John Kerry addressed AIPAC’s annual policy conference yesterday, using the plenum to discuss the Palestinian peace process, Iran and the boycott Israel movement.
“There is a distinction between a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon or Gaza where nothing is resolved and a phased withdrawal which is negotiated,” the US secretary of state told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “We will never let the West Bank turn into another Gaza.”
Kerry has been at the forefront of a new round of peace talks between the Jewish state and Palestine, which as of yet has shown little progress despite it being the first time the two sides have sat down together in three years.
Kerry also took a favorite line of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying “no deal is better than a bad deal” in reference to US talks with the Islamic republic to ease economic sanctions in return for a less ambitious nuclear program.
“Those who say strike and hit need to check what might happen after we do that,” he said. “Only strong diplomacy can guarantee that a nuclear weapons program goes away for good instead of going underground and becoming more dangerous.”
He added, however, that the US “will not permit Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, period.”
And the secretary of state took to task those who would boycott Israel in an aim to establish Palestinian statehood, following criticism after Kerry said at a conference in Germany last month the Israel faced increased boycott calls if it could not reach peace with the West Bank.
“I will continue to staunchly, loudly and unapologetically oppose boycotts of Israel,” he said to a standing ovation. “That will never change.”
The AIPAC conference is taking place in Washington. It ends this evening.