US Claims Kerry Didn't Blame Israel
In an attempt to recover after US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel for peace talk failures on Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki quickly stated Kerry did not intend to point the finger at the Jewish state.
"Secretary Kerry was clear when he said that both sides took unhelpful steps, and at no point did he take part in the blame game," claimed Psaki. "More than that, Kerry clarified that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made courageous decisions throughout the process."
While Kerry did tell the Senate "it is the responsibility of the two sides to make decisions" and that "both sides took negative steps," Kerry's sharpest vitriol was saved for Israel, in a phrasing that hinted Israeli actions led to the failure of talks last week.
"Israel didn't release the Palestinian prisoners on the day they were supposed to be freed, and another day passed, and another day, and then another 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem, and 'poof'...that was sort of the moment," charged Kerry.
The final batch of terrorist releases, set for March 29, was put on hold given the total lack of progress in talks, and the widespread protest to the unpopular move. It was officially cancelled last Thursday, after Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Abbas requested to join 15 UN agencies last Tuesday, in breach of the peace talk conditions.
Kerry simply noted before the senate that Abbas's move was "clearly unhelpful."
Regarding Kerry's comment about the "700 settlement units," Israel reissued a call for tenders on over 700 housing units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo last Tuesday. A construction freeze on Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria was not a precondition of the talks.
Kerry also gave support to Abbas's refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state while speaking before the Senate.
"The government of the United States and the president supports the notion of Israel being defined as a Jewish state," Kerry noted. "We believe that that should happen. But when it happens, and how it happens, has to be part of the negotiations. It's not going to happen in the beginning."