British PM slams Kerry on Israel speech

British PM slams Kerry on Israel speech
© Francis Rivera

British Prime Minister Theresa May says Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryUN chief warns unchecked climate change will mean 'survival of the richest' Conservatives rip FBI over IG report: 'scathing indictment' Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill MORE’s criticism of Israel is counterproductive to peace in the Middle East.

Kerry on Wednesday sharply criticized Israeli settlement building in occupied territories, characterizing it as an obstacle to harmony with the Palestinians.

“We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex,” a spokesman for May told The Jewish Chronicle Thursday. "And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally.

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"The government believes that negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between the two parties, supported by the international community.”

Kerry was defending the United States' decision to abstain from voting on a Dec. 23 United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building in occupied territories. While May criticized Kerry's speech, her own government voted for the resolution.

The controversial measure passed 14-0 after the U.S. refrained from vetoing it, a break from its longstanding tradition of shielding Israel from U.N. reproaches.

On Wednesday, Kerry accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of leading the “most right-wing” government in his nation’s history during his address.

“If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic,” he said at the State Department. "It cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace.”

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE and Netanyahu unsuccessfully pressured President Obama to veto the resolution.

May's spokesman insisted that May's criticism of Kerry didn't contradict the United Kingdom's vote in favor of the resolution.

“We continue to believe that the construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal, which is why we supported U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334 last week,” May’s spokesman said Thursday.

“But 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.”

The Guardian on Wednesday reported the U.K. helped draft key wording of the Security Council’s resolution last week.

Britain’s Foreign Office stressed that Egypt proposed and drafted the measure’s language, it added, but the U.K. “engaged with” the text as it is one of the Security Council’s five permanent members.