World Bulletin / News Desk
America's top diplomat on Sunday issued a stern ultimatum to Israel: choose settlements or a two-state solution.
Israel cannot have both, John Kerry said in unprecedented comments at the annual Saban Forum hosted by the Brookings Institution in Washington DC.
"There is no status quo. It is getting worse," said Kerry, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "It is moving in the wrong direction."
Kerry, who described himself as an "unapologetic friend of Israel", said Tel Aviv is nonetheless "ignoring all our warnings regarding settlements".
"There is a basic choice that has to be made by Israelis, by the leadership of Israel," he said, "and that is are there going to be continued settlements, is there going to be a continued implementation of settlement policy, or is there going to be separation and the creation of two states?"
Still, the top diplomat said the "tipping point" between the alternatives had not yet been crossed.
The comments are some of the sternest to date from the U.S., Israel's staunchest ally on the international stage.
The Obama administration recently agreed to increase Israel's foreign military financing to $3.8 billion per year for the next decade, from $3.1 billion.
But Israel cannot broker a separate peace with the Arab world if it does not move toward a Palestinian state, Kerry said.
"That is a hard reality," Kerry said.
Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has long insisted that his government is committed to a two-state solution, but Palestinians have criticized his policy of settlement expansion as a major impediment to the realization of their state.
Kerry emphasized that settlements are a "barrier to peace" with the Palestinians.
"Out of the mouths of ministers in the current government have come profoundly disturbing statements publicly," he said, referring to statement dismissing a Palestinian state. "This is the predicament. This is where we find ourselves," he added.
Last Mod: 05 Aralık 2016, 08:37