Kerry is reluctant 'star' of Israeli settlers' spoof

Thu Feb 6, 2014 10:53am EST
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By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Trying humor over hectoring, Israeli ultra-nationalists have lampooned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a video campaign against his troubled quest for peace between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.

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 a lesson.   Continued...

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves while boarding his plane at Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport in Munich, southern Germany, February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool