During a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hearing today, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry focused heavily on Israeli moves in his explanation of what he believes has cause the current impasse in the American-brokered peace talks.
“Both sides, whether advertently or inadvertently, wound up in positions where things happened that were unhelpful,” Kerry said.
Continuing his remarks, Kerry cited Israel’s refusal to proceed with the fourth scheduled release of Palestinian terrorist prisoners on March 29 as leading to the stalling of negotiations.
“Unfortunately, prisoners were not released on the Saturday (March 29) they were supposed to be released. And so day went by, day two went by, day three went by. And then in the afternoon, when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof, that was sort of the moment. We find ourselves where we are,” Kerry said.
Kerry said that the Palestinian move to join 15 international conventions and treaties also hurt negotiations.
“Clearly, going to these treaties is not helpful, and we have made that crystal-clear,” he said.
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) slammed Kerry’s testimony for its singling out of Israel.
“After almost nine months of negotiations, during which Israel took concrete steps to advance the process, including the release of 78 prisoners-many of them terrorists-it is outrageous for Secretary Kerry to blame the Jewish state for the apparent failure of the diplomatic process undertaken at his insistence,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said.
The U.S. State Department attempted to clarify Kerry’s remarks, explaining that Kerry blamed both the Israelis and Palestinians for the impasse in the peace talks.
“As has been the case throughout this impasse, today, Secretary Kerry was again crystal clear that both sides have taken unhelpful steps and at no point has he engaged in a blame game,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.