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Trump: UN not living up to its potential

The US president-elect has said the United Nations is failing to live up to its potential, heaping further criticism on the body in the wake of a UN vote on the legality of Israeli settlements.

Donald Trump's comments follow Secretary of State John Kerry's speech defending the US decision to abstain from that vote.

"There is such tremendous potential, but [the UN] is not living up [to it]. When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don't. They cause problems," Mr Trump said.

Trump offered little comment on Kerry's speech, telling reporters that it "spoke for itself", but he has assured Israel that it merely needs to "hang on" until his administration takes over from that of Barack Obama.

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Palestinian PM 'ready to resume Israel talks'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he is ready to resume talks Credit: Reuters

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he is ready to resume peace talks with Israel - if the country halts settlement construction.

On Wednesday, Abbas said he would be prepared to resume talks "within a specific time frame and on the basis of international law."

His comments came after a speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry, outlining America's rationale behind a decision not to veto a UN resolution demanding further Israeli settlement building be halted.

The speech was earlier described by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as a "great disappointment".

Israel critical of 'biased' and 'obsessive' Kerry speech

Benjamin Netanyahu (r) was critical of John Kerry's (l) speech Credit: Reuters

John Kerry's speech on settlement in Israel was "skewed" and "obsessive," the Middle Eastern country's Prime Minister claims.

Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the speech, made on Wednesday in Washington, as "biased" against Israel.

The Israeli PM said Secretary of State Kerry's speech - which justified US opposition to further settlement building in the region - ignored the root of the conflict.

Netanyahu cited the root as being Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state within any borders.

Kerry's speech indicated the US belief that Israeli actions were threatening peace in the Middle East.

"Like the Security Council resolution, that Secretary Kerry advanced in the U.N., his speech tonight was skewed against Israel," a statement said.

"The Israeli leader said Kerry "obsessively dealt with settlements".

Kerry: 'US rejects criticism of its vote on Israeli settlement'

Kerry said the US rejected criticism of its vote Credit: Pool

The US has rejected criticism of its decision not to veto a UN resolution demanding the stop of Israeli settlement building.

Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the US had vetoed the resolution then it would have given tacit approval to Israel to continue so-called illegal settling.

"If we had vetoed this resolution, just the other day, the United States would have been giving licence to further unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose," Kerry said.

"So we reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel."

He added: "On the contrary, it is not this resolution that is isolating Israel. It is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible."

Kerry said that "virtually every country" except for Israel opposes further settlement.

"virtually every country" except for Israel opposes settlement.

Kerry: 'Hope for peace in Israel is slipping away'

John Kerry said the hopes for peace were 'slipping away' Credit: Pool

Hopes for peace in Israel are "slipping away", according to John Kerry.

The US Secretary of State said the idea of a one-state solution in the region was not viable, and affirmed the US's commitment to a two-state answer.

"We cannot, in good conscience, do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away," Kerry said.

He added: "The truth is that trends on the ground - violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation - are destroying hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want."

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