israel has dealt with this by neutralizing the West Bank with settlements.
      Seems more humane than some of the alternatives.

      • The U.N. is sanctioning Israel for the ILLEGAL occupation of settlements.
        Israelite’s think their culture and country are more important than their neighbors and are encroaching on their land. Not sure what humane person encroaches land, unless you want to talk about Crimea, Hawaii, Indian reservations, ETC..

        Religion has always caused war and it will again. When Trump takes office it will be an all out war against muslims and the world will never recover, and that is what America voted for.

        • Let’s see, in 1967 and 1973 Israel’s neighbors tried to annihilate them. The Muslims got their butts kicked and got a beat down. When you win wars you get the spoils and that would be the territory Israel currently occupies. In fact, Israel had occupied the entire Sinai Peninsula after the 1967 war, but gave it back to Egypt because the latter promised not to attack them again. None of Israel’s neighbors can beat them in a war. Israel is simply going to ignore anything the toothless UN proclaims.

        • When growing disgust with Israel’s harsh treatment of others reaches a tipping point in the US, perhaps due to association with a failed Trump agenda, Israel will have to go or alone.

          The sad truth of Israel’s long history of using its military victories to dominate, retaliate and mistreat non-Jews based on claims to be God’s “chosen people”, is that this has repeatedly been followed by defeats at the hands of a long list of enemies it has created. This is the old Testament cycle.

          Jesus offered Israel and the world a new covenant based on the equality of all people, forgiveness and love of enemies, and denouncing the exploitation of the weak and poor by the rich and powerful. Instead, Israel has clung to its old path, seeing itself above others. The US won’t be able to save it from the inevitable tragic consequences.

          On theologicsk, cultural and legalistic levels, Israel believes that righteousness means doing unto others as they have done onto you (Talonic law) rather than doing into others as you would have them do into you (Christ’s teaching). The former perpetuates and escalates an endless cycle of conflict based on fear and self-glorification, the latter allows peace and reconciliation based on fearless love, compassion and nonviolence.

          Let be who has ears hear.

    • IRT PattyJane, and Sec. Kerry was presenting the Obama/Kerry ideology between the Jews and the Palestinians as with Americans of African ancestry and Americans of European ancestry. The liberal democrats ideology is to separate common people into their selected groups. History has shown that that ideology has failed time and again, yet the liberal democrats continue to see if it can work. Hawaii was a beautiful place where to live prior to 1978, when the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was developed with a less than majority vote of the citizens.

  • “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both”
    There are other alternatives, including the one that we have now with the settlements.
    Perhaps this is the unique solution to this unique problem.

  • Mr. Kerry…please don’t let the door kick you in the b__tt on the way out. I can’t believe the behavior our supposed Leaders…on the other hand it should be expected. 🙂

  • Why do Americans even care? We should mind our own business and butt out of the affairs of other nations. These people have been fighting over the holy land and religious sites long before the US existed. They will probably be fighting long after we’re gone.

  • Every word Kerry spoke was 100% true, and precisely what top American officials have been thinking but have lacked the guts to say for the last forty years or so. It was so refreshing to hear him speak truth to power for more than an hour.

    And it was hilarious to see Yahoo break right out into a big red rash. You better tiptoe in the front door tonight, pal, because Sara’s gonna be even more pilut than usual.

  • Muslims are inflamed and angry without remorse – they have but one goal for Israel and its Jewish population – that is genocide.
    Only nations in the Middle East committing ethnic cleansing are muslim – for them it is an ongoing enterprise performed daily in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia — it is what they do. They also destroy everything Christian. Only our confused liberal Democrats think that Israel is the problem – how strangely illogical.

    • Yes, the Muslims share Israel’s old testament bloody view of righteousness as “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”, retributive justice (Talonic law). This has lead to an endless cycling if violence that seems like it can only be resolved by murder and genocide. This is the tragic basis of Mideast vengeance.

      Muslims and Jews both reject Jesus’ teaching about fearless love, compassion, sharing, charity and radical forgiveness of those who have harmed you, even enemies. Loving our awesome God and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you (what Jesus said summarizes all the laws and all the teachings of all the prophets), is the only path to righteousness and peace on earth.

