Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday made a forceful defence of the Barack Obama administrations approach to Israel and its vision for a Middle East peace, while warning that a two-state solution, the only viable option, was “in jeopardy”.
“Two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Kerry said emphasising that it was the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
In a speech amid a low point in US-Israeli relations after US abstained from a UN vote urging Israel to abandon building settlements and less than a month before the Trump administration takes office, Kerry, referring to the vote, said: “The US did in fact vote in accordance with our values.”
“No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s,” he said, citing the amount of military aid Israel has received from the US from Iron Dome to intelligence. “More than half of our entire global foreign military financing goes to Israel,” Kerry said.
Kerry said that two-state solution is in danger despite popular support. “Polls of Israelis and Palestinians show there is still strong support for a 2-state solution in theory. They just don’t believe it can happen.”.
Kerry said that proliferation of settler outposts illegal not only by Oslo Accords, but also under Israel’s own laws, as they are often located on private Palestinian land and strategically located in places designed to make the two-state solution impossible.
“If there is only one state, you’d have millions of Palestinians permanently living in segregated enclaves,” he said. “If Israel goes down the one-state path, it will never have true peace with the rest of the Arab world.”
Kerry said that since our 2011 veto, “over 30,000 settlement units advanced through some stage of the planning process” and if US had vetoed December 2016 resolution, it would have effectively given approval to this process.
Kerry planned to give the speech last Thursday, when the vote was originally planned. Those plans got scrapped after the proposal’s original sponsor, Egypt, forced a delay for a day.
The speech was widely seen as an attempt to set the Obama administration’s Middle East policy in stone before the January 20 changeover. President-elect Donald Trump has been vocally supportive of Israel and vowed a change of policy after his inauguration.
Trump, in his latest breach of presidential transition protocol, weighed in on Twitter on Wednesday ahead of Kerry’s speech to make that much clear.
“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. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)!” Trump tweeted. “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a quick reply to Trump on Twitter, thanking him for his “warm friendship” and “clear-cut support”.
Netanyahu’s government has said in recent days Israel will provide detailed, sensitive information to the incoming Trump administration to bolster their claims that the US played a covert role in pushing passage of the UN Security Council resolution on Israel. The Obama administration has denied any such involvement.