Kerry Remark Sets Back U.S.-Israel Relations

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While the world’s attention is focused on the tensions surrounding the Iran nuclear talks, another drama is unfolding in Israel–one that may cause more immediate damage to U.S.-Israel relations than differences over the terms offered to Tehran in Geneva. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks last week to an Israeli TV station that Israel needed to fear a “third intifada” have caused shock, alarm, and anti-Obama protests.

Kerry’s remarks came in a joint interview conducted by an Israeli and a Palestinian journalist. While Kerry pushed back against the Palestinian journalist’s suggestion that a “one-state solution” might be necessary, he also described Israel’s settlements in the West Bank as “illegitimate” and warned ominously: “The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?”

The implication was that Israel bore responsibility for the failure of talks, and that terrorism would be a legitimate response to the collapse of the peace process. Many Israelis judged that Kerry’s remarks could be construed as encouraging terrorism. Over the weekend, there were protests outside the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, with some banners reminding Kerry that the U.S. forced Israel to free terrorists earlier this year.



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