Transparency Principle: Examine the evidence; make up your own mind.
I offer these logs of CNN and BBC available for those who want to check whether my video critique of the MSTVNM has been fair. They constitute the material from which I worked to assemble the video, Everybody Knows… I welcome comments and criticism. Bold and italics mine.
CNN and BBC December 23-28, 2016 logs
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Don Lemon: Unprecedented phone call stops UNSC’s Israel vote. …but unlike most other presidents in waiting, Trump has now jumped in with both feet into in to the most complicated & difficult foreign policy issues for any president – the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Trump has been working the phones & calling world leaders to scuttle an anti Israel resolution at the UN, Elise Labott reports. …Obama was prepared to let the resolution pass. Either by abstaining or voting in favor of it. the US has traditionally seen Jewish settlements in areas controlled by Palestinians, as an obstacle to a peace process, but has never gone so far in a UN vote. The move today would have been seen by many as a provocation. A parting shot at Israel’s PM with whom Obama has strained ties. (rest same as previous)
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Trump’s unprecedented policy move, John Vause with Dave Jacobson (Dem. Strategist) & John Thomas (Thomas Partners Strategists) & Josh Lockman (USC Gould School of Law)
Q’ Obama was prepared to let this resolution pass & not use the veto… its incredibly broad. If you look at the language being used, in some respects it would have meant that parts of E Jerusalem, including the Jewish quarter in the old city & the Western Wall were technically off limits to Israelis?
Lockman: That’s exactly right. This was a broad resolution draft. Its important to note here that the Obama administration has vigorously defended Israel over the last 8 years. In fact this administration, unlike the previous administrations since 1967, Republicans & Democrats alike, has vetoed any resolution charging Israel. ?? It wouldn’t be so strange for this administration to abstain, given the frustration that the Obama White House has seen on the conflict.1* But yes this resolution would have been a broad one & would have obviously targeted the settlement building activity that much of the int. community— for Israel, finds illegal.
Q’ your point about Obama essentially being a shield at the UN for the Israelis. You mentioned all the way back to Johnson. Every president has passed or supported a UN resolution which is critical of Israel (caption: 7-Johnson; 15-Nixon; 2-Ford; 14-Carter; 21-Reagan; 9-George HW Bush; 3-Clinton; 6-George W Bush). So if Obama hadn’t let this go through it would have been a very strong diplomatic message to Netanyahu.
Lockman: yes I think so. It would have been something of a parting shot by the President that has obviously had an acrimonious relationship with Netanyahu. But it is also important to note that in 2011 when the Obama administration vetoed a similar resolution, condemning settlement building, it didn’t do so because of the merits of the resolution itself, but because the administration thought it would be an impediment to actively mediating in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. That’s an important move here as well because we are already seeing the potentially destructive move of the president elect in foreign policy, & specifically in the Israeli Palestinian conflict arena what this could pretend for the region, its very disturbing obviously. 2*
Q’ there are concerns of what the blowback will be, what the fallout will be, especially for other areas of policy, if you want those Sunni Arab nations on board, how will they feel about what is a very pro Israeli stance by the new administration?
Thomas: …I have to disagree with your guest that this last administration has been pro Israeli. Remember there were – in the Obama administration tried to out the PM of Israel, & running a campaign to defeat him. So I don’t think they were exactly pro Israeli in this process. But you are right it is complex. Rex Tillerson is going to have his hands full. No doubt about it… but I think Trump has made it, say look we didn’t support Israel strongly enough & he is not traveling lightly about this. He really isn’t.
Q’ he knows the Arab Sunni nations, he (Tillerson) knows the gulf states, he knows nothing about Israel?
Jacobson: That is a significant issue. The reality is he is one of the only incoming secretaries of state who have had no foreign policy, in terms of being a government official experience…
Q’ all of this diplomatic maneuvering it seems to be coordinated between the Knesset & Tump’s estate. This is what Netanyahu said on Tweeter: “I hope it will abide by the principles set by Obama himself in his speech in the UN in 2011. That peace will come not through UN resolutions but only through direct negotiations between the parties.” (quotes Trump’s Tweet). How is this coordination going to be received?
Lockman: Could be very dangerous & reckless.3* Especially if Trump does move towards some recognition of Israeli settlement building. We have seen from his choice of ambassador Friedman, a man that, first of all trafficked in hate and Islamophobia & also has completely scorned the 2 state solution as a process and vehicle…4* that this type of choice …could be a very devastating one. It could inflame the region if it seems the US is seemingly siding with Israel, as far as it’s settlement building. The US has often been seen, widely through the Arab world, as not an honest broker, as taking Israel’s side & this would be even more one sided & could really destabilize & lead to some kind of reaction from the street.5*
BBC 231216 1800-2000 ttl2 ch39 tl 011900
Israel UNSC vote. There have been feverish exchanges at the UN. Israel’s ambassador to the UN has called on the US to support them over a security council resolution that demands an end to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.6* A vote yesterday was postponed, rescheduled for later today. It is thought the US might abstain, Ben Bland with Barbara Plett-Usher live, Washington.
Q’ in diplomatic terms how significant would it be, if the US did abstain?
A’ very significant. It would be a change in US policy. the Americans, their role in the UN, as far as Israel is concerned, has always been to back, to have Israel’s back. So the Americans have routinely vetoed any resolution that is critical of Israel. In fact of the 77 vetoes they have issued since the UN was founded, more than half of them are on Israel’s behalf. Now having said that there is this tension with US policy, especially under the Obama administration, because the Americans are very opposed to Israeli settlement building. & so when resolutions have come up condemning Israeli settlement building, they have been in this position of trying to balance between their opposition to settlements & wanting to protect Israel. & in the past they have chosen to protect Israel. In some cases just vetoing resolutions that were in effect, stating their own policy. now we will see if the balance has changed…there have been strong reservations very much undermining a two-state solution. This might be an opportunity… seriously considering it going through.
BBC 231216 2000-2200 ttl3 ch25 tl 010720
The UN is voting around now on a controversial security council resolution about Israel. It demands an end to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Usually the US would veto such a move. But there are suggestions that the Obama administration might abstain prompting anger in Israel, Geeta Guru-Murthy with Barbara Plett-Usher live, Washington.
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Breaking News – Israel UNSC vote live. Security Council passes resolution condemning settlements. US abstained in vote. Barbara Plett-Usher live, Washington. When the Malaysian ambassador was introducing the resolution he made the point that everyone there agrees on… which is that the resolution is coming forward at this point, because there is great concern that the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank & E Jerusalem, are threatening the possibility of a viable Palestinian state in any future peace talks.7*… the Americans are concerned enough about it, that they have broken with long standing traditions to abstain & allow this resolution to go through. Normally they veto any resolution that is critical of Israel, even if they agree with its content… US twice tried to broker peace & failed & they had been very vocal about their criticism of settlement policy under this Israeli government…
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The UNSC has passed a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building in the West Bank & E Jerusalem. Such a stage threatened the viability of 2-state solution. The vote passed after the US abstained. It normally vetoes such resolutions, frantic efforts behind the scene. Barbara Plett-Usher live, Washington. It is significant …it also signifies the international consensus that what the Israelis are doing in the occupied territories in the West Bank & E Jerusalem is a violation of int. law. So it makes it more difficult for the Israelis to argue that what they are doing, that they do have the law on their side… but nevertheless it’s a strong rebuke to Israeli behaviors, to to Israeli policies in the West Bank & Jerusalem.
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Israel UN vote. Israel has reacted with anger after UN passed a resolution condemning Israel settlements on Palestinian territory.8* Trump Tweet: “…things will be different after Jan. 20th“. PM: “Israel rejects this shameful resolution.”
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Israel UNSC vote, Geeta Guru-Murthy and Barbara Plett- Usher live, Washington.
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It has been a day of high drama over a resolution demanding that Israel stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.9* …Israeli officials & many US lawmakers from both parties were quick to condemn the move. As for Trump, he Tweeted: “…things will be different after Jan. 20th“, Jane O’Brien with Barbara Plett-Usher live, Washington.
BBC 241216 0000-0200 ttl1 ch28 tl 010110
Israel has reacted with anger after the UNSC passed a resolution condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory.10* It happened because the US changed its usual veto policy & abstained. Israel’s ambassador to the UN said that it was a shameful move. But the US said that it had long argued against the settlement building. (US & Israeli ambassadors at UNSC) …settlements are now considered illegal under intl. law.11* Netanyahu has rejected the resolution saying that Israel would not abide by its terms. It said that Israel looks forward to working with Trump to counter what it called the harmful effect of this resolution. Trump Tweeted: “…things will be different after Jan. 20th“, Barbara Plett-Usher live, Washington (rep.)
BBC 241216 0200-0400 ttl2 ch1 tl 000110
Israel has reacted with anger… (same as previous), Barbara Plett-Usher reports. …this was a diplomatic earthquake at the UN. The Americans always support the Israelis there, they always protect Israel against criticism. So it was a very strong rebuke as you said & the Israelis are very angry. Obama has only taken this step right at the end of his administration, so its going to have far less of an impact than it might have done if he had done it earlier. Now he is really just putting down a marker. Especially if he is going to be handing over to Trump, who has shown that he is ready to strongly support the Israeli government & its policies…
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Israel UN vote. Barbara Plett-Usher reports (rep.) from 000350 Lebo Diseko interviews Khaled Elgindy, Brookings Inst.
Q’ is this anything more than symbolic?
A’ I think this is more than symbolic because if it were purely symbolic you wouldn’t have this sort of angry reaction from the Israeli government or from Trump. We haven’t seen anything like this in almost 4 decades… the US has consistently blocked those efforts over the years. But I think now there is a realization, which may be a little to late, a realization at the Obama administration, that the stakes are very high. You have a 2 state solution being dismantled literally on the ground. The possibility of a Palestinian state is being eviscerated by Israeli settlements,12* & you have an incoming American administration that is entirely sympathetic to the settlement enterprise, to very what is the most hard core right wing Israeli government in its history.13*
Q’ the Israelis for their part would say that the 2 state solution is held up by Palestinians who are behaving in a violent manner towards Israel. They feel under a threat as well.
A’ that’s a talking point I understand but it doesn’t hold up under scrutiny because we had, for example, between 2010 & 2013 or 2014, unprecedented calm, mostly for Israelis. There were virtually no Israelis killed during that period & yet we saw, intensification in settlements, we saw negotiations collapse, under the auspices of Sen. Mitchell. So in times of calm & in times of conflict, really the outcome is the same.
Q’ I suppose the point is there is less than 4 weeks left of the Obama administration. —Trump is going to be different. But in actual practical terms what difference does this make?
A’ it makes a difference at least for setting the historical record straight. This kind of Orwellian interpretation that by saying no to settlements, & the language of the resolution, its quite mild, its very balanced, it talks about Palestinian incitement [sic] & violence. But also talks about the very problematic nature of settlements. & everybody agrees. Israelis, peace minded Israelis, the American administration, the int. community. Very solid consensus that settlements are destroying the possibility of a 2 state solution. 14* If you want to interpret this as anti Israel, as oppose to anti settlements, than that purely is a matter of political spin more than it is reality. YES TOLOG
CNN 231216 1000-1200 ttl1 ch1 tl 000810
Unprecedented phone call stops UNSC’s Israel vote. Situation that seems unprecedented. President elect jumping into the Israeli Palestinian conflict 15* even though he has not been sworn in. this is one of the most complicated foreign policy issue for any leader & on Friday he publicly challenged the current president by working to stop a UN vote, Elise Labott reports. (report covers everything she said live) (rep.)
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Unprecedented phone call stops UNSC’s Israel vote. George Howell interviews Larry Sabato, University of Virginia.
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Trump’s unprecedented 24 hours on Tweeter. …Trump also openly undermining Obama & signaling a major shift in diplomatic policy, in another unprecedented move via social media. calling the Obama administration to veto a USC resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity just hours before the vote…
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Israel slams Obama, Kerry over UN resolution. Israel is accusing its long time ally the US, of abandonment because the Obama administration failed to oppose a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Israel apparently felt so abandoned, it reached out to US President elect Trump for help, Jonathan Mann with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem, & Stephen Collinson, CNN .
Q’ Oren tell us what happened & why?
Oren: …the latest is a statement fired off by the Israeli government against president Obama & Kerry. We have never seen a statement this critical; “president Obama & Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN. Obama could declare his willingness to veto this resolution in an instant, but instead is pushing it. this is an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN & undermines the prospect of working with the next administration advancing peace.” Caption: Israel accuses Obama administration of abandonment in “shameful move”. The statement continues. It says the Obama administration cooked this up with the Palestinians. Here is the Palestinian response. They say “we have nothing to say about this. No president has troubled Palestinians in the UN more than president Obama”. So it seems the Palestinians are also critical of Obama.
Q’ is the US behind this resolution. Did they cook it up with the Palestinians? Presumably it was Egypt that brought the resolution forward?
Collinson,: That is correct. Its not clear exactly why Egypt pulled this resolution… this is another bitter, & possibly final chapter in the torturous relations between the Obama administration & the Netanyahu government. It’s not the first time of course. The Israelis have seen fit to go behind Obama’s back on a major issue of policy, they did that of course over the Iran nuclear deal, which they vigorously opposed. But this administration has been marked by some of the worst relationship with an Israeli government in many, many years. …it is also s signal of a big policy shift to come in the Trump administration. The Trump administration is signaling its going to — much closer to the Netanyahu government. …& the ambassador chosen Friedman is very close to the Netanyahu government & the right wing of Israeli politics.16* We are seeing unfolding in real time, a huge shift in US policy towards Israel.
Q’ Oren …forgive me if I am putting you on the spot… there are reports in fact, the phone call went from someone in the Israeli government to Trump, & from Trump to the president of Egypt. So that this was a favor enacted by the Egyptians for the President elect. Presumably of some surprise, & probably consternation to the current elected US government. Is that your sense of how this unfolded?
Oren: basically yes. …there is no doubt, we know from the Israelis, that Israeli officials spoke with Trump & asked him to work against this UN resolution. & the Egyptians they said El-Sisi spoke with Trump & decided that it will be up to a new administration to lead the peace process…
CNN 231216 1800-2000 ttl2 ch27 tl 011435
US – Israel UN vote row. Vote on settlements expected later, Jonathan Mann with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem, & Stephen Collinson, CNN. (same as previous)
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Israel expects UN vote soon over Israeli settlements. …Republicans & even some Democrats are urging the US to Veto the resolution. Sen. Lindsey Graham going so far as saying he will threaten to cut off funding to the UN if it moves forward, Jim Acosta with Oren Liebermann & Elise Labott.
Oren: …it accused Obama & Kerry of a shameful move of colluding with the Palestinians & working behind Israel’s back. We knew Netanyahu & Obama had a strained relation. This is a look at just how ugly that relation is. With criticism the like we simply have never seen before coming from the Israeli administration directed right at Obama… Illegal (Logan act) would it have been a felony for Trump to have done this? We’re seeing an intervention of almost unprecedented interference with a sitting president’s policy. Irking the Obama admin cause it’s gone out of its way to assure the smooth transition of power.
CNN 231216 2000-2200 ttl3 ch18 tl 012145
Breaking News. UN passes vote on Israeli settlements. S abstains. A historic vote at the UNSC, voted by a vote of 14 with on abstention, to call Israel to halt all settlement activity. That abstention from the US, which has previously voted to veto any attempt by the UN to involve itself in Israeli in Israeli settlements. The US has walked a very fine line but now has crossed over that line & taken a diplomatic measure, basically taking a diplomatic step, allowing the UNSC to proceed with its condemnation of Israeli policy. this is a step that Israel has already criticized & it said that the US has literarily cooked up behind its back. It said it was a shameful effort by the US, an unusual spat between the close allies that the US & Israel have been for decades, Jonathan Mann with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. From 01:27:50 live to UNSC Samantha Power. Y
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US abstains as UN votes to end Israeli settlements. With Elise Labott & Oren Liebermann. 01:45:45 interview David Aaron Miller. Miller: …my judgment this was inevitable. It was a train that could not be stopped. For 8 years the Obama administration – frustrated, paralyzed in the face of what they consider to be massive increase in settlement activity, undermining the prospects for a 2 state solution, 17* which I might add, is at best — & couldn’t even be obtained 14 years ago, at Camp David under the… in much more ideal conditions. So I think frustration – the Obama administration has talked tough about settlements for the last 8 years, but with very little concrete efforts to stop them. I think they warned Netanyahu that if he continues the US would not be able, in the face of int. pressure, “to defend the Israelis”, & they wanted to shape to some degree the environment going forward. I think Labott’s notion that this was a parting shot… I would argue that it is right. It was a parting shot in defense of what the Obama administration & Kerry believe to be the waning hopes of a 2 state solution. 18* My concern however, …the opposite impact of what the administration intended. I can’t even imagine that Trump has even waited to Tweet & to disavow & to distance himself personally & after 4 weeks from today, Trump’s policies with respect to settlements activity. Negative impact no1. He is going to walk away from this, confusing & confounding American allies in to what exactly the US does stand for when it comes to stopping Israeli settlement. I think Netanyahu is going to be under pressure from his right to demonstrate that they are not going to take this sitting down. They may accelerate their activities on the ground, & finally it may well be, & this is what we do not know, is what the Trump administration… policy about settlement activity will actually be. But the appointment of Mr. Friedman suggests that its going to be a lot less muscular, to say the least, than the current administration. It very difficult… to basically engage in an action which has not been taken probably since the Bush – in terms of allowing such a resolution to pass. … whatever balance its very difficult at the 11th hour to do something like this…
CNN 231216 2200-0000 ttl4 ch1 tl 000050
UNSC votes to condemn Israeli settlements. US abstains, did not block it; despite heavy lobbying from both Israel & Trump; a dramatic shift from years of the US shielding Israel from any such censure at the UN; Israel’s ambassador to the UN reacted furiously to the vote. He said he had no doubt the incoming Trump administration will usher in a new era in US Israeli relations, Hannah Vaughan Jones with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. Danon statement: “neither the SC nor UNESCO can sever the ties between the people of Israel & the land of Israel. It would to expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share, & that they veto this disgraceful resolution. I have no doubt the new administration, & the incoming UN Sec. Gen. will usher in a new era it terms of the UN’s relationship with Israel.”
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Trump comments on UN vote on Israel settlements. Trump Tweet: “as to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th“.
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UNSC Danny Danon live. (full speech. left UNSC before Palestinian began speech)
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UN resolution condemning Israel passes, Hannah Vaughan Jones interviews Hanan Ashrawi live (phone). Q’ this has been described as a blow to Israeli policies. Are you pleased with the vote? A’ …I think we have to understand that all settlements are illegal by int. law & in accordance with the Rome statures it’s a war crime. 19* So there is nothing – or unusual than the body in charge of rule of law condemns settlements which are a violation of the rule of law. & this has been a long standing policy of the US. The only problem is that Israel has always caused(?) the US to support Israeli impunity & lawlessness. Israel is an occupying power that is in violation of int. law, that is in violation of Palestinian rights & that its constantly undermining & destroying the chances of peace by stealing Palestinian land & resources & culture & history (?) & therefore destroying the 2 state solution…20* Hanna cuts in. live to UNSC Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour speech.
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UN resolution condemning Israel passes, Hannah Vaughan Jones with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. …we just got a response from Netanyahu’s office: “Israel rejects the shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN & will not abide by its term’s. at a at time when the SC does nothing to stop the slaughter of half a million people in Syria, it disgracefully.. on the one true democracy in the ME… the Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes. Israel looks forward to working with Trump & with all of our friends in Congress, both Republicans & Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution”
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UN demands end to Israeli settlements. US abstains, Richard Quest with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (nothing new). …(why US abstained didn’t vote in favor) resolution was missing parts. Palestinian incitements, glorification of terrorism, but at its core, & this is the reason the US abstained – settlements. Plain & simple settlement construction, & settlement expansion in the West Bank.21* They made clear a few points. They said Netanyahu himself has said this is the most pro settlement government in Israeli history. meanwhile settlement plans continue as those settlements expand & the settlement population grows. The US made it very clear, that was at the heart of the abstention.
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UN demands end to Israeli settlements. US abstains, Richard Quest with Elise Labott.
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Shameful, disgraceful, absurd. Those are some of the words that Israelis are calling today’s UN resolution. …Only hours after the vote Israel has retaliated against 2 of the security council members that sponsored the resolution. Israel ordered its ambassadors to New Zealand & Senegal to immediately return home for consultations. Israel is also cancelling all aid programs to Senegal. …the vote was overwhelming after the US abstained, ending years of protecting Israel against just such rebukes at the UN, Elise Labott reports. In total defiance of Israel, the incoming president & even members of his own party Obama refused to veto a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements, allowing it to pass the SC resoundingly. A rare abandonment of a long held US tenet to have to – at the UN. Power: “this resolution reflects facts on the ground & is consistent with US policy across Republican & Democratic administrations throughout the history of the state of Israel that the US did not veto it”. Obama had long held the settlements were an obstacle to peace.22* A huge source of conflict with Netanyahu. Israel’s UN ambassador said in a statement he had expected his countries “greatest ally to act in accordance with the values that we share & that they would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution”.
CNN 241216 0000-0200 ttl1 ch21 tl 010616
Palestinians: UN vote is victory for justice. Richard Quest. Danny Danon at UNSC; Israel furious with UN vote condemning settlements, Richard Quest with Oren Liebermann live.
Q’ how is it being portrayed in Israel. Is it being seen in the sense of a personal animus between Netanyahu & Obama? A’ that is certainly coming through in the statements that we are seeing from Netanyahu’s office.
CNN 241216 0200-0400 ttl2 ch1 tl 000125
Israel retaliates against nations behind UN resolution. Israel says it will not comply; Richard Quest with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. All of the Israeli leaders are calling this an anti Israel resolution. They say it doesn’t help peace, in fact it sets peace back by entrenching the Palestinian position… Israel’s position has long been that its not settlements that are the obstacles to peace. but as we just saw what was an overwhelming defeat for Israel at the UN, no country agree with them, & the best they got was an abstention from the US, & the US made it clear that settlements, absolutely the reason that they decided to abstain…
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White House defends vote on Israeli settlements, Ben Rhodes: we just concluded a $38 Billion ten year MOU for security assistance to Israel. We have had unprecedented security cooperation with Israel under this administration. But the fact of the matter is for years we have expressed grave concern about continued Israeli settlement construction. & the fact is this settlement construction pushes far outside the boundary of even the security barrier that the Israelis built. Its deep into the West Bank. Deep into what anybody who looks at the issue would consider to be a future Palestinian state. 23* & just the other day, recently Netanyahu said this is the most pro-settlement government in Israeli history. & he said that with pride. & the fact is we can’t just stand on the sideline as as these trends take place. They threaten the viability of a 2 state solution & the peace that we want for the Israeli people & the region.24*
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Trump criticized for breaking transition protocol, Richard Quest interviews Ron Brownstein, CNN political analyst.
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John Berman. Just hours ago an earthquake rocked the geopolitical world. UNSC passed a resolution condemning Israeli settlements, & US diplomats, for the first time in more than 3 decades, did nothing to stop it. ….Israel, no surprise is furious. So are many US officials across party lines. John Berman with Elise Labott live, Washington.
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UNSC demands end to Israeli settlements. US abstains. John Berman interviews Aaron David Miller & Prof. Julian Zelizer, history Princeton U. .
Q’ I don’t think there is any question that Obama had consistently opposed settlements. But, its hard to read this as anything other than a parting shot at Netanyahu?
Miller: I think that is basically right although its driven I think not so much by personal animus, as by increasing frustration that all of his messages to the PM, about constraining settlement activity, trying to create the best environment conduced for negotiations.25* The Palestinians have their problems in that regard as well but not been heeded. & I think growing frustration & a certain amount of resentment over failure to move this process forward,26* left, I guess, an opportunity to send a stronger message & a stronger signal with 4 weeks. I think that is the problem. With 4 weeks to go in his presidency.
Q’ you could also look at this in terms of Obama’s legacy. The message he wants to leave behind. It seems he is trying to send a message that says, look, I am against settlements. & I am going to say it loud & clear & I want the world to know that going forward.
Zelizer: Yes this is something he has been pretty consistent on. he started his presidency dealing with this issue & trying to get a curb on settlements. This is in part a message to Israel, in part it is about his legacy, & in part it comes out of the fear that under Trump the shift is going to be much more toward settlement & towards what Netanyahu wants & I think he is trying to check that. I don’t think its going to work. I actually think this might have the opposite effect & I think that’s what Obama is trying to do.
Q’ the opposite effect. Aaron you feel the same way. You think this could actually end up backfiring on Obama in a way?
Miller: I think this is a big Migraine headache for the administration. …the consequences of this will in fact be precisely the opposite of whatever the administration intended. Trump is going to walk away from this. He already has in signaling that we are going to have a different policy towards the UN. There will be much stronger statements I suspect in the days to come. The Israelis will feel emboldened because in the first paragraph of that resolution they talk about the fact that settlements have no legal validity. & this is the first time in 3 administrations, 3 of which I have been a part, in which any administration chose language that addressed the illegality of the settlements question. & finally I think in large part it will give the incoming administration a wider margin, much more discretion to demonstrate a sharp break with the Obama policy, with respect to Israel & to ameliorate tension & give the Israelis more leeway on the ground to continue settlement expansions. We like to say there is only one president at a time. But he is only the president for another 28 days. & to do something like this with this type of impact, I was having a hard time remembering when a president made such a bold, & I am not saying good or bad, made such a bold move with so little time left.
Zelizer: yes this is not just making a bold move, with little time left, its making a bold move with someone who is replacing him who is going in a very different direction, & won’t really care about the messages that he sent. In fact Trump is – as Obama is trying to deal with this. It’s a high risk maneuver when you lose control after doing something this controversial. & I do think it will embolden Trump, & it might win him some support here in the US that he otherwise wouldn’t have.
Q’ you would think that there are a lot of Democratic Jews who are pro Israel, who may all of a sudden look towards Trump. Trump said after Jan. 20th things will be different. Do you think, Lindsey Graham suggested the US should pull funding from the UN. Do you think that that is a possibility? Miller: no. every president to a degree campaigns against the inefficiency of the UN… I think Trump is going to make changes in policy with respect to the US-Israeli relationship. I think you will see a much closer coordination & cooperation on Iran. I think there is a reasonable chance that the embassy in Tel Aviv will in fact be moved, in symbolic or practical fashion to Jerusalem. & I think in part they may well point to tensions in the Obama administration, as laying the predicate for creating a different kind of relationship. & certainly in the UN, much along the lines of the Obama administration, until the end, there will be very little tolerance or support for any Palestinian or Arab state effort, to isolate or delegitimize Israel in the int. arena. YES (DWM?) TOLOG
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Israel slams Obama over UN vote on settlements. John Berman interviews David Drucker, Washington Examiner & Alice Stewart, Trump supporter & Jonathan Tasini, Democratic Strategist.
Q’ there has been an enormous amount of criticism of Obama & the fact the US abstained from Republicans, from Democrats certainly from Israel. But one of things you hear, particularly from Republicans, is that Obama is the least friendly president to Israel that we have ever seen or in decades. But in fact, this was the one time …that they abstained, or they voted against Israel, or they acted I should say against Israel at the UN. When George W. Bush it happened in his administration a few times, George HW bush it happened in his administration a few times, Reagan it happened in his administration a few times, so why is Obama getting a worst wrap for it than his predecessors did?
Drucker: I think you bring up a good point. Past presidents,, Dems & Repub., have had their moments when they weren’t exactly friendly to Israel in terms of policy. so this isn’t necessarily something completely out of bounds. But I think what is out of — what is different here, by abstaining on an issue like this, as sensitive as this, & in a sense putting the burden on Israel for the failure for peace talks to work or… it rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Because look you have a mess in Syria, you have a rising Iran with a questionable nuclear deal, but all of the attention & all is focused at Israel which is the one liberal democracy in the region, & an ally of ours. & I think that is what is so unique about this situation & the fact that it is done less than one month before leaves office. So it is seen as a parting shot. Its not like this is happening at the beginning of the Obama administration, as a beginning shift in policy that he can see thru.
Stewart: Israel is a democracy in the region in a sea of dictatorships & they should be close to the US president. & Obama has shunned him every time he had the opportunity to do so. One encouraging thing though – we do know that Trump will have no daylight between the US Israel. They are our best allies in the region & he has made it quite clear that there will be no better friends to our allies, & no worst enemy to our foes than Trump. & Israel is someone that we need to continue relations with.
Tasini: look as a Jew, someone who has lived there, half the family who lives there, thank god that Obama has done this.27* I think he should have done this 8 years ago. Lets be very clear. The US has been a renegade around the world on this question. The entire int. community, including our European allies see the settlements as an illegal occupation,28* & 60% of Israelis in a recent poll say that they think that the settlements are a barrier & a bad thing in terms of relations with the US. So the Israelis themselves support this kind of move.
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Israel vows it will not comply with the UNSC resolution that condemns Israeli settlement activity & demands that construction stops. Its also taking diplomatic actions. Netanyahu has ordered Israel’s ambassadors to New Zealand & Senegal to return to Israel for consultations, & he wants aid programs for Senegal terminated. …Israel is now accusing the US of colluding with the UN. The US decision to abstain highlights the growing frustration the Obama administration has felt over Israel’s continued settlement activity,29* Elise Labott Reports (rep.)
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Bethlehem carpenter makes beer fit for wise men. ..the 3 wise men now appearing in the form of a local craft beer, Ian Lee reports. Something is brewing in the little town of Bethlehem… a one man operation in the basement of this Palestinian Christian’s house.
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Israel has angrily rejected a UNSC resolution which demands a halt to settlement building on occupied Palestinian land. Netanyahu condemned it as shameful & absurd. A Palestinian spokesman said the resolution represented a victory for int. law, Barbara Plett-Usher reports. In a rare show of unity the UNSC passed judgment on Israeli settlements. (SC applauding vote) voting that they have become a serious threat to a viable peace deal with the Palestinians.30* It was that conviction which led the US to withhold its customary protection of Israel at the council. Although not without much soul-searching. Power: “…because there are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed in this resolution, & because the US does not agree with every word in this text, that the US did not vote in favor of the resolution”. The Israelis have managed to delay but not prevent the vote. They felt betrayed by their allies, especially angry about condemnation of their construction in occupied E. Jerusalem.31* Danon: “who gave you the right to issue statute decree denying out eternal rights in Jerusalem”. Israel has long – policy of building Jewish settlements on Arab land captured during the 1967 war. It insists it has the legal right to do this, but most of the world disagrees. & the UN resolution will make that argument even more difficult. Halting settlements was the focus of Obama’s attempt to broker peace 32*. He failed twice. Resorting to the UN was his final act. The Palestinians embraced it as a victory to int. law. But they can’t expect the same from Obama’s successor Trump, who sided with the Israeli government on this. The UN resolution could become a reference for further moves against Israel in int. forums, but not for the next US administration. (see BBC 241216 1400-1600 ttl3 ch4 tl 000555)
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Israel UN vote, Tom Donkin with Yolande Knell live, Bethlehem. …this is really seen UNSC resolution) as something of a Christmas present.33* They have lobbied hard at the SC …to have something like this. A resolution which condemns Israeli settlement building very strongly. It says they have no legal validity, they are a flagrant violation of int. law under the Geneva convention… & they should be stopped to salvage the 2 state solution.34* Even here in Bethlehem …I can see some of the settlements that surround us. There are about 600,000 Israeli settlers who live in the West Bank & E Jerusalem, & the Palestinians consistently say that they are an obstacle to peace…35* & even as the vote happened, just as Israeli officials were going into the Jewish Sabbath, unusually they broke from their usual custom & came out criticizing the resolution very strongly…
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Preparations for Christmas are in full swing in Bethlehem. …violence in the area has calmed in recent months, though there were clashes between Palestinian demonstrators, many dressed as Santa Clause & Israeli soldiers, Tom Donkin with Yolande Knell live, Bethlehem. …this is a route that the Church leaders have taken (from Jerusalem to Bethlehem) for many years. It’s a traditional route. But now when they come its not as easy as it used to be, because they have to pass thru the separation barrier, the wall, which is a 8 meter high concrete wall that surrounds the edge of Bethlehem…
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Israel has angrily rejected a UNSC resolution which demands a halt to settlement building on occupied Palestinian land. Netanyahu condemned it as shameful & absurd. A Palestinian spokesman said the resolution represented a victory for int. law, Barbara Plett-Usher reports. In a rare show of unity the UNSC passed judgment on Israeli settlements. (SC applauding vote) voting that they have become a serious threat to a viable peace deal with the Palestinians. It was that conviction which led the US to withhold its customary protection of Israel at the council. Although not without much soul-searching. Power: “…because there are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed in this resolution, & because the US does not agree with every word in this text, that the US did not vote in favor of the resolution”. The Israelis have managed to delay but not prevent the vote. They felt betrayed by their allies, especially angry about condemnation of their construction in occupied E. Jerusalem. Danon: “who gave you the right to issue statute decree denying out eternal rights in Jerusalem”. Israel has long – policy of building Jewish settlements on Arab land captured during the 1967 war. 36* It insists it has the legal right to do this, but most of the world disagrees. & the UN resolution will make that argument even more difficult. Halting settlements was the focus of Obama’s attempt to broker peace. He failed twice. Resorting to the UN was his final act. The Palestinians embraced it as a victory to int. law.37* Erekat: ”This is a historic day. The international community have stood tall. For peace for hope. The international community unanimously rejected the policies of the Israeli government38*. But they can’t expect the same from Obama’s successor Trump, who sided with the Israeli government on this. The UN resolution could become a reference for further moves against Israel in int. forums, but not for the next US administration,
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Christmas in Bethlehem, Yolande Knell, Bethlehem.
