After facing widespread criticism from pro-Israel voices, Secretary of State John Kerry is taking back his recent warning during a private meeting that Israel could become an “apartheid state.”
“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,” Kerry said in a statement released by the State Department.
Over the weekend, The Daily Beast reported that it had obtained audio of Kerry’s private remarks to the Trilateral Commission meeting of world leaders.
“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative,” Kerry said of Israel. “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 was quickly condemned for his remarks.
“Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate,” said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a statement. “The Jewish state is a shining light for freedom and opportunity in a region plagued by terror, hate and oppression.”
Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called on Kerry to resign over it.
“It is my belief that Secretary Kerry has proven himself unsuitable for the position he holds,” Cruz said during a speech on the floor of the Senate. “Therefore, before any further harm is done to our national security interests and to our critical alliance with the nation of Israel, that John Jerry should offer President Obama his resignation and the president should accept it.”
Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running for Senate this year, called Kerry’s comments “inflammatory and inaccurate.”
“Secretary Kerry’s comments directly undermine the peace process by wrongly suggesting Israel is a barrier in negotiations,” he said. “The United States must continue to stand with Israel and promote the freedom, liberty, and rule of law they support.”
Kerry, in his statement, suggested he’s the victim of “partisan” attacks.
“I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes, so I want to be crystal clear about what I believe and what I don’t believe,” Kerry said.
He added: “First, Israel is a vibrant democracy and I do 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.”