U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled broad guidelines Wednesday for an eventual peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, warning that a two-state solution to the conflict is in “serious jeopardy.”
In an hour-long speech at the State Department, Kerry also defended the U.S. decision last week to abstain from a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements.
The vote at the U.N. “was about preserving the two-state solution,” said Kerry, rejecting criticism that the U.S. was betraying its longtime ally, Israel. “That’s what we were standing up for – Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.” He noted that the vote was “in accordance” with U.S. values.
No major new proposals were included in the six parameters outlined in Kerry’s speech. Rather, the address was aimed at preserving the generally agreed upon framework of a two-state solution that has been embraced by the last several U.S. administrations.
Among the principles were a “secure and recognized international border” between Israel and a “viable and contiguous Palestine,” as well as an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Kerry also said a successful two-state solution must provide a “just, agreed, fair and realistic solution” to the Palestinian refugee crisis, declare Jerusalem as a capital for both states, and satisfy Israel’s security needs.
While Kerry stressed that Israel will always be a U.S. ally, he accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of allowing Israel to slip into a state of “perpetual occupation.”
“Here is the fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can be either Jewish or democratic, but it cannot be both,” said Kerry, warning that the status quo is leading toward an “irreversible one-state reality” that “most people don’t actually want.”