WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry said the anti-settlements resolution passed at the United Nations Security Council on Friday would “preserve the possibility of peace.”
Kerry argued that the resolution, which called for a complete halt to all settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, also criticized Palestinian behavior, making it acceptable for the United States to abstain from voting and thus allow the measure to pass.
“While we do not agree with every aspect of this resolution, it rightly condemns violence and incitement and settlement activity and calls on both sides to take constructive steps to reverse current trends and advance the prospects for a two state solution,” he said.
Resolution 2334 was approved earlier in the day with 14 member states voting in favor, none voting against and one abstention — the United States. The passage of the resolution was met with applause in the packed chamber.
The text also calls on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967” — language that Israel fears will lead to a surge in boycott and sanctions efforts.
Kerry, who has spent much of his time at the State Department trying to broker the coveted two-state agreement, said the US acted with “one primary objective,” which was to keep the viability of two states alive, an outcome he stressed was in the best long-term interests of both parties.
“Two states is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors, and freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people,” he said. “That future is now in jeopardy, with terrorism, violence and incitement continuing and unprecedented steps to expand settlements being advanced by avowed opponents of the two state solution.”
“That is why we cannot in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace,” he added.
Kerry, who referred to himself as “a lifelong friend of Israel,” indicated he will deliver a speech soon laying out his vision for a Middle East peace agreement and how future administrations may be able take the issue forward.
“In the coming days, I will speak further to the vote in the Security Council today and share more detailed thoughts, drawn from the experience of the last several years, on the way ahead,” he said.
In a press call with reporters following the vote Friday, the State Department’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Frank Lowenstein, also suggested an address from the secretary would be come soon.
After the vote took place, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the resolution and said Israel would not abide by it.
“While the Security Council does nothing to prevent the massacre of half a million people in Syria, it is shamefully singling out Israel — the only democracy in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
“The Obama administration not only failed to defend Israel from this harassment at the UN, it cooperated with it behind the scenes,” he charged.