US National Security Advisor Susan Rice came to the defense on Tuesday of US Secretary of State John Kerry after he was roundly criticized by a number of Israeli government officials over comments that he made on the weekend about the Israeli Palestinian peace talks.
Kerry said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, that a consequence for Israel if it does not reach a peace deal is an economic boycott against it.
Following Kerry's remarks Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said: “We expect our friends in the world to stand by our side against anti-Semitic boycott efforts against Israel, and not be their trumpet.”
Rice, who was the US envoy to the UN before her current post, tweeted "Personal attacks in Israel directed at Sec[retary] Kerry [are] totally unfounded and unacceptable. The US government has been clear and consistent that we reject efforts to boycott or delegitimize Israel."
"John Kerry's record of support for Israel’s security and prosperity are rock solid," Rice added.
Last month, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud-Beytenu) apologized for saying that Kerry’s diplomatic efforts to bring about a political settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians stemmed from an “incomprehensible obsession” and “a messianic feeling.”
Indyk, Abbas set to meet in Ramallah
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to meet in Ramallah Tuesday with Martin Indyk, the State Department's lead envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, to discuss the latest developments surrounding the peace process.
“President Abbas will meet with Indyk to pursue discussions aimed at achieving a just and comprehensive peace agreement,” Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters on Monday.
Erekat said that the discussions would focus on core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, borders, settlements, refugees, water, security and the release of Palestinians from Israeli prisons.
“The Israeli government has chosen settlements, sanctions, dictates, arrests, blockades, assassinations and creating new facts on the ground,” Erekat said. “The Israeli government is no longer hiding its policy. [Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu may be trying to conceal his government’s program, but [Defense Minister Moshe] Ya’alon, [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Leiberman and [Minister of Economy Naftali] Bennet have taken it upon themselves to reveal the truth.”
Erekat said that the Palestinians have already recognized Israel. “We challenge the ministers of this government to say that they recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” he added. “The Israeli government is seeking to sabotage the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Abbas revealed that he proposed to Kerry that an American-led NATO force patrol a future Palestinian state indefinitely.
US officials acknowledged to The Jerusalem Post on Monday, that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will likely require more time than previously anticipated, as the nine-month deadline for peace talks set by Kerry last July, is on the verge of expiring in two months.