Kerry Urges Israelis and Palestinians To Follow Mandela's Lead and Make Peace

Secretary Visited Region This Week To Meet With Both Sides

By Reuters

Published December 06, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry closed another Middle East troubleshooting mission on Friday by urging Israel and the Palestinians to follow Nelson Mandela’s lead and make peace.

The death on Thursday of Mandela, who fought apartheid in South Africa and became its first black president, was mourned across the globe, including by Israelis and Palestinians - the latter calling him an inspiration for their statehood struggle.

Kerry wants to coax the two sides towards a negotiated accord, and set a nine-month deadline when talks were launched in July. But both sides have indicated they are pessimistic about the outcome.

Before departing from Tel Aviv after a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Kerry quoted Mandela as having said, in the face of challenges, that “it always seems impossible until it is done”.

“That example of Nelson Mandela is an example we all need to take to heart as we try to reach a two-state solution,” Kerry told reporters, referring to the international vision of Palestinian sovereignty in lands Israel occupied in a 1967 war.

One of those areas, the West Bank and adjoining East Jerusalem, has been extensively settled by Israel, leaving Palestinians worried too little space will be left for them.

The other area, Gaza, was quit by Israel in 2005 and is now ruled by armed Hamas Islamists who spurn coexistence with the Jewish state. Many Israelis question whether U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could commit his Hamas rivals to peacemaking.

SECURITY PROPOSALS

On Thursday, Kerry said he presented Israel with “some thoughts” about improving its security under any eventual accord. Neither side detailed these, but Israel has long said it would want to keep a military presence between the West Bank and Jordan, as well as swathes of Jewish settlements.

Abbas’s administration opposes major Israeli annexations, deeming the settlements illegal - as do most world powers.

The Palestinians rejected Kerry’s security proposals after he raised them with Abbas on Thursday, a Palestinian official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The Palestinian peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, denied that account but did not say what Kerry and Abbas had discussed.

After the meeting, Kerry commended Abbas for “his steadfast commitment to stay at the peace negotiations, despite the difficulties that he and the Palestinians have perceived in the process”. Kerry said he might return to the region next week.

On Friday, he sounded more upbeat, saying: “I believe we are closer than we have been in years in bringing about the peace and prosperity and security that all the people in this region deserve and have been yearning for.”

Kerry’s peace mediation was overshadowed, in Israeli eyes, by his role in a Nov. 24 international deal easing sanctions on Iran in return for some curbs on its disputed nuclear programme.

An irate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the agreement clinched in Geneva as a “historic mistake” that helped Tehran’s limping economy while leaving it with the means to make a nuclear bomb - though the Iranians deny having such designs.

In their three meetings this week, Kerry and Netanyahu took pains to reaffirm their friendship and said Israel and the United States would confer closely on keeping core sanctions against Iran in place while a final nuclear deal is crafted.

Kerry said on Friday that, thanks to the Geneva agreement, “I am personally convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Israel is safer today … We have stopped their (Iran’s nuclear) programme where it is.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.