      Most “Christian” communities also ignore this profound truth, and instead are obsessed with wealth, power, fear of others, old testament Judaism, and morbid apocalyptic predictions of who gets saved and who doesn’t.

      Merry Christmas and MAGA

  • you really want the truth Israel could kick the Palestinians and muslim terrorist out of the west bank, gaza and even part of Jerusalem and take over there own land that they owned for over 3700 years before the romans conquered it. so by right all that land belongs to Israel.

  • Having nothing to lose, Obama was able to say what most US politicians and diplomats believe — that the two-state solution is the only path to peace and duplicitous Netanyahu has sabotaged negotiations. They’re glad that Obama and Kerry have taken a stand and, hypocritically, are even happier to appear to be critical of Obama and Kerry (but it’s an act). Israel being the third rail of American politics, no one other than Obama and Kerry has the guts to go public with the truth. Netanyahu, like Putin, is playing Trump for a fool. Trump is like an affection-starved puppy; scratch its ears and he’ll follow you, drooling, anywhere.

  • NY Times: “The United Nations is shamefully biased against Israel, and President Obama has used the American veto and its diplomatic muscle more assiduously than any previous American president to shield Israel from unwarranted criticism. But nowhere is it written that an American president is obliged to shelter Israel from international criticism that is consistent with decades-old American policy and with American interests.

    “Mr. Obama has stayed true to the values and policy aims that American administrations have held across the decades for the Middle East, but Mr. Trump has signaled that a major change is coming. He has already appointed to the post of ambassador to Israel a settlement advocate who is, if anything, to Mr. Netanyahu’s right.

    “If Mr. Trump envisions working with Israel’s extreme right to foreclose the dream of a Palestinian state, he envisions a tragic future indeed, one in which Israel is likely to never have the peace and security that it deserves.”

  • In a NY Times editorial titled “Bibi Netanyahu Makes Trump His Chump,” Thomas L. Friedman writes:

    “For those of you confused over the latest fight between President Obama and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel, let me make it simple: Barack Obama and John Kerry admire and want to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the Land of Israel. I have covered this issue my entire adult life and have never met two U.S. leaders more committed to Israel as a Jewish democracy.

    “But they are convinced — rightly — that Netanyahu is a leader who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never ready to cross it. He is unwilling to make any big, hard decision to advance or preserve a two-state solution if that decision in any way risks his leadership of Israel’s right-wing coalition or forces him to confront the Jewish settlers, who relentlessly push Israel deeper and deeper into the West Bank.”

  • John Kerry is a mental midget. Sniffed up too much Agent Orange in Vietnam. This is the same clown who not but a few months earlier, was running around screaming that Air Conditioners were more dangerous than ISIS. Seriously…he’s THAT f’ing stupid. (I’ve never seen an air conditioner cut off anyone’s head…have you?)

  • John Kerry is deranged & delusional. Sniffed up too much Agent Orange in Vietnam. This is the same clown who not but a few months earlier, was running around screaming that Air Conditioners were more dangerous than ISIS. Seriously…he’s THAT crazy. (I’ve never seen an air conditioner cut off anyone’s head…have you?)

  • About time! The US & UN should sanction ISRAEL for illegal settlements and human rights abuses of PALESTINIANS particularly children. Immediately stop all funds to Israel and designate an independent investigation into the undermining of the US Constitution by a foreign government, ISRAEL, via AIPAC! Prosecute!

    • The human rights abuses of Fakestininans’ children falls on them. It’s been abundantly chronicled that they indoctrinate their children starting at age three, that Jews are descendants of apes and pigs, and that the best thing the children can do with themselves is to strap on suicide vests and kill Jews and themselves, thereby going to Moslem heaven.
      The settlements are not illegal. The so called occupied territories Judea and Samaria belong to Israel. J and S were RE-captured in the ’67 defensive war. They had been occupied by Jordan since Jordan grabbed them in the ’48 war. Israel according to international law is all land west of the Jordan river.
      There are no such people as Palestinians, no Pali language, cuisine etc. They are Jordanian and Egyptian Arabs, coined Palestinians by Yasir Arafat in 1964.

      • thanks good post also more history the word Palestine was derived from the word philistine that the romans named after the enemy’s of the jews but the problem was the philistines were not arabs they were greeks, so now we know where the word Palestine came from.

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