US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday in Bethlehem that US considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank “illegitimate”.
Let me emphasize at this point the position of the United States of America on the settlements is that we consider now and have always considered the settlements to be illegitimate. And I want to make it extremely clear that at no time did the Palestinians in any way agree, as a matter of going back to the talks, that they somehow condone or accept the settlements. The Palestinians believe that the settlements are illegal. The United States has said that they believe the settlements are not helpful and are illegitimate. And there should be no connection. That is not to say that they weren’t aware or we weren’t aware that there would be construction. But that construction, importantly, in our judgment, would be much better off limited as much as possible in an effort to help create a climate for these talks to be able to proceed effectively, he said.
I am convinced that President Abbas is serious about these talks. I’m convinced that he wants to find peace and that he understands that we require compromise by all the parties. And he has restated to me today his own willingness to compromise in an effort to find a fair and just peace, he added.
In his remarks with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem, Kerry said nothing about the settlements, he only spoke about the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians asking for caution.
We need the space to negotiate privately, secretly, quietly, and we will continue to do that. We have six months ahead of us on the timetable we’ve set for ourselves, and I’m confident that we have the ability to make progress, he said.