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Israel has angrily rejected a UNSC resolution which demands a halt to settlement building on occupied Palestinian land. Netanyahu said Israel wouldn’t abide by the terms of the resolution which he described as shameful… David Eades with Alan Johnston live.
Eades: it’s a bold statement from an outgoing President. What’s the significance, what does it amount to this resolution?
Johnston: of course it is non binding & the Israelis have made it abundantly clear that they won’t be bound by this. In fact it wouldn’t be a surprise if we were to see in the weeks & months ahead more settlement activity in response. This was a large dramatic diplomatic moment in the UN, the like of which we haven’t seen for a long time. The Israelis were delivered a significant & humiliating diplomatic blow here on this major issue, their great ally the US, abandoned them39*. They were condemned by the int. community without a friend in the world. Important countries like France, Britain, Russia, China, all backed this resolution, an indication of deep frustration, particularly in Europe regarding the settlements that view that they are inimical to any hope of peace40*. So those strong diplomatic signals that were sent, the world is saying its not going to wearily accept the settlement project. & the Palestinians, their supporters & others who oppose the settlements will feel that their position is being reinforced by this.
Q’ one wonders for how long. Obviously Trump has made it clear he is a big friend of Israel, he will be a friend of Netanyahu. He is going to be in power in 2 weeks time.
A’ a blow delivered by the White House in the very dying days of Obama’s presidency. The Palestinians will wish that he had done something like this in the first month of his presidency, rather than the very last.41* You are absolutely right. Big change is coming. Trump is about to move into the White House & he has made it very clear that he opposed the resolution, broke with the normal protocol… & tried to derail the resolution. At first it looked as he might succeed in doing that. But the Israeli government rightly sees much easier days are to come. its likely to get on very much easier with the Trump administration. Trump has appointed the man that he wants to be the ambassador to Israel, David Friedman who is personally pro-settlements & opposes the 2 state solution.
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Yolande Knell reports. These Israeli homes are on land which the Palestinians want for their promised future states42*. There are now some 600,000 Israelis living in the occupied West Bank & E Jerusalem & the number is growing. In a rare show of unity the UNSC passed its judgment on the Jewish settlements. “14 vote in favor” describing them as a flagrant violation of int. law & a threat to any peace deal with the Palestinians. Crucially the US didn’t use its veto power in Israel’s favor as it usually does. Power: “it is because this resolution reflects the facts on the ground, & is consistent with US policy across Republican & Democratic administrations throughout the history of the state of Israel, that the US did not veto it”. Israel disagrees that settlements built on land captured in 1967 are illegal. At the UN it felt betrayed by its closest ally. & was especially angry about criticism of building in E Jerusalem. Danon: “who gave you the right to issue statute decree denying our eternal rights in Jerusalem. This holy book, the Bible, contains 3,000 years of history of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. No one, no one can change this history”. officially Israel rejects the resolution, & says it looks forward to working with US president elect Trump. On Tweeter he said things will be different when he is in office: “as to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th“. Here in Bethlehem Palestinians are gathering for their annual Christmas parade, they have something extra to celebrate. They are calling this resolution a victory & & hope it will help them in int. court43* (?). but Israel says it won’t change its policy on settlements & its counting on the next US administration to support.
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Israel UN vote. Yolande Knell interviews Mustafa Barghouti.
Barghouti: it gives us a very strong instrument to fight back the Israeli illegal settlements that are killing the possibility of a 2 state solution.44* But also this is a very important resolution because it reminds everybody, with the int. court of justice resolution, that all Israeli changes in the occupied territories must be reversed including the annexation of E Jerusalem45*. It will give us a very strong base for diplomatic actions, for struggle on the ground & even for demanding boycott & divestment & sanctions against Israel for violating int. law.46*.
Q’ we already have Trump promising a different approach when he takes office… how do the Palestinians respond to that?
A’ the value of the resolution ensured unanimous int. support to the rights of the Palestinian people. If the American President wants to be against int. law, & wants to violate himself int. law by supporting Israeli settlement, he will be making a problem for himself. But at the end of the day if he proceeds with not accepting this resolution, this would mean the end of the possibility of the US having any serious role in any peace process in the future. They cannot be totally bias to Israel & a mediator at the same time.
Q’ there is a lot going on with Israeli politics at the moment regarding the settlements. Does that make it extra significant coming at this time?
A’ Absolutely. It means that any rational Israeli should realize that proceeding with settlement activities means the end of the 2 state solution.47* If that’s what they want they’re most welcome. Would they accept a one state solution? The thing that they should all understand, & I think the resolution shows it, that we the Palestinians will never give up on our rights.48* We will never accept to be slaves with apartheid or the system of occupation or annexation. We’ll struggle for our freedom in any form. At the end of the day the Israelis will have to decide. Are they going to continue this occupation that has become the longest in modern history. 50 years of occupation is enough. 50 years of conflict is enough. Time for real peace. & real peace means the end of settlements.49* This is exactly what this UN resolution said.
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Israel UN vote, Yolande Knell (short on camera report) Bethlehem. …its been welcomed (resolution) by all the different Palestinian political factions & they are hoping it will strengthen their legal case when they pursue action against Israel in the int. courts.
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Israel is re-evaluating all its contacts with the UN including its funding UN institutions & the presence of UN representatives in Israel. Netanyahu made the announcement a day after the UNSC passed a resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian land. He also praised Trump. He suggested he will reverse America’s position on the issue at the UN after his inauguration. Netanyahu: “the decision that was taken at the Un yesterday was part of the swan song with the old world bias against Israel. We are entering a new era & as Trump said yesterday this is going to happen much quicker than people think”. Yolande Knell (short on camera report) Bethlehem.
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Israel is re-evaluating its whole relationship with the UN… Yolande Knell (short on camera report) Bethlehem.
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Israel vows to defy a controversial UNSC resolution. …Israel is also taking diplomatic actions. Netanyahu has ordered Israel’s ambassadors to New Zealand & Senegal to return to Israel for consultations, & he wants aid programs for Senegal terminated… the US action highlights the Obama’s administrations frustration over Israel’s continued settlements activity & the lack of progress towards a peace deal, Elise Labott reports. Tonight the Obama administration poured salt in an already openly wounded relationship with Israel. Abstaining from a controversial vote at the UN to condemn Israeli settlements in disputed territories. Power: “it is because this resolution reflect the facts on the ground, & is consistent with US policy… that the US did not veto it.” …the US ambassador to the UN told the SC the US was not abandoning Israel, even though the US has traditionally wielded its veto to protect the Jewish state on votes regarding settlements. Power: “our vote today is fully in line with the bi-partisan history of how American presidents have approached both the issue, & the role of this body”. Obama has long held the settlements are an obstacle to peace. But the vote today in the waning days of Obama’s presidency was seen by some as a parting shot at Netanyahu, who at times has clashed with Obama. After the resolution passed Trump Tweeted: “as to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.” Israel’s UN ambassador said in a statement he had expected his countries “greatest ally to act in accordance with the values that we share & that they would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution”. & he said the Trump administration will be more sympathetic. The vote brought to a head a standoff between the current & future presidents over ME peace. It was initially delayed Thursday after a diplomatic scramble by Netanyahu. …(Trump, Sisi etc.). today other members reintroduced it. behind the scenes officials complained Trump’s interference runs a foul with the long standing tradition that a President elect does not interfere with an outgoing president’s administration, especially in foreign policy. …Trump’s new spokesman made clear this president elect won’t be staying on the sideline until he takes office. Netanyahu’s office is accusing Obama, & his administration, of colluding behind the scenes against Israel, something the white House has vehemently denied. Israel says it is looking forward working with the Trump administration to negate the effects of this resolution & has recalled its ambassadors from countries who voted for it.
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Israel says it will continue building settlements, (before brief & Ben Rhodes) George Howell with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. Netanyahu is furious. Not only at the resolution but also at Obama for not casting a veto… Israel’s position, & specifically Netanyahu’s position has been that settlements are not the obstacle to peace… we have never seen a lash-out like this from the Israeli government at the American government. (reads statement) Q’ what is the Palestinian reaction to this? A’ a reason to celebrate… many Palestinians sort of given up hope, that Abbas & Obama can make any mark on the conflict & they are glad that he did. Part of the statement from the Palestinian ambassador to the UN:” after years of allowing the law to be trampled & the situation spiraled downwards, today’s resolution may rightly be seen as the last attempt to preserve the 2 state solution & revive the path for peace.” 50*…the resolution at the SC is a non binding resolution. It is effectively a recommendation & guidelines. For it to have practical effect it needs follow up moves at the UN. Trump has indicated that he will stop any follow up moves from going thru. So at least for the next 4 years this resolution may not really change anything on the ground in terms of the conflict.
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Israel denounces measure as “shameful”, George Howell with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (same as previous)
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Israel denounces measure as shameful. (brief & Ben Rhodes explains); Richard Quest with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. …Q’ when Trump takes office… we have already seen his ambassador to Israel, Mr. Greenblatt the new security advisor on int. negotiations. There must be a certain relief, as seen from the Israeli point of view, that frankly all they’ve got to do is mark time? A’ relief I think is even an understatement. I think they are excited to work not only with Trump, but who he has appointed to ambassador to Israel & who appointed for special negotiations. These are people who are far more closely aligned with how Netanyahu sees the world, & specifically how he sees the ME & the conflict. I suspect Netanyahu can’t wait for these 3 weeks to be over… Q’ from the Palestinian point of view, they must regard the arrival of Trump with equally opposed — ? A’ absolutely. Erekat said if Trump really follows thru on his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, & follow thru on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, they’ve said that is the death of a 2 state solution…
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Israel denounces UNSC anti settlement resolution, Richard Quest with Oren Liebermann live Jerusalem (nothing new). Quest interviews Martin Indyk live. Q’ lets use unchristian language. All the US has served to do here without vetoing, is piss-off the Israelis, who know that from Jan. 20th, its meaningless. A’ you have to appreciate —(sound) this comes after repeated efforts to get Israel to pay attention to the Obama’s administration — which has by all previous, Republican or Democrats about settlement activity. In the recent year — activity gone wild, particularly beyond the barrier in the heart of the West Bank where there are now 90,000 Israeli settlers.51* (stops interview due to bad connection)
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Bethlehem celebrates Christmas eve.
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Israel denounces UNSC anti settlement resolution, …Netanyahu has lashed out at the Obama administration in some extremely undiplomatic language. Accusing it of colluding with the UN. Netanyahu says Israel will not abide by the terms of the resolution Richard Quest with Oren Liebermann live Jerusalem.
Q’ revenge is a dish best served up cold, they always say. I suppose in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv this is how president’s Obama decision is being viewed?
A’ now that the Sabbath has ended here we are getting some responses from some of the religious ministers. They make Netanyahu’s statements perhaps look tame in comparison. & for what that revenge will look like. many of them are calling on more construction in settlements, more construction in E Jerusalem & annexation of the settlements. Exactly what they were criticized for in this US resolution. that is what some of the ministers, including the deputy foreign minister who is in Netanyahu’s own party, plan on doing… the entire world stands at odds with Israel on this position…
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Israel re-evaluating relations with UN, Jonathan Mann with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. Q’ Netanyahu seems to want to punish just about every institution it is within his power to punish? A’ you are absolutely right he is making diplomatic moves against just about everyone that stood against Israel at the UNSC. & he is making diplomatic moves in terms of his criticism of Obama. Saying he passed a shameful anti Israel resolution. This certainly isn’t going to earn him any friends, & yet you get the idea how furious Netanyahu & the government are… Q’ there has always been a kind of a tension between the Israeli government & the UN… but the tension between Israel & the US seems particularly bitter & I don’t know if unprecedented is too strong a word. Are there any voices in Israel concerned about just how badly the Netanyahu government is burning its bridges with the outgoing Obama administration? Q’ Israel’s tortured relationship with the UN. Thinking back to time when the UN declared that Zionism is racism. Israelis have had a certain kind of anger, maybe even contempt towards the pronouncements that emerged from the UN. Why then would this be so important. Why is this seen as such a wound to Israel that is requiring this kind of response? A’ part of it is the fact that Israel feels that its singled out. More so than any other country, & that’s what the US acknowledged when Power cast her vote. That’s what the Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-Moon acknowledged in his speech before the SC that Israel is discriminated against at the UN… the SC is unable to pass resolutions on South Sudan, on Syria, but the second you say Israel resolutions get passed instantly. That is why Israel has looked at the UN with such a negative eye, & this is an extension of that. Criticism of settlements & criticism of what they see as unfair criticism of Israel.
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Visitors flock holy sites in and around Jerusalem, Jonathan Mann with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
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Christmas & Hanukkah coincide this year. First time Hanukkah & Christmas Eve have coincided since 1978.
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Arab & Jewish youth come together in music, the “Symphony of Peace”, Oren Liebermann reports. Andras Schiff, musician, conductor (Jewish. Son of Holocaust survivors): “music cannot solve all the problems. But it does have a very special healing power. I believe in that”. The Galilee Orchestra, a culmination of years of work from Polyphony, the organization that brings together Arabs & Jewish children thru the power of music. 10,000 children a year take part in Polyphony’s programs. Mais Hreish, (Arab) Alumna: “…if you can do music together then you can do everything together”. …in music these young men & women build bridges that span across Jewish & Arab cultures. Perhaps then it is music that can succeed where words have failed. YES RLS important TOLOG
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Mass held at Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, , Jonathan Mann with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
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(brief) Israel re-evaluating relations with the UN. …Netanyahu has declared that Israel will immediately cancel contributions to 5 UN organizations. He is promising that more steps will follow. Netanyahu says his country won’t abide by what he calls a shameful resolution.
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The Legacy of Barak Obama, Fareed Zakaria. …the late publisher of the Washington Post Philip Graham once said that Journalism is the first rough draft of history. RLS
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(brief) Israel re-evaluating relations with the UN. (same as previous) …Sen. Lindsey graham wants the US to pull funding unless the council repeals the resolution. Graham: “…Israel gave Gaza completely to the Palestinians years ago. They withdrew. They got 10,000 rockets fired from the Gaza strip controlled by Hamas. Who in the hell is Israel supposed to do peace with? …we are going to suspend funding to the PA until they stop paying young Palestinians to murder innocent people.” Trump’s team says it has on hands on deck working to kill the resolution.
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Netanyahu has ordered his foreign ministry to summon & reprehend the ambassadors from countries on the UNSC. Netanyahu is furious that the UN vote to condemn Israel’s building of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank & E. Jerusalem. At a cabinet Netanyahu criticized the US but praised the incoming administration. Netanyahu: “over decades the American administrations & Israeli governments have disagreed about settlements but we agreed that the SC was not the place to resolve this issue. We knew that going there would make negotiations harder & drive peace further away. & as I told Kerry on Thu., friends don’t take friends to the SC. I am encouraged by the statements of our friends in the US Republicans & Democrats alike. They understand how reckless & destructive this UN resolution was. They understand that the Western Wall isn’t occupied territory. I look forward to working with old friends & with the new administration…”.
Reged Ahmad with Alan Johnston live.
Q’ why is Israel taking this action, why are they so upset?
A’ make no mistake. This was a really big moment at the UN. Real diplomatic drama. Year after year we have watched the Americans use their veto to protect Israel against resolutions of this kind. But not this time. Suddenly the Israelis found themselves without a friend in the world on that very important diplomatic stage & the message that the int. community sent could hardly have been stronger it condemned the Israeli settlement building project in the occupied territories as illegal & a flagrant violation of int. law52*. Now the Israelis see the legal position entirely differently. They are not going to accept that verdict for one moment. They argue that they are endlessly mistreated by the UN, which they say is biased against Israel again & again. So you see the Israelis now on a major diplomatic offensive & the reprimanding of the ambassadors on Christmas day is just one front Netanyahu, also has the UN itself in his sights. He’s ordered a review of all his countries relations with the world body, & some funding will be cut to some of its agencies. One of the smaller countries behind the moving of that resolution, Senegal, has felt Israel’s wrath to economic funding for aid projects have been cut. Israel is showing that diplomatically & economically it is hitting back.
Q’ …there is a change coming very soon. Does that mean it’s all going to blow over?
A’ the real focus of Netanyahu’s anger is the Obama administration. He clearly feels that the Obama administration maneuvered behind the scenes to deliver this diplomatic blow. Relations between the two sides have always been fairly poor but they are dire at the moment. But you are absolutely right. The Israelis know very well that the mood is about to change dramatically… & there is every indication that Trump will be a friend of Israel. The Israelis are confident that better days in terms of diplomatic relations with Washington, for them, are coming.
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Netanyahu has held talks with the US ambassador after summoning him to explain why the US cleared the way for a UNSC resolution criticizing Israel. At his weekly cabinet meeting Netanyahu criticized the US but praised the incoming Trump administration. Netanyahu: “over decades the American administrations & Israeli governments have disagreed about settlements but we agreed that the SC was not the place to resolve this issue. We knew that going there would make negotiations harder & drive peace further away. & as I told Kerry on Thu. friends don’t take friends to the SC.”
Lebo Diseko interviews Jonathan Schanzer, Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Q’ why has the Obama administration decided to do this so late in the day?
A’ I think this was really untenable for the outgoing president. While he was trying to continue to bring the Democrats on board, especially, that he couldn’t do this to Hillary Clinton while she was still in play. I think actually if Clinton had won the election I think it would be very likely that she probably would have told him not to do this because it would have encumbered her ability to negotiate with the Palestinians & Israelis once she came to office. But once Trump was elected I think the president felt untethered & it appears now that he may even take further steps including a parameters speech, & perhaps even yet one more UN resolution.
Q’ you are saying that this is something that Obama may have wanted to do for quite a while but he had limitations on him, now those limitations have gone.
A’ absolutely correct. We call this period the lame duck period. The president can essentially wrap up loose ends. Usually that means commuting sentences or pardoning people who are in jail. Perhaps some final touches on legislation that he seeks to pass. This is highly irregular. This is a major move against a US ally & obviously this stems I think in large part to his grudge match with Netanyahu. Its no secret these to have not gotten along for the entire 8 years… this does look like a parting shot. A slap if you will.
Q’ how did their relationship deteriorate to this degree?
A’ part of it has to do with the fact that Obama had some different views from Netanyahu at the beginning of the Arab Spring. The Israelis were very wary of Obama’s trust in the Muslim Brotherhood. From there we also saw the Iran deal which Israel strenuously objected to & that of course led to Netanyahu coming & speaking before congress to object to the Iran deal which really the President did not appreciate very much. & then of course there is the question of settlements. Israel’s insistence that it be able to build on places, in particular where George W bush had already given them a green light. Obama has not agreed on settlements being built anywhere & threatened to do this & now saw it through.
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Israel re-evaluating relations with UN,
Oren Liebermann reports. …Israel has decried this resolution & Netanyahu has condemned it being anti Israel & counterproductive to peace. (steps against UN); …Netanyahu has said he will not abide by this resolution, that Israel will not comply with it. his government ministers have called on more construction in the settlements, more construction in E. Jerusalem. Some have even called on Israel to annex part or all of the West bank. Netanyahu saved his fiercest criticism for Obama & Kerry who he accuses of colluding behind Israel’s back to get this passed at the SC. He made it very clear he is done working with Obama & is very ready to work with Trump with whom he has a strong relationship & will start with a clean slate. Palestinian leaders say this resolution was long overdue.53* They hoped Obama would have made a move on the conflict a long time ago & that’s why they say they have been waiting for this for some time. They say it will hold Israel responsible for its construction & expansion of settlements. They say its now up to Israel as to what it wants to do. if it wants to abide by this resolution. So far all indications are absolutely not.
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(brief) Israel summons ambassadors over UN vote. Israel continues to fume over the UN resolution. The foreign ministry says it summoned ambassadors from 10 countries that backed the SC measure to express its deep anger.
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Official: Netanyahu summons US ambassador. Israel is blasting the US over UN vote… Netanyahu: : “over decades the American administrations & Israeli governments have disagreed about settlements but we agreed that the SC was not the place to resolve this issue. We knew that going there would make negotiations harder & drive peace further away. & as I told Kerry on Thu. friends don’t take friends to the SC. I am encouraged by the statements of our friends in the US, Republicans & Democrats alike. They understand how reckless & destructive this resolution was. They understand that the Western Wall isn’t occupied territory. I look forward to working with those friends & with the new administration…”
Richard Quest with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
Q’…that sound bite was not intended for the people of Israel?
A’ no it wasn’t. in my time here in Jerusalem I have never seen an English statement at a cabinet meeting… that is not ever a statement made for the wider world, until now. I that gives you an idea of how angry he is…
Q’ so he has thrown down the gauntlet in a most undiplomatic way. …what does he expect Trump & his ambassador to do?
A’ …I think Netanyahu expects they won’t see any of that criticism (regarding settlements), at least much, much less of that criticism under Trump. & especially under Trump’s pick for ambassador…
Q’ the US has always been seen in Israel’s court. But the nature of the incoming administration, I am thinking, the Secretary of State, the ambassador & the special negotiator & Jared Kushner. They can no longer be regarded as honest broker capable of brokering a peace deal as some would say?
A’ I think that is the expectations of the Palestinians who are looking elsewhere… expectations that peace no longer runs through Washington it runs elsewhere. May even run through Moscow…
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Christmas & Hanukkah coincide this year.
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Netanyahu summons 11 ambassadors to express his government’s fury over UNSC resolution, Michael Holmes with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. …both sides, the Israeli leadership & the Palestinian leadership say they want peace, they are willing to meet anytime, anywhere. Both sides point a finger at the other side saying its that guys fault. & that’s exactly where the peace process stands. Two sides who essentially refuse to meet…
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Netanyahu summons ambassadors over UNSC relation, Michael Holmes with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. TOLOG
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Netanyahu chides US ambassador. In Jerusalem a rare moment, & one that likely was quite blunt. Netanyahu summoning US ambassador to directly express his government’s fury over UNSC resolution. Netanyahu: (same as previous); Israelis reprimand 11 ambassadors; Oren Lieberman (same as previous with visuals).
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The resolution is prompting a prominent US Senator to call for withholding US funding for the UN. Republican Lindsey Graham said the UN must act more responsibly or there is going to be a brake. Graham: “…its been decades old policy for the US to make sure the parties negotiate on the ground in the ME not in the UNSC. When it comes to the UN the gloves are off… I will respond in time. 22% of the UN’s budget comes from the American tax payer. & I am going to lead the charge to withhold funding until they repeal this resolution”. Graham is also accusing the Obama administration of “recklessness” accusing it of abandoning Israel.
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Furious Netanyahu summons US ambassador, Oren Liebermann (rep.)
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Israeli PM blasts US over UN vote, Hannah Vaughan Jones with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. TOLOG
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Israeli PM blasts US over UN vote, Hannah Vaughan Jones with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. TOLOG
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Furious Netanyahu summons US ambassador; Israel says it has Iron clad information that the Obama administration was behind the UN resolution an accusation the US denies; Israel is concerned over second proposed resolution. Hannah Vaughan Jones with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. Q’ its unprecedented this scathing criticism from an Israeli leader of an American president… A’ absolutely. What’s happened here in the last 72 hours has effectively broken all diplomatic protocol. We knew that Netanyahu didn’t exactly have the best relationship with Obama but it’s almost incredible to see how quickly it’s deteriorating here… Netanyahu lashing out unafraid of the level of his criticism directed right at Obama & Kerry. We’ve simply never seen anything like this… Q’ concerns now about a follow up resolution. Will this be something that might imply that the practical impact of this UN decision will be felt much sooner? A’ it could be. Of course it depends… we haven’t seen any draft resolution just yet but the concern here, & this is been a concern for Israel for quite some time now, is that this will be a resolution on parameters for negotiations. Essentially setting the conditions upon which peace negotiations would be based. The parameters would touch some of the most sensitive issues. Borders, refugees, Jerusalem & a time table. Israel doesn’t want any of that. …Obama still has 3weeks in office & he could, if he chooses to, abstain once again…
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Netanyahu summons US ambassador following vote. He is lashing out at the US for allowing UNSC resolution; Israel says it has ironclad information that the Obama administration was behind the resolution an accusation the US denies, Kristie Lu Stout with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. Israel concerned over follow-up UNSC resolution.
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Diplomatic firestorm intensifies over UN vote. Israel is not only accusing the US of orchestrating the resolution, a charge that Washington denies, but it also fears the Obama administration could actually help push another resolution that would impose terms for peace negotiations. …Israel’s ambassador to Washington spoke earlier to CNN. Ron Dermer: its an old story that the UN gangs up against Israel. What is new is that the US did not stand up & oppose that gang up, & what is outrageous is that the US was actually behind that gang up. I think it was a very sad day. A really shameful chapter… Don Lemon: what’s the evidence that the US was behind this gang up, I have heard that a lot? A’ we have clear evidence of it. we will present that evidence to the new administration.
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Palestinians: Israeli response is “hysterical”, irrational. Palestinian officials say the UN vote was a victory for int. law & justice. They called Israel’s response “hysterical, irrational & irresponsible”. Zain Asher With Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. Q’ where does all of this leave the 2 state solution? A’ the goal of the resolution was quite clear. To advance the 2 state solution. In talking to people here on both sides I have heard words like dormant, comatosed & dead used to describe the peace process.
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Diplomatic firestorm intensifies over UN vote. (similar to previous): Ron Dermer: “its an old story that the UN gangs up against Israel. What is new is that the US did not stand up & oppose that gang up, & what is outrageous is that the US was actually behind that gang up. I think it was a very sad day. A really shameful chapter. (from here not in previous) what this resolution just did it gave the Palestinian ammunition in their diplomatic & legal war against Israel. & the US not only didn’t stop it, they were behind it.”
Zain Asher With Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem & Elise Labott live, Washington.
Liebermann: (Netanyahu) he is not backing off this at all. …he says his response is measured, responsible & vigorous. He also says there won’t be any diplomatic fallout. He says in fact countries of the world & the region will respect Israel more for standing up for itself… he made it clear that he points a finger directly at Obama & Kerry…
Q’ Elise you just heard Dermer basically saying that the US, its an accusation & there is no evidence, the US actually orchestrated this resolution. What is the US’s reaction to that.
Labott: well they call it absurd. They say that this is a long standing policy that the US had & Obama really couldn’t leave office in good conscience without having to try stop this trend of expansion of settlements, which they say is really an impediment making a 2 state solution… really impossible54*. You heard Ben Rhodes is the Deputy National Security Advisor… saying that the US can’t sit on the sideline because that would really make peace impossible. & that’s also what the Palestinians are saying.55* They say that this vote at least gives them some legitimacy to keep moving the process forward. But unfortunately I think that this might have the opposite effect because that just hardens the Israeli position. & they are saying that they are not going to abide by this anyway.
Liebermann: …as we have just seen at the UN its not a position that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace that the world agrees with. There is an int. consensus the settlements are absolutely the obstacle to peace.56* Israel’s concerns continue here. They are worried about what might be another SC resolution that tries to lay out parameters for negotiations. They’ve known there was a possibility… Paris conference.
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Wolf Blitzer – Jake Tapper. Israel upset with US over settlement slap. …Netanyahu summoned the US ambassador to his office & he went so far as to accuse the US of conspiring with the Palestinians to harass Israel. Ron Dermer (rep.) : “its an old story that the UN gangs up against Israel. What is new is that the US did not stand up & oppose that gang up, & what is outrageous is that the US was actually behind that gang up. (new): to bring a resolution to the SC is not just something that Israel opposes, its something that Obama opposes. In Sept. 2011 he stood at the UN & he said these issues should not be handled at the UNSC. They should be handled through negotiations. We agree on that. We have a disagreement with the administration over settlements. But you don’t take, as Netanyahu said, you don’t take your friends to the security council. As bias as the UN is, we are a member of the community of nations & we will fight for our rights there. But I hope that the new administration will have a comprehensive revue of policies of the Un, not just towards Israel, but also towards the US. The UN is a cesspool of anti Americanism & anti Israel activity. I hope the new administration, with bi-partisan support in Congress, will look at those programs & not simply give a blind check to all this anti American & anti Israel hostility.” This is the first UNSC resolution criticizing Israel that has passed during the Obama administration. List: SC resolutions critical of Israel: W. Bush 6; Clinton: 3; HW Bush: 9; Reagan: 21; Carter: 14. Obama’s critics say this resolution was different since it defined the settlements as illegal which could have ramifications.
Jake Tapper with Oren Liebermann, Elise Labott & Athena Jones. Liebermann (same as previous); Labott: …what the Israelis are charging is that Obama & Kerry orchestrated it. that they were involved in drafting it & pushing this along. I think somewhere in the middle is probably the truth. The administration says we didn’t draft it, we didn’t put it forward, but they certainly were involved in making sure that it was a certain text and getting it to the SC.
Q’ is Obama sending a message here to Netanyahu after a very contentious 8 year, no lost love between them? Jones: I think it fair to say he is sending a message & that message is that the White House agrees with much of the int. community that the continued building of the settlements on disputed land is not helpful to the peace process, & not helpful to any eventual 2 state solution.56* The White house would argue that their position on this has been clear for years. This may be a new low in this contentious relationship between these 2 leaders… Netanyahu believes Obama is naïve when it comes to issues involving the ME…
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Jake Tapper interviews Michael Oren.
Q’: So talk to me about the evidence your government claims to have that the U.S. actually drafted this resolution conspired to put it forward at the Security Council. What kind of evidence are we talking about?
A’: Well, with that things that they have received from a — they receive from other governments around the world who have been involved in this. And I think that we’re not talking — we’re not disclosing those sources. I think that the Prime Minister’s made it very clear that he believes that the — that President Obama’s administration has been instrumental in formulating this resolution and advancing it. That it’s a pretty serious charge. I think the overwhelming sense in the state of Israel and I’m talking to you from the streets of Jerusalem. This is a sense of hurt, a sense of abandonment, a sense of outrage where I’m talking to you here. It’s about a two hour drive from where 400,000 Syrians have been massacred. About a for hour drive from where the massacres occurring in Iraq from a civil war in Sinai about three hours and the United States and the Security Council are beating up on the only (?) democracy. It’s very, very outrageous for us.
Q’: I guess one of the questions that the Obama administration would put to you is, how much longer can Israel call itself a democracy if you control vast swath of territory in which Palestinians don’t have the right of travel, the right to vote, are you not putting yourself with all of these settlements and without any sort of peace process actually going on, on a course to no longer be a democracy?
A’: We hear the question quite often, but here’s one answer, first of all, Palestinians have a right to travel. A 100,000 Palestinians enter Israel every day. They laid about five minutes across the border in most cases. Palestinians can vote. They can vote for their own leadership. Their leadership has decided for 10 years now not to hold an election, because they know that President Mahmoud Abbas will be defeated by Hamas. We haven’t stopped their election. So we have to deal with these untruths all the time, Jake, but the fact of the matter is we have been waiting for eight years at a negotiating table for the Palestinians to show up. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said it again & again that he’s willing to negotiate directly with the Palestinian leadership without preconditions to reach a solution based and two states for two peoples and every time he has stuck on his hand in peace to President Abbas that has been swatted away, and now this resolution comes, which enables the Palestinians not only to overrun the peace process not to sit down at the table but to take Israel to court and brand Israel as an international criminal and the sanction and boycott us. And they’re going to do that not to get a better two-state solution, but to take us down.
Q’: Do you think that — is that why Israel seems to be making a much bigger deal out of this abstention by the United States and the U.N. Security Council? The one resolution, critical of Israel that Obama has permitted to happen as opposed to the six that happened during George W. Bush’s administration or the three during Clinton or the 21 during Reagan? Is that the distinction, the idea that because of this resolution, now Israeli soldiers will be able to be taken to the ICC?
A’: It’s not only these real soldiers, it’s 600,000 citizens of State of Israel who live in areas which more than 50 years ago, were part of Jordan, which nobody remembers what these lines are in the City of Jerusalem anymore. My own kids wouldn’t know what those lines are in the City of Jerusalem. It is taking the western wall, the Kotel, the holiest site in Jerusalem and categorizing it as a legally occupied land. Any Jew who prays in the holiest place in Judaism is going to be branded an international criminal. Now, think about that. That does not — the Reagan Administration denouncing us for blowing up the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, by the way, they thanked us for it later. But it is a resolution which you can have profoundly, profoundly harmful effects to this state. And what can we say after eight years? I mean, we’ve had now two major blows to our security. The first was Iran nuclear deal, the second is this resolution.
We’ve dealt with many, many blows of our security in the past, but never have we dealt with blows that have been dealt by our number one ally in the world, by the United States of America. And that is why this state has been reacting in the way it has and why it feels a sense of outrage and hurt.
Tapper: Michael Oren, thank you so much. Happy Hanukkah
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Israel suspends all working ties with 12 UNSC members. Zain Asher with Elise Labott live, Washington & Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
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Netanyahu is now turning his fury towards 12 countries which voted for the UNSC. He is limiting ties with the embassies of those countries. They include China, Japan, Britain, France, Russia & others. the US isn’t included because it abstained but that allowed the resolution to pass. & Israeli officials are furious with the Obama administration because of it. Netanyahu: Israel will not turn the other cheek; Ron Dermer: “…this is a serious effort against Israel. Its an anti Israel resolution. I saw the Palestinian leader who just spoke. Hamas & Islamic Jihad are terrorist organizations. & they are celebrating this resolution. So that is a pro Israel resolution? That’s a balanced resolution? Israel’s enemies are celebrating this resolution. That tells you need to know.” Maen Areikat, PLO Rep. to US: “we have been hearing a lot of encouraging statements from the current US administration. We have been urging them to translate lost statements into action. The US did what conforms with its long standing policy since the days of Lyndon Johnson in 1967. Reagan used abstention seven times… to allow resolutions at the UN to condemn settlement activities. So the US is just doing just what they have done all the time. 7333
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Michael Holmes with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
Q’ the resolution itself has no penalty attached. Its toothless in that regard. So why this level of anger?
A’ because the resolution doesn’t exist in a vacuum. …but it sets the precedent legally, or at least in a SC resolution that Israel is trying to avoid. That settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank & E Jerusalem are illegal.57*… that is what made Netanyahu so angry…
Q’ …but the harshest criticism isn’t at the UN but at the US president & the accusation ….saying the Obama administration was not just involved in this resolution, but was behind it.
A’ …Netanyahu’s officials say they have evidence, they have information supporting this, & yet they haven’t put any of that out there. We have pushed them here & in the US. They haven’t shown us any of that information. Ron Dermer… said they would show the next administration what that information is…
Q’ how much damage might this do politically, domestically for Netanyahu who has been saying in recent times Israel’s standing on the world stage is growing. Why the surprise? Obama spent 8 years, the quartet spent longer warning about settlement activity… I was reading in the Israeli press today – Haaretz – saying why is anyone surprised this happened?
A’ I don’t think Netanyahu is so surprised at all. Certainly angry. He thought maybe there is a chance Obama might veto it. but the resolution is what Obama wanted which is to say to it talks about both sides & issues on both sides. …its also about domestic politics. His own voters don’t like Obama so he is playing to an extent there not only to his own voters, but to Trump… Holmes: indeed & relies on some pro settler political groups as well…
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Netanyahu limits working ties with 12 UNSC members; says Israel will not turn the other cheek; …& Netanyahu is furious with the Obama administration. To underscore his anger he lit Hanukah candles at Judaism’s holiest site the Western Wall, & said of Israel’s allies how could they vote for a resolution which says this place is occupied territory, Michael Holmes with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (same as previous)
Q’ …there is an international foreign ministers meeting in Paris next month. There could be a series of decisions made on the peace process itself. What are the concerns in Israel that those decisions could lead to another UNSC –?
A’ well that exactly is Israel’s biggest fear. Israel has made it clear very much not attending this conference in Paris. However 70 countries are attending including the Palestinians. The idea is to find some kind of common ground, some sort of way to move the peace process forward. Israel’s fear is that could lead to a resolution on parameters which is to say, on conditions for negotiations on the most sensitive issues. Status of Jerusalem, borders, refugees & a few other topics. Is it likely to happen? Who knows? There is a sense that the US wouldn’t want to take another step against Israel, or allow another resolution to pass by abstaining.
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Netanyahu defends Israel’s strong response, Michael Holmes interviews Aaron David Miller.
Q’ why do you think Netanyahu is so angry about all of this?
A’ several sources. 1 PM tried by a quite unprecedented fashion by mobilizing the president elect as well as Sisi the president of Egypt in order to try to turn this off & it failed. That creates a certain amount of embarrassment & humiliation. Second I think the PM had argued in his own version of TTP, Technology, Terror & Peace that in effect Israel had succeeded in braking down the walls of suspicion & trust, & was gaining new stature & legitimacy in the int. community clearly that has been obviously undermined by this. & finally I think the PM knows what’s coming & I think he’s upset. Yes he is going to end up with an administration that is going to give Israel more discretion, more margin on any number of issues. Iran. The peace process maybe even settlements building. But the fact is he is also going to have to – with the int. community & is now seized with this language in the resolution & an Israeli right who will see not just pressure from the int. community, but what they expect will be a green light from the Trump administration in order to sanction in a positive way, additional Israeli steps on the ground. & Netanyahu never comfortable except when he actually is in the center — & he is running out of it.
Q’ its not that settlements are a new thing. They’ve been a thorn in the side of progress on path of peace.58* One of the main thorns for years, & yet for years those settlements have expanded, settler numbers have increased in the West Bank & E Jerusalem. That despite 8 years of pressure from the US, from Obama & the quartet. Why would Netanyahu be surprised at Obama making such a move & the world voting for it?
A’ I think he probably wasn’t. we’ve been monitoring this I have been – fascinated (?) by the signals that the current administration has been dropping for the last 3 or 4 months. That they were either going to – some kind of SC resolution followed up by in this case, & may well be almost certainly will be some sort of address laying out the parameters perhaps of the 2 state solution by Kerry, although not by the president & that is in fact significant. In 2000 when we laid out the Clinton parameters, to Israelis & Palestinians… it was President Clinton that laid out these parameters. …this peace process is comatose. Yes settlements are an obstacle. Yes on the Israeli side they probably do an enormous amount to prejudge & predetermine the outcome of negotiations. & the Palestinians have their own transgressions. Divided leadership, incitement. But the reality is this process is failing because you don’t have the leadership on either side, you don’t have the ownership on either side & the core issues are just (cut) & the space between those issues, its not narrow, they resemble more like a grand canyon.
Q’ …the whole 2 state solution seems, certainly under the Netanyahu administration seem such a distant notion. Settlement expansion as well makes that even more so.59* But under a Trump administration you are going to have a US ambassador considered by many to be to the right of many of Netanyahu’s own cabinet. How is that going to impact the, well the process as you said is dead, but that notion of a 2 state solution?
A’ on this one… yellow light not necessarily a green one. You know American ambassadors do not determine American policy. & it’s yet to be determined & clear to me, exactly where the incoming Trump administration is going to be on annexation of the West Bank, 2 state solution, settlement activity. …but the indications, particularly if they intend to move the embassy to Jerusalem, aren’t terribly positive (not clear, not sure).
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Jim Sciotto: Now, on a New Testament holiday some distinctly Old Testament action from Israel.60* Israel and of course a tweet from Donald Trump. suspends ties with nations that backed UN vote. …Trump Tweet: UN has such great potential but… just a club for people to get together… so sad! As for the Israelis, they did more than just Tweet, Elise Labott reports. Netanyahu is escalating his attack against the Obama administration. Clearly still angry over the UN vote declaring Israeli settlements illegal. Netanyahu: “friends don’t take friends to the SC”. Netanyahu summoning the US ambassador & has accused Obama & Kerry of orchestrating what he called a shameful ambush at the UN. Telling his cabinet he has ironclad proof. Netanyahu (Hebrew): “from the information that we have we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording & demanded that it be passed.” The White House denies that calling the claim absurd… the Obama administration maintains the UN vote was a last resort, after struggling for the last 8 years to convince Israel to halt settlement construction on occupied land the Palestinians claim for their state.62* Ben Rhodes: “for years we have seen escalation in the growth of these settlements. & frankly if the current trends continue the 2 state solution is going to be impossible”63*. Officials are now worried with UN backing Palestinians will push for sanctions, boycotts & take Israeli soldiers to the ICC. Dermer: “what this resolution just did, it gave the Palestinians ammunition in their diplomatic & legal war against Israel. & the US not only didn’t stop it, they were behind it.” Netanyahu is now putting his hopes in Trump & members of Congress who are promising to de-fund the UN unless the vote is overturned. Hoping that will give Trump leverage. Netanyahu: “I look forward to working with those friends & the new administration when it takes office next month.” Jim Sciutto With Elise Labott live. …I have to tell you its not just the Israelis that are hoping that Trump will be working on the peace process, despite the fact that Trump has promised to move the embassy, despite the fact he appointed a very controversial hard line ambassador, who supports settlements & is against the 2 state solution, the Palestinians say they are hopeful that Trump with his unorthodox approach, may be & they hope he will be, the US president to finally make that deal64*. The old administration is going to be laying out its vision for what it wasn’t able to accomplish. We understand Kerry is going to lay out the administration’s approach how they see a ME peace process… its really interesting. Kerry worked so hard on this. Now he is handing it over.
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Israel suspends ties with nations that backed UNSC vote. Jim Sciutto With David Gergen , former presidential adviser & Peter Beinart.
Q’ how big a deal is this? First the resolution & now Trump in effect Trump vs Obama on a major ME policy issue?
Gergen: it is a much bigger deal than anybody would have expected. Nobody I think saw this coming. & for the US to reverse a long standing policy of vetoing resolutions like this & protecting the Israelis from some of the… the UN has often been a hot bed from the Israeli point of view of anti-Semitism & anti-Israeli feeling, & the US has always protected them. So when the president did this at the last minute, just before leaving — I don’t know where this is going to go. Throw a hand-grenade… they might well have left some of this alone because there are bigger issues right now in the ME demanding attention as you well know. How are you going to carry on the war against ISIS, how are you going to work with the Syrians. What are you really going to do about Iran & the expansion of its efforts? I think this is going to complicate the pursuit of those priorities & there is a danger, I must say, that I think the Trump forces will overreact in order to prove how pro-Israel they are. Move immediately to, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital. That would really as you well know will cause explosions all across the ME.
Q’ Peter you have been extremely critical of Israel’s settlement policy. how do you view this? Do you think that there is any value in calling out Israel on a public stage? Frankly Republican & Democratic administrations have criticized the policy that the Republican & Democratic presidents both criticized?
Beinart: yes. First I have to say I disagree David. I don’t think this is as much as a break as he suggests. Every American president going back to Reagan, has allowed a UN resolution to pass that Israel did not want. Reagan actually voted, not just abstained, for a resolution for condemning Israel when it attacked the Osirak reactor & withheld weapons sales. Reagan allowed repeated resolutions to go through that criticized Israel on settlements. George W. Bush allowed a resolution the Israelis were bitterly opposed to calling for a Gaza ceasefire in 2009. I think the larger context here is that Obama believes that the 2 state solution is dying.65* & many of Israel’s own leaders believe its dying. We now have 2 former Israeli PMs Olmert & Barak, & 2 former top security officials Meir Dagan & Yuval Diskin, who have said that Israel is on its way to being an apartheid state.66*
Sciutto (cuts in): we also have choice for Israel ambassador who has said we are beyond a 2 state solution.
Beinart: right. — remember Israel in the West Bank, Israel controls millions of Palestinians who don’t have the right to vote, live under military law & are not citizens67*. If that’s a permanent condition it raises very serious questions about Israeli democracy. & many top Israelis, not Netanyahu, but others have said that. I don’t think Obama thinks he can change it. but I think with an eye to his legacy, he wants to be on the record of at least having tried to put down some kind of marker of saying I —(?) yesterday.
Q’ David you worked in a number of administrations from both parties… you often hear Trump since the election on Taiwan policy, on Russian policy, on the ME. Well he’ll shake it up. He’ll shake it up & maybe that will work it been so intractable. In your experience does that work in the field of int. affairs…?
Gergen: we have never faced a president who is unpredictable & volatile & impulsive as Trump. I don’t know how it’s going to work. I don’t think anybody does. I must say the presidents who have been most successful in int. affairs are those who have a strategic sense. A broad sense of where they are trying to go, what their priorities are… & that seems to work… I don’t see this here. That’s why I have this fear. I think Peter was right on a lot of things he said by the way. I do have the fear Peter that Trump is going to be tempted now to go further over to prove his faithfulness to the Israelis. & then much more difficult to get back to a 2 state solution, which I do think is dying & needs to be pursued.68*
Q’ Peter do you think that’s a real danger? A backlash in effect?
Beinart: look even before Obama did this Trump had already appointed David Friedman who is that kind of explicitly against the 2 state solution, explicit settlement advocate. Look this game is moving outside of America. Whats going to happen is, for better or for worst, there is going to be increasing mounting pressure on Israel from Europe & from other parts of the world to try to respond to the fact that Israel is creating a permanent one state reality & its important to remember when Israel builds settlements its not like this is on occupied land. A lot of these settlements are built on privately owned Palestinian land. It’s a land taken from Palestinians because they lack basic rights as non citizens. This is a serious civil rights problem…
Gergen (interrupts): …you got the Western Wall in this resolution as being illegitimately held by the Israelis…
Beinart (cuts in) there has never been any negotiations which has contemplated the idea that Israel would not have sovereignty over the Western Wall. That’s not the discussion. The discussion is, is there going to be a viable Palestinian state69* or not when Israel massively subsidizes, pays Israelis to move into the West Bank.
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Kerry to deliver speech on vision for ME peace, George Howell with Josh Rogin, CNN political analyst live. Netanyahu: “over decades…”
Q’ Netanyahu said friends don’t take friends to the SC. How would you interpret what’s going on here?
A’ it’s just a collapse of what was already a very bad & shaky & unfriendly personal relationship between Obama & Netanyahu. I think the Obama administration has a list of things they might do to try to set this stage for progress in the ME peace process. The first thing that they did was to not veto the resolution… has already become a major crisis in US Israel relations. So Kerry’s second effort here to lay out the parameters is going to fall upon deaf ears in Israel. They have decided they don’t want to work with the Obama administration any more they are mounting a charge against the UN & all the countries that supported this resolution they are just going to wait for the Trump administration. Why would they listen to Kerry when they can get much better terms in a month.
Q’ …Netanyahu is openly looking forward to dealing with Trump. But much of Trump’s support comes from the Alt Right which is viewed widely as anti-Semitic?
A’ yes. Its kind of an odd situation but he has support from the pro Israel community & also some factions of the Alt right which have anti-Semitic members. On the Israel stuff, that is run primarily by his son in law Jared Kushner. Also run by his, going to be future ambassador David Friedman. These are supporters of Israel that are to the right of even Netanyahu.70* So I don’t think the Alt right parts of his administration are going to win the day here. We are looking at an administration that will be very, very close to the Netanyahu administration. That speaks well for the US – Israel bilateral relationship but it doesn’t speak well for a real process to any kind of 2 state solution. Howell: Many people say lets wait until Jan. 20th & keep an open mind.
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The relationship between Israel & Obama, well you could say its rocky at best, but at its waning weeks the Obama administration will lay out its vision for something that’s long been out of reach, ME peace. RC: Kerry is expected to speak about that vision in the coming days. this comes as relations between Obama’s administration & Netanyahu’s government are hitting a new low, Rosemary Church & George Howell Oren Liebermann reports. Netanyahu doubling down on criticism. Not only of Obama but also diplomatic moves against the SC countries who voted for this resolution. He said his diplomatic steps aren’t going too far he called the “responsible & vigorous actions”. Netanyahu accusing Obama of working behind Israel’s back, put forward the UNSC resolution critical of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank & E. Jerusalem. The two leaders have always had a rocky relationship now in its final days it is quickly deteriorating. Netanyahu hadn’t held back at all. Netanyahu: “as I told Kerry friends don’t take friends to the SC”. Dermer, one of many Israeli officials whose made the accusation, but not offered any evidence. Dermer: “look its an old story that the UN gangs up against Israel. What is new is that the US did not stand up & oppose that gang up. & what is outrageous is that the UN was actually behind that gang up. I think it was a very sad day, really a shameful chapter…”
Lemon: “what’s the evidence that the US is behind this gang up. I have heard that a lot?
Dermer: “we have clear evidence of it. we will present that evidence to the new administration”. Netanyahu turned to Trump who urged Obama to veto the resolution, & then waiting on Tweeter. Trump Tweet: “as to the UN things will be different after Jan.20th: then another Tweet: “the big loss yesterday for Israel in the UN will make it much harder to negotiate peace. Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!” Netanyahu hasn’t just lashed out at the US. Israel called in the US ambassador & the ambassadors of ten other countries that voted for the resolution. But those countries met with the foreign ministry. It was only the US ambassador who met privately with Netanyahu. One more statement directed at Obama before he leaves office. So why now? Netanyahu knows that he only has a few more weeks before he has Trump in office to work with. & he made it very clear he is looking forward to Obama being out & Trump being in. this, other than perhaps being a parting shot at Obama, also may have a little local politics mixed in. Obama is not popular at all with Netanyahu’s voters & he may be playing to them as this unfolds.
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Israel furious over UN resolution, Rosemary Church interviews Gil Hoffman, The Jerusalem Post.
Q’ what has prompted so much concern & anger by Israel at this non-binding UN resolution?
A’ what Israel is trying to do is to try to prevent another resolution between now & Jan. 20th. Netanyahu had taken such drastic measures that have been described by opposition members of parliament as hysteria, has taken these steps because there is a possibility that when the French have the conference on the 15th of Jan. where Kerry is supposed to make a very important address on ME issues, that that address would then be taken in the remaining 5 days before Trump takes over, to the UNSC to become another resolution that Israel sees as handcuffing it. Israel sees it hindering the possibility of a peace process in the future because it gives the Palestinians hope that the they will get their way from int. community & will not have to give anything up in talks were there will be give & takes.
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Kerry to deliver speech on vision foe ME peace, George Howell with Josh Rogin, CNN. TOLOG
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US to outline ME peace plan. Elise Labott reports. (rep. till end paragraph) Netanyahu is escalating his attack against the Obama administration. Clearly still angry over the UN vote declaring Israeli settlements illegal. Netanyahu: “friends don’t take friends to the SC”. Netanyahu summoning the US ambassador & has accused Obama & Kerry of orchestrating what he called a shameful ambush at the UN. Telling his cabinet he has ironclad proof. Netanyahu (Hebrew): “from the information that we have we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording & demanded that it be passed.” The White House denies that calling the claim absurd… the Obama administration maintains the UN vote was a last resort, after struggling for the last 8 years to convince Israel to halt settlement construction on occupied land the Palestinians claim for their state.71*
Ben Rhodes: “for years we have seen escalation in the growth of these settlements. & frankly if the current trends continue the 2 state solution is going to be impossible”. Officials are now worried with UN backing Palestinians will push for sanctions, boycotts & take Israeli soldiers to the ICC. Dermer: “what this resolution just did, it gave the Palestinians ammunition in their diplomatic & legal war against Israel. & the US not only didn’t stop it, they were behind it.” Netanyahu is now putting his hopes in Trump & members of Congress who are promising to de-fund the UN unless the vote is overturned. Hoping that will give Trump leverage. Netanyahu: “I look forward to working with those friends & the new administration when it takes office next month.” (from here new): Its not just the president elect who opposes this vote but members of Congress from both parties who have urged the Obama administration not to go through with it. now leading republicans like Lindsey Graham say they will move to defund the UN unless the SC overturns the vote.
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Israel lashes out at Obama after UN vote. Palestinian Rep. to US,
Maen Rashid Areikat: (rep.); the settlement policies of the current Israeli government clearly indicate that this government does not have any interest in ending the conflict with the Palestinians, they want to continue to grab Palestinian lands, they continue to build illegal settlements, and they don’t have any plans in the near future to put an end to the conflict.
Q’ Did you approve of the UNSC resolution?
Areikat: we have been hearing
Ron Dermer: the PM did a freeze. He did a freeze for 10 months & the Palestinians did not come to the negotiation tables. This has not been about the settlements. What do the Palestinians want? …to blame Israel for not negotiating, they refuse to sit down & have discussions with us & internationalize the conflict. For the last 8 years they have not been able to do that because thankfully the president has stood up to those efforts in the SC. Now he gave the Palestinians exactly what they want. He gave them ammunition for political & diplomatic & legal war against Israel. He gave them that ammunition by not vetoing the SC resolution. What the Palestinians want to do is to wage a diplomatic & legal war against Israel. They don’t want to negotiate peace. Do you know why? Because when you are negotiating a peace there is give & take. What they want is take & take. & the way to do that is to try to internationalize the conflict, to put more & more pressure on Israel, to call for boycotts, sanctions, to take our soldiers to the ICC, something they are already calling to happen. Already calling a day after. & what they want to do is to put enough pressure on Israel, turn it into a – state80*. YES TOLOG
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Israel steps up response after UN vote, Isa Soares with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (nothing new)
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US to outline ME peace plan, Andrew Stevens with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (nothing new) Q’ there has been criticism of Netanyahu’s reaction in the Israeli parliament, hasn’t it? A’ there has. A lot of that has come from the opposition naturally. Not that the opposition is happy about the resolution but they accuse Netanyahu of misplaying this, mishandling the relationship with the UN & they accuse him of perhaps saying he could have headed this off, or averted this or gotten a US veto had he had a better relationship with Obama. & yet Netanyahu has been absolutely unapologetic about this. He said his reaction, both of what he has said & the actions he has taken is “measured, responsible & vigorous”…(rest same as previous)
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Israel continues to claim it has Ironclad proof Obama pushed UN vote, Isa Soares with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (nothing new)
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Israel curbs ties with 12 nations over UNSC vote, Kristie Lu Stout with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (nothing new)
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US denies orchestrating UN vote on Israeli settlements, Becky Anderson with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (same as previous); …tomorrows Jerusalem’s zoning committee hundreds of units in E Jerusalem they expect to approve. It was on the agenda before the vote. But that’s exactly the point here. They will advance it regardless of the resolution.
Q how dependent is Israel on its relationship with the US?
A’ incredibly dependent. Even at the worst of the US-Israel, Obama-Netanyahu relations they both said the relations between the countries remain strong… what Netanyahu expects whatever he says, whatever he does it seems he doesn’t expect there to be to much damage with Obama & he expects a fresh start, a clean slate with Trump. In terms of the US-Israel relationship it’s so deep & it goes so far. US & Israel a couple of months ago signed $38 B military aid deal. Largest military aid deal the US has ever signed with any other country. …Israelis want a fresh start. Obama not particularly popular here especially with Netanyahu’s voters & he is very unpopular among them. So some of Netanyahu’s lashing out maybe him playing to his own political base there…
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Israel moves ahead with home construction in E Jerusalem despite UN vote. It is a slap in the face to the Obama administration. It threatens to escalate the bitter war of words between the US & Israel. Hanan Ashrawi: Israel’s reaction to resolution is “irrational”. Becky Anderson interviews Hanan Ashrawi live, Ramallah. Q’ Israel says Washington colluded with the Palestinians. Obama says that is absurd (Ashrawi laughing). Whats your response? A’ I think its beyond absurd its preposterous (still laughing). Not a single US administration has ever colluded with us or conspired with us on anything. They always conspired & coordinate with Israel ahead of time & give Israel everything it wants. Now for a change the US (POWER!!!!)
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Israel advances plans for new homes in Jerusalem, David Keyes: we have ironclad information from sources in the Arab world & internationally & we are going to share that information with the incoming administration… & if the new administration chooses to share that information that’s their prerogative”. Ben Rhodes: “its not an ambush… making the 2 state solution unachievable”, Martin Savidge Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
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Kerry to speak on Israeli Palestinian conflict, Martin Savidge interviews Michael O’hanlon, Brookings Inst. & David Andelman, World Policy Journal.
Q’ Michael Netanyahu and Obama famously have been at odds. We’ve all seen this for the past eight years and now the Israeli prime minister has been saying how much he is looking forward to working with Trump. So how exactly do we expect that things will change?
O’Hanlon: Well, you know, they’re going to change a lot in tone and probably in substance based on where things have been now in the last week between Obama and Netanyahu. I wonder, Even though I tend to, at a broad level strategically, agree with Obama in criticizing the Israeli settlements, I wonder if this might be a tactical mistake by the Obama administration because all we’re doing is setting up big risks with not only Netanyahu but also Trump. What I thought might have been a better approach is if Obama and Trump could have issued a joint statement in which they might have looked for common American purpose that could have bridged January 20 and maybe we then veto the resolution but express concern about any settlements that would compromise the possibility of an ultimate two-state solution.82* In other words, President Obama try to use his wisdom, experience, and leverage on this issue to begin to influence the way Mr. Trump might pursue a peace process, rather than set up a stark confrontation between not only the us and the Israelis but Obama and the likely Trump approach as well.
Savidge: That’s creative, I’ll give you that. And it sounds like it would have been a diplomatic way to approach and meld two administrations as well as foreign policy with a strong ally. David, I want to play for you some sound from the Palestinians. Here’s what a senior member of the PLO told CNN this morning. Ashrawi, PLO: This is something that Israel is not used to because it’s used to getting preferential treatment and to violating the law with impunity. We’ve been urging the U.S. to do what is consistent with its own long-held positions since the days of Ronald Reagan. Every single administration has said the settlements are illegal and must stop. Savidge: So I know Hanan Ashrawi well. We interviewed a couple of times. Clearly, the Palestinians would be in favor of the Obama administration and all that has been done. & they have to be fearful of the coming Trump administration, right?
Andelman: Yes, absolutely. My main concern right now for Israel is that they’re becoming increasingly isolated. That is to say 14 members of the Security Council, all of the major western European powers, the French for instance, voted against this and the French are holding a — scheduled a big conference on Palestine on the 15th of January83*. So my concern is, the Israelis every time something like this happens they paint themselves further and further into the corner. The Trump administration has many int. priorities, this will obviously be one of them, the question is whether Netanyahu can rely on the U.S. to be its one and sole ally in the Western world in all of this. Savidge: Michael, I want to go back to your original picture you painted of these two administrations. Do you think that we are on the verge of what could be a breakthrough or a collapse or do you think it could just go on as it has—?
O’hanlon: I think its going to be the latter, as it’s been. But every passing year it further reduces even the long-term hope for peace because of the fact of the settlements 84* together with the deterioration of the Palestinian political debate internally, those two trends. So, that’s why I’m most concerned not about settlements in general but about the specific settlements that are going into areas of east Jerusalem or the West Bank that take away the possibility of a future Palestinian state because they take away the ability for one land area to be held together contiguously. So that’s why I think the U.N. resolution could have been a little more specific to say we understand some settlements will continue within certain areas where it’s relatively harmless. You could imagine trades where the Palestinians could be compensated for certain settlement zones, what we’re really worried about is where you rear breaking new ground or further essentially interrupting the different territories within the West Bank and east Jerusalem. That’s where I would have liked to see more clarity. That’s where I think Obama had a chance to even work with Trump although I admit that that’s conjecture.
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Israel says peace must come through direct talks (nothing new). David Keyes: What has to happen in order for peace to come about is that the PA needs to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. It needs to seize paying salaries to people who murder Israelis. It should stop naming soccer stadiums and schools and streets after mass murderers, and it should accept Prime Minister Netanyahu’s many calls to begin the peace process here and now. Peace is too important and both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace with mutual recognition.
Hanan Ashrawi: …we are trying our best to make peace in every possible way. We have signed the agreements that we abided by. The problem is that you cannot enslave a whole nation and treat it like a subhuman species with the most racist hard-line extremists, violent government in history, and then ask them to lie down and die quietly. Whenever a single Palestinian lashes out in the action, his house being demolished, his family being killed or imprisoned then automatically Palestinians are blamed and are called terrorists. But when Israelis settlers and the Israeli government continue to wreak havoc and exercise systematic state terrorism against us, then we are told what can we do? 85* Zain Asher with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (nothing new)
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(only one sound channel) A Jerusalem municipal committee has canceled plans to vote on the construction of 500 new homes for Israelis in the east of the city – at the request of Netanyahu, Lucy Hockings with Yolande Knell live, Jerusalem.
Q’ why had Netanyahu asked them to cancel the vote?
A’ …despite some very defiant messages… from the head of the committee saying that the UN vote wouldn’t change anything. Well we have heard that the vote has been postponed. A member of the committee toll the BBC that was because the PM’s office had called & said he didn’t want to strain relations with the Obama administration further, ahead of a planned speech by Kerry in which he is expected to lay out his comprehensive vision for ending the conflict.
Q’ how would you describe the relations between Israel & the US right now?
A’ of course US remains Israel’s strongest ally & yet things are extremely — at the moment. Israel felt betrayed by the US because it didn’t will it’s veto power at the UNSC…
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A municipal committee in Jerusalem has canceled plans to vote on the construction of 500 new homes for Israelis in the east of the city, apparently at the request of Netanyahu. Move comes ahead of a major speech from Kerry who is due to set out his vision for ending the conflict, Matthew Amroliwala with Yolande Knell live, Jerusalem.
Q’ Trump Tweeted: “we can’t let Israel be treated with such total disdain & disrespect”. So yet again we see just a division of the approach from the incoming president elect & Obama.
A’ that’s correct…
Q’ …one Israeli minister described Kerry’s speech as a pathetic move. Are they concerned that in some ways the last few weeks of the Obama administration could somehow box-in Trump?
A’ that’s certainly their concern. They’ve been extremely critical of these actions that are being taken by the US at the moment.
A what Israel is worried about is the idea that Kerry could lay down a plan in his speech, that they basically oppose for reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians 86*. & that then there is expected to be this big int. conference in Paris, on the 15th of January, 70 countries taking part, despite Israel’s opposition to that & they are worried that this peace deal that Kerry is talking about could perhaps be cemented at that meeting .there could even be they worry another resolution that goes before the UNSC, before Obama leaves office.
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Israeli settlements, John Kerry speech on stalled peace process live.
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ME peace. Matthew Amroliwala interviews Naftali Bennett live, Jerusalem. From party wants to annex large chunks of the WB.
Q’ what is your broad reaction to that long speech we just heard from Kerry?
A’ well its profoundly disconnected from reality. The reality is that the administration’s policy has left the ME up in flames. Syria are conducting a genocide, & now Iran racing towards a nuclear weapon while the one free democracy has been thrown under the bus. We are out here fighting the battle against radical Islam with Hezbollah, Hamas against ISIS & we are the only ones on the ground saving Syrian lives, & we are the ones that are being abandoned… (cuts in)
Q’ well Syria aside, just in terms of Israeli Palestinian that basic way to move forward, his assessment was the 2 state solution was in jeopardy. Is he wrong when he said that that is the only way forward for a lasting peace for both Palestine & Israel?
A’ there are 2 states. There is a Palestinian state in Gaza with borders & a central government & it’s turned into Afghanistan. Its turned into a terror state. what Kerry wants us to do is redo that in the heart of our country. & one more thing he’s calling our capital Jerusalem occupied territory. One cannot occupy its own land. Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for well over 3,000 years & no speech & no UN resolution will change that.
Q’ you said 3 days ago the way of the left has failed now it’s time to try our solution, sovereignty taking the maximum territory with the minimum Palestinians. So you don’t believe in a 2 state solution do you? I mean you are effectively talking about annexation. Kerry referred to that exactly in his speech just now?
A’ the way forward to peace is precisely what I said. In Gaza there is a Palestinian state. In Judea & Samaria, you call the occupied territories, we have to apply Israeli sovereignty under Jewish areas & providing autonomy for the Palestinians in the Palestinian areas. That’s the only way, the only realistic way forward. We have been trying this messianic idea of injecting a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel, dividing Jerusalem & it blows up again & again & every time we are surprised. Its time to try a fresh approach & I think the world is waking up.
Q’ when you talk though about sovereignty & more land, do you not accept that that would be seen as hugely provocative & if you go down that avenue you risk just yet another spiral of violence?87*
A’ when you are talking about land like Jerusalem we have been in Jerusalem for 3,000 years. You have been in London for about 2,000 years. So we were a thousand years before Britts have been in London. Why is it seen as a provocation to live in our own eternal city. The entire Judeo-Christian culture understands that the holly land has been Jewish for almost 4,000 years. So this whole notion of occupation is, just doesn’t make sense. Yes there are Palestinians that live here. Yes we want that separation. The plan applying Israeli sovereignty under Jewish areas allowing the Palestinians their autonomy & Palestinian state in Gaza which already exists. There is 2 states for 2 people.
Q’ do you hope for a different approach come the Trump administration?
A’ we do. You know when I saw those ambassadors in the UN clap I just thought of the backwind that’s given. Thousands of terrorists around the world see that the one single democratic state is being thrown under the bus by all these ambassadors. I am afraid that it might generate more terror attacks in Berlin, Brussels or Orlando. We are out there fighting ISIS, fighting Hamas & we will prevail. YES (Didn’t interrupt!)
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Kerry speech. highlights & Bennett (rep.)
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ME peace Kerry speech. Matthew Amroliwala interviews Hanan Ashrawi live, Ramallah.
Q’ your reaction to what you heard.
A’ obviously it’s a very genuine speech. it’s quite impassioned. In many ways a legacy speech, it’s a contextualizing speech, he went through the whole history of American policies… explained the vote in the SC & the abstention & he of course made a very strong case for why the Obama administration was the most supportive of Israel & the most generous to Israel. …but he also made clear 2 things. One his real commitment & love of Israel & Zionism as a prelude to saying that his advocacy of a 2 state solution is based on his genuine concern for Israel. Its security & its legitimacy. & two, that the 2 state solution is a sure way to end the conflict & to bring peace & security to the whole region otherwise the one state solution would end Israel’s democracy or the Jewishness of the state. so he is telling Israel for your own sake & advocating a 2 state solution.88*
Q’ you heard Kerry say that Palestinian leaders have failed to condemn acts of terror. he condemned Hamas’s refusal to accept Israel as a legitimate state. he condemned the basic narrative that so often he was saying, comes from both sides, concentrating on threats & polarization. Did you accept those elements of criticism directed at Palestinian leaders?
A’ look there is no parity between the people & their occupation & an occupying power. The Palestinians are under siege, they are being –, they are being shelled, our land is being stolen. our home are being demolished,89* & then he says we should lie down & die quietly. That’s the problem if… (interrupts)
Q’ he didn’t say that. You’re accepting the part that condemned Israel (cross talk. Not clear) but not accepting the part where he was critical of Palestinian acts?
A’ no, no. he condemned the Palestinians but he didn’t condemn Israel for its state terrorism. When Israel bombed & killed 2,000 civilians in Gaza in the latest war against Gaza, it wasn’t criticized it wasn’t called a terrorist state. but if any Palestinians heaven forbid should dare respond to the injustice & the violence of the occupation then he or she is automatically labeled terrorist. I think there is a disparity; there is a lack of neutrality in the language. It’s very easy to pull out a label & post it on every Palestinian & call us all terrorists. This is unacceptable. Number two, Palestinian policy has always been committed, & we have committed ourselves officially to the 2 state solution, — negotiated settlement,90* & the president has repeatedly rejected any kind of violence against civilians. But the problem is violence is practiced against Palestinian civilians daily & nobody says anything about that. Ok, he needs to show some sort of neutrality or evenhandedness by blaming Palestinians & the leaders. But at the same time the situation of occupation is the aberration, is the abnormal, cruel, unjust situation… (interrupts)
Q’ he talked about elements of that at length. He also said it was time from both sides to see significant actions that actually demonstrated both sides commitment to a 2 state solution. Do you accept that it is time for both sides to actually demonstrate on the ground that they are committed to what basically has been the fundamental crank now for a generation?
A’ yes we have accepted the 2 state solution & we have acted accordingly, & we have honored all our commitments, as per the declaration of principles & the agreements. Unfortunately (laughs) it’s Israel that has violated all its commitments, all the agreements & is constantly now stepping up, as Kerry said, stepping up its settlement activities in an insane manner that is destined, that is specifically planned to destroy the 2 state solution. So you cannot say Palestinians do your bit & Israelis do, when you know that what’s destroying the 2 state solution is Israeli impunity, Israeli unilateralism, Israeli expansionism, Israeli extremist ideology, Israeli racism.91* These are the things that are destroying not just the 2 state solution but the chances of peace. We are willing. We have gone as he said clearly we’ve accepted Palestine on 22% of historical Palestine. We have recognized Israel on 78% of our own country. Its Israel that was established on Palestinian land not the other way around. & it’s Palestine that has made the historic & painful sacrifice of accepting Israel.92* Unfortunately Israel does not recognize Palestinian rights (cross talk), human rights, does not recognize our right to self determination or even our identity (cross talks. Tries to cut in), & therefore our humanity & therefore my… (cuts in)
Q’ we are about to get a new administration. How nervous are you about that given all the various indicators we’ve seen so far including today’s Tweet?
A’ (laughs) yes its really a sad state of affairs when the most powerful country on earth is resorting to policy by Tweets & Tweeter. It is really strange where the extremism & racism & xenophobia & Islamophobia & even anti-Semitism as well as misogyny in one part of the world finds its counterpart in the occupation & oppression & racism & violence in Israel. If you have this combination it’s a very lethal combination & it threatens to destroy the peace & stability not just of Palestine, & Israel, but of the whole region it could have a spillover effect that is very dangerous. We need responsible policies consistent with int. law with human rights & with the rights of the Palestinians. This is basic. It’s simple 93*.
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Kerry speech. Netanyahu described Kerry’s speech as bias against Israel dealt obsessively with settlements & he said Kerry is almost completely ignorant of the roots of the conflict. Trump Tweeted that the position against Israel was completely wrong from the Obama administration. Matthew Amroliwala with Laura Bicker live, Washington. Q’ Netanyahu’s statement it underlines the Obama Netanyahu relationship which completely disintegrated & you got a real sense of that when you listen to Kerry. A’ Kerry’s speech had 2 aims. The first he points of defense of the Obama administration’s policy towards Israel.
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Breaking news. Netanyahu responds to Kerry’s speech, live. (Hebrew no translation…) so Matthew Amroliwala starts to bla bla. From 61:10 translated; then Netanyahu in English.
Kerry speech. Matthew Amroliwala interviews Husam Zomlot live, Ramallah.
Q’ a quick response to Netanyahu’s speech saying you can’t make peace with people who reject your very existence.
A’ …Netanyahu’s rejection of Kerry’s speech is expected, his rejection of UNSC is expected, his rejection of the French initiative & Paris peace conference is also expected. Unfortunately Netanyahu misses all these opportunities to advance the cause of peace because he does not believe in it. he does not believe in a 2 state solution. He does not want to quit his occupation, he does not want to allow the creation of an independent sovereign state of Palestine, he does not want to listen to the advice of his & Israel’s most close allies including the US. He just wants to continue the land grab & continue the Colonization & the subjugation of an entire nation for more than 100 years now, to a very system of control that is based on segregation & of striking violations of human rights on as daily basis94*… (interrupts)
Q’ you reject everything you just heard from Netanyahu. You reject also the passages from Kerry when he was critical of Palestinian leaders & some of their behavior.
A’ …the president issued a statement that he listened to Kerry’s speech & he iterates his commitment to peace as a strategic option to a just peace, & that he is willing to engage immediately in final status negotiations with Israel should Israel cease all its illegal activities…95* (interrupts)
Q’ but I asked you do you accept the criticisms that Kerry made of Palestinian leaders. Because it was very interesting. In the middle of that long speech he spoke about both sides – about threats, both sides polarizing the situation in terms of the language they use to their own supporters. He aimed at both the Israelis & the Palestinians & you seem to be absolutely playing out exactly what he was so frustrated at. Entirely blaming the Israelis.
A’ (smiling) we have our reservations on some of what Kerry said. & our reservation is primarily conceptual, structural that he cannot equate between the occupied & the occupier, the colonized & colonizer, between the besieged those who live –. 96* He did however say Kerry that this is a situation of a military occupation that has lasted for too long. A situation of colonial settlement expansion97*, a situation of siege & denial of very basic rights… including the right to freedom & to movement & to work & to dignity. & therefore in there we confirm that this is the situation as he described it & you can never equate between the victim & the victimizer… (cuts in)
Q’ talked earlier to Bennett who said “there are 2 states. A Palestinian state in Gaza… & its turned into Afghanistan. Its turned into a terror state & Kerry wants us to redo that in the heart of our country.
A’ it is Bennett & his likes in the Israeli government that has pushed & designed things to go into that direction. it is the Bennett’s of the day who are publicly against 2 state solution, who are publicly supporting extreme elements who are publicly with annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories.98* It is the unfortunate fact that Israel at this point & time lacks real leadership to press ahead on the path that the entire int. community are urging them to do so. in fact it is this rhetoric & discourse that has started shaping the conflict as a religious one that could not be resolved as opposed to our political & legal one that could be resolved based on int. legitimacy…99* (interrupts) Q’ how nervous are you of the incoming Trump administration. You heard Netanyahu say he looks forward to dealing with the new administration. Do you anticipate a very different approach to what we’ve seen from Obama?
A’ we are not nervous whatsoever. Our cause is very well enshrined in int. law & legitimacy. Our people are steadfast in defiance of the own rights… our support in the int. community is unprecedented & solid & we saw it in the UNSC.100* We hope that Trump is going to continue the long standing & long held US policy & will join the int. community making sure that peace will be based on justice & legality & we will see the end of Israel’s occupation that next year will commemorate the 50th anniversary.101* We will see the end of Israel’s segregation & racist policy against the Palestinian people & will advance the cause of peace for the interest of Israel, Palestine & the US. In fact we also listened to Trump say he wants to make the ultimate deal for the sake of humanity. Are hopes are high & we hope that he is going to be the one who will extend his hand. We are absolutely willing & we are waiting for that moment to arrive. Only we hope that Netanyahu this time is not going to get away with it & that the int. community will continue exerting pressure so the illegality stops102*. Enough is enough it has been too long that the Palestinian people are suffering. Life daily …(cuts in) Amroliwala: you have made that point so…
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Kerry speech. …Kerry criticized directly Netanyahu calling his administration the most right wing in Israeli history; Matthew Amroliwala interviews Oded Revivi, chief foreign envoy, Yesha.
Q’ …a long, long passage on settlements, what do you make of what you heard?
A’ I think basically he was just reading out his farewell… & expressing 8 years of his dreams which are not coming true, & trying to blame the whole world besides himself. I think he needs to look in the mirror, he needs to realize that he didn’t read the map right, he didn’t read the people right, he didn’t understand where people wanted to go to & what the reality is. When he criticized the right wing coalition that is the result of democracy. I am surprised he doesn’t criticize the American people voting somebody to president that he doesn’t want, doesn’t support. Those are the rules of the game… & Israel has got a government which drives the policy which was voted democratically.
Q’ on the issue of settlements he said a very simple thing. He said no one thinking about peace can ignore the problem settlements cause to that peace. Complicating everything making it so much harder to make any sort of progress. Do you not accept that pretty simple assessment?
A’ I think blaming the settlements as the obstacle to peace is a complete myth which unfortunately has roots that some people even believe in it. Prior to 1967 there were no settlements. Prior to ’67 there was no peace. After 1967 Palestinians living in Judea & Samaria have enjoyed an improvement in their infrastructure, water supply in levels that they never dreamt that they would achieve in such a short time. When Kerry says that they should have independence, most of them & more & more of them don’t want to become part of that corrupt PA because they know where the funds go to. They know that they are not being looked by their own leadership & that’s why they prefer to have contact with Israel. I invited Kerry to come & see what co-existence is. How Arabs live alongside Jews & how we can manage peacefully to run our own business. But he wants to come & interfere, he thinks he knows better. We see what he has brought to the ME & we are not going to let him in Israel to draw the same catastrophe that he has drawn in the whole of the ME.
Q’ he fears that the whole 2 state solution is now jeopardized. Do you think it is? Would you like to see a one state solution, a greater Israel solution?
A’ I think its not the time to discuss a one state or 2 state (interrupts) Amroliwala: he was talking about exactly that. That is exactly what he was talking about I am simply asking you.
A’ (smiles) I am saying again he can talk whatever he wants to if he didn’t have the courtesy & visiting Judea & Samaria once & seeing the half a million Jewish people living here & seeing how they live alongside the Palestinians he can’t tell me how to run our country. He can give advice but that advice has to be based on facts & on reality. Unfortunately he is basing his arguments not on facts & not on reality & sometimes not even legal arguments. At the end of the day prior to ’67 there were 2 states & there wasn’t peace. In the Oslo accords the Israeli government agreed to establish the PA which was supposed to lead to a Palestinian state. we know today that that PA is completely bankrupt. if it wasn’t for any foreign aid they wouldn’t have been able to pay the salaries for their people. Its… (interrupts)
Q’ we saw that UN resolution absolutely clear in saying there should be no further settlement building. Just a final thought about one of the things Kerry said. He said the settlers agenda is becoming Israel’s agenda. Now when he said it he was clearly fearful of that. Presumably you are not?
A’ Again that’s the rules of the game of democracy. I don’t know any other way to rule & I am surprised that an American leader is criticizing a democratically result. That is what Israeli people want. They have to think about the implications, they have to think where that’s going to take them all that is very clear & that’s what the job of the leaders who are being elected that’s what they need to do. Netanyahu just said we are willing to negotiate peace.
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Kerry’s speech. Kerry, with just a few days left in office has delivered a passionate speech on the ME peace process laying bare his frustration with Israel about the lack of progress.103* His central point was that the only way to achieve peace was a 2 state solution & he said continued Israeli settlement expansion was endangering that.104* That is why he said the Obama administration decided to allow the UNSC to pass last weeks resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal. Netanyahu has criticized the speech as bias against his country & focusing obsessively he said on settlements, Yolande Knell reports.
Another bitter row between outgoing & incoming US presidents this time over Israel. Trump complaining the country is treated with total disdain & disrespect. Telling it to stay strong till 20th of Jan. it was the idea of Kerry’s speech that angered the president elect. He said chances of peace with the Palestinians was slipping away.
Kerry: “the truth is that trends on the ground, violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion & seemingly endless occupation they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides”. (UNSC vote); the Obama administration has just 3 weeks left but it is still trying to make a difference here in the ME. Knowing that when Trump takes over he will be much more supportive of Israel & its position on settlements & Jerusalem. If possible it would like to tie his hands. Kerry complains that settlers in Israel’s right wing government 105* are defining the future in Israel. A prominent pro-settler member of the government coalition 106* is quick to give his response.
Bennett: “it was a good speech but totally unconnected to reality. Kerry is leaving behind is a ME in flames. A genocide in Syria, Iran dashing towards a nuclear weapon & now throwing Israel under the bus”. The US oversaw 2 rounds of peace talks… during the Obama years. Both broke down acrimoniously. The White House would like to advance peace efforts in the coming days. the danger is that it is too little too late. (Israeli point of view)
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(brief) Netanyahu hit back accusing the Obama administration of paying lip service to Palestinian terrorists. Netanyahu also stated that the good relations between the US & Israel would be restored when Trump takes office next month. Netanyahu: “I have no doubt… now I must express my deep disappointment with the speech of Kerry. The speech was almost as unbalanced as the anti Israel resolution… in a speech ostensibly about peace… Kerry Paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish state for nearly a century. Blaming Israel for the lack of peace. By passionately condemning a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland & in their eternal capital Jerusalem.”; Husam Zomlot (rep.) TOLOG
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ME peace, Kerry’s speech. Tim Willcox with Laura Bicker live, Washington.
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ME peace, Kerry’s speech. Abbas responding to Kerry’s speech he said he was convinced that peace with Israel was achievable but only if Israel halted settlement building before talks restarted. Tim Willcox interviews Geoffrey Aronson, ME Analyst live, Washington.
Q’ Kerry obviously incredibly frustrated 107* having made this one of his key targets… but what does it say about America’s standing as a broker for peace in the ME?
A’ …the US has always aspired to play a leading role in resolving this conflict for decades upon end. It always prided itself on not only aspiring to end it but actually having a program & an outline in what we used to call in the Bush era a roadmap. While Kerry declared an aspiration time has run out for them to think about implicating this aspiration in policy terms. So there was no context. When a great power aspires to a certain end state but is unable to implement it, I think the net result is a weakening of the American role & a weakening of the role particularly in the eyes of the other players in the region & beyond.
Q’ especially when this is all going to be changed apparently by Trump. How edifying is that for America’s role when the new administration seems to be completely the polar opposite of what the former was?
A’ when the origins of the speech today go back a number of months, when it was assumed that sec. Clinton was going to be the new president, & the feeling at that point was lets do some of the dirty work in terms of outlining an American prescription for peace. To save a new Clinton administration from the political cost of doing & saying certain things. Of course Trump’s victory upended that strategy but again it as you suggested it forced the entire political & diplomatic context for these remarks disappeared absolutely. & in the end what you may have is a reaction against them which in a sense would strengthen the very tendency’s that Kerry criticized so bitterly.
Q’ …he said also that there had been no greater friend to Israel than the Obama administration. That huge arms deal that has gone through. They haven’t denied the veto before either. Is there some truth in what he said?
A’ there is certainly truth in how he analyzed the state of affairs in the West Bank & elsewhere today. It would have been a wonderful speech had this been given in March 2009, at the outset of the Obama administration.108* & perhaps 95% of it could have been given at that time in the sense that we haven’t really learnt anything new about this issue in the last 8 years in terms of Israel’s aspirations & its determination to see itself permanently in place in territories occupied as Kerry said almost 50 years ago.109*
Q’ where does the peace process go, if anywhere, if for example Trump decides to house his ambassador in Jerusalem?
A’ again, the peace process is a dynamic instrument. It certainly is not today in what it may have been in ’93. It certainly isn’t today what it was even a decade ago. In the last 8 years the PM & the president of the PLO have not really met face to face to talk & negotiate directly. So there has been a real vacuum of the structure over the last 8 years. What’s going to happen in the future, who knows? But I think it was much of what happened in these last few days, the important bits may not have been what we are paying as… paying attention too as we have been. Example certainly the views of Trump are decisive here. Secondly the effort of Egypt & its interest in allying itself with Trump & with Israel in burying, or at least postponing consideration of this resolution I think are important indicators of where the powerful elements are heading in the future after Jan. 20th. YES TOLOG
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Kerry’s speech. Saeb Erekat said Abbas was convinced that peace with Israel was achievable but only if Israel halts settlement building before any talks restart. Saeb Erekat: “president Abbas is convinced that… on the basis of the Arab peace initiative… which guarantees to fully end the Israeli occupation.” 110*
Peter Dobbie interviews Hussein Ibish, Arab Gulf State Inst. In Washington, live Washington.
Q’ what’s the point of all this now. if Kerry had said it some years ago when he actually had power perhaps. But now its besides the point isn’t it?
A’ I do agree with that critique… I think it would have been potentially a very historic speech 2,3,4 years ago especially if it had been backed up with real policies with consequences. So right now it’s a little bit of a rhetorical exercise. But linked to the UN resolution it does send a message to Israel that the world including many of its close friends in the US, in the Obama wing of the Democratic party are ultimately getting tired of the double acts Netanyahu has been doing, of pretending to support a 2 state solution rhetorically, while working night & day to basically make it an impossibility through settlement activity & other policies on the ground.111* But I do think that it is a little bit of just a rhetorical exercise.
Q’ the line of the current administration leans very strongly with the Arab world view of Israel. That may be a nasty shock to Netanyahu & his very right wing government.112* But actually the new world is Trump. Trump has supported a man to be in charge of this issue has actually contributed heavily financially to Israeli settlements.
A’ no he is not going to be in charge of the issue. He is nominated to be the ambassador. The ambassador doesn’t make policy. first of all he’d have to be confirmed by the Senate. That’s not guaranteed. Secondly ambassadors don’t make policies so we’ll see, definitely have to wait & see what the policy is under Trump. Its probably true that Netanyahu is salivating the prospect & is actually trying to — tensions with Obama & Kerry in order to be yet closer to Trump & his incoming administration. I am not sure its going to work for him in the long run. Its very risky, it’s a big gamble & it could easily backfire just as well as it could easily succeed.
Q’ why do you think Kerry is saying it now. is it a sign that actually they weren’t expecting to be handing over to Trump. They were expecting to be handing over to Clinton.
A’ no I don’t think that’s it. I think if they were handing over to Clinton they would be proceeding much more cautiously. I think this is sort of almost a post facto gesture where Americans who are at the end of power or out of power tend to speak much more freely about this issue. I think a parting shot to some extent at Netanyahu. That particularly goes for the UN resolution that I think made a very important theoretical point but actually won’t help Palestinians at all. It could actually harm them because whatever price Israel extracts will not be at the expense of the US or the 14 countries that voted yes, it will be at the expense of the Palestinians. But there was an important point of make about the illegality of settlement activity. But all of this I think is very much a parting shot at Netanyahu. & in that sense its sort of that.
Q’ what do you expect to be the impact of Trump’s policy. a freehand for Netanyahu?
A’ we have no idea. Anyone who claims they do I think is making it up. Clearly Netanyahu has high hopes but he should be very cautious. Trump might take a very pro Israel point of view based on right wing populism & following that trend of going to the right, & identifying with rightists in Israel.113* That’s possible. But he also might take a nationalistic America first attitude where when Israeli policy runs up against American policy he has even less patience than other Republicans & Democrats have shown. So I think its very very hard to know, & everyone who is confident they know what a Trump foreign policy is going to look like, I think is deluded.
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US-Israel tension, Peter Dobbie with Laura Bicker. (rep?)
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Kerry speech. Peter Dobbie interviews Prof. Guy Ziv, American U. Washington.
Q’ no peace process, no 2 state solution really… this is all slightly besides the point given the incoming administration?
A’ I certainly think that Kerry’s speech would have made a greater difference if he had made it a few years ago but it is better late than never. I think that in the remaining weeks in office this administration should be doing everything possible to save the 2 state solution. Which is presently on life support…114*
Q’ but can it really, Trump is unequivocally pro Israel. So are the people he is appointing.
A’ I think it depends on how you define pro Israel. Because I don’t think that Trump’s inflammatory Tweets are going to bring peace & stability to the ME or security to Israel. Nor will controversial moves like moving the embassy to Jerusalem, or supporting settlement expansion. None of that is going to help strengthen Israel or help resolve the conflict. I certainly hope that Trump is going to work in a responsible manner with Israeli & Palestinian leadership in order to pursue a 2 state solution because it’s the only viable solution to this conflict.115* It’s the only solution that can address both the Palestinian national aspirations & Israel’s security needs.
Q’ what do you think Kerry said, what he said now apparently aligning the outgoing administration leans much more with the Arab view of Israel. Is this partly because everybody now has a very close eye on Iran?
A’ first of all there is an int. consensus that Jewish settlements in the West Bank & E. Jerusalem are illegitimate & undermine the goal of a 2 state solution. & I think it was important for Kerry to reaffirm it.116* Just as its important to emphasize the need to, for a Palestinian state to recognize a Jewish state. for the Palestinian people to recognize a Jewish state & for the two people to live separately in peace & security. & I think that it was very important for Kerry to reaffirm what Bill Clinton first did when he left office & issued the Clinton parameters. George Bush also had the road map for ME peace. Every president since Clinton has endorsed this idea of a 2 state solution.
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Kerry speech. Peter Dobbie interviews James Jeffrey former ambassador for Bush to Turkey and Iraq.
Q’ this feels besides the point now… the administration only another 3 weeks in power. Trump much more unequivocally pro Israel?
A’ to some degree yes, …but none the less the damage done by this resolution & I have to underline, I am not of the people who normally support Obama & are unhappy with PM Netanyahu including much of the Democrats in the Senate, The Washington Post editorial board. Obama’s own ME negotiator Mitchell all are very much appalled by this UN vote. The fact that we would not – such a one sided & almost savage attack on Israel as is contained in that resolution. We haven’t seen language like that, if ever, in the last 40 years. & it looks like a revenge deal against Israel. What it does it will make Trump even more anti UN yet for some things we need the UN. & its going to make the Israeli leader more —. Finally… at the end of their statements (Palestinians) saying they will embrace Kerry’s plan they said under int. law. Right now under int. law all these Israeli settlements are absolutely flagrant violations of int. law.117* & that’s something we haven’t emphasized in the past because they are going to be traded in one way or another in every peace plan over the last 20 years.
Q’ do you think one of the mistakes is that to treat settlements as a monolithic issue. Not all settlements are the same, & not all Israelis feel the same about all the settlements as Netanyahu & his government?
A’ that is true but none the less Netanyahu government has moved to the right 118* while I don’t think its good for our own government to be castigating another government party composition. None the less it is true. You can still have a 2 party solution to this conflict if both sides are willing to sit down & negotiate on the basis as Kerry cited in the second of his six points today. UN resolution 181 of 1947 which calls for an independent Palestinian & independent Jewish state. that’s the basic framework.
Q’ & yet there is no peace process. There is really no 2 state solution on the table & Israel is not going to stop expanding the settlements it will eventually impose the solution it wants with American backing won’t it?
A’ not really because there Kerry does have a point. Eventually Israel cannot be democratic & a Jewish state. simply the demographics won’t allow it to happen 119*. Now it isn’t a good idea for American officials to say this publicly, interfering in interior affairs, but it is a reality. So Israel has a real incentive to negotiate, but they have to negotiate with someone. The Clinton administration came right out to the tablt with an offer that… that met everything Arafat wanted his comment was basically that’s fine but I have to win this by the sword not by the pen.
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Kerry to give ME peace speech. John Kerry is set to give a speech in a couple of hours laying out the country’s vision for ME peace. His remarks come as Israel defies a U.N. resolution by going ahead with plans to build hundreds of new homes in east Jerusalem. The Security Council called for Israel to end its settlement construction there and in the West Bank. The U.S. abstained from the vote last week, allowing it to pass. Israel says it has evidence that the White House pushed for the resolution. The U.S., though, denies that claim. Ian Lee with more on the rocky relationship between the two countries. Rosemary Church with Ian Lee live, London.
Q’: we’ve not seen this amount of hostility between the two nations. And now of course Israel defying the U.N. resolution that was passed, moving forward with these plans to build hundreds of homes in the settlement in east Jerusalem. So what does this signal? And how can this go forward? Is it just a matter of Israel waiting for the new administration, for Trump to take power in January?
A’: Well, that’s right, Rosemary. This has always been a rocky relationship, even though the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s government has said that things were close, although we saw that fall apart after this resolution. It’s important to note that these housing units that Israel is building in east Jerusalem, this was the plan before this resolution passed. So for the Israelis, it is business as usual. But there is a lot of concern from the Netanyahu government that the talk that John Kerry is going to give today to outline the vision of ME peace could be set in stone somewhat. There is a Paris Peace Conference on January 15th. That could be discussed then. And there’s fear in the government that this plan that Kerry sets out could become another resolution at the U.N. Security Council setting the parameters for what the future peace deal would look like.
Q’: And you mentioned that Paris Peace Conference in January because that’s really what has worried Israel more than this U.N. resolution that was passed because that is not binding, is it? What is the big concern for Israel about what may very well come out of this peace conference?
A’: …if this — Kerry’s outlining today is seen as the parameters for a future peace settlement, if that at the Paris Peace Conference they discuss that, that gives them five days until the inauguration of Trump then becoming president Trump, in that window they’re afraid that you could see a more binding U.N. Security Council resolution that would hold Israel to these sorts of parameters. So there is that sort of fear that in the final hours of the Obama administration, that they could dictate, not only the Obama administration, of course there is other members of the U.N. Security Council, but the int. community could dictate what sort of parameters there would be for a lasting peace settlement.
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Jerusalem cancels vote on E. Jerusalem housing. This comes as Kerry set to give a speech spelling out his vision for ME peace. It comes in the wake of the UNSC approving a resolution… Isa Soares with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
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Jerusalem cancels vote on settlement construction. The decision comes as Kerry prepares to give a speech spelling out Washington’s vision for ME peace, Andrew Stevens with Oren Liebermann live, Tel Aviv.
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Jerusalem cancels vote on building in E. Jerusalem. A council member said the PM asked then not to hold the vote as because it could be seen as a political act. Because in a few hours Kerry is giving a speech on the Obama administration’s vision for ME peace. Even before Kerry’s speech there has already been reactions to it, Isa Soares with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. Settlement reaction: “John Kerry is a stain on American foreign policy who is ignorant of the issues. He has chosen to eternalize his legacy as the worst sec. of state in history that chose to stab his closest ally in the back while rivers of blood flowed like water across the ME.” Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat.
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Vote on construction in E. Jerusalem canceled. But just days after the UN security council voted to condemn Israeli settlements, Jerusalem city council has canceled a vote to approve new construction. A council member says the prime minister asked them not to hold the vote on building in E. Jerusalem, because it comes just hours before the Kerry delivers a speech outlining the Obama administration’s vision of a Middle East peace. But even before Mr. Kerry gives that speech, he’s already seen pushback. Kristie Lu Stout with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
Q’ first, why was the vote on settlements canceled?
A’, Jerusalem city council made their position quite clear. For them building is simply a municipal need, a growing city needs more housing. And they don’t differentiate between east or west Jerusalem. They simply build. But a city council member we spoke with also says they didn’t want to turn this building into a political controversy, so they decided to cancel the vote on hundreds of units in East Jerusalem, specifically hours before Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech. Now, they say this came from a request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That part is more difficult to understand. Was he trying to build just a bit of good will with Secretary of State Kerry before his speech? Unlikely, given the words and the criticism Netanyahu has leveled at Kerry and President Barack Obama over the last few days. Perhaps, we’ll get more insight into why Netanyahu ordered that or requested that after Kerry’s speech.
Q’: and more on John Kerry’s speech. I mean, he’s going to be making the speech on the Obama administration’s case and vision for Middle East peace, but what real impact is it going to make?
A’: The idea is that Kerry would lay out his conditions or his parameters for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, which is to say how he views what both sides need to concede in negotiations on the most sensitive issues, which is the status of Jerusalem, borders, refugees, and more. It’s not unprecedented. Bill Clinton did exactly this when his term was over back in 2000 and they’re known now as the Clinton parameters. So, it could be Kerry and President Obama weighing in on what may we call one day the Kerry parameters. Israelis are very angry about this. They see this as another slap in the face and we’ve already seen some strikes against sort of preemptive strikes, against John Kerry.
Q’ And looming over all this, of course, we have Donald Trump. The president-elect has said that, quote, things will be different under his administration. But from Israel, I mean, what does the government there expect a President Trump to do?
A’ Well, over the past eight years every time Netanyahu announced more construction in the settlements in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, he was criticized by Obama and Secretary Kerry. He expects, that is Netanyahu expects, less of that under Trump, who has promised to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That is part of the expectation on this end. In addition, Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel has views far more in line with Netanyahu’s own views, it’s also a clean start or a fresh start for Netanyahu and the American administration after this one, that is to say Netanyahu and Obama after this relation is falling apart dramatically in his last few weeks here.
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Vote on construction in E. Jerusalem canceled. Kerry to outline vision for ME peace, Alison Kosik with Elise Labott live, Washington. …he hopes that at some point the Israelis & the Palestinians will want to – because really a peace deal is the only way this conflict is going to be resolved. TOLOG
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Awaiting Kerry speech on ME peace. And just an hour from now, the United States will make a last-ditch effort to lay the foundations, at least, for ME peace before Obama leaves office. Kerry will outline a broad framework for a final accord between the Israelis and Palestinians. He may not find a receptive audience in Israel, however, after the U.S. cleared the way for a UNSC resolution that condemns Israeli settlements as a barrier to peace. Israel did step back from a controversial vote scheduled for today postponing an expected decision to green-light new construction in East Jerusalem. Right, let’s get to the bottom of all of this shall we. Becky Anderson with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
Q’ Received wisdom, at least, is that Kerry will deliver a withering critique of why his vision of ME peace hasn’t come to pass during this administration, likely blaming the Israelis for his vision’s failure. These are rocky times, but given Kerry has less than a month in office, what’s the likely fallout where you are?
A’: Well, I don’t think the Israelis are likely to be any more accepting of whatever it is that Kerry sees as his and Obama’s vision of plans for a two-state solution. I think as we saw Samantha Power speak at the UN, she was also critical of the Palestinian side. I suspect Kerry will be as well, because they’ve been very careful to try to be balanced here. And yet that’s not likely to win them any more friends in Israel. Netanyahu has repeatedly criticized Kerry and Obama for what he calls this, quote, anti-Israel resolution, this, quote, shameful resolution. So the question is why do it? What is Kerry trying to achieve? Well, he wants to lay out his vision. The Security Council resolution is nonbinding and doesn’t actually contain any specific language about what the difference is, what the concessions should be. So, this will be Kerry laying out his parameters and trying to explain to both sides what they need to do. Is it likely to be taken seriously? Well, possibly. It was Bill Clinton who did this same thing when he left office in 2000. He laid out what’s known as the Clinton parameters, how he thought all of this should shake out. Notably, Becky, just a couple weeks after Clinton left office and President George W. Bush came in, his Department of State said they’re rejecting the Clinton parameters. We may very well see the same thing under Trump when he takes office. So we’ll see. History will decide what lasting effect the Kerry parameters will have.
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Israel looks ahead to relationship with Trump. Becky Anderson with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
Q’ An incoming Trump administration means what, so far as Israel is concerned?
A’ Depends on how many of his campaign promises he follows through on. Trump repeatedly promised he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Palestinians have made it clear if he does either of those, the two-state solution is dead. The PLO may revoke its recognition of Israel and they would encourage other Arab states to close their U.S. embassies.120* But Trump has also said he’d like to be the one to pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. He’s called it in the past the “ultimate deal”. At that, Palestinians say if he sticks to those words there may be some progress here. Israelis and Netanyahu in particular have made it clear they’re very excited to work with President- elect Donald Trump. So I think it just depends on which of those statements he follows through on. It’s one or the other, he can pursue peace or move the embassy. Palestinians have made it clear it’s one or the other, not both.121*
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I we want to get you back to the Obama administration’s last-minute push for Middle East peace. Kerry will outline a broad… But what sticking power will any vision for ME peace have with Trump just weeks away from taking office? Well, if you have any doubt on where the next U.S. president stands, well, just look at his new tweets. He wrote just minutes ago, we cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal and now this UN. “Stay strong, Israel. January 20th is fast approaching.” Well, this is quite a departure from what Trump said as a presidential candidate, you may remember at an MSNBC townhall back in February, he promised to be a neutral guy in trying to broker Middle East peace. Have a listen. TRUMP: “I don’t want to get into it for a different reason, Joe, because if I do win, you know, there has to be a certain amount of surprise, unpredictability. Our country has no unpredictability. If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you and the other side now saying, we don’t want Trump involved. Let me be sort of a neutral guy. Let’s see what — I’m going to give it a shot. It would be so great. I would be so proud if I could do that. I don’t know if it’s doable. I have friends of mine that are tremendous business people that are really great negotiators. They say it’s not doable. You understand a lot of people have gone down in flames trying to make that deal. So, I don’t want to say whose fault it is. I don’t think it helps.” All right, let’s get some perspective.
Becky Anderson interviews Edward Djerejian, former US ambassador to Israel and to Syria who is now director of the Baker Institute at Rice U.
Q’ You served under eight U.S. presidents. If you were serving under a ninth come the 20th of January, do you think you would be surprised by an unpredictable new President Trump when it comes to Israel and Middle East peace?
A’: I think that what you have just put on your screen, the various comments that he’s made during the campaign and now his tweets, I do think he is keeping his options open, despite his strong criticism of the Obama administration’s decision on the latest UNSC resolution on Israeli settlements this week. He has stated that this is a deal, he called it the “ultimate deal” that he would like to try to achieve, but we have to see what happens. He’s putting his team together. Once he gets into the White House, he’ll seek perhaps a different perspective.
Q’: Let’s just interrogate a little further what he has said because I understand where you are coming from. You are not surprised by the following tweet, “we cannot continue to let Israel to be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore,” alluding as you rightly pointed out to the UN resolution on settlements last week that the U.S. abstained from. You’re not surprised by that, but you say despite that tweet, you think he may just surprise us all. So how about his pick for Israeli ambassador? What does that tell you about where U.S.-Israeli policy might go going forward?
A’ Well, I think the statement that his nominee for ambassador to Israel, the statements that he made really, in many ways, are contrary to establish the U.S. policy going way back since 1967 and UN council resolutions 242 and 338, and the basic concept of land for peace which has really dominated the whole negotiating process since ’67 with international support.122* Now this, what happened at the UNSC last week, frankly, is not new. If you go back to 1980, resolution, UNSC resolution 471 was a strong condemnation of Israeli settlement policy. Every administration, Democratic and Republican since, has supported Israel strongly as a key United States ally, its security – look what Obama has done in terms of the military support that we are giving Israel, this ten-year package. But at the same time, has been advocating a 2 state solution in which Israeli settlements have been considered to be an obstacle to peace and illegal. 123* And I hear what you are saying. The Israelis are certainly giving the impression that this was a unique positioning from the U.S. last week at the UN. They are furious about it. They say they have evidence to suggest this was cooked up between the U.S. and the Palestinians. And they say they will offer that evidence to President Trump. Let’s step back for a moment. With less than an hour to go before this speech by Kerry, what is he likely to say today? How might it affect relations over the next three weeks with the U.S., and will it have any stickability at all with this incoming Trump administration? I guess what I’m asking you is, what’s the point? A’: (laughs) Well, basically, Becky, if we really do step back, let’s not forget that the Obama administration came into office in 2009 and one of the first major foreign policy priorities the president put forward was Israeli-Palestinian peace and a very strong statement against Israeli settlements. I think it’s very noteworthy that the administration, the Obama administration, is now leaving office with the same issue being prioritized, both settlements and an Israeli Palestinian peace settlement. That’s interesting. And I think that the Obama administration has been so frustrated because of the major effort, and I commend their efforts for trying to make peace. I don’t chide any administration for not making the effort. But it hasn’t led to any successful outcome. So basically what happened is that because the Israelis were going forward to, even in Israel to legislate a law that would make illegal outposts regularized, the impetus in the international community to make a statement against settlements occurred. The United States abstained. Again, that’s not new, the United States has abstained in the past on such resolutions. (tries to interrupt) But here — the last point I want to make is that what Kerry is doing, and I thought maybe Obama would do it before he left, is to lay out the parameters of the Israeli Palestinian peace settlement that they have been trying to get to for the last eight years.
Q’ The parameters which you have called interesting so far as a vision is concerned, others will have called an outright failure. As this administration leaves office. Has the prospect of peace in the ME gotten better or worse under eight years of President Obama and the U.S.?
A’ I think it’s been a stalemate, to tell you the truth. I can’t say better or worse, it’s a stalemate. But here is the major factor, Israel has two choices, the Palestinians have two choices. Either a 2 state solution, in which an independent Israel can live in peace and security next to an independent Palestinian state where the two sides separate under a peace agreement, or under continuing occupation and settlement activity, Israel will be going toward a one-state solution which may be a real threat to Israel’s democratic and Jewish nature. 124* Anderson: And I’m just looking at a tweet from Netanyahu. “Thank you for your clear-cut support, alluding to President Trump. President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel! YES TOLOG
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Soon: Kerry to speak on ME peace. Kate Bolduan with Elise Labott & Oren Liebermann & Errol Louis (CNN political commentator), David Rohde (Natl. Security Investigations Editor, Reuters), Jackie Kucinich (CNN political analyst)
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Kerry speech live.
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Kerry speech. 2 state solution is only path to peace. Kate Bolduan with panel. Elise Labott; Aaron David Miller: all I can say is WOW! …never have I heard a speech, first of all 70 minutes. Second that was personal & passionate. It’s almost as if this speech embodied the sentiments of a man who cares so deeply about this. Who is so fundamentally frustrated by the absence of progress & so convinced that the 2 state solution is about to become a one state outcome, unless something is done his efforts & the efforts of the US is doomed.125* It is interesting that it is the Sec. of State that gave the speech not the president. …I would also argue that the context here… is everything. The question how is this going to be heard, interpreted & read in view of US abstention in the UNSC. & I think that is going to diminish the receptivity of this.
Q’ …when he said current coalition is the most right wing in Israel’s history & with an agenda coming from the most extreme elements. That’s a pretty blunt message? Ron Brownstein, CNN political Analyst: I thought it was a very long speech. but the core of it can summed up concisely which is while Netanyahu publicly supports a 2 state solution, with the word publicly being underlined, his government is pursuing government policies that in effect render it impractical & are effectively extinguishing it.126* …I think this was basically designed to help speed or perhaps change the direction of the debate inside of Israel as the US begins to move in another direction.
David Rhodes: …he squarely went at the settler movement. I think its extraordinary to have the US Secretary of State making this appeal largely to the American public (I think he meant Israeli public…). Netanyahu came made a similar appeal to the American voters to scuttle the Iran deal. So part of it is this ill will. I traveled with Kerry 3 years ago he said the exact same things. Whether he is right or wrong that’s the key debate, but he does not believe that a one state solution can resolve in a democratic Israel. You can’t have one state, have all those Palestinians under Israelis & maintain a democracy.
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Kerry’s speech. Kate Bolduan interviews Danny Ayalon live, Tel Aviv.
Q’: Your reaction to Secretary Kerry?
A’: Well, I think it was very idealistic, detached from reality, not very realistic. It failed to mention that it was the Palestinian consistent refusal that did not allow the two-state solution. He mentioned resolution 181 from 1947 which Israel accepted and they did not. But also, only lately they Netanyahu agreed to freeze settlements to no avail. In 2000, Barak offered everything to Arafat to no avail. In 2008, Olmert offered everything to Abu Mazen in the same lines that pretty much was mentioned here by the secretary. It is the Palestinians refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. So what was failing here is the Palestinian side, not only they refused all the offers from Israel before, but also there was no demand, equal demands on the Palestinians, what they need to do. There was kind of a tunnel vision, expounding and pouncing only on the settlements which is only one issue of many core issues. Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. No demands on the Palestinians to do that. Refugee issues, Palestinians giving up, inundating Israel with Palestinians. No mention of that that they should give it up totally. Sharing and not exclusive demands of the Palestinians for sovereignty over the most holiest sites in history where there’s a temple site (cross talk)…
Q’: And this gets to the point that that the Secretary of State, he laid out later on, it’s more towards the end of his speech. I do want to get your take, your direct reaction to what you heard though from Secretary Kerry. You have said that this resolution at the UNSC that it undermined Israel. He said very clearly at one point, we reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel. His remarks today, does if move you? Do you think it moves Israelis and Palestinians any closer to getting back to the negotiating table?
A’: I’m sorry Kate, no. It’s quite frustrating that what we see here there is no new vision. It was quite academic maybe, but no leadership, trying more of the same which was a failure for the last 23 years since Oslo. And again, here I think that there was no demand from the Palestinians. There was a lip service maybe about the defensible borders was kind of after the fact, but the issue here is Israel’s existence and future. And a peace will come not out of just outlining these points, but out of real historic reconciliation. Palestinians understanding that only peaceful coexistence can endure and not just a piece of paper. And also one important point, it was detached from the geopolitical environment of the region. Something has happened in the region in the last six years. There was no mention about the deal with Iran which jeopardizes the security of Israel and also the Sunni countries. The secretary rightly mentioned that they are converging interests now between the Sunni countries, the Gulf countries, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, but why is it? Because Iran has become so much stronger because of the Iran deal. Also, Iran is a perpetuate supporter of terror and destabilizing the entire region. Syria, and also the Palestinian… (interrupts)
Q’: You are also disputing with what the secretary said when he said that no American administration has done more for Israeli security than Barack Obama. It seems that you disagree with that point. I do want to get your take on something important that has been playing out in the last week, and that Kerry addressed very directly in his speech just now. We’ve heard from, I have been told — directly we’ve all been told directly from Israeli leaders that they’ve ironclad information that it was the United States that was behind, colluding, pushing this resolution at the UNSC. Kerry very clearly rejects that idea. He did very clearly in this speech right now. It does not appear both sides can be right on this. A’: Well, I think it is quite clear that there was a very, very intensive meetings between high level officials, Palestinians and the Americans. So there was no dispute about that. So anybody can infer, you know, what was discussed over there. And consequently, the decision and the vote by the United States. But also (interrupts) Q’: Do you think Secretary Kerry is lying?
A’: (I think what was letting, yeah). I don’t know. He is saying that, Netanyahu is lying. And I don’t think Netanyahu is lying. Israeli, I would say information. Israeli statements have been known to be quite reliable and quite credible, but I don’t think this is the issue who is right here. The issue here, to look at the bigger, bigger picture as long as we have ISIS and al-Qaeda and Hamas…
Q’: Mr. Ambassador…
A’: … and the many, many Palestinians terror organizations in the west bank, not just in Gaza. It’s all very theoretical. Bolduan: The only reason I was cutting off is that your satellite window is about to close on us right now and I don’t want to stop.
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Kerry’s speech. Kate Bolduan with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
Q’ Oren, we heard there from Ayalon with a very clear message on his reaction to Kerry’s speech. What other reactions are you hearing from Israelis and Palestinians?
A’: So let me point out one thing, and it’s an interesting point. One of your guests suggested that this was a speech directed for the Israeli public. If so, if that really was the intent, that intent missed the mark. The speech wasn’t carried live here. A part of that maybe the language difference, although that’s a little hard to believe since it’s fairly easy to get a translator and many Israelis understand English. But, I think a bigger part of that is the resolution that just passed and many Israelis, I would say most Israeli simple don’t want to hear another Kerry explanation. And that’s very much how this speech was viewed. We’re working on getting Palestinian reaction. The speech ended just a few minutes ago. PM’s office also working on their reaction. They’re taking their time in formulating a response. I think both sides wanted to hear exactly what is John Kerry lay out. But, we did get a response from Naftali Bennett. He is the education minister, the right wing leader that Secretary State John Kerry called out specifically. He is the one who right after President- elect Donald Trump’s election said the era of a Palestinian state is over, and he hasn’t backed down on that on that at all. He said that Israel would never allow a terrorist state nearby. He again reinforcing exactly what Kerry said is the problem here. Kerry said the problem is that the Israeli government is led by settler leaders, Naftali Bennett, a settler leader and to the right of Netanyahu. He has doubled down on his comments and his criticism of John Kerry.
Aaron David Miller: I mean, I think there’s another reality we have to face up to. George Shultz once said that if you don’t have a policy there’s a great tendency to give a speech. And there are two points worth making here. Within three weeks, you’re going to see an incoming administration most likely walk away from just about every element in the Kerry speech. And number two, there’s another basic reality. This is peace process just isn’t ready for prime time. You don’t have a leadership, you don’t have the ownership, & you need at least one of those in order to allow for effective U.S. mediation. This was a thought experiment in many respects, a way for the secretary of state to put his own views and the views of the US on the importance and urgency of this process. I just don’t think this speech, or the SC resolution is going to have legs going forward. And that something sobering and quite depressing but I think true.
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Kerry’s speech. Kate Bolduan with Elise Labott live Washington. …his vision forward with regard to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a blunt, passionate, at times angry message coming from the secretary. Labott: I want to read something that I just got from an Israeli friend of mine that I’ve been communicating with over the years in my travels there. —(?) been very tough over the years against the U.S. and in particular Obama and Kerry. This person just e-mailed me and said the speech was very, very good. It was balanced and simply logical and fair. I don’t know what “Bibi”, that’s Netanyahu’s kind of nickname will say. But I think rational Israelis will agree with me. And I think it kind of sets up about what Secretary Kerry was trying to talk to when he talked to the Israeli public about this kind of disconnect between what he calls a kind of direction by the right in Netanyahu’s government and the Israeli people who are very concerned about a 2 state solution and what that will mean for their security. But they do want peace with the Palestinians. They do want a 2 state solution. And I think many would say that the settlements might, you know, affect that in some way. I mean, they’re not against settlements. But I think that there is a little bit of a disconnect that Kerry was trying to speak to when he said that the wealth (?) of the Israeli population agrees with his arguments.
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Kate Bolduan interviews George Mitchell. Few people know more of the ins and outs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the U.S. role like. George Mitchell, U.S. special envoy for ME peace under President Obama and he’s joining me now. He also very — has a new book out called “A Path to Peace”. A brief history of Israeli Palestinian negotiations and a way forward in the ME. If you could sum it up in the sense of on the way forward, you could probably make a whole lot of money. Your reaction to Kerry’s speech?
A’: I thought it was a robust defense of the 2 state solution, much needed because the 2 state solution has not been achieved, despite years of efforts.127* And therefore is increasingly criticized. And I think support for it likely is declining. Not just in the ME, but in the US and elsewhere. So, Kerry has put a lot of personal time and effort. Obviously has a deep emotional commitment and all of that came through in the speech. I think the difficulties are external to Kerry, and the speech. –(?) first the speech was made by the secretary of state not the president. By definition, therefore, it won’t command the same degree of audience, and as one of your commentators, –has just previously noted it comes in the immediate wake of the UNSC resolution, which has created some degree of hostility between the U.S. and Israeli governments, so, therefore, perhaps the receptivity is lower than it might have been. I’d just like to make a minor correction of something that was said earlier. The ambassador referred to Israel’s actions in recent years as a freeze on settlements, and many of your commentators has said the same thing over a period of time. I negotiated that agreement, and it was a very significant action taken by the government of Israel, of that there can and should be no doubt. But it was not a freeze. It was a moratorium on the starting of new housing construction. Settlements continued in construction that had been begun, and other than non-housing continued in any event and it lasted for ten months. We wish it could have been extended but it wasn’t. As I said, it was a very important step but it was not a freeze. And from the Palestinian and Arab standpoint, since it did not include east Jerusalem it was, therefore, not persuasive to them. 128*
Q’: if you’re standing in your old position today what did Kerry’s speech do for your job? Help, hurt, do nothing?
A’: Well, help with some and hurt with others. And it was still others do nothing. I think one of the problems is, one of the reasons I thought the president should have vetoed the resolution was that the purpose of American policy is to bring the two sides together in negotiation. And I think they’re now both moving in opposite directions that are for both of them self-destructive. The Palestinians now feel validated in their getting a state through international institutions. And to me, that’s a mirage. They might get a nominal state. But they can’t get a real state on the ground without the full participation by Israel. And that will only come through negotiations. So it moves them away by giving them this other incentive. For Israel, already isolated in the Muslim world, which now comprises a fifth of the world’s population in a few decades it will be a third. The prime minister’s actions after the resolution have deepened the isolation in the rest of the world. I may be wrong on this, but to the best of my knowledge there is not a single country in the world out of nearly 200 that has come out in support of Israel’s position on the resolutions. And there’s the prime minister taking on Britain, France, Spain, New Zealand, countries that are natural allies of Israel. Israel should be getting this debate behind them and trying to move to broaden their base of support in the international community. And it won’t come in a debate over settlements because there just isn’t international support for that.
Q’: I do want to get your take. You mentioned the prime minister. Even before Kerry took to the microphone today, incoming president, Trump he tweeted, basically said in summary he said “Stay strong, Israel, January 20th is fast approaching”. Meaning he’ll have better relations and do better for Israel than the current administration. Fascinating to me is that Netanyahu responded to him on Twitter saying, “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel.” What do you make of that?
A’: Well, I think it’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality, and we should not make too much of it. The fact is that there have been sharp conflicts between presidents and prime ministers going back to the beginning of Israel. President Eisenhower wouldn’t even speak to Ben Gurion at a critical moment in Israel’s history. Threatened to go to the UN and sponsor a US resolution against Israel. Reagan and Prime Minister Begin had a very bitter exchange over Reagan’s plan. So, the relationship we have to keep in mind is between the countries and the people. Presidents come and go, prime ministers come and go. They don’t get along sometimes, and that does have an effect and it’s clearly reflected now. But ultimately, the U.S. relationship with Israel will survive and be strong.
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Wolf, Jake Tapper. ..we begin with a rather stunning speech from secretary of state, Kerry, in which he harshly criticized the government of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, suggesting that Netanyahu’s government is pursuing policies that would preclude a two-state solution and any sort of peace in the region. He outlined the Obama administration’s vision for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. This comes five days after the U.S. allowed that controversial United Nations security council resolution to pass which condemned Israeli settlements from being built in east Jerusalem and the west bank. Kerry suggested that the U.S. vote was in opposition to the most extreme elements of Israeli society, the settlers. Kerry:
This administration has been Israel’s greatest friend and supporter with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing Israel’s security and protecting its legitimacy. On this point, I want to be very clear. No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s. Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy. The truth is that trends on the ground, violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation, they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides, and increasingly cementing and irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want. Here is a fundamental reality. If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or Democratic. It cannot be both.
Now, to Mr. Kerry’s critics, the speech coming less than a month before Trump takes office was an unwelcome shot at an American ally, Israel. One that attempted to make a moral equivalence between the construction of settlements and acts of terrorism against Israelis by Palestinians. In addition, it, of course, gave attention to a relatively small issue in the view of the Israeli government, compared to other more pressing issues in the region, including the mass murder in Syria by Assad and the rise of ISIS.
Jake Tapper with Oren Liebermann, Jerusalem & Elise Labott Washington & Suzanne Malveaux.
Q’ Oren, The city of Jerusalem today canceled a vote to approve new construction in E. Jerusalem at the request of Netanyahu. What is the reaction to the speech from Israel?
Liebermann: Well, interesting point here. The speech actually wasn’t carried live on Israeli television. I think part of that maybe just the decision that many here didn’t want to hear what Kerry had to say after the U.N. Security Council resolution vote. … As for a reaction from the leaderships here, Netanyahu and Abbas, they’re taking their time to formulate their reaction. They weren’t aware of what the speech would say in advance, even if they had an expectation. So, they haven’t responded yet. One of the responses we have gotten is from the education minister here, Naftali Bennett. He is leader of the right wing Jewish home party, an outspoken critic of the two-state solution. One of the quickest responses, saying, basically, it’s a one-state solution and Israel will not accept a terrorist state next door. So, that is exactly who Kerry called out in this speech when he said it’s the settler movement that’s leading the Israeli government. That is something that Bennett has already responded to and something, I think, we can expect Prime Minister Netanyahu to expect too. As to the rest of this, one of the things we were listening for here was what are Kerry’s ideas? What are his specific solutions on how to solve some of the complex issues, refugees, Jerusalem? That’s where I think we were looking for a lot more detail and some specific answers on what he would do. In fact, in comparing this speech, to Clinton’s parameters from 16 years ago, Clinton gave a lot more detail on how he would handle that than did Kerry. Just now, kind of, sort of saying, we’ll find a solution and here’s kind of how you make it work…
Tapper: Elise, at the State Department. There’s really very little the Obama administration can do with just 23 days before President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry leave office. What was Kerry hoping to accomplish with this speech today?
Labott: Well, I think a couple of things. First of all, I think it was a dose of tough love.129* You know, in this speech, he talks about the U.S. support for Israel. But he also said that doesn’t mean that we agree with every policy and that we can’t let friends know when we think they’re taking actions that are against their national security or what they say that they want. Netanyahu has said he wants a 2 state solution. And so, I think Secretary Kerry is, you know, his primary argument was these expansion of settlements, and that’s why the U.S. has agreed to abstain from that vote and let it pass, are really hurting the chances of what he says he wants, a 2 state solution. I don’t think Kerry expects that the parties will get back to the table immediately and take up his ideas. He knows that the Trump administration is also going to want to come in. But he did work on this four years. He led those peace talks for a year between Israelis and Palestinians. They did kind of move for — the ball forward on some issues, not all. But he’s hoping that this could, perhaps, be the basis for where the parties pick up when they decide to get back to the table. Because he says that’s what’s really going to be the only thing that solves the conflict is a peace negotiation.
Tapper: Although, Suzanne, obviously Trump and his team come at this from a very different direction. Trump criticized the UN following the Security Council vote. What are we hearing from Trump today about the future of relations between the US and Israel?
Malveaux: Well for Donald Trump jumping to the role of president January 20th is more like a suggestion. He’s been weighing in heavily over the issue the last week. He tweeted this morning, this is just hours before Secretary Kerry’s speech, in two parts because not everything can fit into 140 characters. Saying, we cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S. but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal and now this, U.N. Stay strong, Israel, January 20th is fast approaching. And then, this morning, Netanyahu tweeted him back thanking him for that support. Also this morning, I was on a conference call with Sean Spicer, incoming press secretary, who said that the U.S. relationship with Israel under Trump, in fact, would be stronger. We have seen signs that Trump wants to go in that direction. He has selected David Friedman as the new ambassador to Israel. He supports Israeli settlements, moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, making Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish state. And also defunding the UN for the resolution that was critical of Israel. Also today, House Republican leaders announced that when the new Congress does come back in January, they’re going to introduce a measure that’s denouncing the UN for that very resolution…
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Let’s talk about Secretary of State Kerry’s assertion just a short time ago that, quote, “the two-state solution is in serious jeopardy.”
Jake Tapper with Hala Gorani & Laura Rozen, diplomatic correspondent for Al Monitor, & Jon Alterman, director of the ME program for the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
Q’ Hala do you think Kerry’s speech did anything to change the chances of peace in the ME or is it possible that it might have even made it tougher?
Gorani: Well, at this late stage, perhaps in the Obama administration with three more weeks to go, I think it’s difficult to argue that a speech would make really a tangible difference on the ground. …the administration of Trump that will take over with very different views on what needs to be done. In fact, Trump already tweeting his opposition to what Obama and Kerry have been saying and the US abstention at the UN Security Council. And so, I don’t think that’s really what the administration is trying to do here. Perhaps the audience is an Israeli one here as far as Kerry is concerned. Perhaps, also, it’s simply putting it on the record at this very late stage with just weeks to go, where the Obama administration stands on settlements, in particular. Because 70 minutes of this speech, most of it devoted to these settlements in east Jerusalem and these outposts that the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, are voting to legalize. So, I think that really was the intent. Not with really kind of the idea that this would make any difference on the ground, especially Netanyahu, coming out, so sort of like such an aggressive way, criticizing the Obama administration for the statements that it’s made and its moves in the UN.
Tapper: And, Laura, Suzanne Malveaux, just minute ago, alluded to the tweet that Netanyahu wrote in response to Donald Trump’s tweets. He wrote: “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel.” He even put the U.S. and Israel flag emojis. The question is, with this obviously very fastly solidifying relationship between Netanyahu and Trump, why even bother giving the speech today? Everybody knows the Obama administration position on the settlements and the U.N. vote last week made it pretty clear.
Laura Rozen, (diplomatic correspondent, Al Monitor): Well, I think, partly, Kerry wanted to push back a little bit at the Israeli criticism that the Obama administration was betraying Israel. You know, Kerry indicated he’s had hundreds of calls with Netanyahu and all of this was quite predictable. And he said, you know, look, in the end, we could not, in good conscience, protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it destroyed the 2 state solution which he said is in U.S. interest.130*
Tapper: That’s interesting. And obviously, John, you know, the idea of the settlements, they’re very controversial. But I think one of the points we keep hearing from the Israelis, and, they have a point which is this is what the Obama administration wants to go out fighting for? I mean, Syria is in tatters. There’s a war going on in Yemen. I could go on but you get the point. Why make Israeli settlements the focus of your foreign policy on your way out the door?
Jon Alterman, ME program director, CSIS: Right, and I think that the Israeli response has been the Obama administration has been consistently misguided and naive. The Obama administration’s response is the Israeli government has been consistently shortsighted. Each one is going out arguing the case they’ve been arguing for quite some time. I think Laura’s exactly right that the president — or that John Kerry wanted to make the point to just correct the record, to push back. But, in some ways, a lot of the speech was either talking to the historical record or digging out some talking points from two years ago that they had on the shelf that were sitting there. And they just said, well, for the record, we’re going to put that out, too.
Tapper:, Hala, let me — let me read for you the statement from the spokesman for Netanyahu, David Keyes, quote, “Like the security council resolution that Secretary Kerry advanced in the U.N., his speech tonight was skewed against Israel.” …”For over an hour, Kerry obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the roots of the conflict, Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries.” What’s your response?
Gorani: Well, that’s the criticism, of course, from the Netanyahu government. It’s one we’ve heard time and time again.131* It’s important, though, to note that several months ago, of course, the US… under the Obama administration, that the largest ever security aid package to Israel was authorized. We’re talking $38 billion over 10 years. So, you do have this spat. It could have, perhaps, some of its roots in a very difficult personal relationship between Obama and Netanyahu. But strategically speaking, it’s difficult to argue that the United States is somehow turning its back on Israel under Obama, because the aid, the strategic relationship is still very much there. So, coming from the Netanyahu government, it is expected that we’d hear from David Keyes say something like that 132*. But, really, practically, the relationship is still, in terms of the strategic financial, in terms of the security aid package, still very much there.
Tapper: And, Jon, one of the points that Kerry was trying to make was in the long term, Israel can’t be both Jewish and Democratic, unless there is also a Palestinian state. Obama (at UN): “The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose –(?) tax against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security.” Tapper: That was, obviously, the wrong sound. Why don’t you respond to that? That’s actually President Obama speaking at the United Nations in 2009, first broaching the idea of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Alterman: Look, I think the president feels that he’s been even handed. He’s been right on this.133* So, I think there are two interesting consequences of a different US policy towards Israel. One is that Israeli governments have relied on the United States to restrain the . That you want the opposition to the U.S. government to have to avoid having to capitulate to the right wing 134*. And it seems with a Trump administration, the Netanyahu government, which has relied on that as much as any, won’t have that. The other thing is I think you’re going to have greater polarization in the American-Jewish community because there are a lot of people who agree very much with what Kerry said today. I think, that speech was really directed more at Americans than at Israelis, and there are a lot of Americans who agree much more with Kerry than they’re going to agree with Trump or with his ambassador to Israel. I think the future of US Israeli relations when the American Jewish community is more split is one of the really important things that we may be looking at in the years to come.
Tapper: Laura, let me run the sound that I actually wanted to run and then get your reaction. This is John Kerry talking about the challenge, or if not impossibility, of Israel without a Palestinian state next to it staying both Jewish and democratic. Kerry: “Here is a fundamental reality. If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both.”
Laura Rozen: You know, this is the argument that, as Jon was sayings, that the Netanyahu government and Obama administration have been having for eight years, which is, the US saying the status quo will not hold and Israel saying, let’s just kick it down the road and we’ll be ready later. And so you saw, you know, Kerry answering, you know, well, what is the status quo going to lead to but permanent occupation and…(interrupts)
Tapper: Yes. And he came very close, although he didn’t use the world “apartheid”.
Tapper: But he came very close to saying it and — although I think he’s used the term in the past talking about a separate but unequal society in the West Bank. Up next, Israeli politician Naftali Bennett, who says Secretary of State Kerry may have had good intentions but, quote, he is “divorced from reality.”
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Kerry this morning saying that the two-state solution for Mideast peace is in jeopardy. Kerry saying that Israeli settlements are not the only obstacle, but he seemed to focus on them as the main part of the problem. Kerry says that’s why the United States chose to abstain rather than veto the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the settlements on Friday. Kerry: “In literally hundreds of conversations with Netanyahu, I have made clear that continued settlements activity would only increase pressure for an int. response. In the end, we could not, in good conscience, protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution. We could not, in good conscience, turn a blind eye to Palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence. It is not in U.S. interests to help anyone on either side create a unitary state, and we may not be able to stop them, but we cannot be expected to defend them.” Tapper interviews Naftali Bennett.
Q’ What’s your reaction to Kerry’s argument about the necessary way forward in his view?
A’: Well, Kerry’s speech was not unlike the Obama policy. It’s divorced from reality, but with good intentions. It’s left the Middle East in flames, a genocide in Syria, Iraq falling apart, Iran on a path to a nuclear weapon, and abandoning the only free democracy in the ME, Israel. It’s wrong, it’s immoral, but we will prevail. We’re strong. We’re fighting against radical Islamic terror in the midst of the ME, and we expected back wind and we hope to get some.
Q’: So let’s focus on the settlements issue since it is what Secretary Kerry was talking about and it was the focus of the UNSC resolution on Friday.135* What is the justification for building settlements deep into the West Bank area? Not the part of the West Bank or E. Jerusalem that is likely to become part of Israel in any sort of two state solution after a negotiated peace, but the parts that will not become part of Israel, if there ever is a 2 state solution? What’s the justification for building those settlements?
