The US Secretary of State John Kerry held the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to account for the promotion of the settlement expansion, in a passionate speech addressing controversy over a UN resolution and defending president Barack Obama's commitment towards the long-standing ally.

In the speech, which lasted more than an hour, Kerry fiercely defended the US support and friendship towards Israel, but he also condemned the settlement policy as an ideologically-motivated obstacle to peace. He advocated for the two-state solution as enshrined in the UN Resolution 181. Without it, he warned, Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic – and it would never be fully at peace.

The secretary of state highlighted the need for a peace agreement that respected the dignity of the Palestinian people and their right to live in a sovereign state. Anything other than a two-state solution, he said, would involve millions of Palestinian living in segregated enclaves, under a military occupation denying them of basic freedoms.

Israeli politicians have reacted negatively to the speech, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who labelled Kerry's speech on Wednesday as a "great disappointment" and "biased" against Israel in a televised statement.

Aired about an hour after Kerry finished his speech on 28 December, Netanyahu blasted the US secretary of state for attacking the "the only democracy in the Middle East" while terror is rampant and the "Middle East is in flames."

Shimon Peres
US Secretary of State John Kerry is seen upon his arrival to attend the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem Baz Ratner/ Reuters