A member of the Israeli legislature assailed Secretary of State John Kerry for the latter’s criticisms of Israel. Knesset member Moti Yogev "With all due respect and gratitude to our friend the United States, the reality has proven that all of John Kerry's assessments and diplomatic actions in various sectors of the world were a series of mistakes and failures: in Egypt, Ukraine, Syria and also in Israel." Yogev said, "His opinions and speeches are disconnected from the Middle Eastern reality." Yogev repeated a long-standing Israeli claim that "the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel." 
 
Speaking before the Saban Forum in Washington on December 5, Kerry opined that Israel cannot remain a Jewish and democratic state within the framework of a "one-state solution." Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vocal support for the establishment of a Palestinian state, several of his cabinet members are opposed. Kerry also warned of the Palestinian Authority's collapse and called on Netanyahu to prove that his support for the two-state solution is not just a slogan. Kerry said that the U.S. continues to support a “two-state solution,” said that Israel and Palestine must hash out their future. "If there is a risk the Palestinian Authority might collapse and Israel wants it to survive, shouldn't Israel do more to help sustain it?" Kerry said. 
 
"Without the Palestinian Authority, Israel will be responsible for civil administration of the West Bank - it costs billions," Kerry warned. "Without the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, the IDF would be forced to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers to the West Bank indefinitely." He also asserted that distrust between Israel and the PA has never been more profound and that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas "feels great despair - more than I have ever heard him." 
 
"If there is a risk the Palestinian Authority might collapse and Israel wants it to survive, shouldn't Israel do more to help sustain it?" Kerry said. "Without the Palestinian Authority, Israel will be responsible for civil administration of the West Bank - it costs billions," Kerry warned. "Without the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, the IDF would be forced to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers to the West Bank indefinitely."
 
Kerry, however, did stress that violence must stop in order to achieve peace and said that “Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself." Recent weeks have been marked by stepped-up demonstration at the Temple Mount and several spectacular murders and terrorist acts committed by Palestinians. "We need people to act in restraint. The Palestinian leadership should stop the incitement and condemn terror attacks," he added. 
 
Responding to Kerry Knesset member Yogev said "There never was a Palestinian state here and there never will be. Our responsibilities in Judea and Samaria were and continue to be our security and the strengthening of communities throughout Israel, including the fabric of the lives of Arabs living here."
 
"Part of the answer to terror is the certainty that we returned to Judea and Samaria to strengthen our hold on them forever," he added.
 
The Obama administration has come under criticism from its principal Middle Eastern ally on the related issue of Muslim terrorism and the Islamic State. At the Saban Forum, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon harshly criticized the Obama administration’s response to the Islamic State.  “The US needs to get off the fence and lead the world [in the fight against ISIS]," Ya'alon demanded. "In the current situation, Russia is playing a much more significant role than the US and we do not like the fact that countries like Jordan and Egypt are turning now to the Russians. The US must play a more significant role in the region."


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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