Kerry defends US decision not to veto UN resolution against Israeli settlements

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has offered a blistering defence of the US decision to allow a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements, saying if Washington had vetoed it, Israel would have been given a licence for “unfettered settlement construction” and the end of the peace process.

Framing a two-state solution as “the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and
Palestinians”, Kerry took aim at the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for building a coalition that was “the most rightwing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements”.

Kerry’s speech was the latest chapter in a high-octane diplomatic drama marked by a war of words between the Obama
administration and Israel, since the vote on Friday that called Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem a “flagrant violation” of international law .

The speech was immediately condemned by Netanyahu, who described it as “skewed” and “obsessively” focused on the settlement issue.

The exchange between Kerry and
Netanyahu marked a new low in the relationship between Israel’s
government and the Obama administration .

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