The UK government has criticised outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry's speech condemning the Israeli settlement programme, accusing it of "focusing on only one issue" in a "deeply complex" situation.

Speaking to the Jewish Chronicle, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said: "We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex."

Kerry said in a fiery speech on 28 December that Benjamin Netanyahu's government was "the most committed to settlements in Israel's history.

"Settlements have nothing to do with Israeli security," said the Secretary of State as he defended a two-state solution as "the only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state living side by side in peace with its neighbours".

The Downing Street spokesperson echoed support for the two-state solution, telling the Jewish Chronicle: "The British government continues to believe that the only way to a lasting peace in the Middle East is through a two-state solution."

The UK backed a recent UN resolution calling for the end of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories - a vote the US controversially abstained from and did not veto. The move prompted US President-elect Donald Trump, who had urged for a US veto, to tell Israel to "stay strong" and await his arrival in the Oval Office.

The resolution was rejected by the current Israeli government, with prime minister Netanyahu calling it "shameful" and saying that Israel would "not abide by its terms".

The Number 10 spokesperson added that: "We continue to believe that the construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal, which is why we supported UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last week. But we are also clear that the settlements are far from the only problem in this conflict."

Kerry was further criticised when the spokesperson said that Downing Street did not believe it was "appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally."

Opinion on the speech is divided in Israel. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who led Israel's Labor Party, took to Twitter to praise Kerry's speech, saying that it was how "the majority in Israel" thought and accusing Netanyahu of being "dragged" by a "messianic steam", adding that he was "standing in front of an abyss and insisting on walking forward".