Pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC blasted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech Wednesday as “a failed attempt to defend the indefensible,” even as dovish J Street applauded his words.
“The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme elements,” Kerry said at the State Department. “The status quo is leading toward one state, or perpetual occupation.”
Kerry devoted much of his four years as secretary to pursuing a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace, efforts that yielded little. His speech was the second grand gesture of the Obama administration’s final days that blamed Israeli policy for thwarting a two-state solution. On Friday the U.S. did not veto a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements. The passing of the resolution kicked up a wave of Israeli recrimination that capped eight years of acrimonious relations between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
AIPAC lashed out against Kerry’s comments and said he “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.”
AIPAC echoed Netanyahu’s criticism of the U.S. representative’s “shameful refusal to veto” the revolution.
But the dovish J Street said Kerry “laid out a clear choice for those who care about Israel’s future… [Israelis] can continue down the present path of unbridled settlement and occupation, and there will be one state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean that will have to choose between being Jewish or democratic in nature.”
Israeli leaders have hinted that they expect President-elect Donald Trump to treat them more gently. Trump has signaled he plans to radically change the U.S. approach to the Middle East. He announced he would nominate as ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who is a president of a fundraising society for a yeshiva in the West Bank settlement Beit El.
“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but…….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2016
not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2016