Kerry leaves door open on UN Security Council action on Palestinian statehood

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry participates in The Brooking Institute's 2016 Saban Forum in Washington, DC on December 4, 2016. (Photo courtesy U.S. State Department)

NEW YORK—With choice words for Israeli politicians, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Israel is “heading to a place of danger” with its policies toward Palestinians in a speech at the Saban Forum in Washington, D.C. this Sunday.

“There is no status quo,” Kerry said. “It is getting worse. It is moving in the wrong direction.”

Referencing Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s November comment that “with Trump the era of the Palestinian State is over,” Kerry criticized the Israeli government on its lack of leadership in the peace process with Palestinians.

“Out of the mouths of ministers in the current government have come profoundly disturbing statements publicly,” Kerry said.

Throughout his speech, Kerry reiterated his love for the Jewish State, reminisced on more than 130 hours spent in phone conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and touted the billions of dollars the United States gives Israel for foreign military financing.

He did not, however, put to bed rumors that the Obama Administration may support Security Council action on a two-state solution at the United Nations before Obama leaves the White House in January.

Instead, Kerry notably declined to categorically oppose Security Council action on Palestinian statehood.

While explaining that the United States has always stood against anti-Israel UN resolutions and would continue to do so, he said there are “other people” who “because of this building frustration” are “talking about bringing resolutions to the United Nations.”

When pressed on whether the United States would oppose France’s efforts on peace negotiations, Kerry said if the resolution is biased and unfair and “calculated to delegitimize Israel, we’ll oppose it.

“But it’s getting more complicated now because there is a building sense of what I’ve been saying to you today, which some people can shake their heads, say, well, it’s unfair,” he continued. “There are real imperfections and problems within Fatah. We all know that. And we have been adamant to Palestinians about incitement and adamant to the Palestinians about their need to deal with their education system and to change the things kids are taught and to try to lead by example with respect to the nonviolence and so forth. (…) I do believe that Israel, because of decisions that are being made on a daily basis quietly and without a lot of people seeing them or fully processing the consequences, is heading to a place of danger.”

The most prominent obstacle to peace, Kerry emphasized, is Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israelis and their leadership must choose between continuing with the settlements, or separation and the creation of a Palestinian state.

“There will be no advance and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and Palestinian peace,” Kerry said.