In a final bid to secure peace in the Middle East before the Obama administration comes to a close, US Secretary of State John Kerry has outlined his vision for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that both sides must work together to ensure peace.
Speaking in Washington just days after the US abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution which demanded an end to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Kerry said Israel and the Palestinian territories must be “serious” about implementing the two-state solution.
He said the two state solution is the only way “to achieve a just and lasting peace”.
“If we’re serious about the two-state solution, it’s time to start implementing it now, and advance the process of separation,” he said.
“It could make a significant difference in saving the two-state solution and in building confidence in the citizens of both sides.”
He said that settlements have nothing to do with Israeli security but instead make the task of protecting Israelis much more difficult.
Such settlements, he said, pose a threat to the two-state solution and that their construction in the West Bank “risks making peace impossible.”
He said the US must “provide for a just, agreed, fair and realistic solution… for a comprehensive resolution consistent with 2 states for 2 peoples”.
The US is one of Israel’s most prominent allies, but Kerry said there that the country’s decision not to veto the UN resolution is in accordance with US values.
Kerry’s statement comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government pulled back from approving hundreds of new homes for Israelis in East Jerusalem.
The contentious resolution was condemned by Israel, who have gradually legalised more and more Jewish settlements in occupied Jerusalem over recent years.
A spokesman for Netanyahu, whose relationship with the US administration has struggled since Obama’s election in 2008, claimed to have “ironclad evidence” that the White House plotted to promote the resolution.
Netanyahu has accused Washington of conspiring against the Israeli government.
Responding from Jerusalem, he said that Kerry’s speech was “skewed” against Israel and “obsessively” focused on settlements.