Downing Street criticises US comments on Israel

Downing Street criticises US comments on Israel

4 hours ago

Theresa May’s spokesman has criticised US Secretary of State John Kerry over his comments on the Israeli government
Downing Street has criticised US Secretary of State John Kerry for calling the Netanyahu government the “most right-wing in Israel’s history”.

It was “not appropriate” to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally, PM Theresa May’s spokesman said.

Mr Kerry had said Israel’s policies were driven by “the most extreme elements” in its ruling coalition.

This cast doubt on a “two-state” Israel-Palestinian solution, he said.

It follows the US decision not to veto a UN Security Council motion criticising Israel’s policy of building settlements on land occupied since 1967.

The UK voted for the resolution, and Mrs May’s spokesman agreed with Mr Kerry that “the only way to a lasting peace in the Middle East is through a two-state solution”.

But he said that the settlements were “far from the only problem”.

The spokesman added: “We do not, therefore, believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex.

“And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally.”

‘Extreme elements’

A row broke out between the US administration and Israel after the vote at the UN Security Council last Friday, as Mr Netanyahu accused Washington of complicity in drawing up the resolution.

In a speech on Wednesday, Mr Kerry said Mr Netanyahu’s “public support” for a two-state solution, including the creation of an independent state of Palestine, did not reflect the views of the most extreme members of his government.

“His current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements,” he said.

“The result is that policies of this government, which the prime minister himself just described as more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history, are leading in the opposite direction [from a two-state solution]. They are leading towards one state.”

Mr Netanyahu said the comments “paid lip service to the unremitting Palestinian campaign of terrorism” against Israel.

“We continue to believe that the construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal, which is why we supported UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last week,” said Mrs May’s spokesman.

“But we are also clear that the settlements are far from the only problem in this conflict.

“In particular, the people of Israel deserve to live free from the threat of terrorism, with which they have had to cope for too long.”