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Britain’s PM Theresa May Rebukes John Kerry for Israel ‘Attack’

FROM DEC. 28: Palestinians See Israeli Settlements as Obstacle to Peace 1:20

LONDON — Britain’s government scolded Secretary of State John Kerry Friday for his speech criticizing Israel, a move that aligns Prime Minister Theresa May more closely with President-elect Donald Trump.

In a 70-minute speech, Kerry said Israel's building of settlements was endangering Middle East peace and described the Israeli government as the "most right-wing in Israeli history.”

Image: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May BEN STANSALL / AFP - Getty Images

His remarks added to the strain in the relationship between Israel's government and the outgoing Obama administration after the U.S. cleared the way for a U.N resolution last week that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building.

A spokesman for May said the British government believed that while the construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories was illegal, it was clear that the settlements were far from the only problem in this conflict.

"We do not ... believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue," May's spokesman said in a statement. "And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally."

Related: What are Israeli Settlements and Why Do They Matter?

Trump had openly lobbied against the U.N resolution and criticized Obama's handling of the relationship. Britain supported the UN resolution.

The State Department was not immediately available for comment but a spokesperson earlier told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper: “We are surprised by the U.K. prime minister’s statement given that Secretary Kerry’s remarks … were in-line with the U.K.’s own longstanding policy and its vote at the United Nations last week.”