The anti-settlement resolution approved by the UN Security Council last month was “not helpful” and “undermines” the chances of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks being renewed, Rex Tillerson — President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee — said at a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
“Israel is, has always been and remains our most important ally in the region,” the former Exxon Mobil CEO said.
Tillerson took aim at outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry, calling his recent speech in which he assailed Israeli settlement construction “quite troubling.”
The 64-year-old Texan also vowed to make fighting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement a State Department priority.
“Those countries [that support BDS] need to understand that it does shape our view of them,” Tillerson said.
Regarding a potential two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Tillerson said that was “the dream that everyone is in pursuit of.”
“Whether it could ever be a reality remains to be seen,” he went on to say. “I don’t think anyone would take a position that they don’t hope for peace in that area.”
Furthermore, he noted, “Sometimes it takes another generation that’s not carrying all that baggage of the past. The Palestinian people have suffered a lot, under their own leadership in many cases.”
The Palestinian Authority, Tillerson said, has failed to take “serious actions” to thwart violence against Israel.
Palestinian leaders must, do “something to at least interrupt it or prevent” terrorism, Tillerson said, adding that this needs to happen before there can be “any productive discussion around settlements.”
Under his leadership, Tillerson said, the State Department would “try to create an environment that brings parties together.”
“This issue has to be settled between the Israelis and the Palestinians and they can no longer be coerced into coming to the negotiating table,” he stated. “That will not lead to a solution.”
In a reference to the growing behind-the-scenes ties between Israel and the Sunni Arab axis in the region, Tillerson said, “Today, because of Iran and the threat Iran poses, we now find that Israel, the US and the Arab neighbors all share the same enemy. And this gives us an opportunity to discuss things that previously I think would not have been discussed.”
When it comes to the nuclear agreement reached by Iran and six world powers in July 2015, Tillerson said he would recommend a “full review” of the deal — “as well as any side agreements that I understand are a part of that agreement.”