Theresa May’s attack on John Kerry over Israel is extraordinary | The Guardian – Opinion |  

What was Theresa May thinking in attacking the US secretary of state John Kerry’s address on the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Her spokesman said on Thursday: “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.”

This is extraordinary. Why would May attack Kerry for suggesting that settlements were the main obstacle to peace? Did she read his speech? In it, he stated that “settlements are not the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict” and strongly condemned terrorism and incitement against Israel. More extraordinary still, why would the British prime minister criticise Kerry when her own government played a leading role in the passing of UN security council resolution 2334 which condemned Israel over its settlement expansion? Kerry ordered the United States to abstain while May’s government voted in favour.

Critics of the expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank have warned that this will lead to the burial of the two-state solution with Israel becoming responsible for some 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

Certainly, May is a strong supporter of Israel. On 12 December, she delivered one of the more pro-Israeli speeches you will hear by a sitting British prime minister. In an address to the Conservative Friends of Israel, she spoke of her pride in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 in which Britain recognised the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Inside Conservative Friends of Israel

British leader Theresa May breaks with John Kerry’s condemnation of Israel | WaPo |

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned a blunt speech this week by Secretary of State John F. Kerry on the state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an unusual move that boosted Britain’s relations with the incoming Trump administration at the expense of President Obama.

The rare diplomatic spat between Britain and the United States, which was met with surprise by the State Department, highlighted the fast-collapsing influence of the lame-duck White House. It also pointed to a vast reordering of international affairs expected after Donald Trump takes office in three weeks, as U.S. allies position themselves to curry favor in the new order.

The transatlantic split was particularly unexpected given that May’s government acted as a key broker between U.S. and Palestinian interests ahead of a U.N. Security Council vote last week to declare Israeli settlement construction “illegal.” British diplomats worked as go-betweens in shaping the measure to ensure that the language was acceptable to the United States, Britain’s Guardian and Israel’s Haaretz newspapers reported this week.

John Kerry sits down with Andrea Mitchell of NBC News  

Theresa May’s criticism of John Kerry’s speech sparks blunt US reply | The Guardian |

Theresa May has distanced the UK from Washington over John Kerry’s condemnation of Israel, in comments that appear to be designed to build bridges with the incoming Trump administration.

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A post-Brexit world (Credit: Chappatte in Int. New York Times)

However the US state department last night reacted with some bluntness to May’s statement.

A spokesperson said: “We are surprised by the UK Prime Minister’s office statement given that Secretary Kerry’s remarks–which covered the full range of threats to a two state solution, including terrorism, violence, incitement and settlements–were in-line with the UK’s own longstanding policy and its vote at the United Nations last week.”

The statement also said: “We are grateful for the strongly supportive statements in response to Secretary Kerry’s speech from across the world, including Germany, France, Canada, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others.”

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