A’: There is already a Palestinian state formed in 2005 in Gaza and they turned it into a terror state. You know, we pulled back to the ’67 lines, pulled out all the Jews, handed it over to Abu Mazen and they turned it into a terror state. Anyone in their right mind cannot imagine forming another one right here in Jerusalem, our eternal capital. That would be insane. So I oppose forming a second Palestinian state in what you call the West Bank, i.e. Judea and Samaria. Judea and Samaria has been a Jewish state for roughly 3300 years, well before, you know, the first Americans reach the new continent of America, and we’re going to stay here forever.
Q’: Kerry saying that in that one state solution that you are suggesting — let’s remove Gaza from the equation, Israel can become, Israel can be Jewish or Israel can be democratic, but it cannot be both. How do you solve that problem of the fact that there will be millions of Palestinians that I don’t presume you would be giving voting rights or travel rights to, to the extent that they would seek?
A’: Of course they would have voting rights. They would have voting rights for their entity. They can exercise it in the Palestinian state in Gaza, or in the autonomy in the West Bank. That’s up to them. They have voting rights like any other person in the world. I profoundly disagree with this this stark vision of Kerry. We’re the ones fighting, out there fighting for the defense of the free world. And within smaller Israel, it’s quite the contrary. We have supreme court judges that are Arabs. We have members of our parliament that are Arabs. So the only free democracy in the Middle East is, in fact, Israel. And sort of abandoning Israel while we’re out there fighting ISIS and Hamas and Hezbollah is simply wrong.
Q’: Your government says that Israel has, quote, “ironclad information” proving that the Obama administration orchestrated the UNSC vote and that you will turn it over to the Trump administration. That seems odd. Why not just present it to the public? It’s a rather stark charge to make, especially considering the Obama administration disputes it.
A’: Well, we know that it’s a premeditated plan. But, you know, the bond between the American people, who seek freedom and democracy, and the Israeli people, which are in the midst of the toughest area in the world, goes so deep, way beyond one administration or another. It’s unfortunate that Kerry and Obama have decided to go down this track, both vis-a-vis Iran and the Security Council. We’re out fighting to prevent terror attacks in Orlando, in Brussels, in London, because we’re the ones, I’ve been fighting Hezbollah and Hamas for, you know, over 25 years, myself. I’ve lost friends. We want peace. But the only way to achieve peace in the ME is by being strong and fighting the bad and evil forces of Iran and ISIS. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Q’: …the vote in the UNSC resolution, as you know, was 14 in favor of the anti-settlements resolution, one abstention, the US. Now your government, the Netanyahu government, is taking steps to curb diplomatic relations with countries that include the U.K., France, Spain, Ukraine and on and on, New Zealand, Egypt. Is Israel not isolating itself from the rest of the world by not taking the message that people think that these settlements are a true impediment to peace? 136*
A’: You just said twice the term “settlements.” You know, we’re not occupying any land. One cannot occupy his own home. This city behind me is Jerusalem. It’s been our capital for 3,000 years, way before London was the British capital (interrupts)…
Q’: You dispute the idea that these are settlements?
A’:… And way before Washington, D.C., was the American capital. These are not settlements. We’ve got about 650,000 Israelis living in Jerusalem, in east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Big cities. You know, one might imagine a small tent on a hill. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’ve been here for thousands of years. We’re staying here. We’re going to live side-by-side in peace with the Arabs here. But not by forcing our hand and not by a SC decision that’s giving back wind to the worst terrorists in the world because they say, here, the only free democracy at fighting terror is being thrown under the bus.
Q’: Minister Bennett, you’re proving my point because you’re even disputing the idea that it’s occupied territory or settlements, which the entire international community, with the exception of the Netanyahu government, thinks it is.137*
A’: But — absolutely I’m disputing that. How long have you — have Americans been living in America? Q’: How long have Americans been living in America? A’: A few hundred? That’s correct. A few hundred years. How long have Jews been living in the holy land? Four thousand years. So how dare anyone call the land of Israel occupied territory. How dare anyone. This has been our home forever, and will be our home forever. Yes, there’s Arabs here. Some of them are in our parliament. And we have freedom that no other Middle East country has. And we’re proud of it. We will prevail, even when we’re trying to be forced down a bad path. Q’: Well, I think a lot of people who live on the West Bank would dispute the notion that they have freedom, but, Minister Bennett, we thank you for your time. Happy Hanukkah. We appreciate it.
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Kerry argued today that both he and Obama have not only been critical of Israel, but Palestine as well and the role that it must play in ending violence. Here’s what he had to say about Hamas, Kerry: “Most troubling of all, Hamas continues to pursue an extremist agenda. They refuse to accept Israel’s very right to exist. They have a one-state vision of their own, all of the land as Palestine. Hamas and other radical factions are responsible for the most explicit forms of incitement to violence. And many of the images that they use are truly appalling. And they are willing to kill innocents in Israel and put the people of Gaza at risk in order to advance that agenda
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Let’s talk more about this with political analyst Diana Buttu. She’s a human rights attorney. She is a former legal advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Q’: What is your response to Kerry just then in the speech he said that Hamas is part of the problem as well, they are demanding a one-state solution, and they are perpetrating violence against innocent Israelis?
A’: Well, you know, violence wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the fact there are Palestinians who are being denied their freedom 138*. If it weren’t for the fact that Palestinians have been living under a brutal military regime that even your previous guest, Naftali Bennett, denied even exists. This is the root of violence. And I believe that if we want to address violence, we have to address the root causes, and that is ending the occupation and giving Palestinians their freedom. That’s the only way forward.
Q’: The argument that people like Naftali Bennett make is, look at what happened when we gave land to the Palestinians, we withdrew from Gaza, and they created a terrorist state with Hamas attacking Israel, even after they had their own country. What’s your response to that? A’: Well, actually, they didn’t end their occupation. Israel still controls all of the borders and still controls the airspace. It still controls the very food that gets into the Gaza Strip. They control every single aspect of Palestinian life around the perimeter of the Gaza Strip. More than that, they have even gone so far as to continue to bomb Gaza throughout this period when they claim that it’s a state. so it hasn’t been something that’s been turned into a state and then attacked Israel. Quite the opposite. It’s that all that Israel did was turn it into an open air prison and then drop bombs on Gaza. Q’: Obviously, the Israelis would note that there were rockets fired upon Israel by Gaza, but I don’t want to re-litigate the Gaza-Israel war from a few years ago. I want your response to Kerry’s speech. What was your response?
A’: Look, I think it’s about time that this administration recognize that the settlements are an issue and it’s about time they recognize that they have been an enabler of Israel’s continued military rule. What I’m disheartened by is the fact they didn’t end up coming up with something different. Rather than simply allowing Israel to continue its military rule, I would have expected that after eight years of seeing this, after having to go so far as to abstain on a UN resolution, that the Obama administration would actually do something rather than give Israel $38 B. So, while the formula was nice, I don’t think that at the 11th hour this administration is capable of doing anything. And certainly, the next administration has made it clear they’re not going to do anything. This is why it’s so important the global citizenry come together and focus on boycotting Israel, divesting from Israel and putting sanctions on Israel. It’s the only way forward to hold Israel accountable.
Q’: Why should Israel be held accountable for its treatments of the Palestinians as opposed to the way that so many other Arab countries treat their citizens? I could point to any number of countries and I’m sure you would likely agree where they do not have rights. Why focus on Israel and not, for instance, the way that the Saudis treat their citizens, the Qataris, the UAE etc’?
A’: Those are also (? not sure) problems. The difference is that the Israelis get $38 B a year from the US, first of all. Secondly, the way that, the reason that Israel continues to do this is because the world has turned a blind eye to it. I don’t see that the world has turned a blind eye to these other human rights abuses. In fact you’ve named a few to begin with. The fact of the matter is that the US role has been central, and the US. role enabled Israel to continue to deny Palestinians their freedom. And that’s why it’s imperative that the US begin to take steps to acually curtail and scale back Israel’s actions. Sadly, this speech does not do it. While we all welcome the idea of the US involvement in actually putting forward a final resolution to this, it is not going to come at the 11th hour, sadly.
Q’: One last question for you, Diana. How are Palestinians, especially the Palestinian leadership, I know you’re not a member of it but have friends and contacts in the Palestinian leadership, how are they preparing for the Trump administration?
A’: It’s not clear. One thing that is clear is that the US has made it, that this next administration made it clear they’re going to be very right wing, very pro-settlement, and that they are going to be pushing for an extreme agenda in the same way this current Netanyahu administration has been pushing for. I don’t know if that means that they know are going to be pushing for a human rights struggle, I hope that they do – & instead of pushing for a 2 state solution, that instead that they start focusing on a one-state solution. It’s not clear. One thing that is clear, however, is that Palestinians are not going to sit by idly and just watch more of their land being taken. There are other options, such as taking Israel to court, and such as engaging in a civil rights struggle, and I hope that it happens soon 139*.
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Kerry’s speech. Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper.
…Later this hour, we expect to hear live from Netanyahu, who will react to comments such as this one from Secretary Kerry. Kerry: “President Obama and I know that the incoming administration has signaled that they may take a different path, and even suggested breaking from the long-standing U.S. policies on settlements, Jerusalem, and the possibility of a two- state solution. That is for them to decide. That’s how we work. But we cannot, in good conscience, do nothing and say nothing when we see the hope of peace slipping away.”
Jake Tapper interviews former CIA Director James Woolsey, also a senior adviser to the Trump campaign. Q’: What’s your general reaction to the speech we heard?
A’: I think the main point is that there’s an elephant in the living room that, particularly, I think the Palestinians and those who support their position won’t notice, refuse to notice, which is that they have to stop killing Israelis and Jews, or there’s not going to be a one-state or two-state solution or anything. You can’t do a deal as long as the Israelis, who want to live on the West Bank, have to build shelters around themselves in order to exist. With the Palestinian Arabs, the Israeli Arabs, who are citizens of Israel, about one sixth of Israel is Palestinian. When they are in a, running a country, or partially running a country, they get representatives in the Knesset, they have a Supreme Court justice, cabinet members, they have publications, and they are not afraid somebody’s going to come kill them in the middle of the night. But Jews trying to live peacefully in somewhere in the West Bank do have to be afraid. They’ve got have is a settlement. We just had 92 young Russians killed in the Black Sea air, a terrible tragedy. But nobody came along and said, you know, every few months, we’re going to kill 92 people, or just kind of don’t bother us, because it would offend us if you bothered us. You know, they have to begin the process of working together with the Israelis. And I think the Israelis would do a two-state deal if it were run by somebody other than the way things have worked out. If, look at the Clinton parameters at the end of the Clinton administration, it was tough on Israel, but one that, a deal that could have been accepted, and Barak got it accepted by the Knesset. … & that was fine, and the Palestinians gave it the back of their hand.
Q’: Kerry said something that I have been hearing a long, long time, which is it’s in Israel’s future (?) unless there’s a 2 state solution that Israel will have to choose between a Jewish state, in which case, it does not let Palestinians have voting rights, etc’, those under current occupation, or as Bennett put it, they are in their autonomous regions. A Jewish state or democracy, but it will have to choose, unless there is a 2 state solution. And you heard from Bennett, the education minister, somebody who is a rising star on the right in Israel, you know, that Netanyahu is always looking over his shoulder to see where Bennett is, and he, there’s no 2 state solution coming from that guy?
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A’: Well, there’s, that’s the conventional wisdom, I understand that. But I think that it matters a huge amount whether or not the parties are living for a while at peace, the way the Israelis and the Israeli Arabs do, or whether they’re living only with guns lowered and in shelters, the way one has to on the West Bank if one wants to live on the West Bank. & I think that there are a lot of people in Israel who would go along with something, if the Palestinians stopped killing them. But you look at what’s happened out of Gaza. You look at what’s happened with the attack with knives. It just goes on and on and on. And I must say, I don’t think Israel is the provocateur in this. The only way that they’re (not sure?) the provocateur is that they exist, and Palestinians don’t want a Jewish state or partially a Jewish state or any Jews at all in that part of the world, and that’s the problem.
Q’: What seemed to prompt Secretary Kerry’s speech today are two things. One, the UN resolution and the Israelis pushing back really strongly against the Obama administration for not vetoing it, and, two, the notion that, in the view of Kerry and the Obama administration, the Netanyahu government says publicly that they want a 2 state solution, but when you look at their policies, and the settlements that have grown in the West Bank, including outside areas that would be possibly part of Israel in a land swap in any sort of peace process, they are undermining any ability to create a 2 state solution by just demolishing the idea of any sort of contiguous state there. Is that not, is that not legitimate?
A’: Well, the Israelis have, like I say, about five-sixth citizens of Israel. The other one-sixth are Arabs. Nobody really worries about continuity and continuous state. They live in all sorts of different places. And it’s, it’s two people that, at least in ME terms, — are getting along reasonably well with one another, and would it be that different if it was one-third Palestinian and two-thirds Israeli? Which might be a single state? I don’t know. I don’t know that it would be all that different if people just stopped murdering their opponents. — that has to happen, or nothing works.
Q’: You heard Bennett, he said they wouldn’t be giving them voting rights. They would let them live in these autonomous regions?
A’: I would like to see someone look into the possibility of a single state solution with full rights and see how it would work. I don’t know. It might be hard, but I don’t think it’s as impossible as trying to make something work while the Palestinians keep killing Jews.
Tapper: All right. I don’t think we’ll solve this problem right now. Donald Trump taking a swipe at President Obama. Responding, really. We’ll take a look at what he’s saying about the transition and the cooperation, and what his team is now saying to clarify the tweets. That’s next.
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Netanyahu responding to Kerry comments. Live, Jerusalem.
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Kerry’s speech. Netanyahu fires back after Kerry’s speech. And you just heard Israeli Netanyahu giving an emotional and personal response to a speech by Kerry. With the clock ticking down on the Obama White House, Kerry delivered an impassioned “swan song” speech earlier today, speaking for an hour and ten minutes on his vision for Israel and peace in the ME & what he believes is standing in the way. Kerry: “The Israeli PM publically supports a 2 state solution, but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements. 140* The result is that policies of this government, which the PM himself just described as more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history, are leading in the opposite direction, they’re leading towards one state.
Brown: The speech happening less than a month before Trump takes office and with the backdrop of a bitter war of words and major cracks in the once strong bond between the U.S. and Israel. Netanyahu calling it a, “shameful ambush” after the US abstained on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and E. Jerusalem instead of using its veto power, as the Obama administration has done every other time with measures critical of Israel. But Kerry defended the US’ decision and rejected the Israeli’s claim of some kind of secret collusion to craft the vote. Kerry: “We also strongly reject the notion that somehow the US was the driving force behind this resolution. The Egyptians and Palestinians had long made clear to all of us, to all of the int. community, their intention to bring a resolution to a vote before the end of the year. And we communicated that to the Israelis and they knew it anyway. The US did not draft or originate this resolution, nor did we put it forward.” Pamela Brown with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
Q’ Talk to us about Netanyahu’s reaction here.
A’: Well, it was a measured reaction, but one that I think we could have very much expected. We heard his response to the UNSC resolution. His response to this wasn’t all that different. I do want to point out, he spoke much longer in English than in Hebrew, and that gives you an idea of who his audience was here. He wasn’t speaking to Israelis. He was speaking to Americans and the general public in the US. But he pointed out what he feels is the bias of Kerry’s speech, …Netanyahu made it obvious he felt it didn’t focus enough on Palestinian incitement and violence and instead focused almost entirely on settlements. Netanyahu believes, and he’s said this repeatedly, that settlements are not the obstacle to peace. Without question now, with that UNSC resolution, that is certainly not the international consensus and that’s definitely not the opinion of Kerry, who pointed out that some of the expansion threatens the ability of putting together one Palestinian state. So I think we expected to hear that kind of response from Netanyahu. He also talked about what he worries about next. …he said he’s afraid that another move at the UNSC or another move by the int. community, he worries that’s still on the table and he urged the Obama administration to say flat out that it’s not coming. That’s a concern they’ve voiced repeatedly over the last few days now that they’re about three weeks left in Obama’s time in office. He also mentioned Trump and how …he’s looking forward to working with the next administration. These words were a bit more civil than some of the other words we’ve heard exchanged over the last few days. But one other point, the accusation that we’ve heard from many Israelis, including Netanyahu himself, Israeli officials here and there has been over the past week that it was Kerry and the Obama administration that drafted the UNSC resolution. They’ve said they have concrete evidence, evidence that’s incontrovertible. Once again making that accusation. Once again not offering the information, saying we’ll provide it to President Trump when he’s in office.
Brown: And, of course, the U.S. denies that it orchestrated anything with this resolution.
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Israeli PM fires back after Kerry’s speech. Pamela Brown interviews George Mitchell, former special envoy to the ME. You have personally negotiated for peace in the Middle East.
Q’ I want to get your reaction to both Kerry’s speech and then the reaction after that, by Israeli’s PM.
A’: Well, Kerry’s speech obviously emotional & deeply committed. He spent a great deal of time and effort there, has a strong personal commitment. I commend him for that. His speech was essentially a defense of the 2 state solution, which he sees as slipping away, support declining for it and which he believes is the only viable solution to the conflict. I share that view and I agree that it’s important that the 2 state solution be preserved. 141* Unfortunately, it came in the wake of the UNSC resolution, which has created a high level of emotion in the region on all sides and has created this, what you might call, latest distance between the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s administration. The PM’s speech was …entirely predictable. I think pretty much what anyone would have expected him to say 142*. My hope now is that the PM will refocus away from making this the issue in dealing with the int. community, because Israel is being increasingly isolated because of this issue and the manner in which it’s being handled. 143* It’s already isolated in the Muslim world, which is about one-fifth of the world’s population, soon to be a third, and now, with his taking on Britain, France, Spain, New Zealand and other natural allies, I hope it’s behind them and that they’ll move to re-engage and broaden their base of support in the European and other communities that are natural supporters.
Q’: And you also heard Netanyahu really taking direct aim at Secretary of State Kerry, saying that he spent most of his speech blaming Israel for lack of peace in the ME. What’s your take? Do you agree?
A’: No, I don’t. I think he tried to be even handed across the board. He was speaking specifically about the issue of settlements because you see the U.S. policy has been, in my judgment rightly, that all major issues will be left to direct negotiations between the parties. & that ultimately they’ll come together and with our help reach an agreement. The problem is that as settlements increase, the land on which there could be a Palestinian state will no longer be available for that purpose and so if you wait long enough and have enough settlements, then no agreement will ever be possible. And I think Kerry was trying to point out that we have to get to that issue before there is no possibility of creating a Palestinian state. Now, I should say, and it must be understood, that there’s opposition to any 2 state solution by many people in Israel, 144* including many prominent members of Netanyahu’s cabinet. They are absolutely determined, and they say publicly there will never be a Palestinian state on the West Bank. And also Palestinian society is divided between the PA, which accepts Israel’s existence, which opposes violence against Israel, 145* and which provides a great service to Israel in suppressing terror activities within the West Bank, but there is internal disagreement with Hamas, which controls Gaza, which does not agree with the PA on those positions with respect to Israel. So both societies are divided. Both societies have internal political issues, as well as the dynamics between the two societies themselves. Brown: And a lot of this touched on in the book that you wrote, “A Path to Peace.”
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Israeli PM fires back after Kerry’s speech, Pamela Brown with Aaron David Miller & Daniel Kurtzer, former ambassador to Israel and Egypt & prof. of ME policy studies Princeton U.
Q’: Miller, Netanyahu says it is a shame that Kerry does not understand his own personal perspective on the impact of war. What is your reaction to that statement?
Miller: I think where you stand in life has a good deal to do with where you sit. And the reality is, Washington and Jerusalem are sitting in very different places. The PM’s reaction I think was driven in large part by anger and resentment 146*. He tried to mobilize Trump and the president of Egypt. He did not succeed. And now I think he’s caught in a very difficult bind between an int. community that will be increasingly focused on trying to isolate and pressure the Israelis, based on this resolution, & a right wing 147* that is going to continue to drive the discussion and debate and encourage more activities on the ground. Plus, you have a French confab (?) coming up a couple weeks from now, and I think there’s great concern, again, by the Israeli government, that some of these statements may actually try to make themselves into another UNSC resolution. So the Israeli reaction was predictable 148*. It’s easy to beat up on an outgoing administration, particularly when, in fact, you have an incoming administration that is likely to be much more supportive of your interests.
Q’: So on that note, ambassador, what do you think the end goal here was for Secretary of State Kerry to come out and make this speech with less than a month left in the Obama administration?
Kurtzer: I think that Kerry was reflecting eight years of significant frustration on the part of the Obama administration 149*, which had made ME peace a significant priority right from the outset. And here we are, eight years later, and we are further away from a 2 state solution than ever before. Kerry having devoted countless hours, two years of deep effort to try to bring about negotiations. & I think what he wanted to do was to leave behind, as comprehensive a picture as possible, of what it is that the US sees as the main issues on the table, the major impediments and the pathway forward. 150* Unfortunately, it came in a week in which, you know, Netanyahu stripped away the veneer of any civility and discourse with the Obama administration and so, you know, the reaction that took him less than two hours before he analyzed the speech and thought about it in order to reject it suggests to you that he’s paying no attention whatsoever to whatever the Obama administration or Secretary Kerry has to say. Substantively, Kerry has made what I think is the most important speech of an American policy maker in decades 151*, but politically it clearly is now dead in the water.
Q’: Miller, why wasn’t this speech given sooner?
Miller: Ah-Aa! & that’s a very interesting question. Kurtzer knows, together we’ve probably written a fair number of speeches by secretaries of state over the years, & I think the five minutes to midnight timing on this, I think works to the disadvantage of the administration. Part of the problem, is that the administration has largely confined its policies on the Israeli Palestinian issue, and specifically on settlements, to rhetoric. & if the Obama administration wanted to craft a serious policy on settlements, and introduce initiatives, why wait until the last moment? & I think the problem here is that the incoming administration is going to walk away from this very quickly, and probably acquiesce and give the Israelis a much broader margin and discretion on the ground to do things, & that’s simply going to confound and confuse further American allies and adversaries.
Q’: Ambassador, what is the justification for Israel to continue to build settlements deep into the West Bank when most of the world condemns that, as Kerry mentioned today in his speech?
Kurtzer: You know, it’s a great question. I came back this morning from nine days in Israel and had a chance to visit some of those settlements deep in the West Bank, including the outpost of Amona, which is the subject of tremendous discord within the Israeli political system. There really is no justification other than the fact that an ideological religious group of settlers has in some ways captured the coalition that’s governing Israel. They have a significant voice within the Likud Party. They basically control the ideology of the Habait Hayehudy, the Jewish national home party, and the government is now running on the fumes of this fuel provided by ideological settlers.
Most Israelis believe that there is a justification for what would be called the settlement blocks that are close to the 1967 line. They support the idea of retaining the neighborhoods in Jerusalem. But most Israelis would say they don’t understand why there’s such significant investment in settlements that are only going to impede the prospect of any peaceful settlement. So there’s a real issue here that sees the intersection between diplomacy, in which you would like to see a 2 state solution, and the politics of an Israeli coalition that is heading in an exactly opposite direction.
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John Kerry has laid out his vision for peace and a global impact that has vexed the United States for generations, bringing peace between Arabs and Israelis in the ME. And Israel’s leader has just weighed in. This war of words comes less than a week after the U.S. allowed the controversial UN resolution to pass without vetoing it. It condemned Israel’s settlements on what Palestinians believe is part of their future state. 152* Kerry explained why the US chose to abstain from the UN vote, which he insists the US did not orchestrate; Kerry: “And we cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable 2 state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes.” And that’s the bottom line. The vote in the UN was about preserving the 2 state solution.153* That’s what we were standing up for, Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve, for our sake, & for theirs.
Pamela Brown with Suzanne Malveaux live, Washington.
Q’ What Netanyahu was saying after Kerry’s speech there?
A’: We heard a very direct and strong rebuke from Netanyahu, who said Israel doesn’t need to be lectured by foreign leaders. He hopes the Obama administration doesn’t do more damage in the waning days, he said. And he has said he has uncontested evidence the U.S. was behind the anti-Israeli resolution so that it should stop playing games. Listen this is just a portion of what we just heard. Netanyahu:
This conflict is and has always been about Israel’s very right to exist. That’s why my hundreds of calls to sit with President Abbas for peace talks have gone unanswered. That’s why my invitation to come to the Knesset was never answered. That’s why the Palestinian government continues to pay anyone who murders Israelis a monthly salary. The persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state remains the core of the conflict, and its removal(?) is the key to peace. Palestinian rejection of Israel, & support for terror are what are the nations of the world should focus on if they truly want to advance peace. And I can only express my regret and say that it’s a shame that Secretary Kerry does not see this simple truth.
Malveaux: “Trump tweeted this morning just hours before Kerry’s speech saying, “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this UN. Stay strong, Israel. January 20th is fast approaching.” Netanyahu tweeted him back saying: “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel.” Also, this morning, on the conference call with Sean Spicer, Trump’s incoming press secretary, who said that the relationship between the US and Israel under Trump would in fact be stronger. And we’ve already seen signs that Trump certainly wants to go in that direction. He selected David Friedman, as the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, who supports Israeli settlements, moving the embassy to Jerusalem, making Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish state, and defunding the UN for its resolution that’s critical of Israel. We also heard from House Republican leaders who announced that the new Congress, is going to introduce a measure denouncing the UN for that very resolution…
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Israeli PM fires back after Kerry’s speech. Pamela Brown with Ryan Williams, Republican strategist, former spokesman for Mitt Romney & Scott Bolden, former chairman of the Democratic Party in Washington, D.C.
Q’ Your reaction to the two speeches and what it means for the Trump administration.
Williams: I think Kerry’s speech was a disgrace. clearly this is a change in policy from the administrations to let this resolution be approved. It’s an anti- Israel resolution approved by a vehemently anti-Israel body which is the UN. I think it was a disgraceful attempt to shore up his legacy. And it’s really questionable given how many things have happened in the world while Kerry has been secretary of state. North Korea is marching towards a nuclear weapon, we have a crisis in Syria. & he chose to use the – at the end of his tenure to beat up on Israel. It’s a disgrace. And I think Netanyahu’s speech in response was with merit. And I think relations will improve with Israel, our strong ally, under Trump when he takes office.
Q’: Scott, your reaction to Ryan saying his speech was a disgrace and departure from the policy.
Bolden: It’s hardly a disgrace quite frankly. Let’s be clear. there are $38 billion of reasons that have gone to Israel, more than any other administration, by the Obama administration. 154* That says they support the security of Israel. But we don’t have to be blind friends quite frankly. And the 2 state solution has not only been supported by the US for several years. Israel knows that. And the extension, quite frankly, may have been a parting shot politically, but it means nothing quite frankly. It’s non-binding. And within 18 to 20 days of the Trump administration, look for them, as conservatives, to match up with Netanyahu’s Conservative Party to change that. So, I think it’s overblown to say it’s a disgrace because the U.S. has been strong security partners with Israel under the last eight years of the Obama administration. That’s a fact. That’s undeniable.
Q’: Ryan, you heard Netanyahu say in his speech there is concrete evidence showing the U.S. orchestrated this resolution… Kerry completely denied that. But why wouldn’t Israel just release the information rather than waiting and giving it to the Trump administration? Do you think he should release it?
Williams: Well, I think that Netanyahu has realized he can’t act in good faith with the Obama administration given what they’ve done over the last eight years, approving this disastrous Iran deal, letting the resolution go through, which is being celebrated by terrorist organizations, by anti-Israel activists and European capitals across Europe. This is what Obama has done. He has emboldened the anti-Israel effort and he has slowed and hurt the peace process. That’s not according to me. That’s according to Senate Democrat minority leader, Chuck Schumer, and other Senate Democrats who have really gone after the administration for their disgraceful conduct here. So, this isn’t a partisan issue. It’s bipartisan. Bipartisan and condemnation of what Obama and Kerry have done in their final days in office.
Bolden: Well, the question was simply why not release that information now if it’s so concrete. Netanyahu is doing nothing but politicizing this issue, because there’s no disadvantage. You can provide it to the Obama administration. You can provide it to the public and let the public decide.
One of the things missing in this whole debate is that the PLA (probably means PLO…) as well as the Israeli political parties, there is dysfunction within both of those in regard to the peace process. And while Netanyahu says he doesn’t want to be lectured by a foreign leader… (crosstalk)
Williams: You can’t equate the two…
Bolden: There is disarray in both parties. Do not want to be lectured by foreign leaders. He’s right about one thing, settlement and peace is going to come from those two parties, the Palestinians and the Israelis. But you have to –(?) some lecturing from countries that you take $38 billion from. You can’t have it both ways. It’s untenable.
Williams: The Israelis are our strongest allies in the region.
Bolden: I agree.
Williams: The Obama administration has treated them terribly. The Israelis want peace. The Palestinians won’t even recognize the existence of Israel. They fire rockets at them, send suicide bombers over. These are not two equal parties. (crosstalk) Bolden: And there are some Israelis who don’t recognize… (crosstalk) …the Palestinian state either.
Williams: And this administration has emboldened the anti-Israel forces in the Palestinian territories across the world, and that’s wrong. And that’s why Netanyahu is looking forward to working with Trump.
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Kerry: 2 state solution in “serious jeopardy”. “The two-state solution is in serious jeopardy and unless something is done now, the status quo could turn into perpetual occupation.”155* Words from Kerry, as he made a strong plea today for both Israel and the Palestinians to make lasting peace. He condemned in particular in a very long speech 70 minutes Israel’s settlement expansion warning that the settler agenda is defining the country’s future. Kerry also condemned Palestinian violence saying there’s no justification for terror. He laid out a framework for final status agreement which includes secure borders for an Israeli and Palestinian state, international assistance and compensation for Palestinian refugees and recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of two states with freedom of access to holy sites. Kerry says both sides have obligations. Kerry: “The truth is that trends on the ground, violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation 156*, they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want. Today there are a number — there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states. But here is a fundamental reality, if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both and it won’t ever really be at peace.”
Gorani: It didn’t take long for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to respond. He says Kerry’s speech was skewed against Israel, adding that his country doesn’t need to be lectured by foreign leaders. Netanyahu is also rejecting Kerry’s defense of a UNSC resolution that demands a halt to Israeli settlement activities. Netanyahu: “Israel looks forward to working with Trump and with the American Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike. To mitigate the damage that this resolution has done and ultimately to repeal it. Israel hopes that the outgoing Obama administration will prevent any more damage being done to Israel at the UN in its waning days.” Well, the US vision for peace, the current one it should be said that Kerry outlined almost certainly has an expiration date with Trump’s inauguration just a few short weeks away. The next American president is leaving no doubt where he stands on the issue. Trump Tweet: “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect… Stay strong, Israel, January 20th is fast approaching.” Hala Gorani with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
Q’: I understand you were reporting earlier that Israeli television did not carry the Kerry speech.
A’: They may have carried the first couple of minutes, but they certainly didn’t take the entire 70-minute speech which means the Israelis, at least not live, didn’t see what was the critical part of it, which is the parameters… We were expecting something more specific there, I’ll say that. One of the things we’ve been comparing or looking at over the last couple days is the Clinton parameters, what did President Bill Clinton lay out at the end of his term in 2000 for his vision on how to solve those issues. He actually had specific numbers and described where to draw the line in Jerusalem and how to handle refugees. Kerry’s was much more vague about how to do that and either way though it should be said that I don’t think he could have been very specific, he could have been very vague. That wasn’t going to spare him from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s anger over this speech. I don’t think that Netanyahu sees a difference between the SC resolution and this speech. I think it’s all one element for Netanyahu.
Q’: And what is the Israeli public opinion, …what has been its response to the US abstaining from this UNSC Resolution condemning the expansion of Israeli settlement activity? …what have ordinary Israelis said about it?
A’: Widely unpopular here. Even for those who oppose settlement expansion, the move at the UN, which is to say the decision to abstain and let the resolution go through and the part of the U.S. was incredibly unpopular here from the left, the center and the right. Even the left, those who oppose settlements generally, feel like that was a betrayal on the part of the US and simply not the right way to do it. But we’ve heard from Kerry a couple of times now and from the Obama administration whose advisors have come on Israeli TV to defend that decision, they felt they have no other choice. Kerry pointed out that Netanyahu’s own government has prided itself on being the most pro settlement government in Israeli history. And one of the important politicians here, the head of the right wing Jewish home party, should be noted the day after Trump’s election, said the era of a Palestinian state is over. That is part of what concerned Kerry here.
