Theresa May hits out at John Kerry over settlements speech

'We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue', says PM


British Prime Minister Theresa May has taken issue with US Secretary of State John Kerry over a speech on Thursday in which he heavily criticised the Israeli government.

Speaking a week after the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israeli construction in the West Bank, Mr Kerry said the Netanyahu government was driven by its “most extreme elements” and was “more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history”.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “We do not 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. The government believes that negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between the two parties, supported by the international community.”

However, it emerged in the week following the Security Council vote that British diplomats had been key in ensuring the resolution passed.

The spokesman added: “The British government continues to believe that the only way to a lasting peace in the Middle East is through a two-state solution.

“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. 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.”

The US State Department responded that it was "surpised" by Mrs May's statement, "given that Secretary Kerry's remarks-which covered the full range of threats to a two-state solution, including terrorism, violence, incitement and settlements, were in-line with the UK's own longstanding policy and its vote at the United Nations last week."

It added: "We are grateful for the strongly supportive statements in response to Secretary Kerry's speech from across the world, including Germany, France, Canada, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others."

The US did not veto the December 23 Security Council vote on settlements - the first time it has refrained from blocking an anti-Israel resolution since 2009.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive