Amid calls to apologize — and even resign — for comments saying Israel could become “an apartheid state,” Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement saying the remark does not reflect his views on the country and pushed back against his critics.
“I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes, so I want to be crystal clear about what I believe and what I don’t believe,” he said. Clarifying that he has always considered Israel a democracy and never an apartheid state, he pointed to his record of working on the issue during his time in the Senate and in his current role.
Ultimately, Kerry recognized that apartheid ”is a word best left out of the debate.”
“I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution,” he said.
Business Insider reports that Kerry is believed to be the most-senior U.S. official to use the term to describe the situation in Israel. Several lawmakers and pro-Israel groups have called on Kerry to apologize for his comments made last week during a closed-door meeting. Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Representative Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) have gone so far as to call for Kerry to resign for his remarks.