Kerry: Two-state solution in jeopardy

US Secretary of State John Kerry lays out his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians December 28, 2016. (AFP)

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Wednesday that the future of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was in jeopardy, and laid out parameters for future peace talks, saying the United States could not stay silent.

In a speech just weeks before the Obama administration hands over power to President-elect Donald Trump, Kerry defended the US decision to allow the passage of a UN resolution last week demanding an end to Israeli settlements, saying it was intended to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution.

“Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy,” Kerry said in a speech at the State Department. “We cannot, in good conscience, do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away.”

“The truth is that trends on the ground - violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation - are destroying hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.”

Kerry’s parting words are unlikely to change anything on the ground between Israel and the Palestinians or salvage the Obama administration’s record of failed Mideast peace efforts.

His impassioned speech comes less than a week after the United States abstained in the Dec. 23 UN resolution, in what many see as a parting shot by US President Barack Obama who had an acrimonious relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump, who has vowed to pursue more pro-Israeli policies, had urged the United States to veto.

Netanyahu: Kerry speech ‘skewed against Israel’

Netanyahu called the major speech by Kerry on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “skewed against Israel”.

“Like the Security Council resolution that Secretary Kerry advanced in the UN, his speech tonight was skewed against Israel,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.

“For over an hour, Kerry obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict -- Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries.”

Netanyahu was planning to make a statement at his office in Jerusalem in response to Kerry at 1845 GMT.

The United States and others say continued settlement building is steadily eating away at the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians can talk peace if settlements halt: Abbas

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he was ready to resume peace efforts with Israel if it stopped settlement building, reacting Kerry’s speech.

“The minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities... and agrees to implement the signed agreements on the basis of mutual reciprocity, the Palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations on the basis of international law and relevant international legality resolutions... under a specified timeframe,” he said in a statement.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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