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      Rivlin: U.S. Criticism is Out of Line

      MK: Kerry was wrong to condemn settlement legalization; lack of peace talks is not Israel’s fault.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 5/21/2013, 12:21 PM

      Reuven Rivlin
      Reuven Rivlin
      Flash 90

      United States Secretary of State John Kerry was wrong to condemn Israel for legalizing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (Shomron), former Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday.

      Kerry called Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, last week, to protest the planned legalization of four outposts.

      “Kerry’s protest is out of line,” Rivlin said, speaking in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “It contains a measure of antagonism to Israel.”

      The U.S. administration has criticized Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria as an obstacle to peace talks. The Palestinian Authority has stated that it will not negotiate for peace unless Israel first stops all construction east of the 1949 armistice line.

      “Israel’s traditional willingness to hold negotiations with no preconditions has not changed, and has even received support abroad,” Rivlin said. “It’s been proven in the past that meeting preconditions has not brought the Palestinians to the negotiating table.”

      “The ball is in the Palestinians’ court, not ours,” he added.

      “The American State Department’s protest aims to create a new diplomatic reality, and indirectly – and unjustly – to force Israel to change its approach regarding negotiations without preconditions,” he said.

      Rivlin challenged Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, asking if her positions regarding negotiations with the PA align with the government’s official stance.