It was surely to be expected that Secretary of State John Kerry’s blunt criticism of Israel, its West Bank settlements and its political system would rankle the heads of major Jewish organizations in the U.S., and political leaders like U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, but now British Prime Minister Theresa May has added her voice to the growing chorus of condemnation for Kerry.
May’s office issued a statement late Thursday saying, “We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.
“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.”
It was quite a stunning rebuke to the outgoing administration, which abstained from a vote at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution declaring Israeli settlement construction “illegal” along with “any changes” to the pre-war 1967 borders “including with regard to Jerusalem.” Yes, the sacred Western Wall would be off-limits to the millions of Jews who have come there to pray, since the site was restored to Israeli control.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also said in an interview that while Australia supports negotiations leading to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians that “in voting at the U.N.,” the government “has consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel.”
The reaction from Jewish leaders here — most of whom have long been friends and supporters of the Obama administration — has ranged from confusion to feelings of betrayal.
David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Congress, raised this critical point in a column for the Huffington Post: “The big fear, I have heard time and again, is that a Palestinian state is very likely to become a failed state, joining too many others in the region.
“[Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud] Abbas has made absolutely no provision for succession, though he is in his 80s; a major fight is brewing in the West Bank for eventual control of the Palestinian Authority; and Hamas, already ruling Gaza, won’t sit idly by in the West Bank, either.”
Just a few more inconvenient facts for Kerry to ponder as he packs up at State.
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