U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement Monday evening expressing his support for Israel after he was criticized for comments made by him in a private meeting, where he said that Israel risked becoming an “apartheid” state.
Kerry made the remarks Friday in a closed-door meeting of the Trilateral Commission, a discussion group of U.S., Japanese and European officials, according to an article in The Daily Beast published Sunday. The comments were criticized by American-Jewish organizations, while Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reportedly called for Kerry's resignation. Kerry’s comments came at a time when peace talks between Israel and Palestinians have been suspended after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the latter for lack of progress on the subject.
“I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes,” Kerry said, in a statement released by the State Department Monday. “If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., reportedly said that Kerry’s comments were “outrageous and disappointing” while Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., wrote on her Twitter account: “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and any linkage between Israel and apartheid is nonsensical and ridiculous.”
In his statement, titled “On Support for Israel,” Kerry said: “For more than thirty years in the United States Senate, I didn’t just speak words in support of Israel, I walked the walk when it came time to vote and when it came time to fight.”
Kerry also mentioned that former prime ministers of Israel and current Justice Minister Tzipi Livni also have “invoked the specter of apartheid to underscore the dangers of a unitary state for the future,” but “it is a word best left out of the debate here at home.”
Kerry said that he does “not believe, nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that without a shred of doubt,” and that the word had created a “misimpression.”
J Street, a pro-peace Jewish organization, defended Kerry, saying in a statement: “Instead of putting energy into attacking Secretary Kerry, those who are upset with the secretary’s use of the term should put their energy into opposing and changing the policies that are leading Israel down this road.”