Did Secretary Kerry Get His Facts Straight?

In the wake of the Obama administration’s decision to allow a UN Resolution harshly critical of Israel to pass in the Security Council, Secretary of State John F. Kerry today gave an extended speech at the State Department justifying and defending the resolution.

In support of the administration, Mr. Kerry made a number of claims, including that other presidents had allowed similar resolutions to pass:

But remember it’s important to note that every United States administration, Republican and Democratic, has opposed settlements as contrary to the prospects for peace, and action at the UN Security Council is far from unprecedented. In fact, previous administrations of both political parties have allowed resolutions that were critical of Israel to pass, including on settlements. On dozens of occasions under George W. Bush alone, the council passed six resolutions that Israel opposed, including one that endorsed a plan calling for a complete freeze on settlements, including natural growth.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kerry is being less than accurate here – except for President Carter no such resolutions have been allowed to pass. In the bolded section above Mr. Kerry is referring to UNSC Res. 1515, which endorsed the so-called Road Map. But the freeze called for in the first phase of the Road Map was temporary, and depended on the Palestinians living up to their commitments under the plan, which they manifestly failed to do.

In the next paragraph of his speech Mr. Kerry was just as inaccurate:

Let me read you the lead paragraph from a New York Times story dated December 23rd. I quote: “With the United States abstaining, the Security Council adopted a resolution today strongly deploring Israel’s handling of the disturbances in the occupied territories,” which the resolution defined as including Jerusalem. All of the 14 other Security Council members voted in favor. My friends, that story was not written last week. It was written December 23rd, 1987, 26 years to the day that we voted last week, when Ronald Reagan was president.

Mr. Kerry is here referring to Res. 605, which said nothing at all about settlements or their alleged illegality and that is what the present controversy is all about. In other words, Res. 605 offers no support whatsoever for Mr. Kerry’s claims.

And since Mr. Kerry brings up President Reagan, let’s recall that Mr. Reagan’s position was that settlements were “not illegal.”

What does it say about the case Mr. Kerry is trying to make that he and his many researchers at the State Department couldn’t come up with better “facts”– like, for example, ones that are actually true?

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