U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry raised the ire of the Right in Israel on Thursday, after he called the Israeli demand for Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state as a condition in negotiations "a mistake."
"I think its a mistake for some people to be raising it again and again as the critical decider of their attitude toward the possibility of a state and peace," Kerry said, speaking to Congress.
Kerry further noted that in U.N. Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Mandatory Palestine, the phrase "Jewish state" is used dozens of times. Kerry added that former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat recognized Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
The secretary of state went on to say that he believes trust between the Israelis and Palestinians is at an all-time low, and to admit that there are significant gaps between the sides. However, he remained optimistic, saying he believed that the Israelis and Palestinians will reach "some kind of understanding of the road forward."
A Habayit Hayehudi official reacted to Kerry's comments, saying that "in Washington, they do not hear the sirens going off in Ashkelon, and that is sad," referring to the barrage of rockets that was fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel this week.
Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman (Habayit Hayehudi) said: "At a time when the citizens of the State of Israel are being attacked by rockets, I would expect Kerry to be making clear statements against terror organizations instead of disputing the basic rights of the Jewish nation to its land."
Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) added, "Kerry does not understand the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which he purports to solve."
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) also took issue with Kerry's remarks, saying, "The secretary of state expects that we will completely dismantle both our strategic properties and our moral conviction. I am sure that Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu will clarify to our friends in the American government that we are connected to reality and not to illusions."
A poll published earlier this week showed that two-thirds of Israelis do not trust Kerry to take Israel's security into account as a "crucial factor" in the framework peace proposal he is attempting to formulate.
The same poll found that 74% of Israeli Jews believe the U.S. is putting more pressure on Israel than the Palestinians to accept the framework proposal.
At the end of his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, "[Israel and the Palestinians] both will have to take difficult and unpalatable decisions -- and sometimes unpopular decisions -- for their constituencies in order to achieve that [peace] settlement, but I sense it is possible."
Meanwhile, Abbas said: "The Israeli occupation forces recently killed three Palestinians in the West Bank and three others in the Gaza Strip and we did not hear any apologies from the Israeli government. Yesterday, rockets were fired from Gaza and Israel responded. We condemn the aggression and the military escalation in all its forms including the rockets."