British Prime Minister Theresa May faulted Secretary of State John Kerry for criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government during his speech on Israeli-Palestinian relations.

“We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally,” a spokesman for May told the Jewish Chronicle.

Kerry described Netanyahu’s coalition government as “the most right-wing in Israeli history,” saying they backed policies that would make it impossible to have a negotiated peace with Palestinian leaders. “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements,” Kerry said Wednesday. “The result is that policies of this government, which the prime minister himself just described as more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history, are leading in the opposite direction. They’re leading towards one state.”

May criticized that comment and suggested that Kerry had focused too much, in his lengthy remarks, on Israeli support for the construction of settlements in disputed Palestinian territory.

“We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex,” her spokesman told the Chronicle.

That statement looks like an olive branch to Netanyahu’s government, after May angered Israel by backing the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning settlement construction when it passed last week, and, reportedly, allowing British diplomats to help draft the final version.

“We must be honest with our friends, like Israel, because that is what true friendship is about,” May said in early December, as the Chronicle noted. “That is why we have been clear about building new, illegal settlements: it is wrong; it is not conducive to peace; and it must stop.”

The State Department pushed back against May’s statement by noting her record on the settlements issue. “We are grateful for the strongly supportive statements in response to Secretary Kerry’s speech from across the world, including Germany, France, Canada, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others,” a State Department spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. “We are surprised by the UK Prime Minister’s office statement given that Secretary Kerry’s remarks—which covered the full range of threats to a two state solution, including terrorism, violence, incitement and settlements—were in-line with the UK’s own longstanding policy and its vote at the United Nations last week.”

The U.S., Britain and other nations have long criticized settlement construction in disputed territories as a matter of policy; but the United States prevented such resolutions from passing through the U.N. Security Council in order to prevent the negotiating table from being tilted in favor of the Palestinians before direct talks take place. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power invoked that history, and historic U.N. targeting of Israel, to explain why the U.S. was simply refusing to veto the resolution rather than voting in favor of it.

Trump, reacting to Russian sanctions, says time to 'move on to bigger and better things'

Also from the Washington Examiner

President-elect Trump responded to the news Thursday that President Obama issued sanctions against Russia for its cyberattacks.

“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in a statement. “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”

On Thursday, Obama said: “I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election. These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and

12/29/16 6:05 PM

“It is because this forum too often continues to be biased against Israel, because there are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed in this resolution, and because the United States does not agree with every word in this text that the United States did not vote in favor of this resolution,” Power said last week.

Obama sanctions Russia in retaliation for cyberattacks

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Obama issued a new round of sanctions targeting Russia despite Russian warnings not to do so.

12/29/16 2:16 PM

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