British Prime Minister Theresa May rebukes U.S. over Israel criticism

By Eric DuVall  |  Dec. 30, 2016 at 11:45 AM
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LONDON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May offered a rare rebuke of the United States, condemning a speech by Secretary of State John Kerry attacking Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

The statement, released by 10 Downing St. on Thursday night, comes as the Obama administration's final days tick down and after President-elect Donald Trump criticized the U.S. decision not to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

The U.N. resolution, which Israel has accused the United States of brokering, calls the settlements a "flagrant violation" of international law that endangers the increasingly distant possibility the Israelis and Palestinians will be able to reach a lasting two-state peace deal. Great Britain acted as a go-between in crafting the resolution, which Israel deeply opposed, making Thursday's rebuke all the more surprising, The Washington Post reported.

In a speech Wednesday, Kerry labeled the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "the most right-wing in Israel's history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements."

May, who leads a conservative British government, responded Thursday, saying through a spokesman the United States should refrain from critiquing the domestic politics of an allied government.

May does "not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally," a spokesman for the prime minister said. "The government believes that negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between the two parties, supported by the international community."

The comments come as U.S. allies prepare to rewrite the diplomatic playbook once Trump assumes the presidency. Trump was publicly outraged by the U.S. decision not to veto the U.N.'s Israeli settlement resolution and has said he supports the Israeli government's claims to land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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