Britain, edging towards Trump, scolds Kerry over Israel

LONDON – Britain 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 Prime Minister Theresa May more closely with President-elect Donald Trump.

After U.S. President Barack Obama enraged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by refusing to veto a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building, Kerry’s public rebuke of Israel has unsettled some allies such as Britain.

Amid one of the United States’ sharpest confrontations with Israel since the 1956 Suez crisis, Kerry said in a speech that Israel jeopardizeds hopes of peace in the Middle East by building settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

While Britain voted for the UN resolution that so angered Netanyahu and says that settlements in the occupied territories are illegal, a spokesman for May said that it was clear that the settlements were far from the only problem in the conflict.

In an unusually sharp public rebuke of Obama’s top diplomat, May’s spokesman said that Israel had coped for too long with the threat of terrorism and that focusing only on the settlements was not the best way to achieve peace between Jew and Arab.

London also took particular issue with Kerry’s description of Netanyahu’s coalition as “the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme elements.”

“We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally,” May’s spokesman said when asked about Kerry 70-minute speech in the State Department’s auditorium.

The U.S. State Department said it was surprised by the remarks from May’s office and said Kerry’s comments were in line with Britain’s own policy. It pointedly also thanked Germany, France, Canada, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates for support.

TRUMP AND MAY?

Britain has long cherished its so-called “special relationship” with the United States as a central pillar of its foreign policy, but May has struggled to build relations with Trump’s transition team.

Following his election, Trump spoke to nine other world leaders before he spoke to May while he caused astonishment in London when he suggested that Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage should be Britain’s ambassador to Washington.

By openly criticising Kerry, who will leave office in just weeks, May moves British policy closer to Trump than its other European allies such as Germany and France.

Trump has denounced the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel and promised to change course when he is sworn in on Jan. 20.

“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 said in a series of tweets. “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”

Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has come out in favour of the Kerry speech while France holds a Middle East conference next month in Paris.

But Australia has distanced itself from Obama’s stance on Israel, ABC reported.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was convinced peace with Israel was achievable but demanded that Israel halt settlement building before talks restarted.

ISRAEL

Netanyahu has been witheringly critical of Kerry’s speech. In a statement released shortly after it was delivered, Netanyahu accused Kerry of bias and said Israel did not need to be lectured to by foreign leaders.

Netanyahu said he looked forward to working with Trump.

Kerry “obsessively dealt with settlements”, Netanyahu said in his response, and barely touched “the root of the conflict – Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries.”

In Israel, Kerry’s speech has played into the hands of Israel’s far-right national-religious movement, led by Naftali Bennett, the education minister, who is in Netanyahu’s cabinet but very critical of Netanyahu and is trying to position himself as a future potential leader.

Bennett’s party, Jewish Home, wants to annexe large parts of the West Bank and openly opposes the creation of a Palestinian state. He is advocating for more settlements and the legalisation of outpost settlements, which even the Israeli government considers illegal.

“This [Obama] administation’s policy has left the Middle East up in flames,” Bennett said after Kerry’s speech. “The one free democracy has been thrown under the bus – and that’s Israel.” – Reuters

Related Posts
Zimbabwean dictator begs West for assistance as economy collapse
ZIMBABWE President Robert Mugabe said Tuesday that he welcomed western re-engagement in his country’s economy, the first such statement in a decade and a half of strained relations with the ...
READ MORE
Oppenheimers, rich white men turned Mandela against revolution: Malema
LONDON - Late former president Nelson Mandela turned his back on parts of the revolution after being released from prison, EFF leader Julius Malema has said. "The deviation from the Freedom ...
READ MORE
Press Briefing with the U.S. Delegation to the African Union Summit
Addis Ababa — MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome and thank you for joining us for today’s press conference with our U.S. Delegation to the African Union Summit. Today, here, we ...
READ MORE
Mugabe speech interrupted: “President, we are suffering!”
HARARE - Before President Robert Mugabe returned home from a state visit to Japan, the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation carried a radio announcement from the ruling party Zanu-PF. By Brezhnev Malaba In ...
READ MORE
Robert Mugabe, 90, becomes African Union chairman
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ninety-year-old Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's most divisive figures, ascended to the rotating chairmanship of the African Union on Friday, casting a shadow over ...
READ MORE
South African Treasury: Zuma should repay $510,000 for upgrades to private residence
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's President Jacob Zuma should pay 7.8 million rand ($510,074) for non-security upgrades to his private Nkandla home, the National Treasury said on Monday. In a stinging ...
READ MORE
Breaking: I have cancer – Tsvangirai
MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has revealed he has cancer of the colon and is undergoing treatment in South Africa. BY RICHARD CHIDZA Tsvangirai confirmed in a statement early Monday that, doctors in ...
READ MORE
Nigeria, Zimbabwe Fail To Honour Budget Pledges
Nigeria (Lagos) - Nigeria has joined Zimbabwe in its failure to honour pledges to dedicate at least 15 percent of their national budgets towards health. Ironically, the pledge was agreed on ...
READ MORE
ANC to sue Malema over threat to take up arms
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) party has announced it would sue opposition politician Julius Malema after he threatened to remove President Jacob Zuma's government with the ...
READ MORE
Senegal will lead a military intervention to oust Gambia's outgoing President YahyaJammeh if he refuses to step down when his mandate expires on 19 January, the Economic Community Of West ...
READ MORE
Zimbabwean dictator begs West for assistance as economy
Oppenheimers, rich white men turned Mandela against revolution:
Press Briefing with the U.S. Delegation to the
Mugabe speech interrupted: “President, we are suffering!”
Robert Mugabe, 90, becomes African Union chairman
South African Treasury: Zuma should repay $510,000 for
Breaking: I have cancer – Tsvangirai
Nigeria, Zimbabwe Fail To Honour Budget Pledges
ANC to sue Malema over threat to take
Senegal will lead military intervention to remove Gambia’s

Arts & Entertainment