Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the word “chickenshit” to describe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a senior administration official told The Atlantic, but in the same breath described the country as one that “wants to be a Jewish state.”
As soon as the article was brought up to Kerry today at the Washington Ideas Forum, he said “the long game, as everybody knows from the investment I made much of last year, is to find a way to bring the parties to make peace in the Middle East.”
“We still believe it is doable, but it takes courage, it takes strength. You have to be prepared — both sides have to be prepared to compromise in order to do it,” he said. “Here’s what I know, and I think all of you know this, viscerally and intellectually. And I’ve asked this question of people in the Middle East.”
“One of the great challenges for Israel is obviously not to be a bi-national state. It wants to be a Jewish state. To be a Jewish state, you clearly have to resolve the issue of two states.”
Kerry argued that “if you don’t and you are a unitary state and people have equal rights to vote and participate as citizens, is Israel going to have a Palestinian prime minister?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Not going to happen.”
Netanyahu regularly refers to Israel as the Jewish state.
“So therefore, what is the solution here? How do you move forward?” Kerry said. “And what we’re trying to do is evenhandedly and hopefully thoughtfully strengthen Israel’s ability to free of rockets — not strengthen, to make it free of rockets, to — to end this perpetual conflict in a way that provides for the complete security of Israel, which has a right totally to be free of tunnels coming into its country, terrorists jumping out of a tunnel with handcuffs, with tranquilizer drugs, guns next to a kibbutz. No country would tolerate that.”