Graham criticizes Kerry's speech on Middle East Peace

Graham criticizes Kerry's speech on Middle East Peace
Secretary of State John Kerry (Source: AP)
Secretary of State John Kerry (Source: AP)

WASHINGTON D.C. (WCSC) - As mixed reaction pours in to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's speech on a path to peace in the Middle East, South Carolina's senior senator is adding criticism.

In a farewell speech Wednesday, Kerry defended the Obama Administration's decision to allow the U.N. Security Council to declare Israeli settlements illegal and warned that Israel's very future as a democracy is at stake.

Kerry, pushing back on Israel's fury at the U.S. abstention of the United Nations vote, questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's true commitment to Palestinian statehood, which has formed the basis for all serious peace talks for years.

"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," Kerry said in the speech, a comprehensive airing of grievances that have built up in the Obama administration over eight years but were rarely, until this month, discussed publicly.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham issued a statement against Kerry's remarks Wednesday afternoon:

"While I support a two-state solution, an independent Palestinian state coexisting with a secure Israel, the one and only Jewish state, I do not believe under the current construct such an outcome is possible. The biggest impediment to a two-state solution is not boundary lines or the right of return, it is the fact that the Palestinians are hopelessly divided and a large percentage of the Palestinian population is represented by Hamas. Until that changes, the peace process is dead and a chance for a two-state solution is a fantasy rather than reality. 

"While I appreciate Secretary Kerry's enthusiasm, I am getting weary of plans and proposals that are at best fanciful and worse delusional. Given the current state of discord and dysfunction among the Palestinians, a two-state solution is impossible until fundamental change occurs in Palestine. 

"What John Kerry fails to appreciate, is that the Palestinians are in complete disarray when it comes to acting like a state. A two-state solution would require two parties capable of reaching an agreement and executing it. I do not believe that the Palestinians under the current construct could deliver on any agreement reached. Almost forty percent of the Palestinian population lives under the control of Hamas – one of the most vicious terrorist groups on the planet.

"I wish Secretary Kerry and President Obama would stop pushing Israel to negotiate against themselves. The only way the peace process can be restarted is for the Palestinians to hold elections and be governed by a single entity that rejects terrorism. That is not the current situation and until that day arrives, pushing Israel to restart the peace process is folly."

Israel's government was enraged after the U.S. abstained from voting on the U.N. Security Council resolution last week that called Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem a violation of international law. Netanyahu accused the U.S. of colluding with the Palestinians and helping draft the resolution.

The U.S. has vehemently denied those charges. Kerry insisted the U.S. "did not draft or originate" the resolution, introduce by Egypt and later by a handful of other nations.

Kerry's speech marked the latest escalation in the vicious, drama-filled row between the U.S. and Israel that has erupted in the last days of Obama's administration. The extraordinary display of discord between allies - with U.S. and Israeli officials openly disparaging each other - has also pitted President Barack Obama against President-elect Donald Trump, who has firmly taken Netanyahu's side.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.