U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Israel that failure to reach agreement in the current round of peace talks could lead to a new Palestinian uprising.
“Does Israel want a third intifada?” Kerry said today in a joint interview with Palestinian and Israeli television reporters. “The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos.”
Kerry was interviewed in Jerusalem between trips to the West Bank and Jordan as he shuttled from meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in search of a peace deal. The top U.S. diplomat brought the two sides together in late July for their first formal negotiations in three years, setting a nine-month deadline for the talks.
Kerry said Netanyahu risks looking like he’s not committed to a peace agreement because of continued settlement construction.
“If you say you’re working for peace and you want peace and a Palestine that is a whole Palestine that belongs to the people who live there, how can you say we’re planning to build in the place that will eventually be Palestine?” Kerry said. “It sends a message that somehow, perhaps you’re not really serious.”
Netanyahu had no response to Kerry’s remarks, spokesman Mark Regev said.
The secretary of state said he is still confident that an agreement is possible and cautioned Israelis against growing complacent.
“Israel says, ‘Oh, we feel safe today, we have a wall, we’re not in a day-to-day conflict, we’re doing pretty well economically,’” he said. “Well, I’ve got news for you. Today’s status quo will not be tomorrow’s or next year’s. Because if we don’t resolve this issue, the Arab world, the Palestinians, neighbors, others are going to begin again to push in a different way. And the last thing Israel wants to see is a return to violence.”