US Secretary of State John Kerry has landed in hot water over the weekend after making comments blaming Israel for the failure of not reaching a two-state solution.
Speaking Saturday at the Saban Forum at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, Kerry warned that current political trends in Israel were leading to a one-state solution, adding that Israel would not be able to maintain its democratic and Jewish character.
“The sense of distrust has never been more profound,” Kerry warned. “The Israeli and Palestinian people deserve better. But the current path is not leading to a more peaceful future.”
The secretary of state slammed Israel for continued construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria, which he believes is leading to continued Palestinian disillusionment in the peace process.
“The status quo is simply not sustainable and the fact of the matter is that current trends, including violence, settlement activity, demolitions, are imperiling the viability of a two-state solution,” Kerry warned. “And that trend has to be reversed to prevent this untenable one-state reality from taking hold.”
While Kerry did emphasize that “settlements are absolutely no excuse for violence – and we are clear about that,” he explained that “continued settlement growth raises honest questions about Israel’s long-term intentions and will only make separating from the Palestinians much more difficult.”
“I can’t stress enough that the terror attacks are devastating the hopes of Israelis who want to believe that peace is possible and the violence must stop,” Kerry said, “but Palestinian hopes are also being dashed by what they see every day. They’re focused on a reality that few others see – that the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority contemplated by the Oslo process has in many ways been reversed.”
The secretary’s comments echo similar sentiments made in October, when he excused the rise in terror attacks against Israelis due to Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria.
While Kerry did take many swings at Israel, he also offered criticism to Palestinian leadership, calling them out on their failure to condemn terror attacks, incitement and for using international organizations as a means to launch anti-Israel campaigns.
Speaking on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Kerry asked, “Do they really believe that boycotts and efforts to delegitimize Israel, or passing biased resolutions in international bodies, are going to help them achieve a Palestinian state?”
“Are Palestinian officials really doing everything possible to prevent all forms of incitement? Don’t these terrorist attacks against innocent civilians deserve public condemnation? And how can Israelis be assured that the Palestinians are truly prepared to end the conflict and allow them to live in peace as part of a two-state solution?”
Expressing his worry over the future of Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry stated, “I am concerned that unless significant efforts are made to change the dynamic – and I mean significant – it will only bring more violence, more heartbreak, and more despair.”
“My friends, we’ve got to be clear eyed about this. We can’t come to a forum like this, we can’t have meetings under the norms of diplomacy and pretend. We have to be honest about what a one-state solution looks like,” Kerry said. “How does Israel possibly maintain its Jewish and democratic character when from the river to the sea there would not even be a Jewish majority?”
In response to Kerry’s comments, MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) called on the secretary to take a reality check.
“With all due respect and gratitude to our friend the United States, the reality has proven that all of John Kerry’s assessments and diplomatic actions in various sectors of the world were a series of mistakes and failures: in Egypt, Ukraine, Syria and also in Israel,” he said.
“His opinions and speeches are disconnected from the Middle Eastern reality,” he continued, adding that “the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel.”
“There never was a Palestinian state here and there never will be. Our responsibilities in Judea and Samaria were and continue to be our security and the strengthening of communities throughout Israel, including the texture of the lives of Arabs living here,” Yogev said. “Part of the answer to terror is the certainty that we returned to Judea and Samaria to strengthen our hold on them forever.”