Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back at US Secretary of State John Kerry's speech on the Israel-Palestine conflict, calling it a "great disappointment" that undermined the Jewish state.
Netanyahu attacked Kerry for reportedly spending more time criticising Israel's illegal settlements than condemning Palestinian acts of terror,
"Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders," said the prime minister said in a speech from Jerusalem, according to The Hill.
He added that the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians "has always been about Israel's very right to exist".
The war of words comes after Kerry questioned whether Netanyahu's government was actually in favour of the two-state solution.
"If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it won't ever really be at peace," the secretary of state declared.
Mike Herzog, a former senior Israeli peace negotiator in Kerry's 2014 initiative, told reporters in a conference call that Kerry's speech borrowed from the earlier negotiations.
Herzog added that while Kerry did touch on two breaking positions - equivalence and Jerusalem – what he said in his remarks are already known to Israel and offer no "major surprises".
The Israel-based fellow for The Washington Initiative believes that Kerry's speech will not hold much policy impact unless its parameters are included in a United Nations (UN) resolution. "The probability of this happening is not high," claims Herzog, as Palestinians are eager to see that happen.
The Hill also states that the majority of Netanyahu's speech was delivered in English, a further signal that it was directly aimed at the US.
"Secretary Kerry said the US cannot vote against its own policy, but that's exactly what it did at the UN," Netanyahu said about the Obama administration's decision to abstain from voting on a resolution condemning the settlements.
The resolution easily passed 14-0, prompting Netanyahu to call the ambassadors of the US and the UK and limit ties with 12 Security Council members.
Netanyahu called Kerry's comments "as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed last week."
Israeli officials have claimed that the Security Council resolution was orchestrated by the Obama administration and the UN.
"We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence the US organised, advanced and brought this resolution to the Security Council," Netanyahu said. The prime minister has also vowed to share the "sensitive" intelligence with the incoming Trump administration.
"Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with the American Congress—Democrats and Republicans alike—to mitigate the damage this resolution has done and ultimately repeal it," he said.
Trump took to Twitter prior to Kerry's speech to share his support for Israel. Netanyahu returned the sentiment, writing: "President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel!"
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz , Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas released a statement reiterating "his commitment to a just and lasting peace as a strategic option". The statement said Palestinians would resume negotiations "the minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities."