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March 3, 2014 9:20 pm

Kerry: U.S. Committed to Preserving Jewish, Democratic Nature of the State of Israel

avatar by Joshua Levitt

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference on March 3, 2014. Photo: Algemeiner.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference on March 3, 2014. Photo: Algemeiner.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is leading ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on Monday said the United States is committed to “preserving the Jewish and democratic nature of the State of Israel.”

Speaking at the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C., Kerry said, “Any peace agreement must also guarantee Israel’s identity as a Jewish homeland.”

But that peace must come with guarantees for Israel’s security, he said, agreeing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement earlier Monday at the White House. “When Bibi looks me in the eye and says, I can’t accept a deal with the Palestinians that doesn’t make the people of Israel safer, we agree 100 per cent.”

Kerry said that for Israel, peace means a possibility to expand its growth, unencumbered on the international stage. He said that means living without the threat of boycotts, which he, raising his voice, has “staunchly, loudly” and “apologetically” stood against for the past 30 years, making the point to remedy remarks he made in Munich that were interpreted by some as strengthening those threats.

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Kerry said, “Ending the conflict means ending the incitement,” which has also been a focus of his meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Kerry also referred to what his own role has been in the negotiations, noting that he is not a newcomer to the questions of the peace talks, having visited Israel many times since 1986. But, “this isn’t about me,” he said, but rather the people living there.

Atop Mount Masada, Kerry said he was once on a retreat, discussing Josephus’ account of the location’s historic battle, and, afterward, the group, him included, screamed, “Am Yisrael Chai!” and, he said, he would “never forget hearing the echo of those words bouncing off that mountain.”

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