WASHINGTON – Speaking from London via satellite to a private AIPAC conference, US Secretary of State John Kerry asked members of the powerful pro-Israel lobby to support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as he negotiates with the Palestinians.
At the closed press event, Kerry told the group that there is only one solution to the decades-old conflict: a two-state solution, where Israel remains “a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s national summit was held in Napa, California, and also featured a brief address from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California).
“Prime Minister Netanyahu, just like [Palestinian Authority] president [Mahmoud] Abbas, has made tough political decisions and taken major risks for peace,” Kerry told the crowd. “He understands that if Israel is going to find a way to remain a Jewish state and democratic state, it must act soon.
“More than ever,” Kerry added, “if Prime Minister Netanyahu decides that it is in the best interests of the people of Israel to make reasonable compromises for peace, he will need to know that you have his back.”
He called on AIPAC’s members to make their “voices heard” in support of the “courageous choice” Netanyahu had made to engage in direct talks with the Palestinians.
Kerry asked the group to express to their families and communities “that you support the brave steps he has taken to get to this point, and... that you will continue to support him as he walks the difficult road to peace.”
Peace talks between the two parties restarted this summer after Kerry conducted aggressive shuttle diplomacy over the first five months in his position as secretary, visiting the region five times to coax Netanyahu and Abbas into returning to the negotiating table.
The parties agreed to talk over a period of nine months and to work towards a finalstatus agreement that would result in the recognition of Israel and the founding of a Palestinian state.