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John Kerry: Unfiltered In His Own Words

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I know there are people who have grown used to this. And particularly in Israel -- Israel says oh, we feel safe today, we have a wall, we're not in a day-to-day conflict, we're doing pretty well economically. Well, I've got news for you. Today's status quo will not be tomorrow's or next year's. Because if we don't resolve this issue, the Arab world, the Palestinians, neighbors, others are going to begin again to push in a different way. And the last thing Israel wants to see is a return to violence.

Palestinian Economic Plan

SECRETARY KERRY: ... if you want to make peace with people, if you want people to believe in the possibilities of peace and the benefits of peace, you need to show them the benefits. If the life of Palestinians continues to not have opportunity, not see economic opportunity, not find jobs, not improve their lives, it's hard for them to believe in the government, it's hard for them to believe anything anybody says. But if their lives are beginning to improve, then they have a stake in the future, and they begin to believe in the possibilities of peace. And you have a better chance of making peace if life is improving and things are happening on the ground. ...

We're trying to help prove that there can be improved living conditions. More water is coming into the West Bank on a daily basis. We're improving the Allenby Bridge movement. We're improving the number of work permits so that more Palestinians will be able to come into Israel and be able to work. I mean, these are the ways in which you break down the barriers and you begin to show people what peace could possibly look like.

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Recent agreement on prisoners and settlements

MR. SEGAL: Can you confirm that the two sides -- Israeli [and] Palestinian -- agreed to free murders [sic] versus building in the settlement deal as part of the resumption of the negotiation, i.e., every time that Israel will release the prisoner, there will be a wave of construction?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I cannot confirm that, because that is not true. ... The agreement specifically was that there would be a release of the pre-Oslo prisoners, 104, who have been in prison now for many, many years, who would be released in exchange for the Palestinian Authority not proceeding to the UN during that period of time.

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The Palestinian leadership made it absolutely clear they believe the settlements are illegal, they object to the settlements, and they are in no way condoning the settlements. But they knew that Israel would make some announcements. They knew it, but they don't agree with it, and they don't support it. ...

We do not think you [Israel] should be doing settlements. We, the United States, say the same thing. We do not believe the settlements are legitimate. We think they're illegitimate. And we believe that the entire peace process would, in fact, be easier if these settlements were not taking place. Now, that's our position. ...The United States policy has always been that the settlements are illegitimate, and we believe this process would be much easier if we didn't have the tension that is created by settlements.

One state versus two states

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, there is no one-state solution. There's no such thing as a one-state solution. You cannot have peace on any one side with the concept of a one-state solution. It just won't happen. You can't subsume other people into one state against their will. And it simply is not a reality. And anybody who's talking about it doesn't know really what -- it's just not possible. So you'll have a perpetual state of conflict if somebody tries to achieve that. ...

Importance of non-violence

MR. SHALABI (Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation): Maybe you know, Mr. Secretary, that in 2012 not one --

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SECRETARY KERRY: I do know that. Not one Israeli in 2012 was killed in the West Bank. And that's a huge step forward. And the reason I'm so urgent about this is because the Palestinians and President Abbas have committed themselves to nonviolence. So it is important for Israel to strengthen them, to help provide this peace so that the nonviolence is rewarded. Because if nonviolence is not rewarded, the alternative will be that people go back to the other.

You need to provide the security for Israel and you need to provide certainties about certain things, what happens with refugees, how you deal with the land.

The Palestinians need to know that they will have a real state, not a Swiss cheese, but a state that is contiguous, that allows them the opportunity to be able to have their sovereignty respected.

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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