Defending Washington’s decision to allow a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the country had vetoed it then Israel would have been given a licence for “unfettered settlement construction” and end of the peace process. Framing a two-state solution as “the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians”, Kerry criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for building a coalition that was “the most rightwing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements”, reports the Guardian.
The US abstained from voting on Friday that called Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem a “flagrant violation” of international law. Since then, Israel has blasted the Barack Obama administration for its action and accused it of betrayal and underhand dealings. The speech was immediately condemned by Netanyahu, who described it as “skewed” and “obsessively” focused on the settlement issue.
However, describing the decision, Kerry said: “If we had vetoed this resolution … the United States would have been giving license to further, unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose. “It is not this resolution that is isolating Israel. It is the permanent policy of [Israeli] settlement construction that risks making peace impossible.” Kerry also offered a bleak vision of the risk of the collapse of the Oslo peace process and the two-state solution, describing the alternative one-state solution in the darkest terms. “Today, there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea,” said Kerry adding “[Israelis and Palestinians] have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states.”
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“Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy, he added. “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace,” he said. Kerry outlined a series of principles which he said should form the basis of a future peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, with the likely participation of the U S, including a “secure and recognised border” between Israel and the new nation of Palestine. He also said an agreement must help the Palestinian refugees, designate Jerusalem as a capital for both states and satisfy Israel’s security needs. Kerry also insisted that far from abandoning Israel, the Obama administration had been one of its strongest defenders.