John Kerry to Andrea Mitchell: U.S. Allies Won't Be 'Swayed' by Trump's Tweets

Corky Siemaszko
John Kerry takes aim at Donald Trump

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said American allies will not be "swayed and intimidated by a tweet" from President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly weighed in on foreign affairs on social media despite not yet taking office.

In an exclusive interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Kerry said he would not get into a "debate" with Trump, but suggested U.S. allies have been "affected" by the president-elect's recent commentary on U.S.-Israeli relations and other sensitive foreign policy issues.

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Trump's recent online rhetoric is widely seen as a break from the tradition of deference to the sitting president during a period of transition. In the latest of a series of tweets, Trump on Wednesday told Israel to "stay strong ... January 20th is fast approaching."

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In the interview, Kerry pushed back against allegations that the U.S. in any way orchestrated the United Nations' condemnation of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories with the four countries that put forward the resolution.

"Those four countries that ultimately brought it to the floor did so absolutely on their own," Kerry said. "I had no communication with those four countries in the course of that process."

He said the U.S. decision to abstain in the controversial vote was in line with American "values" and in support of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Kerry sat down with Mitchell after delivering a forceful speech in which he warned that Israel's insistence on building Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory puts the two-state solution for Mideast peace in "jeopardy."

Asked if his speech is likely to push Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even further to the right, Kerry chuckled and said his aim was to get "people to stop and think about where this is going."

"What we laid out today was a very constructive, pro-Israel, pro-region, pro-Palestinian, pro-the communities' ability to try to make peace," he said. "Why are people fighting peace? What is suddenly in the air that people want to go down a road which is so obviously confrontational? For years, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have invested in two states."

Netanyahu later said Kerry's speech was "biased" and came at a time when the region was "going up in flames."

"For a full hour, the secretary of state attacked the only democracy in the Middle East," he said in Hebrew.

Kerry also declined to comment on Trump's choice of David Friedman, who is a strong supporter of the Jewish settlements, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.

"It's not my job to comment on the nominees of the new president," he told Mitchell. "I will respect the process."

Kerry, in response to a question from Mitchell, also said the Russian cyber attacks that targeted Trump's rival Hillary Clinton "had a profound impact on our system, on our political process."

"It invaded the space of our election," he said. "The releasing on a regular basis of one party's stolen e-mails had an impact. And I think that other things also had an impact."