Israel was "deeply disappointed" in US Secretary of State John Kerry's placing the bulk of the blame for the breakdown on talks at Israel's doorstep, an official in the Prime Minister's Office said Wednesday.
The anonymous official, speaking to the New York Times, said that it was the Palestinians who "violated their fundamental commitments" to the diplomatic process by applying last week to join 15 international conventions and treaties.
The official was responding to Kerry's "poof speech" a day earlier in the Senate Foreign relations Committee in which he said that the diplomatic process blew up following Israel's failure to meet the March 29 deadline for releasing the final batch of 26 Palestinian prisoners, and then the announcement of new tenders for 700 units in Gilo.
"Secretary Kerry knows that it was the Palestinians who said ‘no’ to continued direct talks with Israel in November; who said ‘no’ to his proposed framework for final status talks; who said ‘no’ to even discussing recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people; who said ‘no’ to a meeting with Kerry himself; and who said ‘no’ to an extension of the talks,” the official said.
"At the same time," he said, "in the understandings reached prior to the talks, Israel did not commit to any limitation on construction. Therefore, the Palestinian claim that building in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, was a violation of the understandings is contrary to the facts. Both the American negotiating team and the Palestinians know full well that Israel made no such commitment.”
Kerry's comments, the official said, "will both hurt the negotiations and harden Palestinian positions." Beyond the remarks made to the New York Times, officials in the Prime Minister's Office were not commenting on Kerry's comments, in an apparent effort to get their displeasure out there, without belaboring the point.
Kerry's comments did seem, however, to take Jerusalem by surprise, as government officials claimed repeatedly over the last few weeks that the US knew very well the steps Israel has taken to move the talks forward, and that it also knew that the Palestinians were not showing any flexibility.