Kerry slams Netanyahu’s support of Israeli settlements as threat to two-state solution

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, seen alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in 2014, on Wednesday said Netanyahu's support of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory endangers the possibility of a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. File Photo byJim Hollander/Pool/UPI

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday warned the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is undermining the hope for a two-state solution.

Kerry, whose appointment ends once President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20, said Israel could not survive both as a Jewish state and as a democratic country with a growing Arab population.

Kerry said Trump’s administration could damage decades of U.S. policy in the Middle East, while Netanyahu’s support of Israeli settlements are “strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible.”

“The status quo is leading toward one state, or perpetual occupation,” Kerry said. “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme elements … The result is that 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, towards one state.”

On Friday, the 15-member United Nations Security Council voted 14-0 to pass Resolution 2334, a condemnation of ongoing construction of Israeli settlements in disputed Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. The United States abstained from voting.

“We did not take this decision lightly,” Kerry said of the U.N. vote, adding that a two-state solution is necessary for “lasting peace” in Israel.

On Wednesday, Israel postponed a vote to authorize construction of additional Jewish settlement homes in East Jerusalem to avoid further straining U.S.-Israeli relations.

Trump on Wednesday urged Israel to “stay strong” until his administration kicks in.

“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but … not anymore,” Trump tweeted. “The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”


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