Kerry: US worked to ensure fair Paris Mideast statement
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the United States had negotiated at the Paris Middle East peace conference to prevent Israel being treated unfairly.
Kerry thanked France for hosting the international conference and welcomed its final statement in favour of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But he said the positive conclusion was arrived at only after US diplomats insisted on strong language condemning Palestinian incitement and attacks on Israelis.
"We came in here and where we thought it was unbalanced and where we thought it was not expressing the kind of unity that I talked about, we fought to address it," he said.
"We didn't soften it. We did what was necessary to have a balanced resolution. And if you look at it, it speaks in positive ways, rather than negative, to both sides."
Speaking to reporters after the talks, Kerry confirmed that he had spoken to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the Paris meeting to reassure him.
He noted that leading Arab nations had been present at the talks and had agreed to the language condemning incitement and had endorsed the US outline of a two-state solution.
This blueprint, unveiled by Kerry in a speech last month, insists on the need for two states, one of them Israel recognised as a Jewish state.
"It evidenced a constructive willingness to engage with Israel that has not been readily put on the table by people over the course of the past several years," he argued.
Israel's government was angered last month when the United States allowed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution condemning Israeli settlement building on occupied land.
But Kerry said he had told Netanyahu that, contrary to his government's complaints, this did not mean that Washington had turned its back on Israel's claim on Jerusalem.
Kerry said he had told Netanyahu: "We fully expect Israel's profound historic and religious ties to the city and to its holy sites. We've never questioned that.
"This resolution in no manner prejudges the outcome of permanent status negotiations for east Jerusalem which must reflect those historic ties and realities on the ground."
© 2017 AFP