Secretary of State John Kerry is once again warning that Israel is headed towards a “one-state solution” and that the Palestinian Authority (PA) could collapse.
The comments came in an interview with the New Yorker published on Monday, and which was conducted after Kerry’s recent meeting in Germany with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Kerry told the magazine that he believes that Israel is headed toward becoming a “unitary state that is an impossible entity to manage” and warned that such a reality would lead to Israel becoming like a “big fortress” and strengthen groups like Hezbollah.
He added that he is particularly concerned that the PA could collapse, causing its 30,000 security officers to scatter and leading to chaos and increasingly violent clashes with Israel.
“I understand the passions that are behind all of this - I get it,” Kerry told the New Yorker. “If it were easy, it would have been done a long time ago. I happen to believe there is a way forward. There’s a solution. It would be good for Israel; it’d be great for the Palestinians; it’d be great for the region. People would make so much money. There’d be so many jobs created. There could be peace. And you would be stronger for it. Because nobody that I know or have met in the West Bank is anxious to have jihadis come in.”
“The alternative,” he warned, “is you sit there and things just get worse. There will be more Hezbollah. There will be more rockets. And they’ll all be pointed in one direction. And there will be more people on the border. And what happens then? You’re going to be one big fortress? I mean, that’s not a way to live. It seems to me it is far more intelligent and far more strategic - which is an important word here -to have a theory of how you are going to preserve the Jewish state and be a democracy and a beacon to the world that everybody envisioned when Israel was created.”
Asked if he could imagine an end to the State of Israel, Kerry replied, “No, I don’t believe that’s going to happen. It’s just, What is it going to be like, is the question. Will it be a democracy? Will it be a Jewish state? Or will it be a unitary state with two systems, or some draconian treatment of Palestinians, because to let them vote would be to dilute the Jewish state? I don’t know. I have no answer to that. But the problem is, neither do they. Neither do the people who are supposed to be providing answers to this. It is not an answer to simply continue to build in the West Bank and to destroy the homes of the other folks you’re trying to make peace with and pretend that that’s a solution.”
The interview with the New Yorker was published a week after Kerry, in an address to the Saban Forum, lashed out at Israel and said that current trends in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are leading to a “one-state solution” and warning that if that were to happen, Israel would risk no longer being a Jewish and democratic state.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later addressed the same forum in a video call and responded to Kerry’s accusations. He noted in his remarks that in order to make peace, one needs a partner, and that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has not been one.
Indeed, Abbas has continuously imposed new preconditions on talks, even after Netanyahu declared he was willing to meet with him.
Furthermore, Abbas himself recently admitted to Israeli television that he rejected "out of hand" an offer from former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for a PA state on nearly 95% of Judea and Samaria.
Kerry’s last attempt at bringing the sides to reaching an agreement failed in 2014, when the PA breached the conditions of the talks by unilaterally applying to join international organizations.
Kerry’s special envoy Frank Lowenstein told the New Yorker that Kerry would persist with the Israelis and the Palestinians until the end of his time in office, but added, “The window for a two-state solution is closing, though none of us who’ve worked on it will regret that we tried to save it.”
Recently, despite continuing pressure on Israel and the PA to resume talks, officials in the Obama administration admitted that reaching the “two-state solution” before Obama’s term expires is unlikely.