US Secretary of State John Kerry walks at the State Department in Washington October 2.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The State Department on Friday rejected Economic Minister Naftali Bennett's accusations that Secretary of State John Kerry made a linkage between the emergence of Islamic State and the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In her remarks to the press, the State Department's deputy spokesperson, Marie Harf, said that Kerry's remarks were taken out of context "for political reasons."
"[Kerry] did not make a link between the growth of ISIL and Israel, period," she said, clarifying that while forming the US-led military coalition against Islamic State, world leaders told Kerry that the situation in the Middle East would be much better if the decades-old conflict were to be resolved.
This was "nothing new," the spokeswoman continued, adding that either the minister didn’t read what Kerry said or someone was distorting the facts. "That was a wrong reading of his comments," she concluded.
"Asserting that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reinforces ISIS, gives a boost to global terrorism," Bennett slammed Kerry on Friday.
In remarks Kerry made Thursday, he said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was thought of by various leaders as fueling violence and leading to recruitment by the jihadist organization.
"It turns out that even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian, there will always be those who blame the Jews," Bennett said in reference to videos of recent decapitations of Western captives by an Islamic State member who speaks with an English accent.
He added that there is no justification for terrorism and that Israeli is fighting against the phenomenon.
During remarks at a White House ceremony for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha Thursday, Kerry implied that the strife resulting from the decades-long dispute between Israel and the Palestinians has harbored an environment prone to fostering extremism.
"I think that it is more critical than ever that we be fighting for peace, and I think it is more necessary than ever... As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL (Islamic State) coalition, the truth is we – there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt," Kerry said.