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Democratic Senate leader slams Kerry’s Israel speech: He ‘emboldened extremists’

New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called out Secretary of State John Kerry for his Middle East peace speech, which blasted Israel, Wednesday, arguing the message made matters worse by "emboldening" Israelis and Palestinians.

"While Secretary Kerry mentioned Gaza in his speech, he seems to have forgotten the history of the settlements in Gaza, where the Israeli government forced settlers to withdraw from all settlements and the Palestinians responded by sending rockets into Israel," Schumer said in a Wednesday statement, per The Hill. "This is something that people of all political stripes in Israel vividly remember."

In his lengthy speech, which was dubbed a "lecture" against Israel by many viewers, Kerry chastised the United States' closest ally in the Middle East for not more actively seeking a two-state solution with Palestine.

"While he may not have intended it," Schumer said, "I fear Secretary Kerry, in his speech and action at the [United Nations], has emboldened extremists on both sides."

Kerry, saying "friends" like the U.S. and Israel need to be able to tell one another "the hard truths," argued, "If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both."

The remarks from the secretary of state, and the subsequent criticism from Schumer, followed a Friday 14-0 vote on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which bars Israel from establishing settlements in areas where Palestinians have claimed ownership. The U.S. chose to abstain from — rather than veto — the resolution.

"Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to Kerry's speech.

Netanyahu also praised President-elect Donald Trump, thanking him for his "warm friendship."

The billionaire businessman has signaled a coming shift in U.S.-Israel relations once he is sworn in on Jan. 20.

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