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John Kerry responds to UN resolution on Israeli settlements

In a speech given this morning, Secretary of State John Kerry rebuked the accusation that the United States crafted the United Nations Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements. The controversial resolution is one of the toughest passed during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, demanding that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” and declares that the settlements by Israel have “no legal validity and [constitute] a flagrant violation under international law.”

Kerry’s speech followed the United States’ decision to abstain from the vote on the resolution in the midst of the high tensions between the US and Israel. Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been making comments about American involvement in the vote, saying to his Cabinet that “friends don’t take friends to the Security Council” and that he looked forward to working with the Trump administration.

In his speech, Kerry stated, “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect,” in response to Netanyahu’s words.

“The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme elements,” Kerry 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, towards one state.”

Palestinian leaders hope to use the resolution to seek International Criminal Court indictments of Israeli leaders, pushing for a formal probe into whether Israel is violating the Geneva convention and an embargo of products made in Israeli settlements. However, the resolution does not do these things itself.

The resolution itself is a nonbinding measure, meaning that Israel would not face any financial sanctions or punishments for ignoring it and continuing to expand or build new settlements, which Netanyahu’s government has already announced it plans to do.

For a new resolution to pass with penalizations, the UN would have to have member nations vote in favor, something the incoming Trump administration’s appointee would likely veto immediately. Netanyahu, who has spoken against the US and Obama directly, hopes to work with the new administration to receive help.

Since the speech was given, Netanyahu has condemned John Kerry and his speech, saying it was “unbalanced” and “obsessively focused” on settlements.