Kerry: We protected Israel from unfair treatment at Paris summit

US Secretary of State praises final statement issued by international gathering in Paris, says US shielded Israel from unfair treatment.

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David Rosenberg,

John Kerry
John Kerry
Reuters

The United States delegation at the Middle East peace summit in Paris worked to protect Israel from ‘unfair’ treatment, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.

"We came in here and where we thought it was unbalanced and where we thought it was not expressing the kind of unity that I talked about, we fought to address it," he said.

“We didn't soften it. We did what was necessary to have a balanced resolution. And if you look at it, it speaks in positive ways, rather than negative, to both sides."

Kerry thanked France for hosting the international conference and welcomed its final statement in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

But, he added, the resulting statement, which he noted included condemnation of Arab incitement against Jews and attacks on Israelis, was added in part due to pressure from the US.

The Secretary of State also said that he had contacted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during the summit to reassure him that no one-sided action would be taken by the conference vis-à-vis Israel.

The outline of the final statement endorsed by the participants of the summit, which emphasizes a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, was unveiled by Kerry in a speech in December.

"It evidenced a constructive willingness to engage with Israel that has not been readily put on the table by people over the course of the past several years," he said.

The conference comes less than a month after the US withheld its veto on an unprecedented United Nations Security Council resolution which labelled all Jewish communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria as illegal.

But Kerry said he had told Netanyahu that, contrary to his government's complaints, this did not mean that Washington had turned its back on Israel's claim on Jerusalem.

Kerry said he had told Netanyahu: "We fully expect Israel's profound historic and religious ties to the city and to its holy sites. We've never questioned that.

"This resolution in no manner prejudges the outcome of permanent status negotiations for east Jerusalem which must reflect those historic ties and realities on the ground."

AFP contributed to this report