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Kerry speech biased against Tel Aviv: Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press at his East Jerusalem al-Quds office on December 28, 2016, in response to a speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry. (Photos by AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says US State Secretary John Kerry’s speech over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was biased against Tel Aviv.

"What he did was he spent most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace," said Netanyahu following a speech given by Kerry on Wednesday.

He added that during his speech Kerry had dealt "obsessively" with the topic of the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and that "Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders."

"Like the Security Council resolution that Secretary Kerry advanced in the UN, his speech tonight was skewed against Israel," the Israeli prime minister added.

Earlier in the day, Kerry gave a speech in defense of Washington's abstention on the resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

US Secretary of State John Kerry lays out his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the Department of State in Washington, DC, December 28, 2016.

“The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” said Kerry.

“Today, there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” he said.

“They have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states,” Kerry added.

The US secretary of state also said that Netanyahu’s “current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.”

He also rejected Tel Aviv’s claims of US collusion with other Security Council members and Palestinian officials, saying the decision to abstain from the vote was “in accordance with our values.”

Relations between Tel Aviv and Washington are in tatters after the United States abstained from voting on Security Council Resolution 2334.

In this image released by the UN, members of the Security Council vote on December 23, 2016, on a resolution to stop Israeli settlements. 

The resolution calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.”

It also states that the building of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

Abbas: Talks possible if settlements stop

Following Kerry’s speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his is prepared to resume talks with Israel provided that Tel Aviv halts its settlement activities.

"The minute Israel agrees to cease all settlement activities... and agrees to implement the signed agreements on the basis of mutual reciprocity, the Palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations on the basis of international law and relevant international legality resolutions... under a specified time frame," said a statement released by Abbas’s office.

Hundreds of Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The continued expansion of Israeli settlements has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.

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