US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated Thursday it was time for the United States to take a "pause" in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, after months of efforts stalled last month.
"We believe the best thing to do right now is pause, take a hard look at these things, and find out what is possible and what is not possible in the days ahead," Kerry told reporters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
President US Barack Obama on Friday also said there was a need to take a "pause" in talks, noting the inability of the US administration to bridge the gap between the two sides on key issues.
Kerry has led an exhausting Middle East peace drive, and he stressed that the last "eight months plus were not without significant progress in certain areas."
But he added it was "also time to be reflective about the ways in which one might be able to find a common ground even out of these difficulties."
Reports surfaced early Monday that Kerry had suggested that a change in either the Israeli or Palestinian leadership could make achieving a peace deal more feasible, and lashed out against Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria.
Kerry also said, according to The Daily Beast, that both Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders share the blame for the current impasse in the talks, and that at some point, he might unveil his own peace deal and tell both sides to “take it or leave it.”
“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second class citizens - or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,” Kerry was quoted as having told the group of senior officials and experts from the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Japan.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) connected Kerry's comments to Holocaust Memorial Day.
"Holocaust Day ceremonies. [We hear] terrible descriptions [of] how the Nazis and their collaborators, drenched in hate and race theory, turned millions of defenseless Jews into dust and ashes - and the world stood by in silence," Katz wrote, in a Facebook post.
"And now the Secretary of State describes Israel as an 'apartheid state,'" Katz lamented. "Us? The Jewish state, [which was] established to protect itself after [it was] intimidated with threats of extermination?"
"Kerry, shame on you!" he concluded. "There are thing you just can't say."