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Trump tells Israel 'stay strong'

December 28, 2016 3:11 pm

US President-elect Donald Trump has urged Israel to “stay strong” until he assumes office next month.

In comments referring to last week’s UN Security Council vote which criticised Israeli settlement building on occupied land, he complained Israel had been treated with “disdain and disrespect”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied on Twitter: “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel!”

Critics have urged the president-elect to use more conventional channels to communicate on international matters.

In his speech, Mr Kerry warned that current Israeli policy was putting a future peace agreement in jeopardy and was not in the best interests of Israel, the Palestinians – or the US.

“The two-state solution is the only way to achieve just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he insisted.

“We cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be damaged before our own eyes.”

Mr Kerry insisted the UN Security Council resolution passed on Friday was in accordance with US values – despite criticism from the Israeli government, which the secretary of state had an agenda “driven by its most extreme elements”.

The resolution stated that the establishment of settlements “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.

The US decision to abstain infuriated Mr Netanyahu, who has also taken diplomatic reprisals against the countries that voted in favour of the resolution.

Meanwhile, an Israeli committee has postponed a vote to authorise construction of almost 500 new homes in Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.

The move apparently follows a request from Mr Netanyahu’s office.