LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Rabbis with the Simon Wiesenthal Center blasted Secretary of State John Kerry’s Mideast policy speech Wednesday in the wake of last week’s U.N. resolution calling Israeli settlements illegal.

“It is unprecedented for an outgoing Administration to make such a draconian foreign policy shift — while simultaneously packing their boxes to leave Washington,” said Weisenthal founder and dean Rabbi Marvin Hier and associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper.

The comments came in response to a farewell speech at the State Department in which Kerry outlined his vision for Mideast peace.

While his speech included criticism of Palestinian violence and incitement, his strongest words were aimed at Israel, and its policy of settling its citizens in occupied territories claimed by the Palestinians. Kerry said the continued settlement growth is threatening the possibility of a two-state solution.

He also defended Obama’s move last week to allow the U.N. Security Council to declare Israeli settlements illegal, the spark that set off a nearly weeklong diplomatic spat between Israel and its most important ally.

In a joint statement, Hier and Cooper denounced the U.N. move, saying, “Secretary Kerry makes it sound like it’s the apartments and kindergartens built in Jewish communities on the West Bank that are the main impediment to a Two-State solution, when he and those diplomats who voted for UNSC 2334 know that it is Palestinian terrorism, and the continued control of Gaza and the largest portion of the Palestinian population by terrorist Hamas that is the main roadblock to a true peace.”

Earlier this week, the Weisenthal Center released its annual report (PDF) of the top ten anti-Semitic incidents of 2016 and named the U.N. Security Council vote as the top-ranked incident of the year.

Hier was named earlier Wednesday as one of six faith leaders scheduled to participate in the swearing-in ceremony for President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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