Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a fiery retort, both in Hebrew and in English, to US State Secretary John Kerry's speech on Wednesday, telling the American diplomat: "Israel does not need to be lectured about peace by foreign leaders."
Kerry laid out the Obama administration's parameters for peace between Israel and the Palestinians during a speech at the State Department. He unveiled a six-part outline of what a future peace deal could look like. The outline tracked closely with principles long assumed to be part of an eventual deal, and Kerry insisted he was merely describing what's emerged as points of general agreement.
The prime minister accused the outgoing US Secretary of state for "Blaming Israel for the lack of peace by condemning a policy that lets Jews live in their eternal homeland," adding that "Secretary Kerry paid lip service" to Palestinian narrative that is fundamentally anti-Israeli.
"I don't seek applause. I seek the security, peace, and prosperity of the Jewish people and the Jewish state," added Netanyahu. "We are not about to be swayed by mistaken policies that have caused great damage."
He insisted that "No one wants peace more than the people of Israel," but such peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations, "This is how we made peace with Egypt. This is how we made peace with Jordan. It's the only way we're going to make peace with the Palestinians."
Quoting from a speech outgoing President Barack Obama made at the UN in which he claimed that "Peace is hard and cannot be accomplished by speeches at the UN. If it could, it would have been done by now," Netanyahu stressed that "Until last week, this was exactly what the US has done."
During his speech, Kerry staunchly defended the Obama administration's decision to allow the UN Security Council to declare Israeli settlements illegal, rejecting accusations that the White House was the driving force behind the resolution and stressing that Washington "did not draft or originate" the wording of the resolution.
But Netanyahu was unconvinced. "The US organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the UN Security Council," the prime minister insisted. "We will share this information with the incoming administration."
He added that "I look forward to working with President Trump and the US Congress—Republicans and Democrats—to mitigate the damage of this resolution."
Netanyahu called for a change in US policy, cementing its support of Israel in absolute terms. "If the US is true to its words, it should say 'We will not allow any more resolutions in the UN Security Council against Israel.'"
"I personally know the pain, loss and suffering of war. That's why I'm so committed to peace," said Netanyahu. "I want young Palestinian children to be educated like our children."
Instead of this vision, however, Netanyahu said that "The Palestinian Authority educates them to lionize terrorists."
"The Palestinian Authority tells them they should never accept the existence of a Jewish state," he added, asking: "How can you make peace with someone who rejects your very existence?"
"This conflict is not about houses," reassured Netanyahu. "This conflict is about Israel's right to exist." He ended his speech by lamenting that "It's a shame that Secretary Kerry does not see this simple truth."
Additional Israeli leaders wholly reject Kerry peace plan
Education Minister Naftali Bennett also responded to Kerry speech, saying that "Secretary Kerry’s speech was like his policy—with good intention, but divorced from reality."
"This policy has left the Middle East in flames," added Bennett. "A Syrian genocide, Iran racing towards a nuclear bomb, and abandoning of the only free democracy in the Middle East, Israel."
"There already is a Palestinian state in Gaza and it turned into a terror state. We’re not prepared to allow a second terror state in the heart of Israel," said Bennett.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the principles for peace that Kerry outlined in his speech "impossible," adding that "We have 25 years of experience with similar ‘outlines for peace,’ but instead of peace they gave rise to the threat of terrorism. At the end of the day, no speech or unilateral move at the United Nations will lead to an agreement."
"The Jewish People will not withdraw from our land in order to create a terror state," said Hotovely.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon similarly rejected Kerry's claims that the administration of outgoing US President Barack Obama had Israel's back" vis-à-vis Israel's standing in the world and the UN.
"Coordinating anti-Israeli moves with the Palestinians and making a unilateral decision in the Security Council is not supporting Israel, it's the exact opposite,"said Danon. "The Obama administration has acted against the State of Israel at the UN, and any statement saying otherwise is a distortion of reality." He added that "Speeches, statements or unilateral decisions will not promote peace in our area, only the objection to terrorism, the ending of incitement and the return to direct negotiations. The Palestinians must realize this."
Danon then responded to President-elect Donald Trump's tweet from earlier Wednesday, which expressed his unequivocal support of Israel and encouraged Israel to "stand strong." Showing appreciation for the tweet, Danon said, "We welcome the clear-cut support of President-elect Trump, who declared he will stand by Israel and not join in the continued attempt to harm Israel at the UN."
Head of Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan also issued a response to Kerry's speech. "I want to congratulate the American people for choosing a different path during the last election. It's clear to any intelligent person that the ideas of the ridiculous outgoing secretary general are not founded in reality. The American people recognized this disconnect, characterizing the Obama administration not just with foreign policy, and it chose a different way that is due to begin in about 20 days. I have not doubt that this is a new age for the US and especially in regard to it relation to Israel, a relation the old administration chose to decimate. I wish John Kerry Luck on his way."