Secretary of State John Kerry will present the Obama administration's final vision for Israel and Palestine as well as "address some of the misleading critiques" in a speech Wednesday.
The United States has faced the wrath of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after abstaining from voting in a United Nations resolution that ultimately resolved to condemn Israel's West Bank settlements. Kerry will argue that "the vote was not unprecedented" and "did not blindside Israel," an official familiar with the plans told The New York Times.
At this late date, weeks ahead of the inauguration of Mr. Trump, who openly lobbied on Israel’s side against the United Nations resolution, it is unclear what Mr. Kerry hopes to achieve from the speech, other than to leave a set of principles that he believes will one day emerge as the basis for talks, if and when they resume.
Mr. Kerry, the official said, has long wanted to give a speech outlining an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal but was held back by White House officials, who saw it as unnecessary pressure on Israel that would anger Mr. Netanyahu. But that objection was lifted last week as Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry agreed the time had come to abstain on the United Nations resolution. That decision led to one of the biggest breaches yet in the rocky American-Israeli relationship during the Obama years. [The New York Times]
"Our vote today does not diminish [America's] steadfast" commitment to Israel, said Samantha Powers, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Netanyahu has argued that "the Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes."