The Latest: Kerry to speak in State Department on Mideast

AP News
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Posted: Dec 27, 2016 4:02 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the fallout from a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements (all times local):

10:58 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to speak Wednesday at the State Department on Middle East peace and his term generally.

Department spokesman Mark Toner made the announcement while briefing reporters on Tuesday.

Toner says the notion that the U.S. orchestrated the United Nation's Security Council vote opposing Jewish settlements in occupied territory is "just not true". The U.S. abstained from voting on Resolution 2334 on Friday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply rebuked the Obama administration for its passage.

Toner on Tuesday repeatedly said that Egypt and the Palestinians drafted the resolution and the U.S. worked with them on the language only after the intention to go forward no matter what was clear.

Toner says: "The idea this was pre-cooked in advance is not accurate."

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5:30 p.m.

Israel is stepping up its attacks on the Obama administration, saying it has proof from Arab sources that the U.S. actively helped craft a U.N. resolution that declared Israeli settlements illegal.

David Keyes, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says Israel has "ironclad information" that the White House helped draft the language of the resolution. Citing Arab sources, he said Tuesday that the White House "pushed hard" for its passage.

Israel is livid about the resolution, which gave the Palestinians a major diplomatic victory.

The Palestinians are hoping the resolution will give them momentum at a French-hosted Mideast peace conference scheduled next month.

Keyes says Israel will not join the conference.

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10 a.m.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hopes the upcoming Mideast conference in France will set a mechanism to end Israeli settlements in territory Palestinians claim for a state.

His public remarks were his first since the recent U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned settlements as a "flagrant violation" of international law. Abbas told a meeting of his Fatah party late Monday that the resolution, "paves the way for the international peace conference."

France hosts a conference on Jan. 15 where countries may endorse a framework for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes such activity, saying only direct negotiations will produce a solution. Netanyahu has called on Abbas to meet for talks, but Abbas has refused unless settlement construction ends.