United States Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that a "viable two-state solution" to the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict is now in jeopardy as the status quo in Israel leans toward a controversial one state solution the public doesn't want.
"Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy. The truth is that trends on the ground, violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation, they are combining to destroy hope for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one state reality that most people do not actually want," said Kerry in one of his last speeches as secretary of state that he called a "candid" conversation on the conflict.
"Today there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state or they can separate into two states but here is a fundamental reality — if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or Democratic, it cannot be both and it won't ever really be at peace," Kerry declared.
The secretary of state's extended speech on the conflict comes after a controversial U.S. decision to abstain on a United Nations vote condemning Israeli settlements on land claimed by Palestinians.
Kerry said the decision was an effort to preserve the two-state solution for peace in the region and took direct aim at Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel's Permanent Representative to the United Nations for comments he made after the vote that appeared to question the commitment of the Obama administration to Israel.
"The two state solution is the only way to achieve a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and Democratic state living in peace and security with its neighbors. It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people and it is an important way of advancing United States interest in the region," said Kerry who then went on to explain the controversial UN vote.
"Regrettably some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy regardless of our own interest, our own position, our own words, our own principles, even after urging again and again that the policy must change," said Kerry. "Friends need to tell each other the hard truths. And friendships require mutual respect."
Danon explained, according to Kerry, that: "'It was to be expected that Israel's greatest allies would act in accordance with the values that we share and veto this resolution.'"
Kerry responded to that complaint by arguing "that the United States did in fact vote in accordance with our values just as previous U.S. administrations have done at the Security Council before us."
"They fail to recognize that this friend, the United States of America, that has done more to support Israel than any other country. This friend that has blocked countless efforts to delegitimize Israel, cannot be true to our own values or even the ... Democratic values of Israel. And we cannot properly defend and protect Israel, if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes," he explained.
Kerry also went on to lay out suggestions to save the two-state solution and defended President Barack Obama as deeply committed to Israel and its security.
"On this point I want to be very clear — No American administration has done more for Israel's security than Barack Obama's. The Israeli Prime Minister himself has noted our 'unprecedented military intelligence cooperation.' Our military exercises are more advanced than ever, our assistance for Iron Dome (weapon system) has saved countless Israeli lives," said the secretary of state.
"We have consistently supported Israel's right to defend itself by itself, including their reactions in Gaza that sparked great controversy. Time and again we have demonstrated that we have Israel's back, we have strongly opposed boycotts, investment campaigns, and sanctions targeting Israel in international for a whenever and wherever its legitimacy was attacked, and we have fought for its inclusion across the UN system," he continued.
He further added: "In the midst of our own financial crisis and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support Israel. In fact, more than one half of our entire global foreign military financing goes to Israel. And this Fall, we concluded a $38 billion memorandum of understanding that exceeds any military assistance package, the United States has provided to any country at any time and that will invest in cutting edge missile defense and sustain Israel's qualitative military edge for years to come, that's the measure of our support."
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