Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced a speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry which said illegal settlement building is holding back peace.
Kerry also said that, rather than aiming for an internationally agreed two state solution, Israel is instead moving towards a one state reality.
“I must express my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry. The speech that was as almost unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution that passed last week,” Netanyahu said.
He added that Israel did not need to be lectured to by foreign leaders and looked forward to working with incoming President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to pursue more pro-Israeli policies.
In a 70-minute speech with mere weeks left in his tenure, Kerry said Israel “will never have true peace” with the Arab world if it does not reach an accord based on Israelis and Palestinians living in their own states.
Kerry’s remarks, and Netanyahu’s reply, marked the closing chapter of an increasingly bitter U.S.-Israeli relationship during President Barack Obama’s administration over differences on settlement-building and the Iran nuclear deal signed last year.
Ties reached a low point last week when Washington cleared the way for a U.N. resolution that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building, prompting Israeli government officials to direct harsh attacks against Obama and Kerry whom they insisted had orchestrated the resolution.
Israel’s illegal settlements
Illegal settlement building continues in east Jerusalem which Israel occupied in 1967.
But there are signs that last week’s UN vote demanding an end to settlement building has put pressure on Israel.
Jerusalem’s City Hall cancelled a vote on applications to build nearly 500 homes for Israelis in East Jerusalem just before Kerry made his speech.