In their last 24 days in office, Barack Obama and John Kerry are seeking to achieve a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The President and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have had a very visibly strained relationship which Netanyahu exemplified in his recent condemnations of Obama. During the last week, the President has allowed UN Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass and dispatched John Kerry to support that decision in a very strong self-justifying way.
On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech defending the Obama Administration’s failure to veto the UN resolution that officially and internationally delegitimized the Jewish settlements in West Bank and West Jerusalem. Kerry said the security council’s vote “was about preserving the two-state solution” and offering a peace that will last. He insisted the U.S. abstention was a way to “ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state” and further “U.S. interest in the region.”
With his speech, Kerry articulated the “difficult choices” that remain in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Secretary warned Israel that choosing a single state solution would lead to the country being either “Jewish or democratic – not both” resulting in “Jewish or Democratic” trending on twitter.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Kerry’s speech with strong rebuke saying, “I want to express my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry, a speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN last week.”
Explaining why the “speech was so disappointing to millions of Israelis,” Netanyahu dismissed Kerry’s claim the Israeli settlements caused the “lack of peace” in the conflict. The Prime Minister maintained Israel will “make peace” with Palestinians through “direct negotiations.” To reinforce this position and policy for peace, he used the President’s words from a 2011 UN speech.
“Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements, and resolutions at the United Nations; if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.” – President Obama at the UN in 2011
Although many administrations have publicly criticized the Israeli settlements, no lame duck President has gone as far as Obama has to force Israel to end the settlements. He has helped the enemies of Israel further reject the Jewish State’s right to exist and the spread of democracy in the region. As Obama globally forsakes our most loyal ally in the Middle East, he has Kerry tout America’s “unwavering commitment” to protecting Israel.
Despite having benefited Israel’s throughout his two terms, it is clear to leadership in Israel and Palestine the President has placed Israel in unprecedented circumstances. Without knowing exactly what to expect from the Obama administration before January 20th, Netanyahu is admittedly looking forward to Trumps Presidency.
“Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with the American Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – to mitigate the damage that this resolution has done, and ultimately to repeal it.” – Prime Minister Netanyahu during response to Secretary Kerry