John Kerry takes on Israel in his final speech as Sec. of State

John Kerry defends the U.S. commitment to Israel

In the last major speech as the United States Secretary of State John Kerry on today took aim at Israel’s government as he defended the administration’s decision to allow the U.N. Security Council to pass resolution condemning the country’s settlement activity. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States President Barack Obama simply do not get along.

Sec. of State John Kerry was clear and to the point that the U.S. is now and never been a better partner to Israel, but that he simply can’t take a blind eye to the possibility of a two state solution. Something that building more settlements on the East Bank would undermine.

Kerry defended the United States’ decision to abstain — and not veto — a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as one aimed at “preserving the two state solution” and argued that a two-state solution is “the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“I am also here to share my conviction that there is still a way forward if the responsible parties are willing to act,” John Kerry said, opening his speech.

He warned later, “Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy.”

“Friends need to tell each other the hard truths and friendships require mutual respect,” Kerry said during a speech at the State Department. The Secretary of State singled out the Israel’s envoy to the U.N., saying he doesn’t support a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Sec. of State John Kerry is fully aware of the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is not anywhere close to being committed to a two state solution. The United States Secretary of State said the U.S. vote was “in accordance with our values” in the region.

“The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.

He said the U.S. “could not in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution” that condemned settlement activity, which the administration views as an obstacle to a peace deal.

“We would be derelict in our own responsibilities,” John Kerry said.

No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s,” he said. “The Israeli Prime Minister himself has noted our unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation. Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, including during actions in Gaza that sparked great controversy.

The facts are that no admiration in United States history has been more generous in aid to Israel than President Obama. Israel continues to be the top recipient of U.S. foreign military financing, and for fiscal year 2016, the administration requested $3.1 billion in funding. The two nations also have begun preliminary talks on a long-term package that would provide up to $45 billion in security assistance grant aid through 2028. Early this year, Israel signed a contract with the United States for the purchase of 14 F-35 fighter jets, amounting to $3 billion.

Since Obama entered office, Israel has received more than $20.5 billion in foreign military financing.

Unlike President George W. Bush, who rejected Israel’s request for bunker-buster bombs, Obama became the first president to approve the sale of these advanced weapons, and in the fall of 2012, the U.S. and Israel participated in Austere Challenge 12, the largest joint military exercise ever to be held between the two countries.

Under Obama, the U.S. and Israel have continued Juniper Cobra, a joint exercise that has been held every two years since 2001 to test our joint ability to respond to missile attacks and improve preparedness, as well as coordination between our armed forces.

Unlike Bush, who gave Israel’s Iron Dome system a frosty response, Obama has led the way in funding and supporting the research, development and production of the Iron Dome — which has been crucial in helping Israel defend itself against terrorist rocket attacks — as well as the joint U.S.-Israel missile defense systems David’s Sling, the Arrow II and Arrow III. Since 2011, the United States has provided Israel with more than $1.3 billion for the Iron Dome system alone.

This riff is more about personalities than it is about substance. After taking office in February 2009, Netanyahu has spoken to Obama more than any other world leader—and vice versa. Their countries have also reached new heights of security cooperation. But at the same time, the personal relationship between Obama and Netanyahu has been, by most accounts, the worst ever between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.

he international community overwhelmingly opposes Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians for an independent state. The Palestinians, and most of the world, see settlements, now home to 600,000 Israelis, as an obstacle to peace. Netanyahu says the conflict with the Palestinians, including the fate of the settlements, must be resolved through direct negotiations and says that international dictates undermine the negotiating process.

Despite the Israeli anger, Netanyahu ordered a Jerusalem planning committee to delay a vote on approving construction of some 500 new homes in Jewish developments of east Jerusalem, a city councilman said. Council member Hanan Rubin told The Associated Press that Benjamin Netanyahu asked to delay Wednesday’s vote so as not to antagonize relations with the U.S.

Some quotes used in this story come from ASSOCIATED PRESS and the video came from the BBC. 

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.