Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech rebuking Israel for the expansion of settlements has divided politicians and citizens throughout the world, including here in South Florida.
Lior Haiat, Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico, said Kerry’s “very long speech” only briefly touched on the topics that could bring peace between the two nations.
“It was all about the settlements and the settlements and the settlements,” Haiat said. “Then he mentions, ‘By the way, terrorism,’ and ‘By the way, Palestine.’”
Haiat said the Palestinians are the obstacles to peace and were the reason the last two negotiations fell apart. The heavy focus on settlements by Kerry and the U.S. just gives Palestinians another way to avoid discussions in the future, he said.
“They don’t want to pay the price of negotiations with Israel. They don’t want to give. They just want to take,” Haiat said. “Palestinians are not yet ready to recognize Israel as the home state of the Jewish people.”
In his Wednesday speech, Kerry brought up the two-state solution, noting that Israel’s pursuit of settlements “is leading toward one state, or perpetual occupation.”
“If the choice is one state, Israel can be either Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both,” he said.
That quote and Kerry’s frustrated tone struck Matthew Bewley, a member of Palestinian liberation group Friends of Sabeel. The 29-year-old called it “the most honest part” of the speech, and said Kerry’s words should be a wake-up call for Americans who care about Israel or Palestine.
“The dream of a Zionist Israel is fading,” he said. “Either become an apartheid state or grant full civil rights to Palestinians.”