The two-minute-long YouTube clip features an actor playing a
buffoonish Kerry as he tours the occupied West Bank and East
Jerusalem, areas where Palestinians seek statehood but which Israel
sees as a Jewish birthright and security buffer.
The spoof followed harder criticism of the top U.S. diplomat from
within Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightist
government. One minister was quoted as calling Kerry "messianic"
while another said he was expecting the Jewish state to negotiate
with a gun to its head.
Speaking against the backdrop of Jerusalem shrines, the mock-Kerry
extols the city as "holy to all religions: Jews, Christians,
Muslims, Buddhists, Klingons and Hobbits".
In the Jordan Valley — the proposed eastern border of the future
Palestine, where Israel insists on keeping its own troops — "Kerry"
offers assurances by suggesting armed infiltrators can be
photographed and shamed on social media.
Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,
under military guard, among 2.4 million Palestinians. Most world
powers deem the settlements on land Israel took in the 1967 Middle
East war to be illegal.
The United States has opted for softer rubric, questioning their
"legitimacy", and in the past has voiced support for its Middle East
ally keeping some settlements under a peace deal.
But many Israeli nationalists oppose any pullbacks, citing the 2005
withdrawal of settlers from the Gaza Strip — another Palestinian
territory that is now under the rule of hostile Hamas Islamists — as
U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who holds sway in
limited self-rule Palestinian areas of the West Bank, has also had
misgivings about some of Kerry's ideas. But Abbas has remonstrated
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"All Kerry and (U.S. President Barack) Obama have done in the Middle
East has failed," said Yigal Dilmoni, deputy head of the settler
council Yesha, which co-sponsored the parody video.
"We do not want to be Kerry's next failure and we certainly do not
want Jews to be banished because of him from Judea and Samaria,
cradle of the Jewish people," he said, referring to the West Bank by
its biblical name.
Speaking on CNN on Wednesday, Kerry was asked about the mounting
criticism of him among Israeli officials and regular citizens. He
brushed it off.
"I've been, quote, 'attacked' before by people using real bullets,
not words. And I am not going to be intimidated," Kerry said,
alluding to his service in the Vietnam War.
But some in Israel are campaigning for Kerry to succeed.
Breaking the Impasse, a group formed by Israeli businessmen, put a
triumphant-looking Netanyahu at the centre of billboard posters and
newspaper ads calling on him to end the decades-old conflict with
the Palestinians. "Only you can do it Bibi!" say the ads, using
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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