Kerry: If Talks Fail, Israel's Future as a Democratic Jewish State Is at Stake

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Kerry says 'today's status quo cannot last forever.'

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Haaretz
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations fail, Israel's future as a democratic Jewish state is at stake.

"If talks fail, for Israel, the demographic dynamic will make it impossible to preserve its future as a democratic Jewish state," Kerry said during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Kerry said that today's status quo cannot last forever, and that a failure to make peace will lead to a deteriorating security environment and growing isolation that can put economic prosperity at risk.

Kerry also stressed the U.S. commitment to Israel security. "There cannot be peace unless Israel's security and its needs are met," he said. "Security is a priority – because we understand that Israel needs to be strong to make peace, but we also believe that peace will make Israel strong."

Kerry said that the Palestinians are risking losing their last chance for an independent state.

Kerry outlined several U.S. principles for solving the core issues: an independent state for the Palestinians wherever they may be; security arrangements for Israel that leave it more secure; a full, phased and final withdrawal of the Israeli army, a just and agreed solution to the Palestinian refugee problem; an end to the conflict and all claims; and mutual recognition of the nation-state of the Palestinian people and the nation-state of the Jewish people.

He spoke about the security plan the U.S. government arranged for the border between the West Bank and Jordan. He admitted that technology alone is not the answer, but it can contribute significantly to security, such as the case with Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system. He said that in coordination with Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians could establish the most secure border in the world.

Kerry said that he is working with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a framework for negotiations that would include principles for the core issues. "At the end of the day, it is up to Netanyahu and Abbas to recognize that peace is in the best interest of their people," Kerry said.

The U.S. secretary of state on Thursday told Al Arabiya that, at this stage, the sides were unable to bridge the differences and agree on a draft agreement.

"We’re still negotiating," he said. "We’re working in good faith with both of the parties. The leaders have been very, very committed to this process. My hope is we can achieve the framework for final status negotiations. But it’s very, very difficult and we have a lot of work to do."

The framework agreement, Kerry noted, would clarify how both sides see a final peace deal and the end of the conflict.

"The framework agreement would be the best thinking of both parties as to what the endgame of a peace agreement could look like and what they would agree to as a matter of principles as to how they would negotiate towards that endgame final status agreement… we don’t want an interim agreement – but … a final status agreement where you have end of conflict, end of claims, there’s a Palestinian state, there’s an end of occupation, and security for Israel is clear, and people can see the future."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos January 24, 2014.Credit: AP
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos January 24, 2014.Credit: Reuters

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