John Kerry
John Kerry Reuters

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, on Wednesday criticized Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on the Middle East, saying it was “a failed attempt to defend the indefensible.”

“Contrary to Secretary of State Kerry's address today, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that the administration unconscionably failed to block was unfair, unbalanced and represented a profound departure from the policies of previous Democratic and Republican administrations for nearly the past forty years. Secretary Kerry placed overwhelming, disproportionate blame for the failure to advance peace on our ally, Israel, while neglecting numerous Israeli peace offers and Palestinian refusal to resume direct talks,” said AIPAC.

“Any potential, positive contribution from this speech was foreclosed by the Obama administration's shameful refusal to veto the destructive, anti-Israel UNSC resolution,” it continued. “By abstaining, and thereby allowing the resolution to pass, the outgoing administration not only betrayed a democratic ally and abandoned a forty-year understanding, but it also made the goal of peace more elusive by undermining direct talks, reinterpreting UN Security Council Resolution 242, and providing the recalcitrant Palestinian leadership with further incentive not to compromise or negotiate.”

AIPAC noted that “over the past eight years, Israel has repeatedly tried to advance the negotiations process, including the imposition of a settlement freeze and the release of convicted Palestinian terrorists-- a step that was deeply difficult for the Israeli people. In response, the Palestinians made no significant gesture to advance the cause of peace. Yet, the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership is now being rewarded by the administration and others through destructive resolutions and counterproductive attempts to internationalize the conflict.”

“Instead of allowing outside parties to irresponsibly set out their own terms, conditions or parameters for an agreement, the United States should pressure the Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table with the Israelis-- the appropriate venue to forge a lasting resolution of the conflict and achieve the objective of a two-state solution. As even Secretary Kerry made clear in his speech, it would be wrong to seek to impose conditions or to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state. This is also the approach that has the support from the overwhelming majority of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress,” said AIPAC.

The organization called “upon the bipartisan congressional majority and the incoming Trump Administration to renounce the recent action taken by this administration and to begin the work of repairing the damage done to the cause of peace and the U.S-Israel relationship.”

Shortly after Kerry’s speech, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu criticized it and called it "skewed" and "obsessive."

"Like the Security Council resolution that Secretary Kerry advanced in the UN, his speech tonight was skewed against Israel," a statement from Netanyahu's office said.

"For over an hour, Kerry obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict -- Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries," the statement continued.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas reacted to Kerry’s speech by yet again imposing preconditions on peace talks.

"The minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities... and agrees to implement the signed agreements on the basis of mutual reciprocity, the Palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations on the basis of international law and relevant international legality resolutions... under a specified timeframe," said Abbas.

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