Netanyahu Responds to Kerry: Palestinians, Not Israel, to Blame for Diplomatic Stalemate

After U.S. secretary of state criticizes Israel for having no plan regarding Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu cites polling data showing 75 percent of Palestinians oppose two-state solution.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, December 14, 2015.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, December 14, 2015. Olivieh Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday it is time for the international community to understand that it is the Palestinian Authority, and not Israel, who is at fault for the diplomatic stalemate. Netanyahu's remarks follow criticism of his government's policies by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry published in the issue of the New Yorker magazine the day before

"We are besieged with repeated polls in the Palestinian Authority that about 75 percent of this  population rejects the solution of two states for two peoples and about 80 percent are in favor of continued stabbings," Netanyahu said in the course of a visit to the Israeli army's southern command headquarters. 

Netanyahu blamed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for stirring up animosity towards Israel. In reacting to the polling data, Netanyahu made reference to Abbas' repeated claims in recent months that Israel is attempting to violate the status quo at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount - a charge that the Israeli government vigorously denies - and that Israel's killing of stabbing suspects amounts to extra-judicial executions.

"That's not surprising because Abu Mazen [Abbas] is continuing constantly to stir things up with false propaganda about Al-Aqsa, false propaganda about executions and by rejecting any genuine attempt at coming to negotiations," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry steps off a plane upon arrival at Ciampino Airport near Rome, December 13, 2015.
AP

Some two-thirds of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip support the use of knives in the current confrontations with Israelis, back the resignation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and advocate abandoning the Oslo accords with Israel, which established the Palestinian Authority, according to the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

On Monday Abbas said returning to negotiations with Israel needs to be based on clear principles of Israel releasing the fourth round of long-incarcerated prisoners, freezing settlements, reining in aggressive settlers and setting a date for establishing a Palestinian state, in addition to respecting all signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians since 1993.

On Monday, the New Yorker published an interview with Kerry, in which the secretary of state was cited as saying that the Israeli government doesn’t know how it wants to solve the conflict with the Palestinians or what kind of country it wants Israel to become. Does Israel want “to be one big fortress?” the secretary of state asked.

In the article, Kerry told New Yorker editor David Remnick he believes Israel is on the road to becoming a binational state, which would be “an impossible entity to manage.”  He added that he fears the Palestinian Authority will collapse, leaving its 30,000 security personnel to scatter to the winds, which would result in anarchy and violent clashes with Israel. The alternative to solving the conflict, Kerry continued, “is you sit there and things just get worse.”

Nevertheless, Remnick wrote, Kerry's aides said the secretary of state intends to continue dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until the end of President Barack Obama's term ends in January 2017.