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Netanyahu rips Kerry remarks on Israel boycotts

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rapped U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for warning that Israel would face more international boycotts if the peace process fails.

“Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “Moreover, they will not achieve their goal.”

Kerry had said the previous day at the Munich Security Conference that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot continue because it is “not sustainable.”

“You see for Israel there is an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up,” he said. “People are very sensitive to it; there is talk of boycott and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”

In his response, Netanyahu also said that boycotts push the peace process further away by causing the Palestinians “to adhere to their intransigent positions,” and that “no pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the State of Israel, especially the security of Israel’s citizens.”

Other Israeli government officials also took exception to Kerry’s comments made to reporters in Munich.

“You can’t force the State of Israel to negotiate with a gun to our heads while we are discussing the most critical of our national security interests,” Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz said.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, whose remarks on the peace process last week nearly led to a government coalition crisis, said Israel  “expect(s) our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier.”

Kerry said that “for Israel, the stakes are also enormously high” if the peace process fails, alluding to possible violence as “a response from disappointed Palestinians and the Arab community.”

He said he would continue to press for a peace agreement because “I believe in the possibility or I wouldn’t pursue this.” He added that “the consequences of failure are unacceptable.”

In recent days, a state-run pension fund in Norway has divested from Israeli companies.

 

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