Britain scolds Kerry for comments on Israeli government
The United Kingdom scolded U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for describing the Israeli government as the “most right-wing in Israeli history,” a move that aligns British Prime Minister Theresa May more closely with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
In a 70-minute speech just weeks before the Obama administration hands over to Trump, Kerry warned on Dec. 28 that Israel’s building of settlements was endangering Middle East peace.
A spokesman for May said the British government believed that while the construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories was illegal, it was clear that the settlements were far from the only problem in this conflict.
“We do not ... believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue,” May’s spokesman said in a statement, according to Reuters. “And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally.”
The U.S. State Department on Dec. 29 reacted to May’s statement.
“We are surprised by the U.K. Prime Minister’s office statement given that Secretary Kerry’s remarks—which covered the full range of threats to a two state solution, including terrorism, violence, incitement and settlements—were in-line with the U.K.’s own longstanding policy and its vote at the United Nations last week,” a spokesperson said.
“We are grateful for the strongly supportive statements in response to Secretary Kerry’s speech from across the world, including Germany, France, Canada, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others,” the statement also said.
Kerry’s remarks added to the strain in the relationship between Israel’s government and the outgoing Obama administration after the U.S. cleared the way for a U.N resolution last week that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building.
Trump had openly lobbied against the U.N resolution and criticized Obama’s handling of the relationship.
Britain supported the U.N. resolution.