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Kerry Seeks Support for Talks from U.S. Jews

Kerry meets select Jewish leaders; tells them Israel and PA have ‘strategic imperative’ to talk, criticizes EU boycott.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/9/2013, 12:31 PM

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
Flash 90

United States Secretary of State John Kerry and other top U.S. officials met Thursday evening with a small group of Jewish community leaders to ask for their support for the diplomatic talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The talks are necessary for Israel, he argued, in part because Israel faces the threat of diplomatic isolation if it does not reach a peace deal with the PA.

He also brought up the alleged "demographic threat" to Israel’s Jewish majority – although some Israeli demographers have argued that when it comes to demographics, time is on Israel’s side.

During his talk Kerry criticized the European Union’s recently-announced boycott of Israeli enterprises in territory claimed by the PA and other Arab groups, including Judea, Samaria, the Golan and eastern Jerusalem. The latter two areas have been annexed by Israel, although the EU has not recognized the annexation.

Using force and pressure will not help matters, Kerry said. Instead, he said, the international community can promote a diplomatic deal by dealing with Israel’s fears for its security under a peace deal.

Several other U.S. officials were present during the meeting, but did relatively little talking. Among those present were Special Envoy for Mideast Peace Martin Indyk and National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

Among the Jewish leaders present were leaders of the Conservative movement, the Orthodox Union, J Street, B’nai Brith International and the American Jewish Committee.

Some asked Kerry to push PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to tone down his anti-Israel rhetoric, while others called to ask Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

So far Abbas has insisted that the Arab state he hopes to create in Judea and Samaria will be Jew-free, and has refused to recognize Israel as Jewish due to his hopes that millions of Arab refugees will be allowed to live there after a peace deal.