Foreign Policy Blogs

Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process Frozen (For Now)

Saul Loeb/AFP/File U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the US State Department in Washington, DC, April 24, 2014.

Saul Loeb/AFP/File
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the US State Department in Washington, DC, April 24, 2014.

The end of April marked the passing of United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s set deadline for negotiating an extension of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Kerry told reporters during a press conference in Addis Ababa that for now the peace process is on pause and he hopes both sides will come back to the negotiating table. His brief comments were his first on the peace process since the April 29 deadline came and went.

On Monday, April 28, according to the Daily Beast, Kerry said at the Trilateral Commission before senior officials from the United States, Europe, Russia and Japan,  “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.”

It was the first time that a U.S. official of Kerry’s stature has used the term apartheid in the context of Israel.

Kerry also warned that a freeze in the peace talks could bring about a violent conflagration in the West Bank. “People grow so frustrated with their lot in life that they begin to take other choices and go to dark places they’ve been before, which forces confrontation,” he said.

He harshly criticized Israel for plans to build 14 thousand new housing units in the settlements advanced during the past nine months of negotiations. Kerry also said that at some point he might unveil his own peace proposal, and tell both sides to either “take it or leave it.”

Kerry’s “finale” caused uproar, receiving angry responses by American Jewish groups, Israeli media outlets, and both U.S. and Israeli government officials alike.

On Monday night in a rare personal statement released by the U.S. State Department, Kerry said, “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.”

The Secretary defended his record on Israel, saying, “for more than 30 years in the U.S. 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. As Secretary of State, I have spent countless hours working with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Justice Minister Livni because I believe in the kind of future that Israel not only wants, but Israel deserves.”

With the curtain closed on Kerry’s peace process imperative, Israelis and Palestinians are left to their own devices for the time being. However, it seems both sides will remain internally focused, allowing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sideline peace negotiations and deal with their own issues.

 

Author

Samantha Quint
Samantha Quint

My name is Samantha, I’m 25, and I made Aliyah in June 2013. I got my BA degree from George Washington University where I studied Jewish Studies and Middle East Studies. During my Junior year, I spent the traditional semester abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Since then Israel kept pulling me back, first with a summer professional course on peacemaking in Jerusalem and the West Bank and then a move to Tel Aviv to get my MA in Middle East Studies at Tel Aviv University. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston. I have a unyielding passion for traveling, Boston sports teams, and making the people around me laugh.

americasdiplomats_socialmediaasset