- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s admonishment of Israeli settlements on Wednesday did not sit well with a key member of his own party: incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.

The Obama administration’s decision to harangue Israel for allegedly complicating the Middle East peace process angered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the 70-minute speech also irked the powerful senator from New York. Mr. Schumer said the remarks only served to “embolden extremists” on both sides of the issue.

“Today, there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” Mr. Kerry said Wednesday. “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.”

Mr. Schumer released a statement shortly afterward, saying it seemed as though the secretary of state had “forgotten the history of the settlements in Gaza, where the Israeli government forced settlers to withdraw from all settlements and the Palestinians responded by sending rockets into Israel.”

“While he may not have intended it, I fear Secretary Kerry, in his speech and action at the [United Nations], has emboldened extremists on both sides,” the senator said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made similar points on Wednesday, saying Mr. Kerry “obsessively dealt with settlements” so as not to draw focus to “Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries.”

SEE ALSO: Alan Dershowitz rips Obama for Israel ‘bait-and-switch’ at U.N.: ‘He just stabbed them in the back’

Nearly 600,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem alongside over 2.5 million Palestinians.

Mr. Kerry’s speech came just five days after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution 14-0 lambasting Israeli settlements on land claimed by Palestinians. The measure passed due to the Obama administration’s decision to abstain from voting instead of using its veto power.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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