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Kerry: 2 state solution is only path to peace. Hala Gorani interviews Danny Ayalon live (phone).
Q’: your reaction to the speech by Kerry. He’s essentially saying, look, expansion of settlements and territory that would obviously be part of a future Palestinian state hurts everyone, not just Palestinians but Israelis as well. Your reaction?
A’: Well, my reaction is that the speech what the secretary failed to mention was the fact that Israel has numerous times offered the Palestinians everything that they wanted, but they refused. The settlements is not the issue, but the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, to recognize Israel at all is long they teach in their curriculum, their children that there’s no place for Israel in the Middle East, & that they claim not only to Judea & Samaria but also the Negev, the Galilee, Tel Aviv or Haifa. this is the main problem. And also what he failed to mention is that the Palestinians themselves have a very, very intransigent position. If you look at the position of Israel and the Palestinian since Oslo started in ’93. Israel has made a lot of movement towards the Palestinians and they did not budge an inch. They need also to compromise on the issue of refugees. By the way the secretary mentioned the plight of the Palestinian refugees, but again, no mention of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries 800,000 that were expelled, (interrupts)
Q’: Can I just ask you about the specific points on settlements here? Because settlements are being built on Palestinian land, sometimes quite brazenly on private Palestinian land. I mean, even — against Israeli law itself. Why continue to do that? That’s also one of the points made by Kerry, and many in your own country who disagree with this type of settlement expansion. How do you defend that?
A’: Well, absolutely. We are a democratic country, pluralistic. We have a lot of views here, but the issue of the settlement is reversible. And it will be self-resolved once we have a lasting peace with the Palestinians, a peace which is not just a piece of paper but a real historic reconciliations, and their agreements and internalizing the fact that we need to have a peaceful co-existence… (cuts in)
Q’: As two states? As two states or one? Because as two states it’s hard to see how that’s doable, feasible with the current expansion of settlements deep into Palestinian territory.157*
A’: Well, settlements are quite reversible. If you look at the fact in 2005, Israel evacuated 21 settlements from the entire Gaza strip giving Gaza to the Palestinians, four more from Judea & Samaria. This has never been the issue. Now, there are a few hundred thousand Israelis who live there, and you cannot just stop their living and livelihood until the Palestinians oblige to sit with us and negotiate directly without conditions. This is the main problem.
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Kerry condemns Israeli settlements, Palestinian violence. Hala Gorani interviews Hanan Ashrawi live, Ramallah. Gorani: Let’s get the Palestinian perspective.
Q’: …your reaction to the speech by John Kerry. He’s got three more weeks left as secretary of state.
A’: I think it’s a parting statement in a way, it’s a farewell statement, swan song if you wish. But it generally is an impassioned & genuine statement from the heart. in some ways it tries to contextualize the policies of the US and the vote at the UNSC, vis-a-vis settlements. And also it expresses exasperation with constant Israeli policies, that for the past 8 years the US administration has been asking Netanyahu to stop settlement activities, to abide by international law and the requirements of peace, and he has absolutely refused to do that. 158* So in the end, he is showing why they had to put American interests first and they had to vote in accordance with American policies, but at the same time, he’s trying to make a plea again, an impassioned plea, for the 2 state solution based on his own commitments to Israel, based on his love of Israel. Based on his real affinity for Zionist ideology, which is what the majority of his speech was about that. He is trying to save Israel from itself 159*, if you will, because he thinks that the outcome, the de facto outcome of a one state solution can be disastrous for Israel and the region.
Q’: …how do you think things will change with Trump as president? He’s Tweeted his opposition to the US’s move at the UNSC, to abstain from this vote on this particular resolution condemning settlement expansion. So this is going to be a polar opposite approach, right? So how are Palestinians preparing for a Trump presidency?
A’: Right. …I don’t know whether we should be responding to Tweets because I’ve never heard of policy being done at the highest level – (interrupts) Gorani: It’s the new normal, Mrs. Ashrawi. We have got many policy announcements over his Twitter. So I think you need to get used to it. Ashrawi: (laughs) On Twitter. 159B*
Q’: But if you look at what’s been said…
A’: Yes, but I think much more responsible channels for serious discussion, but the Tweets from Trump certainly are not encouraging at all. In many ways, he has said any kind of diplomatic niceties and he’s expressed a blatant and blind support for Israel. And he’s promising Israel that he would reverse all these policies, he’s attacking the outgoing administration, he’s siding blindly with the most extreme right wing expansionist militaristic and racist government in Israel 160*. And this kind of convergence between a populist move, in the US where we see the rise of racisms, xenophobia, Islamophobia and so on combined with Israeli intransigence, Israeli ideological absolutism & extremism 161*, does not bode well for peace at all. Not just within Palestinian but for the region as a whole.
Q’: Now you heard Danny Ayalon possibly say this is missing the point, the problem is not settlements. The problem is that Palestinians have been offered time and time again great deals that they rejected. That settlements are reversible, especially those outputs, outposts that are
deep in Palestinian territory. So what part of this do you believe is Palestinian responsibility? If responding to Danny Ayalon here?
ASHRAWI: Look, Danny Ayalon statements certainly need a large grain of salt to be swallowed. First of all, I would like him to prove what the generous offers were and time again we’ve refused them. The thing is it’s not the outrageousness of the lies. The fact that sometimes they believe their own (?) fabrications which is extremely dangerous. Had there been a real offer on the table the 2 state solution based on international law, it would have been signed a long time ago. 162* That’s one issue. The second is — I’m sorry, what was the second part?
Q’: No, the fact that you were saying settlements are reversible, that that’s not the issue that we’re focusing on the wrong thing…
A’: Yes, don’t I wish (sarcastic & laughing). Don’t we all wish that settlements are reversible? Look, they made a big to-do about one settlement outpost. They were supposed to remove all the outposts. Even illegal by their own illegal laws, and yet Amona has been made into a major public issue, judicial issue, legal issue, political issue and it has stayed. And they’re legislating in order to give them retroactive legitimacy, which is extremely dangerous, which is why Kerry again talked about the fact that they are trying to make them legitimate to legalize these illegal settlements. So, I mean, there is a wide gap between public pronouncements and misleading statements and between realities on the ground. All you need to do is come and visit and look at the West Bank and see where the settlements are placed. See what they control in terms of infrastructure, land and resources. And see how systemically they are expanding, at a very alarming rate and you’ll know why they’re destroying the two-state solution, and why they’re superimposing greater Israel on historical Palestine in an irreversible way. A way that is specifically meant to be irreversible and to destroy as Kerry said the contiguity and viability of the Palestinian state.163*
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Obama administration’s final push for ME peace. In his speech Kerry said no country has been a better friend to Israel than the US, and no US administration has done more for Israel’s security than Obama’s. After all there was a security aid package that was authorized by the Obama administration for $38 B that is a record. Hala Gorani with Elise Labott live, Washington.
Q’ …and many people have asked me this, why make this speech, this forceful, you know, energetic 70 min. speech three weeks from the end of the Obama administration from stepping down? What’s the point?
Labott: Well, it’s a great question, & a lot of people today at the State Department are saying, look, you know, it was a very powerful speech, but delivered about two years too late. Maybe Kerry should have introduced this after those peace talks broke down in 2014 and tried to chart a course forward. I think he tried after those talks broke down over the last several years, to try and get something back together. Then the election, the campaign came up, the administration didn’t want to do anything to harm Hillary Clinton who was seen as very supportive of Israel. & then when Trump was elected, I think the administration was very wary of doing anything provocative to perhaps put him on the opposite direction on this more hard line stance against what Trump said he wants to do, which is negotiate ME peace. But I think that this settlement issue has been something that the US, this administration felt very strongly about. You heard Hanan Ashwari talk about what the settlements are doing to the future viability of a Palestinian state. That’s something Secretary Kerry has felt very strongly, was one of the main reasons for the breakdown of talks and is threatening the future character of a Jewish state, it’s threatening the viability of a 2 state solution, which is what everybody including Prime Minister Netanyahu said they wanted. And you have to take it into the context of UN vote. Kerry was planning to make this vote and then deliver this speech in the context of why they felt they needed to do something on the way out the door. A lot of people will see it as a parting shot. This administration is framing it now as a way to kind of save Israel from what Kerry called the most extreme elements – this settler movement that is really trying to end the two-state solution.
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Secretary of State says the two-state solution is in serious jeopardy, and he warned that Israel settlement expansion could lead to, quote, “perpetual occupation of the Palestinians.”164* Netanyahu was quick to reject Kerry’s speech calling it a disappointment and saying Israel didn’t need to be, quote, “lectured by foreign leaders,”. Hala Gorani interviews David Keyes, spokesperson to foreign media for Netanyahu.
Q’: First of all, I can imagine that you did not like Kerry’s speech. Specifically, what was it about it that you found objectionable?
A’: Secretary Kerry’s speech was deeply, deeply disappointing, and that’s primarily because it didn’t really deal with the core of this conflict. It spent probably a third, maybe even half of its time, blasting Israel for having Jews live in their ancient homeland of Judea, but that doesn’t even begin to touch the core of the conflict, which is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any boundaries.165* Now, think of the absurdity of this. Israel’s Prime Minister has called literally hundreds of times to meet with President Abbas for peace talks without any preconditions. He invited him to speak in the Knesset, he offered to go to the parliament in Ramallah which is just a few minutes from where I’m standing. And Abbas not only said no to every one of those offers, he actually said he welcomes every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. His advisors, like Sultan Abu Al–Einein, called to slit the throat of every Israeli wherever you find them. Statues are being named after Abu Sukar who blew up 15 Israelis just down the street from where I’m standing. So to — (interrupts)
Q’: But can I just ask you specifically about the points? I mean, I’m happy for you to list all those things, but at the same time, I want you to react to what Kerry specifically said, which is settlement expansion, essentially sometimes deep into private Palestinian land, into territory that would obviously make sense as a future Palestinian state, that doesn’t just hurt Palestinians but also Israelis, and therefore makes a two-state solution virtually impossible.166* Do you not agree with that?
A’: I do not agree with that at all. The presence of Jews in Judea and Jerusalem doesn’t prejudice, in any way, a solution of two states for two peoples. And the idea that this presence of Jews somehow is the barrier to peace simply flies in the face of history because for literally decades before there was a single Jew living anywhere in those territories, this conflict raged. And when Israel brought out every single one of those Jews from Gaza, we got 20,000 missiles on our head. We got a theocratic terrorist organization calling for genocide against all Israelis. If this conflict was about the presence of Jews here or there about homes, it would actually be a lot easier to solve. But the Palestinian leadership to this day continues to reject any Jewish sovereignty in this land, and that is the reason why this conflict is raging – (interrupts)
Q’: But why continue to expand –
Keyes: And what a tragedy… –
Q’: Why continue to expand settlements even sometimes on private land? I mean, this is something that Kerry brought up. Many citizens of your own country object to as well, & find this to be ultimately counterproductive. It even goes against Israeli law in some cases. So how is that not going against the viability of a two-state solution? This is something that I think people would like you to answer.
A’: Well, first of all, I’d question the premise of your question. I would point to the fact that over a million and a half Arabs live in Israel as full citizens. And the idea that the Palestinian leadership, as a precondition to statehood, demands to evict every single Jew living from their ancient homeland from places like Jerusalem, and that’s connected to this UN resolution which actually has the audacity to call the western wall, occupied Palestinian territory. Think about this, that this is one of the holiest sites of the Jewish people. So my vision and most Israelis’ vision and the Prime Minister’s vision are two states living side by side in peace with mutual recognition to give everybody here hope for a better future. And what a travesty that all of our calls for peace, to sit down at the table and work out all of those difficult issues including settlements, are summarily rejected by the Palestinian leadership. What a tragedy for both Israelis and Palestinians. And I’m hopeful that when we do finally sit across the table from our Palestinian neighbors, in direct and bilateral negotiations, a real peace deal can be worked out like Jordan and like with Egypt.
Q’: I get that your point is it’s all the Palestinians’ fault.167* If only they were sort of open to the idea of some sort of discussion without preconditions by the Israeli government of Netanyahu, this could all be solved. This is what you’re outlining for us. But I’ve got to ask you about sort of, I mean, overall, the idea that these settlements are an impediment. There has to be some sort of, (stutters) is there no acknowledgment from your position that if the settlement activity were curtailed, that it would help?168*
A’: I don’t think it would help for the simple fact that the Palestinians define Tel Aviv as a settlement. And if you think I’m exaggerating, just open a Palestinian textbook, turn on Palestinian television, look at what they’re teaching their children, which is essentially that all of Israel is also Palestinian. So it’s pleasant to think of just a handful of outposts as settlements, but if the Palestinians themselves are talking about flooding Israel with millions of refugees, if they’re talking about Tel Aviv as a settlement, that’s a whole different world of problems.169* And that’s why it’s so important that the US should return to its historic position of protecting Israel at biased bodies like the UN, that call the western wall occupied territories. I mean the Americans should be asked, will they veto any of these resolutions? (interrupts).
Q’: And do you think that with Trump, things will change?
A’: I hope so.
Q’ How do you think a Trump administration will change things? You saw his tweets, presumably.
A’: Right. Well, obviously, we welcome the fact that he criticized this biased and deeply anti-Israel resolution because it actually pushes peace further back. It’s not just that we don’t think the UN is the right forum, that the SC isn’t the right forum, but by hardening the positions of the Palestinians, by saying you don’t actually have to accept Israel as a Jewish state, you’re actually pushing peace further away. And that’s what’s so dangerous about this. So my hope is that countries around the world come together to encourage the Palestinians to, at long last, accept Israel as a Jewish state and cease their desire to eventually wipe Israel off the map.
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Netanyahu criminal investigation. (end of previous interview) Hala Gorani interviews David Keyes.
Q’: We’re hearing from Reuters that the Attorney General in Israel is ordering the police to open a criminal investigation into two matters involving Netanyahu. Is this something you can confirm?
A’: I can’t at this moment, but I can assure you that there’s no there, there. There’s been a lot of rumors in the past; none of them have been proven. And it’s a shame that so much airtime is taken up by scurrilous scandals that are never proven. I’m sure it will be fine.
Q’: So you can confirm that the attorney general has indeed ordered the police to open two criminal investigations?
A’: No, I can’t confirm that. What I can confirm is that there’s no there, there because the Prime Minister has acted in an exemplary fashion. And this rumor mill, which is all too often spreading basically lies about the Prime Minister, has been proven false time and time again.
Q’: So you can’t confirm the opening of investigations, but if, in fact, there is some sort of investigation by the police, you’re saying that there’s been no wrongdoing?
A’: The only thing I can confirm is that the Prime Minister, whom I know and who has been proven to be clean in so many things that were once deemed scandals, is somebody that can be trusted and I’m sure there’s no there, there.
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Netanyahu: Kerry speech was “disappointment”. Hala Gorani with Josh Rogin, Washington Post & Hillary Mann Leverett, ME analyst.
Q’ Josh Rogin, , three weeks left. Kerry, forceful speech, really long, more than an hour, …He said what he had to say. Will it make a difference?
Rogin: No, I don’t think it will make a difference in the overall peace process which will now be governed by the incoming Trump administration and the Netanyahu government. But I think it is trying to set a frame for the legacy of John Kerry and the Obama administration as they look back at their years of effort trying to negotiate a ME peace, effort that has failed, and that they now are clearly trying to place most of the blame for on the Netanyahu government. It also sort of puts a stake in the ground as to where the US policy is right now, and that’s a policy that’s very far away from where the Israeli government is. And, …we look at what the next administration is going to do, US policy’s going to change a lot. So this is a marker just so for historical record to show that, at this point in time, the Obama administration was very opposed to what the Israeli government is doing. That’s going to change in a big way starting on January 20th.
Q’: …how will things change with Trump in the White House, do you think?
Leverett: Well, I think it’s important to note that I think there is some blame being set here by Secretary Kerry in his speech, but I don’t really think it’s to blame the Israelis. I think that he’s setting up the incoming Trump administration to take the fall for the death of the peace process. Because there’s going to be no peace process if there is no two- state solution. 170* I think the Obama administration sees the writing on the wall, and they don’t want to be blamed in history, the short term or near term, for that failure. But I do think it will make a difference. The speech, the UNSC resolution, and very importantly, a conference that is coming up in two weeks in Paris that the French are hosting with over 70 nations that will, again, set the framework for what they see, for what the world sees, as a sustainable peace process to keep countries in the ME together going forward toward a peace process171*. I think that’s what we’re going to be seeing, at least, in the near term.
Q’: In fact, the French reacted just minutes after this speech and said, hey, great speech. We agree with everything John Kerry said. So, Josh, you heard David Keyes… you know, he’s essentially blaming the Palestinians for absolutely everything,172* saying the settlements aren’t the problem. The Obama administration, & we heard this also from Netanyahu, has it out for Israel (?) and have been anti-Israel for years. In that current political environment, what can be achieved in terms of getting any kind of peace process back on track?173*
Rogin: I think it’s very unlikely that there will be any substantive peace process going forward in the next months or even years. …I think what the incoming Trump administration will do will have the effect of taking the US out of the role of being an honest broker if that was even the case in recent months and years, and that will take away the US ability, in my view, to sort of push both parties, who both would have to make some sacrifices and some concessions to start a real peace process. And the U.S. simply won’t have the leverage or the influence to do that based on the stance that we see emerging from the Trump administration. Now, that may be something that the Netanyahu government is totally OK with, you know. What John Kerry was saying pretty clearly is that he doesn’t actually believe that Netanyahu is really intending to pursue a 2 state solution174*. He called into question the basic honesty of that claim, and that was a pretty shocking moment from the speech. But going forward… because of what’s going to be a change in US policy, to align it with the Netanyahu government, the prospects for any real substantive negotiation that involves concessions of both sides are really low, unfortunately.175*
Q’: Oren Liebermann was telling me a little bit earlier, that even Israelis who are opposed to settlement expansion, some of it illegal, obviously, on private Palestinian land, were unhappy about the US not vetoing this Resolution. He told me that they truly believe that the Obama administration turned its back on Israel. What do you make of that reaction?
Leverett: I think it’s reflective of a stark reality that Israelis have faced for a while but I think face now in an unprecedented way, which is the profound isolation the state of Israel faces on the world stage. The standing ovation of countries represented in the UN at the SC when this resolution passed was almost unprecedented.176* The only time I ever saw members at the UN stand, and I represented the United States there in the late 1990s and into 2001, was after 9/11 when they stood with the United States after we were attacked. It’s almost unprecedented for members to stand. And I think, it shows the profound isolation the Israelis face, and I think that is reflected as a hard reality on the ground, both in terms of those sentiments that your correspondent noted and also the furious reaction by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Q’: …is this isolation only hardening, really, public opinion in a sense? I mean, if you wanted to affect change, should there be another approach, simply put?
Leverett: Well, you know, I think there’s this sort of kind of deep misunderstanding of what the ME peace process is about. It’s not for the US to achieve some sort of peace in harmony, some –(?) moment in the ME. This makes the peace processes all about American interests. It’s about keeping different countries in the Middle East that are completely opposed to each other on this basic issue of Israel and Palestine, keeping them together in a pro-American security and political order in the ME. It’s how we balance our relations, for example, with Saudi Arabia and Israel together. We need the peace process for our own reasons to manage these relations, not to bring about peace and harmony. So in terms of… how public opinion is affected here or elsewhere, in terms of strategists sitting in the situation room, they understand the stark reality. And even Trump’s new Defense Secretary, General Mattis, his incoming Secretary of State Tillerson, they will understand clearly they need to keep the Arab states and the broader Muslim world onboard with the United States. And for that Israel’s going to have to go along regardless of public opinion there or even here.177*
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Quest Means Business, Eleni Giokos. Tonight, in a very public dispute, America’s top diplomat and Israel’s PM trading heated words over the Palestinian conflict. With time running out for the Obama White House, Kerry laid out his urgent vision for peace. Benjamin Netanyahu immediately hit back calling it a big disappointment. Kerry says a 2 state solution is the only solution and that is now in serious jeopardy. Kerry:
Regrettably some seem to believe that the US friendship means the US must accept any policy regardless of our own interests, our own impositions, our own words, our own principles. Even after urging again and again that the policy must change. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths. And friendships require mutual respect. They fail to recognize that this friend, the US, 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 2 state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes. And that’s the bottom line.
Giokos: In a swift response, Benjamin Netanyahu said John Kerry’s speech was skewed against Israel. Adding that he looks forward to working with Trump. Netanyahu: “I don’t seek applause. I seek the security and peace and prosperity and the future of the Jewish state, the Jewish people have sought their place under the sun for 3,000 years, and we’re not about to be swayed by mistaken policies that have caused great, great damage. Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders. Israel’s hand has been extended in peace to its neighbors from day one, from its very first day.” We’ve received a statement from the PA President Mahmoud Abbas: “The minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities, including in and around Occupied East Jerusalem, and agree to implement the signed agreements on the basis of mutual reciprocity, the Palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations on the basis of international law.”177*
Eleni Giokos interviews Edward Djerejian, former ambassador to Israel and Syria.
Q’: … what an impassioned day. Whether it was watching it on TV or even the exchanges on Twitter with important leaders. What is a major takeaway for you?
A’: First, this is a major war of words between Israel and Netanyahu’s administration in Israel, and the US and the Obama administration. Fundamentally, to step back from this war of words, there has always been a tension between the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the efforts to make peace, and settlement activity. If you trace it back, Israeli settlements since 1967 have been declared to be illegal under int. law and that is a position that the US has adopted under both Democratic and Republican administrations. In fact, there was to cite one of several UNSC resolutions in 1980 Resolution 471, condemned Israeli settlements and the US abstained from that resolution just as the US abstained this week… So, there is nothing new in the US abstaining on a resolution that condemns Israeli settlements. But the political context is what is very difficult.
Q’: Is anything of what we heard today going to spark a road to reconciliation?
A’: I think it makes it harder. I think that the positions are becoming very polarized, & therefore, I don’t think it facilitates the efforts to make peace. It makes it more difficult. Having said that, we are in such a special situation now, a presidential transition… that is very difficult to predict where this is going to take us. The one thing I take some solace at is that the President-elect has stated that at one point during the campaign, he wants do the deal. He called it the ultimate deal between Israelis and Palestinians. I hope he lives up to that, I hope he tries like all of his predecessors to do the ultimate deal. But once he sits in the oval office, and he sees all the facts that are presented to him, and the history of US engagement on this, I hope that we can get back to the constant American position to try to facilitate an agreement between Israel and Palestine.
Q’: You’re talking about a two-state solution —
A’: Absolutely. Q’: — put on the table.178* Kerry was talking about this quite extensively today, saying the settlements are inhibiting that process. It’s going to make it more complex as the settlements expand further. What do you think is going to happen from here onwards? Netanyahu was also quite clear saying he’s concerned about what the next few days and weeks hold for him ahead of Trump coming into power. What can happen between now and then in the context of what has just played out?
A’: I think the Israelis have a legitimate concern from their point of view. First of all, Netanyahu’s government, as you know, is very rightwing Likud government. Some of his key cabinet ministers are staunch advocates of settlements. And therefore, his political options, are not, are limited. But I think that what the Israelis are concerned about and what may happen, before January 20th, is that on January 15th, there is going to be a conference in Paris on the Palestinian issue, the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And if that conference, which is an international one, comes to a position on how the peace process should move forward, and on settlements, and it’s a slight possibility they recommend that a UNSC resolution endorsing what they say occurs, that will, in Israeli eyes make their position much more difficult.
Q’: You were saying that Trump once he gets the facts in front of he is going to try, make good on this deal.
A’: I’m speculating.
Q’: …But we’ve seen him engaged on Twitter platforms we’ve seen this relationship between the U.S. and Israel now starting to deteriorate. What do you think is going to happen in the next four years between the U.S. and Israel and a Trump presidency? A’: Well, first of all, if the settlement activities continue, if more and more land is occupied by the Israelis, the prospects of a 2 state solution are going to become so diminished that there will not be a viable 2 state solution179*. What is the alternative to that? It’s a one state. Either continued Israeli occupation, the status quo, which is very difficult to contemplate for the next five to ten years.
Q’: Is that disappointing for you looking at that being an option?
A’: Of course, because basically what it means is that Israel can lose its Democratic Jewish nature. It cannot remain Democratic if it continues to occupy at least 2½ million Palestinians. And it cannot remain Jewish if it’s one state where you have the Palestinian Arab population multiplying demographically at a higher rate than the Jewish population.180* So, the one constant of American foreign policy on this issue since `67 has been a two-state solution,
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Before the speech even began, President-elect Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, were making a very public show of support for each other on Twitter. Trump firing the first message: “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal and now this. (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” Netanyahu responded: “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel!” And mentioned as well two of Trump’s children’s Ivanka as well as Donald Trump Jr.,
Eleni Giokos With Elise Labott live, Washington.
Q’: What a day it’s been. When we look at the exchange on Twitter, we are seeing a very clear support coming through between Trump and Netanyahu. What are you reading in to this at this point?
Labott: Clearly the Trump administration is sending a signal that it will be much friendlier towards Israel. Not just in the tweets… but President-elect has promised to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for instance. He’s also appointed a very controversial hard-line ambassador that supports settlements. That has very pro-Israel views. Kind of against what you have seen in this Obama administration. And now the President-elect intervened in this whole UN vote. He ended up speaking with the Israelis, ended up speaking with el-Sisi, about this measure. It’s clear that he’s inserting himself on behalf of Israel. What you see from the Obama administration and what Kerry said today is we are Israel’s friend. We do care about Israeli security, but we feel that these settlements are threatening the future viability of a Jewish state, a two-state solution.181* And friends can’t always agree with friends if we don’t agree, we need to be able to tell you. And I think it was a little bit of tough love from Kerry.182* He said that no administration has been, protect Israel more, it just signed a $38 B MOU for U.S. military aid. So, in their eyes, the Obama administration does think that it’s a friend of Israel, just doesn’t always agree with its policies, & feels that they need to say so.
Giokos: Exactly. And that was the message that was given out that, you know, friends sometimes need to show that tough love.183* It will be interesting to see how Trump navigates that going forward. But Netanyahu got a little personal today when he mentioned Ivanka as well as his son in that tweet. What can we read into that?
Labott: I think we have to be very careful not to overanalyze the tweets of the President-elect. He’s making a statement. Or of the PM. …I think you heard Secretary Kerry a couple weeks ago, give a very impassioned speech where he says that complex issues of foreign policy can’t be boiled down to pithy little tweets. There sending signals. There sending messages. Clearly this — the prime minister is looking past the Obama administration, is sending a signal that he is looking forward to working with the Trump administration who he feels is going to be more friendly towards Israel. Ivanka Trump, his daughter …she is married to Jared Kushner who has been advising the President-elect on matters related to Israel and the ME peace process. They’re both Jewish and feel very strongly about the state of Israel. So, I think that these are signals being sent, but I don’t think you can really kind of dissect them and think that there is any deeper meaning into them. They’re both sending signals, looking forward to working with each other.
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Kerry: 2 state solution is only path to peace.. Jim Sciutto reports
Kerry: “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths.”
Kerry delivering a blunt message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kerry: “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.” Pushing back following Washington’s decision not to veto the UN vote condemning Israeli settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Kerry: “On this point I want to be very clear. No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s.” Kerry vehemently defended the U.S. abstention, saying the very prospects of Middle East peace are at stake. Kerry: “The vote in the United Nations was about preserving the 2 state solution. That’s what we were standing up for. The two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy.” Kerry acknowledged the US consulted on the resolution but denies Israel’s claim that the US was the driving force behind it. Kerry: “The United States did not draft or originate this resolution; nor did we put it forward.” Israel’s Netanyahu called Kerry’s speech disappointing and more. Netanyahu: “Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders.” Netanyahu promised Israel has the evidence to prove that the US orchestrated the vote and would show that evidence to Trump when he takes office in just a few weeks. Netanyahu: “We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the nUS organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the UNSC. We’ll share that information with the incoming administration.”
For his part, Trump did not stand on the sidelines, tweeting before Kerry’s speech, “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the US, but not anymore. Stay strong, Israel, January 20th is fast approaching.” Netanyahu quickly tweeted back: “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel.” Despite the public tensions, President Obama recently decided to increase aid to Israel, committing $38 B over ten years, part of the largest pledge of military assistance in US history, which Kerry noted was not a new stance. Kerry: “In the midst of our own financial crisis, and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support Israel. In fact, more than one half of our entire global foreign military financing goes to Israel.”
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Kerry delivers blunt message to Israel. Michael Holmes interviews ***.
Q’ this is not unprecedented. …Clinton did a similar thing… with a new government around the corner… what was the point do you think?
A’ they wanted to close out the administration by indicating what they had tried to do for the last 8 years. Why things did not succeed… (peace process) there were several fits & starts & successes & failures, mostly failures including the effort by Kerry himself… it wanted to lay out what it felt was necessary in order to move forward… Kerry’s speech was the most substantive policy statement ever by a US policy maker.184* But its not clear that it will have any political validity given the incoming administration.
Q’ you are not the only one saying that. A lot of people out there praising the speech from a foreign policy aspect. Also many asking why wasn’t it made maybe 4 years ago, even more?185*
A’ I’m sure it was considered. The president had a lot of things on his agenda… he had invested significant time in the peace process during his first term & that had not succeeded. You recall the blowout in 2011, when Netanyahu rejected the president’s idea of negotiating borders & security. So I think the president walked into his second term with a bit more tentative view about what to do. Allowed Kerry to give it another shot & when that didn’t work I think the president basically said I am not going to be the one to fix it but maybe I can leave behind some lessons learned & a pathway forward.
Q’ (UNSC vote) …what kind of pressure does that unanimity among nations put on Israel when it comes to settlements & the obstruction they present to a deal?
A’ if we were in ordinary times you would say that a country ought to sit up & pay attention when the int. community is unanimous in its condemnation of its policies. But as we saw with Netanyahu in this quite right wing cabinet, that he leads, he – decided to declare war on parts of the int. community. Recalling his ambassador from a couple of countries… & the kind of disrespectful language that he’s used vis-a-vis the US, which is his prime ally. So its an unusual response. One would have thought that something would be more measured in which he might have said that we don’t like the resolution, we don’t agree with it. but the PM obviously has something else in mind probably looking forward to Trump’s administration, which he thinks will be much more conducive to his own thinking.
Q’ Paris… there is a feeling that could come out with even more resolutions. Do you think Israel is concerned about that?
A’ I think part of Netanyahu’s response today indicated there is a great concern about that. He wants the US to pledge that they will not support anything else in the SC. Something I can’t imagine any administration would do. Its quit possible the meeting in France will produce some ideas & its quite possible that there would be an effort to try to translate that into a SC resolution. Meeting in France …leaves precious little time to do anything before the next administration.
Q’ the big picture, the 2 state solution, Kerry warning in that speech “despite our best efforts the 2 state solution is now in serious jeopardy”. That would seem obvious. Netanyahu himself gave a speech in Hebrew some months ago saying it wouldn’t happen on his watch. The new incoming ambassador isn’t in favor. Netanyahu really needs the support of the settler political block. Where does it stand politically & realistically?
A’ it’s certainly on life support. I’m not sure it’s dead. There’s really no other outcome that one can imagine, but it’s not going anywhere. There’s no interest on the part of the current Israeli cabinet to move in that direction. the Palestinian leadership as you know, is a relatively weak. Palestinian politics are divided between the West Bank & Gaza. The rest of the ME is taken up with conflicts in Syria, Yemen & Libya. So there isn’t really a leader out there that’s going to push this thing. One might have hoped that in that context an American president would emerge that would see the importance of moving forward, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards with Trump, who is suggesting that he will take American policy in an exceedingly different direction.
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Kerry: 2 state solution only path to peace. Michael Holmes with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem.
Q’ that brings us to the point. We have heard all kinds of Israeli government spokespeople today & government members saying that it’s not settlements that are an obstacle to peace but quite literally the rest of the world says, quite literally they are.186* You put settlers all over the West Bank & you are not going to have a contiguous state, a viable Palestinian state. How isolated is Israel when it comes to really the rest of the world in that view?
A’ (waiting for Trump) …but Netanyahu still has one concern. Obama is not yet out of office. He is worried about another move. Either UNSC or another int. forum…
Q’ what’s the Palestinian response?
A’ …welcome this. They say this is long overdue… they say now it’s up to Israel. Abbas said we have a road map to peace, we have Kerry’s ideas & the SC’ resolution. He says its now up to Israel to abide to that resolution. Netanyahu has made it clear he has no intention of abiding. If that’s the case the Palestinian’s say they’ll pursue their cases at the ICC & other int. forums 187*.
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Kerry: 2 state solution is only path to peace. Michael Holmes with Oren Liebermann live, Jerusalem. (same as previous. Nothing new)
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Trump about some kind of details to come soon about bringing jobs back to the country, also reaffirmed a strong support for Israel. Jim Sciutto with panel: Douglas Brinkley, CNN; Kayleigh McEnany, Trump supporter; Peter Beinart, The Atlantic; Errol Louis, political anchor NY. Trump: “I’m very, very strong on Israel. I think Israel has been treated very, very unfairly by a lot of different people. If you look at resolution in the UN and take a look at what’s happened, they are up for 20 reprimands and other nations that are horrible places, horrible places that treat people horribly haven’t even been reprimanded. So, there is something going on and I think it is very up fair to Israel.” We’ll have more on that ahead. Doug, as you look at that there, Trump talking about Israel. This is one of really several major policy disagreements with the incoming and the outgoing administrations that are bubbling over during this transition period, particularly after the UNSC resolution. How is this going to be resolved?
Brinkley: It’s stark right now, the differences in foreign policy, and it’s not going to be resolved until Trump gets in the presidency. I think the media cycle is so fast right now that we’re dealing things minute by minute by minute basis, & it is starting to seem like a long transition for President Obama. I was disappointed that Trump had the nerve really to start trying to insinuate himself into the foreign policy arena, in my opinion, too much so. But they are determined that for the moment, Obama and Trump to kind of walk through things. But it’s clear it is not going to go well in the foreign policy arena. I mean, Netanyahu is going to be a great friend of Trump. And President Obama is one of the world leaders he dislikes the most.
Sciutto: McEnany, how do you answer that criticism? There is this old rule of thumb I suppose of only one president at a time. Do you think that Trump is unfairly, unwisely wading in, in effect before he is inaugurated?
McEnany: I don’t think so. I think it was entirely fair to advocate when you are asked by the Israeli PM for the US to do what they have always done and that is to say, reject and veto any condemnation of Israel at the UN, which we know is hostile to the U.N. So, I think that was a fair move — (interupts)
Sciutto: That’s actually not true. Successive US president, of both parties have sometimes voted for abstained on resolutions, 71 resolutions that have been critical of Israel. So it’s not the first time that you have had the US allow a resolution like this go through.
McEnany: But as the “New York Times” points out it is a huge break with tradition to actively condemn Israel and the settlements at the UN. That is a break with tradition. But not only do that, I do find it really ironic there’s this push for Trump to wade in when it comes to Russia. He needs to get out there he needs to say Russia did this. He has to be out in public on this. There is a push for him to wade into national security and foreign policy measures when it’s convenient, but then when he does so on another issue, there’s this onslaught of criticism that he’s wading in prematurely.
Sciutto: Peter Beinart, I know the issue of Israel is very close to your heart. What do you make of this conflict playing out in effect between the outgoing and incoming administrations?
Beinart: Well, I think on Israel, the macro question is, will the 2 state solution survive? The Obama administration I think wanted –(?) to at least for its own legacy sake to show that it didn’t want the 2 state solution to die without it putting up some kind of fight. Netanyahu has been extremely hostile to the 2 state solution throughout his entire prime ministership.188* His government is overwhelmingly filled with people who oppose the 2 state solution. He himself in 2014 said Israel should never withdraw troops from the West Bank. And the Trump administration, you have an ambassador to Israel who’s also hostile to the 2 state solution. So, that’ the macro question here. The question is, do you believe a 2 state solution is in Israel’s & America’s interest or not? I think Obama is on one side of that, and Netanyahu and Trump are on the other.
Sciutto: Louis, …I wonder, with this resolution on Israel, with CNN’s own reporting that as soon as tomorrow the president could announce retaliatory action against Russia on the hacking. On these issues, do you see President Obama trying to effect tie Donald Trump’s hands before he leaves office? Louis: No, I don’t think it is anywhere near that… I think this is really more about Obama trying to ensure his own legacy and arguing as Peter points out that the 2 state solution… we heard a long discourse and lecture about it from Kerry today, that if this is what you believe in, if this is what part of your policies were about, you’ve got to put a stake in the ground, you gotta put a marker in the ground. …(talks about Russia) I think he probably could have spared himself some of what Obama seems to be doing if he had waited until January 20. I think the problems of the world will be waiting there for him. He may in retrospect wish that maybe he had let the ME issue wait just a few more weeks because he’s going to be living with it every day from the moment he gets inaugurated. But he chose to sort of jump out there and here we are.
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With boxing promoter Don King by his side, that’s right, Don King, Donald Trump waded back in on the verbal fistfight between Israel and Kerry. He reaffirmed his strong support for Israel. Kerry also talk talked about US support but he salted it with tough talk. Friends, Kerry said, need to tell each other hard truths and for him that includes the Israeli settlements that he believes are sinking the peace process. Kerry: “Let’s be clear: settlement expansion has nothing do with Israel’s security.” And while he also condemned Palestinian acts of violence in his speech, it did not stop Israeli’s PM from lashing back and lashing back hard. Netanyahu: “Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders”. And once again, the president-elect offered no substantive comments on the Kerry speech, telling reporters as you heard, that it speaks for itself. However, on Tweeter earlier, he spoke volumes.
Elise Labott reports. Kerry: “The status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation.”189*
Labott: In a lengthy and deeply personal final plea, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a strong warning to Israel that a two state solution was in jeopardy, directing his aim at Israeli PM Netanyahu. Kerry: “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution. But his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.”190* At the same time, defending U.S. support of Israel. Kerry: “No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s.” Netanyahu quickly called the speech a biased attack that only payed lip service to Palestinian terror. Netanyahu: “What he did was spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace.” Kerry’s message comes amid a bitter war of words between the US and Israel, after Washington refused to veto a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements, allowing it to pass. Kerry: “Some seem to believe that the US friendship means the US must accept any policy regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles.” Israel says it has proof Washington secretly orchestrated the vote & would show it to Trump when he takes office in just a few weeks. Netanyahu: “We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the US organized, advanced and brought this resolution.” Kerry denied the claims and framed the vote as an effort to save Israel from a policy that threatened its future as a Jewish state. Kerry: “We reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel. On the contrary, it is not this resolution that is isolating Israel. It is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. And virtually, every country in the world other than Israel opposes settlements.” In his four years as secretary of state a deal between Israelis and Palestinians have escaped Kerry, but in a recent interview with CNN, he rejected the idea that he failed. Kerry: “I didn’t fail. We didn’t fail. The US didn’t fail. We put what I think is still the solution on the table. But the parties failed.” Even before Kerry spoke, both Trump and Netanyahu criticized the Obama administration. Trump tweeting, “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching.” Netanyahu responded “President-elect Trump thank you for your warm friendship and your clear cut support for Israel.”
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Jim Sciutto with Elise Labott & Aaron David Miller & Carl Bernstein CNN & Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian.
Sciutto: Elise, we’ve heard an outpouring of reaction to the speech today including from the Senate Minority Leader, Democrat, of course, Charles Schumer saying, “It has emboldened extremists on both sides.” I mean, giving that reception from both parties less than a month left in the Obama administration. Why did the secretary feel he needed to make the speech now?
Labott: Well, he’s been wanting to do it for a long time, right, and then the election came up and they didn’t want to do anything to undermine Hillary Clinton who is the Democratic nominee, very, seen a strong on Israel. And then when Trump was elected I think that threw them. They didn’t want to do anything to push him more into Israel’s arms, but I think when they looked what’s been happening over the last few years in Israel, that accelerated settlement activity, the move in Israeli politics to the right. You heard Kerry talk about the most extreme, most extremist, the settlers really dominating the political scene. They saw that the two-state solution was slipping away,191* and they see what’s happening in this country. Donald Trump was elected. He spoke about moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He appointed a very hard line ambassador who supports settlement. (cuts in) Sciutto: And who dismissed the two-state solutions. Labott: And who’s talks about annexing the West Bank. So they really felt that in good conscience, they couldn’t walk out the door without putting their finger on the scale before peace, they see peace slipping away.
Sciutto: Aaron David Miller, you have written speeches for Republican and Democratic secretaries of state. You say this was particularly personal for Secretary Kerry. Why is that?
Miller: Well, I mean, he’s been the energizer bunny of the American diplomacy. His mantra is it is better to try and fail than not the try at all. You know, that’s a nobly(?) and that’s what Bill Clinton said to us two days before he went to the Camp David Summit in July of 2000. The problem is if you fail repeatedly, then trying and failing is not better than not trying at all because it undermines American credibility. I think Kerry gives it a shot and the reality is he’s right. It’s not the U.S.’s fault. The reality is the guy in the middle has an impossible job because Israelis and Palestinians are not yet ready, or able, or willing to make the core decisions necessary to allow a mediator to broker and bridge the gaps.
Sciutto: Arguably moving further away from those positions. Carl, in terms of the politics of the speech today, I mean, Secretary Kerry, President Obama, I’m sure they didn’t imagine they were changing many minds in the Trump administration with this. So, why do this? Is it setting a marker down?
Bernstein: First of all, Netanyahu and the Likud Party are not Israel. Israel is a great democracy that is divided like our own pretty much down the middle between left and right.192* In fact, General Mattis, the incoming secretary of defense has said much the same as Kerry said today. He has called the settlements unsustainable. And the only answer is a two-state solution. What we have here all day what we’ve been seeing is the radical change in our presidential governments that is represented by Donald Trump. On arms control we see it. On relations and containment of Russia we see it. And now in terms of pursuing a two-state solution, & Israel we see it. We’ve never this kind of radical change in the presidency. …So we need to look at all of this in historical context. Brinkley can tell us a bit about that I’m sure. But this is a total break on all of these policy areas with the immediate past of American policy. Arms control, Israel, etc’.
Sciutto: …Doug, the relationship between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu administration strained as you know for some time. Clearly, at this point, at an all time low or beyond, …earlier today I spoke with Israel’s ambassador to the US and his own words and tone at times suggested that this went beyond just policy differences. Ron Dermer: Secretary of state for 72 minutes blames Israel for the lack of peace. We need a Palestinian leadership that will say that they are willing to live with Jews among them and next to a Jewish state. That has not been said. That’s what this conflict has been about.
Sciutto: To accept that the right of Israel to exist (crosstalk),
Dermer: To accept that there will be a nation state of the Jewish people next to them.
Sciutto: …we talked about division here in the US There is certainly division in Israel. But the division over Israel between the US and between now incoming and outgoing administration is really unprecedented.
Brinkley: It truly is and what Carl said is exactly right. I mean, we haven’t seen anything like this. In the sense that ever since the Camp David accords with Jimmy Carter when I interviewed President Carter for a book I did. He’s so sad that he never got the Palestinian solution done. The 2 state done right. He did –(?) Palestinian elections. So it’s been like the Holy Grail for State Department diplomats if you can make a Camp David peace type of thing between Israel and Palestine, you will be almost a Nobel Peace Prize winner.193* John Kerry threw his whole soul into doing this, only to be unexpected victory of Trump, only now they have Trump talking about moving our embassy into Jerusalem and having Netanyahu just backlash on Obama and Kerry in such a dramatic fashion that it looks like the Likud Party. And if Trump goes along with moving our embassy in Jerusalem, it’s kind of the end of a peace process that went all the way from Carter to Obama, & we’re heading into some kind of new world order in that part of the world coming up, where Israel might be throwing in the towel on the settlement idea. Even though Netanyahu publicly says, you know, he wants a 2 state solution, & privately, Kerry understands he really doesn’t.194*
Bernstein: He could have a war in the ME partly as a result of some of these policies. That’s one of the breaks that we need to look at here in all of these questions and whether or not this is a fact-based change that Trump is going for, in all these areas or whether it’s more his intuition as we saw in the campaign. I think there are some real danger intuition above fact. Sciutto: Miller, I noticed I’m sure many other noticed that the Israeli PM was speaking in English today. His audience here in the U.S.?
Miller: I think that’s right. And the speech wasn’t broadcast, let alone in Hebrew and English in Israel. So, I mean you had two discrete audiences. The PM speaking to putative (?) next president of the US and John Kerry, I don’t think speaking to the Israelis, frankly. I think trying to figure out a way. He knows what’s coming. He knows the two-state solution may be dead but it’s not quite dead and buried. And they need to create a frame of reference to basically make it unmistakably clear to the world that they believe rightly or wrongly they have identified the problem. They tried everything they could to help diffuse and resolve it. And in the end it’s not their responsibility and not their fault.
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With less than a month left in President Obama’s presidency, Kerry, making a speech today, with some tough talk for Israel and Netanyahu. Netanyahu calling the speech deeply disappointing. Don Lemon interviews Danny Danon live. We spoke this morning before Kerry gave his speech essentially saying that the Israeli settlements put the two-state solution really in serious jeopardy. Kerry: “The Israeli PM publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements. The results is that policies of this government which the PM, himself, just described has more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history, are leading in the opposite direction, they are leading towards one state.”
Lemon: What’s your reaction? Did this speech change anything for you?
Danon: No, it was a failed attempt to defend the indefensible. Secretary Kerry tried for 72 minutes to explain the one-sided –(?) resolution that passed at the SC last Friday and we are still not convinced.
Q’: What would you like to have heard him say?
A’: There was a major contradiction in his words, he said that he is urging both sides to negotiate but at the same time while accepting the resolution of the Security Council, he encouraged the Palestinians not to negotiate with Israel.195* So the US policy was that both sides should negotiate directly, by accepting a resolution of the SC, the US changed its policy and Obama in 2011 came to the UN and said to all the nations to promote peace between the Palestinians & the Israelis, they should do it by themselves, not through one sided resolution of the SC. I was not convinced by Kerry what changed. Why now?
Q’: The settlements were just one part of the speech. but that is the sticking point. So the question is how does building permanent buildings in the East and on the West Banks, how does that help Israel achieving a 2 state solution?
A’: It is not about the settlements. For the Palestinians, everything, Israel is one big settlement. They are not willing to recognize Israel, period. We’re talking about Tel Aviv, Haifa, Be’er Sheva its not about E. Jerusalem or west Jerusalem. 196* Look what happen in Gaza, we evacuated in 2005 all the Jewish communities, settlements, from Gaza. What happened after that? Hamas took over and sent 20,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel.
Q’: Explain to me and the audience when you say it’s not about the settlements. What do you mean it’s not about the settlements?
A’: I will explain to you…
Q’: That is a whole sticking point.197*
A’: When you speak about the PLO, it was founded in 1964, before Israel occupied, in quotes, the West Bank. It was in order to liberate Israel. So the resistance is with the existence of Israel, period. Ask the Palestinians today… (interrupts, crosstalk)…
Q’: With all due respect, Kerry also pointed out the wrongdoings of the Palestinians as well and said that both sides had to work together. So, again, I’ll ask you, how does building… (cuts in)
A’: Personally, I would appreciate if someone will analyze the 72 minutes and will see how much time the secretary spent on the issue of the settlements and how much time he spent on the issue of radical Islam, terrorism, Hamas in Gaza. You cannot ignore the reality in the ME and blame Israel for everything. By the way, the UN we are used to it, but the fact that the U.S. teamed up with Venezuela, Malaysia, and Senegal, to pass such a one-sided resolution, that is unprecedented.
Q’: Given such an uproar, though, especially by Netanyahu, wouldn’t you expect him to spend more time trying to explain the US actions and the UN’s actions? (cuts in)
A’: The policy of the U.S. was always to support constructive resolutions. & I ask myself what will happen after this long speech? Whether we are actually going to have to engage with the Palestinians now? We want to engage with them, but after the speech, after the resolution at the U.N. the Palestinians will not come back to the negotiation table.
Q’: I’m going to play what Prime Minister Netanyahu said today specifically on the U.N. resolution. Netanyahu: “We have absolutely uncontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the UNSC. We’ll share that information with the incoming administration. Some of it is sensitive. It’s all true. You saw some of it in the protocol released in the Egyptian paper. There’s plenty more. It’s the tip of the iceberg.”
Q’: Now, again, ambassador, the United States completely denies that the US was behind this resolution, so why not release the information now to the current administration?
A’: First of all, let’s look at the facts. In 2011, there was a very similar resolution coming to the Security Council. The US decided to block it and vetoed that resolution. 2014, there was another resolution. The U.S. blocked the resolution without vetoing. They convinced the member states not to support this resolution. So when the US wants to stop a resolution, they know how to do it. And fortunately, what happened last Friday, it was a different ball game. The U.S. actually worked on this resolution. We know it for a fact. And they encouraged countries support this resolution.
Q’: You keep saying it, you and other representatives keep saying we know it for a fact, but have not presented any concrete evidence.
A’: When the PM of Israel, when he is saying that we have the evidence, you better believe him. We will share it with President-Elect, with the new administration and we hope to see a change, because we are used to the fact that U.S. is protecting Israel, is the umbrella in the SC, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the case last week. In the SC, the pen holder on every resolution regarding the ME and Israel, particularly, is the US. Q’: So what difference does it make now to present the information now or later? What’s the difference? A’: Because we are not in a position now to start to argue with the –(?), when there was a meeting in D.C., what they told the Palestinians? we have the capabilities to know what happened in those meetings and unfortunately, unfortunately we know for a fact that the US not only supported the resolution, they encouraged the Palestinians to move forward to the Security Council. YES (DWM?) TOLOG
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Kerry taking on Israel today, on the issue of settlements, in the final weeks of the Obama administration angering Israel’s PM and provoking President-Elect Trump. Don Lemon with Aaron David Miller & Noura Erakat, human rights attorney.
Q’: Aaron, I’m going to start with you, it’s December 28th. They’re packing boxes at the White House. Why would Kerry make a major ME policy speech right now?
Miller: I think the U.N. Security Council abstention, and the speech basically were designed, because I think the administration knows what’s coming which is basically the demise of what’s left of the 2 state solution,198* and I think they felt compelled, at least to put their fingerprints on it to, create a frame of reference in which they demonstrated they’ve done everything they possibly could and basically to single out the settlements enterprise, even though John Kerry admitted that it’s not the only or the primary obstacle to why we don’t have a two-state solution, to basically set the parameters and to discharge those responsibilities on an issue that they care deeply about…199*
Miller: And in the end, if I can, it’s likely to produce the opposite of what the administration intended.
Q’: So, listen, let me ask you then, you served both Democrat and Republican secretaries of state. Then why the uproar, why so, why are people from the Israeli side, especially Netanyahu, so upset when it appears this resolution is no different than other resolutions that have been, you know, put together, brought to the table in the past?
Miller: I mean it’s a very good question given the fact the US have voted many times for Security Council resolutions far more critical of Israel and abstained on them as well. I think in the end, the PM, I suspect, feels very frustrated. He tried to mobilize the President-Elect and President el-Sisi of Egypt to turn this off and he couldn’t, and second, I think the PM also knows that despite the fact that the incoming administration is going to be much more positive for him, that he is increasingly going to be caught in a very tough place, hammered between international communities that will look upon this resolution as a way to build momentum against settlements and by his own right wing who may use the incoming Trump administration to advance their own agenda on the ground. So we’re entering a very fraught period.
Q’: Is it a losing battle for the PM? Miller: Is it a losing battle? In 2018, a year or so from now, Netanyahu will become the longest governing Prime Minister in the history of the state of Israel, surpassing even David Ben Gurion, arguably Israel’s greatest Prime Minister. So the reality is staying in power as a reflection of a Prime Minister that most Israelis will either tolerate and or support is a key objective. So is it a losing battle? …(cuts in)
Q’: I meant that in terms of, because he is isolating, he seems to be isolating Israel. Q’: Yes, I mean, I think the louder the Israelis yell about this, the more inspiration and power they can give to the Palestinians. Lemon: Noura, thank you for being patient, I want to get your reaction to what the ambassador told me in the last segment.
Noura Erakat, human rights attorney: The ambassador was pointing out that Palestinians haven’t recognized Israel. It’s not clear exactly what he demands of Palestinians when they recognized Israel twice in 1988, again in 1993, recognize the juridical status of Israel.200* Israel has been in existence since 1948, became a member of the United Nations since 1949. What exactly is being asked of Palestinians beyond that recognition? What we’ve been hearing is they want Israel recognized as a Jewish state. And what we’re not interrogating is that 25% of Israel’s population is Christian and Muslim Palestinians who are native to that land. Asking Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state is like saying the U.S. is not for Americans, the U.S. is for white folks, and so everybody else will be secondary in status, a status that Palestinian citizens of Israel already experience as a fifth column. But now if the Palestinians recognize it as such, they’re basically going to say, we’re ok with an explicit racist apartheid regime and we should be condemning Israel for that request, rather than berating Palestinians for failing to fall into line with that. All Palestinians have asked for, are basic rights.201* The right to movement, the right to family, the right to dignity, the right to work, the right to education and we’re here debating whether or not that is a valid demand. And Palestinians are not waiting for anybody to tell them that it is, because we know that is a moral, political, legal right. Lemon: Aaron, I want to put up this exert from the PLO’s response to the secretary’s speech. “the minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities, including in and around occupied E. Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations.” I mean, that sounds like an opportunity, renewed peace negotiations in exchange for a settlement ban. Should Israel take it seriously?202*
Miller: I mean, it’s fortunate, frankly, for all of us that we don’t have direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, because given the fundamental mistrust and lack of confidence between the two sides, and the galactic, truly galactic gaps that exist on issues relating to borders, security, refugees & Jerusalem, another negotiating process is going to end in failure. & that is, in fact, the real tragedy here. We’re going to remain trapped, I fear, between the 2 state solution that’s too important to abandon and yet one that is too difficult to implement.203* YES (DWM?) TOLOG
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LEMON: A war of words between the White House and Israel heating up tonight in the final weeks of the Obama administration. Kerry warning the 2 state solution is at risk. Netanyahu saying he’s looking forward to working with the president-elect. Don Lemon with Alice Stewart former Ted Cruz communications director & David Swerdlick CNN & Andre Bauer former Lt. Gov. South Carolina & Symone Sanders. It’s certainly been interesting what has been playing out on the national stage when it comes to foreign policy. Swerdlick, Netanyahu, head of state, America’s closest allies, speaking over the head of the current president directly to the incoming president. Have you ever seen anything like this before?
Swerdlick: Certainly not on Twitter, but, look, I think some of the way this is playing out is a tad unprecedented, but it’s also in some ways just a bookend to the really bad relationship that Obama and Netanyahu have had. Obama asked Netanyahu in 2009 for a settlement freeze, and was never able to really get that. There was a brief ten-month freeze, but it didn’t last. And Netanyahu has really put his finger in President Obama’s eye at every opportunity. So on the one hand, it’s not a surprise and you can’t blame Israel for pressing their positions so hard, but they really should not be shocked that they’re not getting the level of sympathy from the Obama administration at this point.
Bauer: Well, Secretary Kerry gave one of the most condescending speeches to a trusted ally, but this relationship —
Swerdlick: How? How?
Bauer: — the last eight years has been rocky.
Lemon: That’s actually a good question. How is it condescending, Andre?
Bauer: Well, he belittled him. I mean, it was — the whole thing was a narrative that wasn’t positive at all to an ally that we desperately need. Look, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, have all in the last eight years gone away from what we want in a democracy, in human rights countries, and we need all the help we can get in the ME. We don’t want to be sending our own folks over there. These folks we know when we send them money actually what they’re doing with it. So the fact we would want to not work with these individuals but this goes back – (crosstalk) —
Lemon: Hold on, Symone. Hold on,
Bauer: (unclear)…& he has passed up on meeting with Netanyahu within the country… (interrupts)
Lemon: (Kerry)…a given, that he believes that what he’s saying is true. If he then does believe that what he’s saying is true, the truth is not always positive.
Bauer: Well, I don’t know what he would be even attempting to accomplish this late in the game a few weeks to go. Why would he pick this fight when they can’t follow it up? They don’t have any mechanism to move forward. They’re almost throwing a hot potato to the next administration instead of just gracefully exiting the stage. There’s no reason to pick this fight and continue to poke their finger in the eye. Look, we know the president has denied meeting with Netanyahu on occasion. We know he’s continued to not want to work with him. He’s helped the Palestinian state on numerous occasions when a lot of folks feel like he shouldn’t have done that. (cuts in)
Lemon: This is a first administration (crosstalk) that’s given Israel $38 billion
B. Sanders: Ahead of schedule, mind you. President Obama signed on to give Israel $38 B in military aid well ahead of the contract that hadn’t even expired yet. But the fact of the matter is, I was literally in Israel two weeks ago, met with all kinds of folks, met with the U.S. ambassador as well as Ambassador Dermer. And the sentiment there is that the US needs to continue to be a credible broker of peace in the region, but it’s no secret that the settlements have been something that has been frowned on by not just the Obama administration, the U.S. presidents from past, Republican and Democratic presidents, and the rest of the world. So… this should not be a shocker to anyone. In terms of Israel being as Andre said kind of like the credible and the stable country there, exactly, which is why settlements are a real threat to peace. All Secretary Kerry did today was give his closing argument. He’s well within his rights to do that. He is the current secretary of state. Stewart: Yes, I think, of course, Symone has a fantastic perspective having just been there. I think the bottom line here is that, look, a key point that was made earlier was the simple fact that friends sometimes have to tell friends things they don’t like to hear, but if they were our friends, we would have been by their side and supporting them for many years. One of the greatest takeaways I got out of Kerry’s speech today was the fact that friends sometimes have to tell people bad news, but they also have a mutual respect. That was key in the speech. I think this current administration, the Obama administration, feels as though Netanyahu has not respected them for the past eight years, and this was a parting shot. This was their way to get back at them as they’re walking out the door. And with Israel being a democracy in a sea of dictatorships, we should be — there should be no daylight between the United States and Israel. We should have their back and if this is something that they needed. And Netanyahu made it clear last week, this is something they needed us to stand by their side, we should have done that and there should not have been any second guessing, any question on that. And as Obama walks out the door and this is something he wants to hang his hat on, on the way out the door when we have important issues like genocide in Sudan, we have the crisis in Syria, Russian hacking, China hacking, this is where he wants to make his parting shot at? I think his priorities are way off balance.
Lemon: David, is there daylight?
Swerdlick: There is daylight… I understand why Israel’s pushing back on this. The speech from Kerry today was a pushback. It was exposing a policy difference. I was just really — the idea this was condescending, a 72-minute speech that outlined in detail what the Obama administration position is, or Kerry State Department position is, very clearly and methodically I don’t think it’s condescending. They explained why they abstained on this vote.
Bauer: Well, I think they basically blamed everything on Israel and it wasn’t quite fair. I mean, they based almost everything on occupation and we know when they sacrificed land for peace in the past, it hasn’t worked. Sanders: …I have to disagree, I think Kerry was also equally as critical, maybe not as equally, but he was very critical of the Palestinians about the violence on the Palestinians side, engaged in to get attention and make their point.204* And so I definitely think that today was just an explanation of where the US is under the Obama administration, their thoughts and nothing wrong with it. This was not new news today.
Lemon: Earlier today the president-elect tweeted this, “Stay strong, Israel, January 20th is fast approaching.” Is he suggesting that he’s going to try to reverse this U.N. Council, Security Council vote?
Stewart: It would appear that way. Clearly he’s going to show that with the Trump administration there will be no daylight between the United States and Israel and the talk of moving the embassy to Jerusalem certainly will be on the front burner for this administration. That is a good thing because they are an ally. We need to act as though they are.
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The United States’ top diplomat is dropping the niceties and calling Israel settlements a threat to a 2 state solution. Kerry also defended the US decision to abstain from a vote on a UN resolution in his speech Wednesday. That resolution condemns Israeli settlements in the West Bank and E. Jerusalem.
Netanyahu fired back saying that Israel does not need to be lectured by foreign leaders. Netanyahu says the real obstacle to peace is the Palestinian support of terror and the rejection of Israel’s right to exist.
Kerry has less than a month left in office but he says he could not in good conscience do nothing or say nothing. Elise Labott reports. Kerry: “The status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation.” In a lengthy and deeply personal final plea, Kerry issued a strong warning to Israel that a 2 state solution was in jeopardy directing his aim at Netanyahu. Kerry: “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a 2 state solution but his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.” At the same time defending support of Israel. KERRY: “No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s.” Netanyahu quickly called the speech a biased attack that only paid lip service to Palestinian terror. Netanyahu: “What he did was to spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace.” Kerry’s message comes amid a bitter war of words between US and Israel after Washington refused to veto a U.N. resolution… Kerry: “Some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy regardless of our own interests, our positions, our own words, our own principles.” Israel says it has proof Washington secretly orchestrated the vote and will show it to Trump when he takes office in just a few weeks. Netanyahu: “We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the US organized, advanced and brought this resolution.” Kerry denied the claims and framed the vote as an effort to save Israel from a policy that threatened its future as a Jewish state.
Kerry: “We reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel. On the contrary, it is not this resolution that is isolating Israel; it is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. And virtually every country in the world other than Israel opposes settlements.” In his four years of Secretary of State a deal between Israelis and Palestinians has escaped Kerry. But in a recent interview with CNN he rejected the idea that he failed. Kerry: “I didn’t fail. We didn’t fail. The United States didn’t fail. We put what I think is still the solution on the table. But the parties failed.”205* Even before Kerry spoke both Trump and Netanyahu criticized the Obama administration. Trump tweeting “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. Stay strong, Israel — January 20th is fast approaching.” Netanyahu responded, “President-Elect Trump thank you for your warm friendship and your clear cut support for Israel.” And Netanyahu is warning about further moves at the UN. Israeli officials very concerned about a new UNSC resolution coming out of Kerry’s ideas, or at an upcoming peace conference in Paris next month. Meanwhile Trump is working with the incoming Republican Congress to defund the if the vote on settlements is not overturned.
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Kerry: 2 state solution in “serious jeopardy”. Rosemary Church interviews Lucy DerTavitian, Journalist, live. Journalist Lucy Der Tavitian joins us now from Los Angeles. Thank you so much for being with us.
Q’: So why did Kerry decide to make this very personal speech at this time just days away from Trump taking office? And what will it likely achieve, do you think?
Der Tavitian: It’s very interesting, isn’t it that this is a time that he decides do so. I think what Kerry wants to do is to make sure that the peace process and the 2 state solution continues under a Trump presidency, because Trump has made it very clear that his support of Israel is unequivocal. He has said that he wants Jerusalem to be the main, to be the capital of Israel and only Israel. And that he wants to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. He also supports settlements. So, all of these factors are a threat to the peace process and I think what Kerry is doing is giving a clear understanding of what is happening on the ground when it comes to Israel and Palestine, and to the negotiations. On the other end, he’s also giving support to the int. community, to Europe, who is not so supportive of Israel as much as the US is. So now it seems that the US is a little bit more aligned with the message that the int. community has on settlements, which is that it’s an illegal act. You cannot build settlements because according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, settlements are illegal 206*.
Q’: Right. Now, in his speech Kerry said that a 2 state solution is in jeopardy. Is he right? And where does this all lead peace in the ME to do you think?
A’: It is absolutely in jeopardy but I think it has been for a while now. If you don’t have a 2 state solution what you have is a one-state. & a one-state would most probably not end up giving Palestinians freedom as they would like it. They would not be — they would actually end up being a second-class citizen. And let’s also not forget that it’s also not a good idea for Israel to have a one-state solution because Palestinians have larger families than Israelis. So what you would actually have is a majority. So you don’t want a one-state solution. What that would mean is that we would have, what you had in South Africa, an apartheid state. And I think that’s what Kerry was saying to — making very clear to Netanyahu. What Obama was making very clear to Netanyahu is these are your choices. Your choice is that you either have a 2 state solution, and come to the negotiating table, and you are clear in your message and in your will to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians or what you’re going to have is a very dangerous one-state solution which is not viable. And I don’t think it’s what either the Palestinians nor the Israelis really want.
From Armeniapedia: Lucy DerTavitian is Lebanese-Armenian, born in Beirut. She has lived and traveled widely in the Middle East, and is the Anchor and one of the producers of KPFK 90.7 F.M, Pacifica Radio’s South West Asian and North Africa collective. Lucy is also a member of Women in Black-Los Angeles as well as a speaker bureau member for Peace Over Violence.)