Secretary of State John Kerry Addresses AJC Global Forum on Middle East Peace

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of State John Kerry, addressing AJC's Global Forum, set forth his vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, essential to guaranteeing Israel's long-term security.

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"Make no mistake: The President of the United States and I share your unshakeable commitment to Israel's security," declared the secretary of state. That assurance covers the variety of threats Israel faces in the region, especially from Iran, and that regime's support for Hezbollah. "The United States will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon," Kerry said.

But, while pointing out that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "is not the cause of problems in the Middle East," Kerry emphasized repeatedly that "the best way to truly ensure Israel's security, today and for future generations, is by ending once and for all the conflict with the Palestinians."

The goal, he said, is to reach "a negotiated resolution that results in two states for two peoples, each able to fulfill their legitimate national aspirations in a homeland of their own."

In his first address to a Jewish audience since he became Secretary of State, Kerry stressed the urgency of reaching a two-state solution. "If we do not succeed now," he said, "we may never get another chance."

Kerry addressed an audience of more than 1,500 attending the AJC Global Forum. His speech also was broadcast live on C-SPAN.

Kerry, who already has visited Israel three times since becoming secretary of state four months ago, warmly recalled his many years of experience working, as a U.S. Senator, with Israeli leaders.

"Each time I go, the deep personal connection that I feel with the state and the people of Israel is only strengthened," said Kerry. "I came to this issue not as a stranger, but as a friend, a proven friend over 30 years."

Kerry said he could well understand the frustration that many Israelis feel about prospects for peace. But he argued that doing nothing will only lead to a downward spiral. "What will happen if the Palestinian economy implodes, if the Palestinian Authority fails? Surely something much worse for Israel's interests and for America's," he said.

Solving the Israeli-Palestinian question would ease Israel's security concerns, deprive extremists of an issue they use to recruit followers, isolate Iran, and boost the economy of Israel and the entire region, Kerry said. "I assure you that a stable Palestinian state with secure borders with assured borders and a flourishing economy will only strengthen Israel's' security and Israel's future."

The Secretary of State pointed to the Arab League's recent reaffirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative as one hopeful sign. "They added that it will have land swaps for the first time" to the proposal for a just peace that would protect Israeli security interests while providing the Palestinians with a viable state, he said.

AJC Executive Director David Harris thanked Secretary Kerry for using the AJC Global Forum as the venue to enunciate U.S. policy on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"AJC has consistently supported a peace agreement that would lead to Israel, the Jewish state, and Palestine, the Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace and security," said Harris. "Indeed, this has been the declared vision of four consecutive Israeli prime ministers, dating back to Ehud Barak. We can only hope that Secretary Kerry's urgent call for courageous leadership is heeded, and the Palestinians, missing from the peace table for the past four years, will return in good faith to hammer out the tough issues successfully with their Israeli counterparts."

SOURCE American Jewish Committee

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