Congressional Democrats sound almost as critical of the betrayal of Israel by President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry as were the Republicans.
The betrayal came in two blows. The first came last week with Obama’s audacious refusal to veto the United Nations Security Council resolution 2234 slandering Israeli “settlements” as the foremost obstacle to peace. The second blow was Kerry’s controversial and tiring 70 minute speech delivered Wednesday, during which Kerry attempted to justify Obama’s ill-advised Security Council abstention and castigated Israeli settlements effectively equating them with Palestinian Terrorism.
Obama’s abstention and Kerry’s terrible speech were criticized by a number of Democratic lawmakers, including incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY., as well as Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Ben Cardin D-Md., Chris Coons, D-Del., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Reps. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY. and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
Schumer, said Kerry’s speech “emboldened extremists”:
“While Secretary Kerry mentioned Gaza in his speech, he seems to have forgotten the history of the settlements in Gaza, where the Israeli government forced settlers to withdraw from all settlements and the Palestinians responded by sending rockets into Israel,” Schumer said.
“While he may not have intended it, I fear Secretary Kerry, in his speech and action at the [United Nations], has emboldened extremists on both sides.”
Hoyer, who urged Kerry not to deliver the already infamous speech, reiterated his opposition to Obama’s absention:
“The United States will have a role to play in helping both parties reach the goal of lasting peace, even if that involves highlighting uncomfortable facts on the ground, as Secretary Kerry did. Nonetheless, I continue to believe that the U.N. Security Council is the wrong forum for critiquing Israeli policies,” he said in a statement . . . Nonetheless, I continue to believe that the U.N. Security Council is the wrong forum for critiquing Israeli policies,” he said in a statement.
Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, accused Kerry on beating up on Israel while laying off the Palestinians:
“The two state solution is the only way to get peace but what Secretary Kerry did was just beat up on Israel in a disproportionate way [and] sort of gloss over the terrorism that the Palestinians have used throughout these years,” Engel, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Fox and Friends Thursday.
Engel also said he was prepared to work with President-elect Donald Trump on strengthening the U.S. relationship with Israel in the future. According to CBS News, Engle also said “There doesn’t seem any purpose to this other than to embarrass Israel.”
Cardin, who is the Democrats’ top member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he agreed with Kerry that the “lack of forward progress on a two-state solution” is concerning, also said he was looking to “explore congressional action that can mitigate the negative implications” of the U.N. vote.
The Washington Examiner reports that Sen. Murphy speculated that Kerry’s speech might actually hurt the chances of peace in the region by pushing Trump closer to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leaving him unable to be an independent broker for peace:
“Maybe this is the natural extension of what has been a very dysfunctional relationship” between the administration and Netanyahu, Murphy said. “In the end, this may have the opposite effect of what President Obama and John Kerry would hope, in that it would push Donald Trump closer and closer into Netanyahu’s hands.”
Harsh words from Democrats for their lame-duck president who seems determined to screw up the chances for resolving conflict between the Israel and some Arab states.