Secretary of State John Kerry is in hot water with Jewish groups after telling a group of European and Asian officials Friday that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid state.”
As reported by The Daily Beast:
It wasn’t the only controversial comment on the Middle East that Kerry made during his remarks to the Trilateral Commission, a recording of which was obtained by The Daily Beast. Kerry also repeated his warning that a failure of Middle East peace talks could lead to a resumption of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens. He suggested that a change in either the Israeli or Palestinian leadership could make achieving a peace deal more feasible. He lashed out against Israeli settlement-building. And Kerry said that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders share the blame for the current impasse in the talks.
Kerry also said that at some point, he might unveil his own peace deal and tell both sides to “take it or leave it.”
“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,” Kerry told the group of senior officials and experts from the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Japan. “Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee fired off a statement calling Kerry’s reported remarks “deeply troubling.”
“Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate. The Jewish state is a shining light for freedom and opportunity in a region plagued by terror, hate and oppression,” AIPAC said. “Israel is the lone stable democracy in the Middle East, and protects the rights of minorities regardless of ethnicity or religion. The Jewish state is proud to have a robust free press and elections, respect for women’s rights, and the representation of minorities across its government, including the twelve Arab members of its legislature and Salim Joubran on its Supreme Court.”
AIPAC reminded all of Obama’s words back in 2008: “There’s no doubt that Israel and the Palestinians have tough issues to work out to get to the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, but injecting a term like apartheid into the discussion doesn’t advance that goal. It’s emotionally loaded, historically inaccurate, and it’s not what I believe.”
“At this critical moment, the true focus of those who support peace should be on urging President Abbas to revoke his destructive agreement with the terrorist organization Hamas, and continue peace negotiations with Israel without preconditions,” said the powerful lobbying group.
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said at today’s press briefing that she would “obviously” not “confirm the accuracy of comments made during a private meeting.”
“But the secretary does not believe and did not state publicly or privately that Israel is an apartheid state, and there’s an important difference there. Israel is obviously a vibrant democracy with equal rights for all of its citizens,” Psaki said.
“…But certainly there are many, many officials, Israeli and American officials, who have stated that if we don’t pursue this path, if they don’t pursue that path, that it’s hard to see how the two states will be able to live side-by-side.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on the Senate floor today that Kerry should hand in his resignation.
“The fact that Secretary Kerry sees nothing wrong with making such a statement on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day demonstrates a shocking lack of sensitivity to the incendiary and damaging nature of his rhetoric,” Cruz said. “It is my belief that Secretary Kerry has thus proven himself unsuitable for his position and that before any further harm is done to our alliance with Israel, he should offer President Obama his resignation and the President should accept it.”
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said he was “disappointed” with Kerry’s remarks.
“Secretary Kerry knows as well as anyone that negotiating lasting peace in this region of the world is difficult but it’s not productive to express his frustration in this way,” Begich said. “This remark also implies Israel should ignore the pact between President Abbas and the Hamas. Last time I checked, the U.S. didn’t negotiate with terrorist organizations and we shouldn’t expect the Israeli government to either.”