Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed aside US Secretary of State John Kerry’s warning of more boycotts Sunday, saying that such actions are “immoral and unjustified” and will only “push peace farther away.”
“The attempts to boycott the State of Israel are immoral and unjustified,” Netanyahu said in his opening statement at the cabinet meeting. “Aside from this, they will not accomplish their goal. First of all, they entrench the Palestinians deeper in their positions, pushing peace farther away; and second, no pressure will force me to give up the vital interests of the State of Israel, above all the security of the citizens of Israel.”
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference Saturday, Kerry said failure to reach a peace deal would damage Israel’s capacity to be “a democratic state with the particular special Jewish character that is a central part of the narrative and of the future,” and could lead to more international boycotts.
Kerry said he was utterly certain that the current status quo was “not sustainable… It’s illusionary. There’s a momentary prosperity. There’s a momentary peace.”
Meanwhile, Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) joined the chorus of right-wing officials criticizing Kerry Sunday. Also speaking at the cabinet meeting, he said the American diplomat’s remarks were “offensive and intolerable” and could harm the negotiations.
On Saturday, Jewish Home chairman and Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett accused Kerry of incitement and of serving as a “mouthpiece” for anti-Semitic elements attempting to boycott Israel.
To Kerry “and all advisers,” Bennett wrote in a Facebook post, “the Jewish people are stronger than the threats against them.” He added that the Jews would not “surrender their land” as a result of economic pressure.
“Only security will bring economic stability, not a terrorist state close to Ben-Gurion Airport. We expect our friends around the world to stand by our side to face the anti-Semitic attempts to boycott Israel, not to be their mouthpiece,” Bennett added.
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely and Likud MK and deputy minister Ofir Akunis also issued statements condemning Kerry’s remarks.