The Obama Administration broke with long held tradition this week by allowing the United Nations to condemn Israel actions and then, through Secretary of State John Kerry, accusing the Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of undermining efforts for peace. While Kerry defended the actions as consistent with the United States long running support of a two-state solution, others on both sides of the aisle were critical. President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that "We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect ... Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!"
For a multi-partisan overview, we start with an article that quotes leaders across the spectrum before showing opinion pieces from the left, center and right.
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Snippets from the Right
"Just about every single one of Secretary Kerry’s assumptions about the Israeli–Palestinian dispute is erroneous. Start with his assertion that the Palestinians want an independent state on the West Bank. They have been offered such a state at least twice. In 2000, at Camp David, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak offered a generous settlement including land swaps. Yasser Arafat not only rejected it, he started a new intifada. In 2008, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert offered Mahmoud Abbas a state comprising nearly all of the West Bank (Israel would have kept about 5 percent), with East Jerusalem as the capital. Abbas rejected it. Obama-administration assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, the Palestinian Authority has not recognized that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state. Palestinian propaganda ceaselessly depicts 'Palestine' as comprising all of the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. They continue, as Kerry himself acknowledged, to glorify terrorists.
Kerry suggests that “solving” the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the key to 'stabilizing a volatile region.' Has he been asleep for the past 50 years? The region is roiled by Islamic extremism in both Sunni and Shiite guises. The Obama administration has heightened tensions in the region with its embrace of Iran. Civil wars, revolutions, attempted coups, and terrorism are destabilizing Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen, and others. For an Arab, the West Bank is one of the safest (not to mention freest) places he can live in the Middle East."
Snippets from the Left
The New York Times
"Republicans denounced what they said was the Obama administration’s harsh treatment of a steadfast ally and Democrats signaled that they were uneasy with Mr. Kerry’s pressure on Israel, even as they praised the effort to promote Middle East peace.
'While he may not have intended it, I fear Secretary Kerry, in his speech and action at the U.N., has emboldened extremists on both sides,' said Senator Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Democratic leader. ...
'Secretary Kerry’s speech today was at best a pointless tirade in the waning days of an outgoing administration,' said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. 'At worst, it was another dangerous outburst that will further Israel’s diplomatic isolation and embolden its enemies.'
Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Mr. Kerry’s speech 'gratuitous' and 'wrong.' 'There doesn’t seem any purpose to this other than to embarrass Israel,' Mr. Engel said. 'It just pained me to watch it.' ...
In France, Britain and Germany, Mr. Kerry’s speech was greeted with more full-throated support. Senator Nathalie Goulet, vice president of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the French Senate, said Mr. Kerry 'is right, he is absolutely right.'
'The more there are settlements,' she said, 'the less it is likely there will be a two-state solution. But nobody ever dares condemn Israel. There is a double standard that nourishes the propaganda of the terrorists.'"
New York Times Editorial Board
"The American abstention has triggered more than the usual amount of outrage, name-calling and threats from Mr. Netanyahu and his allies. Personalizing the dispute to an astonishing degree, they have accused Mr. Obama of betraying Israel.
They’re wrong. Many of Mr. Netanyahu’s accusations and those of his supporters misrepresent the history of Israeli-American relations, malign Mr. Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, and confuse what should be a serious debate over the future of a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which seems further away every day. With less than three weeks before Mr. Obama leaves office, Mr. Kerry on Wednesday finally gave the speech he wanted to give two years ago — a passionate, blunt and detailed warning about why the two-state solution is in jeopardy and how it might yet be salvaged before incalculable damage is done to Israel and the region."
Snippets from the Center
"Why now? What's the Obama administration playing at? Isn't it all a bit too little and much too late? ...
In The Times of Israel, journalist Avi Issacharoff, said Mr Kerry had set out principles 'any reasonable person…knows will form the basis for any future negotiations between the parties'.
But as someone who had welcomed the Obama administration's early efforts to secure a breakthrough between the Israelis and Palestinians, Issacharoff said Kerry and Obama had allowed the two-state solution to 'fade from history'.
'Perhaps it was Benjamin Netanyahu who broke his spirit, perhaps [Palestinian president] Abbas. Maybe both. But Kerry and the US government raised the white flag,' focusing instead on securing a nuclear deal with Iran, he wrote.
It's certainly true that President Obama's early intensive efforts came to nothing. And it seems likely that a poisonous relationship with the Israeli leader was one factor.
But in truth, the Arab-Israeli 'peace process' had been moribund for years before Barack Obama took office.
It would have taken something fairly miraculous to revive it."
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