Barack Obama has defended his record on Israel and argued that the recent U.N resolution denouncing Jewish settlements in the West Bank was an important, to “send a signal”.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, the outgoing U.S. president said America’s refusal to veto the motion declaring settlements “a flagrant violation of international law” was the “best move” for peace, but denied that the U.S. had behind it.
In the UK, Foreign Secretary also defended Britain’s decision to support the U.N resolution, arguing that they were “by no means conducive to peace… that is why we resolved as we did”. He added that the UK only voted for the resolution because it contained wording condemning “the infamy of terrorism that Israel suffered every day”.
Johnson also paid tribute to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s keynote speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on 28 December, saying: “It is a widespread view in Washington, and across the UN Security Council, that settlements are illegal, which was why the resolution went through as it did, without any opposition”.
In the TV interview, Obama said Kerry’s warnings about settlement expansion had been “ignored” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as had his own, and reminded Israeli viewers that traditional Zionist values include treating people fairly and equally.
“It breaks my heart that the prospects for peace are fading away,” he said: “Increasingly the settlements have become a barrier to the two-state solution. Bibi says he believes in a two-state solution, and yet his actions show that if he is getting pressured to approve more settlements, he will do so.”
Referring to his successor Donald Trump’s uncritical stance, he said: “Unfettered support for Israel, and support for the Netanyahu government’s policies, no matter what they are, no matter how inimical they may be to the prospect of peace, if that’s what qualifies as a good friend, I believe we will see a worsening situation over time.”