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Schumer: Kerry ‘emboldened extremists on both sides’

Schumer: Kerry ‘emboldened extremists on both sides’
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) said Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryNikki Haley powerfully rebuts Trump Khashoggi prompts Trump to reconsider human rights in foreign policy Biden: ‘Totally legitimate’ to question age if he runs in 2020 MORE inflamed tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians with his Wednesday speech.

Kerry fiercely criticized the Israeli government for its settlement policy regarding disputed territories occupied by Israel.

“While Secretary Kerry mentioned Gaza in his speech, he seems to have forgotten the history of the settlements in Gaza, where the Israeli government forced settlers to withdraw from all settlements and the Palestinians responded by sending rockets into Israel,” Schumer said in a statement Wednesday. "This is something that people of all political stripes in Israel vividly remember."

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"While he may not have intended it, I fear Secretary Kerry, in his speech and action at the [United Nations], has emboldened extremists on both sides.”

Kerry earlier Wednesday vigorously defended America’s abstention from a U.N. Security Council vote last week on a resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policy.

“Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect,” he said at the State Department. "If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by calling Kerry’s remarks “a great disappointment” that undermined the Jewish state.

“Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders,” he said in Jerusalem.

The U.N. Security Council passed a Dec. 23 resolution 14-0 demanding an end to Israeli settlement building in occupied territories.

The U.S. could have vetoed the measure but abstained instead, ending a longstanding American policy of shielding Israel from U.N. reproaches.

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE joined with Netanyahu in unsuccessfully pressuring the Obama administration to block the resolution beforehand.

President Obama has repeatedly clashed with Netanyahu during his eight years in office, most notably over last year’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

Trump, meanwhile, has pledged his incoming administration will strengthen ties with Israel and defend it on the world stage.