Kerry: Principles for Mid East Peace Based on Two States.
Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Obama administration's abstention from the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel settlements. He maintained that they jeopardized the two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, which, he said, was the only just and realistic road to peace. That said, Kerry proposed principles as the bases for negotiations: See video https://youtu.be/-YWJh0xL8zs
1) Secure, defensible and recognized borders for Israel and a contiguous, viable Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 war lines. 2) Two states for two peoples, the Jews and the Palestinians, with mutual recognition and full and equal rights for all their citizens. 3) Just, fair and agreed solution of the refugee problem with compensation, recognition of their suffering and their need for permanent homes. 4) Jerusalem as the capital of the two states with full protection for and accessibility to the shrines holy to the three monotheistic faiths. 5. Satisfying Israel's security needs is critical. Its occupation must end with the rise of a sovereign, non-militarized Palestinian state.
Kerry predicted, three weeks before he bows out as Secretary of State that solving the Palestinian issue would lead to groundbreaking security partnerships between Israel and the Arab states of the region.
Kerry reiterated Washington's call for a two-state solution. At the beginning of the speech at the State Department he said US support for Israel would not exist if it clashed with the most basic American values. Kerry slammed Hamas for continuing to arm itself at a time when Gazan citizens face a humanitarian crisis, but then immediately afterwards criticized the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, claiming it is controlled by extremist elements. He also mentioned the extensive support that the Obama administration has provided to Israel, the largest amount of military aid that the US has given to any country.
Kerry criticized Israel's control of Judea and Samaria, which he called a "military occupation", as well as the inability of Palestinians to travel freely within those areas or into Israel. He spoke at length on the disadvantages of a single state and the risk he said it would pose to Palestinians, Israelis, the entire region and American interests. During the entire speech he repeatedly blasted Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, claiming that there is no connection between security and the settlements. He claimed that the existence of the settlements, not UN resolutions, is weakening Israel.
Netanyahu said Wednesday night that he found Kerry's views on a Middle East peace, which "compared building houses in Jerusalem to terrorism" as unbalanced and biased as the UN resolution. Unfortunately, he said, Kerry put the blame for the absence of peace on Israel, instead of correctly attributing it to the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel's right to exist; hence its leader's refusal to face Israel for peace negotiations.
Netanyahu noted that Israel was the only place in the Middle East where Christians can freely celebrate Christmas. Yet Kerry spent a whole hour denigrating the only democracy in the region. The prime minister expressed the hope that the Obama administration would refrain from doing any more damage to Israel at the United Nations.
Less than two hours before Kerry's speech, President-elect Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that "We cannot let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect." He then tweeted "They used to have a great friend in the US" but "not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)!" Trump added "Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!"
On Saturday, the President-elect said he would work to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority despite the fact that the vote at the Security Council made it more difficult. "The big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace. Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!" wrote Trump.
No major new proposals were included in the parameters outlined in Kerry's speech. Rather, the address was aimed at preserving the generally agreed upon framework of a two-state solution that has been embraced by the last several U.S. administrations.
Among the principles were a "secure and recognized international border" between Israel and a "viable and contiguous Palestine," as well as an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. Kerry also said a successful two-state solution must provide a "just, agreed, fair and realistic solution" to the Palestinian refugee crisis, declare Jerusalem as a capital for both states, and satisfy Israel's security needs.
While Kerry stressed that Israel will always be a U.S. ally, he accused Netanyahu of allowing Israel to slip into a state of "perpetual occupation. Here is the fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can be either Jewish or democratic, but it cannot be both," said Kerry, warning that the status quo is leading toward an "irreversible one-state reality" that "most people don't actually want."
The stern rebuke of Israel, which comes in the final days of Barack Hussein Obama's presidency, prompted a fierce backlash from Israeli leaders. "Like the Security Council resolution that Kerry advanced in the U.N., his speech tonight was skewed against Israel," Netanyahu said in a statement after the speech. "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."
Education Minister and Jewish Home Party head Naftali Bennett responded to Kerry's call for a "viable two state solution." Bennett said that "Kerry quoted me three times anonymously in his speech in order to demonstrate that we oppose a Palestinian state.
"Yes. If it depends on me, we will not establish another terror state in the heart of our country. The citizens of Israel have paid with thousands of victims, tens of thousands of rockets and innumerable condemnations for the utopian idea of a Palestinian state. It's time for a new policy and we will lead the way."
Earlier, Bennett sent a sharp message to Secretary of Kerry: "Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for 3,000 years. That is in the Bible, open it and read. We, the Jews, have been lighting the menorah for 2170 years in Jerusalem. We say 'Next year in Jerusalem' every Passover. We lit the menorah 1,000 years ago in Russia and Morocco and said 'Next year in Jerusalem.' We lit the menorah 72 years ago near the Auschwitz crematoria and said 'Next year in Jerusalem.' Mr. Secretary: No UN decision or speech will change the fact that Jerusalem was and will always be the Israeli capital."
Netanyahu also said he has "incontestable" evidence showing that the U.S. helped craft the resolution and pushed for its passage. U.S. officials have rejected that notion. Israeli officials also have launched a series of diplomatic retaliatory measures against nations and other organizations that supported the U.N. resolution.
However, in a move aimed at cooling tensions, an Israeli committee on Wednesday postponed a planned vote on permits to construct hundreds of new settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem. Hanan Rubin, a member of the Jerusalem Planning and Housing Committee, said the vote was taken off the agenda for Wednesday at Netanyahu's request. The proposal involved 492 new homes in the Ramot and Ramat Shlomo neighborhoods located in areas Israel recaptured during the 1967 war. Hours later, a Jerusalem municipal panel approved the construction of a separate four-story building for Jewish settlers in a Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, located in East Jerusalem.
Rabbi Zalman Melamed , speaking before hundreds of students and guests at a Chanukah candle-lighting. said, "I wish to bring before you King David's response to the Security Council's recent resolution regarding Judea and Samaria." With a hint of a smile betraying his delight at the eternal inter-generational connections, Rabbi Melamed said:
"King David spoke, in his prophetic spirit, about future events. He wrote about Israel sitting by the rivers of Babylon, and about b'shuv Hashem et shivat Tzion, how God would return us back to the Holy Land, and morea[bar] And he also foresaw the current situation in which the United Nations discusses and votes on issues relating to the Land of Israel, and seeks to steal from us parts of our homeland. Let us read from Psalm 2:
"Why have nations gathered, with the kingdoms planning in vain? Why do kings of the land stand, and nobles take counsel together against God and against His anointed?" This anointed one is Israel -- what could be more fitting to our situation today than these verses?
"He Who dwells in Heaven laughs; the Lord mocks them. For we know that God is He Who rules over the world." Rabbi Melamed then turned to Chapter 83: "Your enemies stir, and those who hate You raise their heads. We know that God's enemies are Israel's enemies.
"Against Your people they cunningly plot, taking counsel against Your protected ones. They said, 'Come, let us destroy them, and the name of Israel will no longer be remembered.'" Does this not refer to Iran, Syria and others around us who declare this openly?
"'For they have taken counsel with one accord' - All the nations in the Security Council joined together. Against You they form a pact. And then King David lists all the nations: 'The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites. G'val, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre. Assyria, too, joined up with thema[bar]'
"King David then continues: 'Do to them as to Midian, as to Sisera, and as to Yavin in the Kishon brook. And in fact, with God's help, our enemies of today, as well, will end up being defeated, with God's help.'"
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|Date:||Dec 29, 2016|
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