Downing Street has made clear that Mrs May was still opposed to Israel’s “illegal” construction of settlements in the West Bank.
It said her criticism was directed at Mr Kerry’s decision to attack the make-up of the Israeli government.
“We do not… believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex,” Mrs May’s spokesman said.
“And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally. The Government believes that negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between the two parties, supported by the international community.”
The spokesman added: “The British Government continues to believe that the only way to a lasting peace in the Middle East is through a two-state solution. We continue to believe that the construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal.”
Mr Kerry’s speech drew a furious reaction from Mr Netanyahu, who said the US diplomat focused “obsessively” on Jewish settlements and “barely touched” on Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any form.
A US State Department spokesperson told the Telegraph: “We are surprised by the UK Prime Minister’s statement given that Secretary Kerry’s remarks – which covered the full range of threats to a two state solution, including terrorism, violence, incitement and settlements – were in-line with the UK’s own longstanding policy and its vote at the United Nations last week.”