U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remains an optimistic man when it comes to creating peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Kerry said regarding peace that he is “hopeful” and that the United States “will keep working on it.” The Secretary of State reiterated that both the Israelis and Palestinians were working overtime to reach a deal.
Kerry stated that stakes were “enormously high” for Israel. Failure to create peace would damage Israel’s reputation as “a democratic state with the particular special Jewish character that is a central part of the narrative and of the future” of creating a “bi-national structure” that allows people to “demand rights on different terms.”
On the current situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kerry stated: “Today’s status quo, absolutely to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It is not sustainable. It is illusionary.”
“I believe in the possibility [of peace] or I wouldn’t pursue this,” Kerry said. “I don’t think we’re being quixotic…We’re working hard because the consequences of failure are unacceptable.”
Kerry specifically stated that failure would cause backlash from “disappointed Palestinians and the Arab community” and would strengthen boycott efforts against Israel. “The risks are very high for Israel. People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure,” he said. “We all have a strong interest in this conflict resolution.”
Right-wing MK’s slammed Kerry for threatening Israel with what appears to be increased boycotts and international isolation. Several weeks ago, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called Kerry “obsessed” and “messianic” when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Economic Minister and Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett called Kerry a “mouthpiece” and accused him of incitement against Israel. Written in a Facebook post, Bennett addressed Kerry “and all his advisers,” telling them “the Jewish people are stronger that the threats against them.” He warned that Jews in Israel would not, under any circumstances, “surrender their land.”
“Only security will bring economic stability, not a terrorist state close to Ben-Gurion Airport. We expect our friends around the world to stand by our side to face the anti-Semitic attempts to boycott Israel, not be their mouthpiece,” Bennett wrote. “In any case, we knew how to stay strong in the past and we will now as well.”
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely said Kerry’s “threats of an unprecedented boycotts” were “attempts to intimidate Israel in an effort to impose a dangerous agreement that runs contrary to the position of the Israel government.” Hotovely said any peace agreements that undermines Israel’s red-lines would “jeopardize Israel’s security”, which would be “worse than an economic boycott.”
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) also responded to Kerry’s comments on Facebook. “Kerry said today that Israel’s economic prosperity and security are an illusion, and that if peace talks fail, Israel will be boycotted,” he wrote. “But the truth is that the only illusions are the peace slogans Kerry is trying to sell to Israel. Slogans that cover up an existential threat to the state of Israel.”
Ariel added that Kerry is a perfect example of “what incitement looks like” and that “the Palestinians can hardly believe how lucky they are to have such a ‘fair’ mediator.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Kerry’s threats today at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting: “Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust. Moreover, they will not achieve their goal. First, they cause the Palestinians to adhere to their intransigent positions and thus push peace further away. Second, no pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the State of Israel, especially the security of Israel’s citizens. For both of these reasons, threats to boycott the State of Israel will not achieve their goal.”