JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday brushed off U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s warning that Israel faced a growing boycott threat if peace talks with the Palestinians fail, saying the campaign would not achieve its goal.
In the latest flare-up between the two allies, two of Netanyahu’s Cabinet ministers went even further, lashing out at Kerry and accusing him of undermined the Jewish state’s legitimacy and the chances of reaching a peace agreement.
Israel and the Palestinians launched peace talks in July after a long lull and have thus far shown little signs of progress. Facing an April deadline, Israel is working against a backdrop of increasing international pressure to reach a deal, coupled with a growing call for boycotting Israel over its settlements in areas it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
A small but growing number of European businesses and pension funds have begun to drop investments or limit trade with Israeli firms involved in the West Bank settlements. At a security conference in Germany this weekend, Kerry warned that a breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian talks would accelerate this trend and could threaten Israel’s economic prosperity and its safety.
“You see for Israel there’s an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things,” Kerry said. “Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary. There’s a momentary prosperity, there’s a momentary peace.”
At the opening of his weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said international pressure on Israel would backfire and only cause the Palestinians to harden their positions.