Former US secretary of state John Kerry blamed the Israeli government’s resistance to the establishment of a Palestinian state for harming the prospects of a peace deal, while warning Israel could face a future violent Palestinian uprising if there was no progress in peace talks.
In recordings published Tuesday by Channel 10, America’s former top diplomat can be heard praising the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to nonviolence following a wave of terror attacks beginning in the fall of 2015, which he said has been ignored by Israelis due to right-wing configuration of the current government.
“The Palestinians have done an extraordinary job of remaining committed to nonviolence. And in fact when the [knife] intifada took place they delivered non-violence in the West Bank,” Kerry is heard saying in the recording.
“This is overlooked by the general [Israeli] population because it is not a topic of discussion. Why? Because the majority of the cabinet currently in the current Israeli government has publicly declared they are not ever for a Palestinian state,” he adds.
Channel 10 said the recording was made at a conference in Dubai in the past year attended by Middle East leaders and Israel’s Joint (Arab) List chief Ayman Odeh. The television channel also said opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) addressed the conference by video.
It was not clear if Kerry was aware he was being recorded or if the segments released were his full remarks.
Kerry warned in the recording that frustrations among Palestinians could boil over into violence and that the current status quo cannot last.
“If you see 40,000 kids marching up to the wall everyday with signs saying ‘give us are rights,’ I mean, I don’t think Palestine is going to be immune forever to the civil rights movements that have swept other nations in the world,” he says.
Despite this, Kerry said Israel is ignoring the threat posed by the diplomatic stalemate. “That is not leadership,” says Kerry.
“If you don’t have leaders who don’t want to make peace, if the equation doesn’t change, I’ll be amazed if within the next 10 years if we don’t see some young [Palestinian] leader come along who says we have tried non-violence for the last 30 years and look, it hasn’t gotten us anything,” he says.
In light of the lack of peace prospects, Kerry says in the recording that Herzog may present Israel’s best hope for reaching a deal with the Palestinians. He also praised a number of former Israeli leaders, saying their examples should be followed in pursuing negotiations. Herzog has since lost the leadership of his party to Avi Gabbay.
“You gotta have a willingness to make peace. If there is a willingness to make peace — [Ehud] Olmert, [Ehud] Barak, [Yitzhak] Rabin, [Shimon] Peres — people indicated how you do it,” Kerry says.
Kerry also detailed a number of steps taken to ensure Israel’s security following the establishment of a Palestinian state, which he said included King Abdullah of Jordan’s agreement to host Israeli troops at an airport in the kindom and the “pre-deployment of weapons” in the West Bank. He also says in the recording Israel would have the right to respond to threats in the West Bank within minutes if the Palestinians failed to act.
In response to the recordings, the Prime Minister’s Office told Channel 10 Netanyahu would continue to safeguard Israel’s security and national interests, regardless of any pressure by “those who tried to prod [Israel] to make dangerous concessions and failed.”
It also placed the blame for the impasse in peace talks on the Palestinians “refusal to recognize Israel within any borders.”
“It is unfortunate John Kerry still doesn’t get this,” the PMO said.
Beginning in 2013, Kerry led a major round of peace talks, which ultimately collapsed in April 2014. The Palestinians in part blamed Israeli settlement construction for the failure of the negotiations, while Israel slammed the PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party for agreeing to a reconciliation deal with the Hamas terror group.
Despite the failure, Kerry again tried to revive negotiations, proposing a regional peace plan for the renewal of negotiations toward a two-state solution and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state last year that culminated in a secret meeting on February 21, 2016, between Netanyahu, Kerry, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah, the Haaretz daily reported in February.
The proposal, however, was rejected by Netanyahu.
Prior to leaving his post, Kerry gave a speech outlining his vision for future peace talks in which he excoriated Israel over its settlement policies, saying they endanger the possibility of reaching a two-state solution.