The U.S. once again promised to veto any U.N. resolution that would give state recognition to the people of Palestine.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes spoke to CNN shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech that was at times critical of the Israeli military's occupation of Palestine and sought to explain why the U.S. abstained from a U.N. vote that declared Israeli settlements in Palestine to be illegal.
"Yes," Rhodes said when CNN's Jake Tapper asked him if the United States would veto Palestinian statehood recognition. "We've made that clear over and over, Jake."
Rhodes continued: "We are focused on this one because the current trends on the ground, particularly the current Israeli settlement activity, is making a two-state solution potentially impossible and creating a reality where essentially what you have is a one-state solution where the West Bank is repeatedly occupied by Israeli settlements."
In what will likely be his last major speech as secretary of state, Kerry harshly criticized Israel for increasing settlements in Palestine.
“Let’s be clear: Settlement expansion has nothing to do with Israel's security,” Kerry said, according to a transcript of his speech posted on the State Department website. “Many settlements actually increase the security burden on the Israeli Defense Forces. And leaders of the settler movement are motivated by ideological imperatives that entirely ignore legitimate Palestinian aspirations."
Kerry continued: “Among the most troubling illustrations of this point has been the proliferation of settler outposts that are illegal under Israel’s own laws. They’re often located on private Palestinian land and strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible. There are over 100 of these outposts. And since 2011, nearly one-third of them have been or are being legalized, despite pledges by past Israeli governments to dismantle many of them.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accepted a $38 billion aid package in September from the Obama administration, blasted Kerry’s speech, describing it as “almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the U.N. last week,” according to the Huffington Post. “For a full hour, the secretary of state attacked the only democracy in the Middle East.”
But during his speech, Kerry reiterated the United States' unyielding support for Israel.
“They fail to recognize that this friend, the United States of America, that has done more to support Israel than any other country, this friend that has blocked countless efforts to delegitimize Israel, cannot be true to our own values -- or even the stated democratic values of Israel -- and we cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes,” Kerry said.