A senior official from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Office (PMO) told the New York Times Wednesday that Israel is "deeply disappointed" at the blame game initiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry, after he accused Israel of torpedoing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) during a meeting with the Senate.
The official said that the PMO was surprised to hear that Israel - an building tenders - were cited at the cause for talks failing. The PA broke clear conditions of the talks by applying for legitimacy at the UN - and a building freeze had never been a precondition for talks.
"The Palestinians were the one who violated the terms of negotiations last week, when they applied to join 15 conventions and agencies of the United Nations," the official stated. He added that comments on the bid for legitimacy from those international agencies do nothing but "harm talks and harden the positions of the Palestinians."
The official also levied harsh accusations against PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the PA.
"Mr. Kerry knows very well that it was the Palestinians who refused to engage in direct talks with Israel," the official said. "They are the ones who refused the proposed framework which aims for the formulation of a final agreement, and are also the ones who refused to discuss any recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. They refused also meet with him personally."
"At the same time," the official continued, "Since an understanding has not yet been reached during negotiations, Israel has not committed to any restrictions on "As part of the understanding reached not yet the negotiations, Israel has not committed to any restriction on the nature of future conversations [with the PA]. Therefore, the PA arguing that building in Jerusalem - the capital of Israel - is a violation of the negotiating process, is in stark contrast to the facts. The US, as well as the PA, knows well that Israel never obligated itself to a building freeze."
Kerry blamed Israel on Tuesday night for the failure of ongoing peace talks.
"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," he stated, in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The US State Department has denied that Kerry was actually blaming Israel in the statement, and attempted to do some damage control, but the remarks have already been met with condemnation by Israeli officials. The Republican Jewish Coalition has also blasted Kerry for the blame game, calling the accusation "outrageous."