The vote on a resolution against the Israeli settlements at the UN Security Council on Friday will not be the Obama administration's final chord when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In the coming days, a short while before leaving office on January 20, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to give a speech in which he would present his conclusions from the peace initiative he had attempted to promote during his term, as well as his detailed vision for a two-state solution.
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"Over the past four years, I have spent countless hours engaged with the Israelis and Palestinians, countries in the region, and key stakeholders around the world, to explore and advance the prospects for peace," Kerry said in a statement published following the vote at the UN Security Council. "In the coming days, I will speak further to the vote in the Security Council today and share more detailed thoughts, drawn from the experience of the last several years, on the way ahead."
It is still unclear what exactly would Kerry's speech include, and whether he will present the American position concerning the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: borders, Jerusalem, security and refugees.
Frank Lowenstein, the U.S. special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said in a briefing to reporters that Kerry has no intention of releasing the so-called "framework" document he formulated in March, 2014 after months of talks with Israel and the Palestinians, which relates to each of the four core issues. At the time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to the framework, with some reservations. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, however, disapproved of the paper, and in fact have never officially given his response to the Americans to this day.
"The framework was a result of private negotiations," Lowenstein said. "Kerry has some ideas on where we go from here and he wants to share them in the days ahead."
The date and location of Kerry's remarks are not yet clear. The secretary of state originally planned to carry the speech on Thursday, when the resolution was initially put up for a vote at the Security Council. However, after Egypt retracted its request for a vote, Kerry's speech was canceled. The secretary may decide to give the speech during a meeting of foreign ministers in Paris on January 15, as part of the French peace initiative.
"Today, the United States acted with one primary objective in mind: to preserve the possibility of the two-state solution," Kerry said in his statement following the vote. "Two states is the only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state," it said.
"That future is now in jeopardy, with terrorism, violence and incitement continuing and unprecedented steps to expand settlements being advanced by avowed opponents of the two state solution. That is why we cannot in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace."