Israel PM blasts Kerry for Middle East policy speech

Jerusalem, Dec 29 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the United States State Secretary John Kerry’s Middle East policy speech, denouncing Kerry as “obsessed” and “biased.”

Speaking in a televised statement on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that “Kerry deals obsessively with the settlements instead of touching on the root of the conflict”, Xinhua news agency reported.

Netanyahu said he was “disappointed” and “surprised” by Kerry’s speech. “Is that what the Foreign Minister of the world’s largest power has to focus on?”

The Prime Minister also said he looks forward to working with the President-elect Donald Trump administration to “repeal” Friday’s resolution by the UN Security Council, which condemned Israel’s continued expansion of the settlements.

In his 70-minute speech, only weeks before the end of the Obama administration term, Kerry warned that Israel’s construction of settlements was imperiling the chance of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel and achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

A few hours before the speech, Trump sent a message of support to Israel, telling the Jewish state to “stay strong” until January 20 when he takes office.

In a response tweet, Netanyahu wrote: “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel!”

The historic UN resolution demands Israel to stop the settlements construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and denounced the settlements as a “flagrant violation” of international law.

About 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands that Israel seized in the 1967 Mideast War and has been controlling them ever since, despite international condemnations.