The PJ Tatler

Kerry Meets with Netanyahu, Urges Steps 'Beyond Condemnation and Rhetoric'

Secretary of State John Kerry said before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin today that he wanted to talk about settling “on the steps that will be taken that take us beyond the condemnation and beyond the rhetoric.”

Netanyahu began their brief remarks to the media by thanking Kerry and the United States for “condemning the terrorist attacks against Israel, for standing up for Israel’s right of self-defense.”

“Yesterday was a tough day. We had four terrorist attacks. This morning began – we had an attack in which two terrorists tried to murder a bus full of schoolchildren,” the prime minister said. “There is no question that this wave of attacks is driven directly by incitement – incitement from Hamas; incitement from the Islamist movement in Islam; and incitement, I am sorry to say, from President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.”

“I think it’s time for the international community to say clearly to President Abbas: Stop spreading lies about Israel, lies that Israel wants to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, lies that Israel wants to tear down the al-Aqsa Mosque, and lies that Israel is executing Palestinians. All of that is false. We remain committed to the status quo, we are the ones that protect all the holy sites, and Israel is acting to protect its citizens as any democracy would in the face of such wanton and relentless attacks.”

Netanyahu added that “we generally hope – we have to stop the terrorism.”

“To stop the terrorism, we have to stop the incitement. And I think it’s time that the international community told President Abbas to stop the incitement and hold him accountable for his words and his deeds,” he said.

Kerry’s remarks were a bit more brief — unusual for any Kerry press availability where he usually outspeaks the other country’s representative by far.

“We have to stop incitement, we have to stop the violence. And I think it’s critical,” he said. “…It is absolutely critical to end all incitement and all violence, and to find a road forward to build the possibility that is not there today for a larger process.”

Kerry stressed “we have to go steps.”

“But today we, you and I, can really – we can build that process. We have been at this, we know each other well. I believe we have the ability to make a difference, and that’s what I came here to do. And I hope, in this conversation, we can make progress,” he said.

“I talked with King Abdullah yesterday. I have talked with President Abbas. I believe people want this to de-escalate. So let’s go to work, and see what we can do.”

The State Department has linked Palestinian violence to a lack of a two-state solution, but Netanyahu has stressed that the terrorism has nothing to do with the peace process.