WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State John Kerry delivered remarks on Saturday at the Saban Forum, reiterating the United States' commitment to Israel's security, insisting that "peace will make Israel stronger."
The Saban Forum is an annual dialogue between Israeli and American leaders, sponsored by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. This year the Forum is titled, "Power Shifts: US-Israel Relations in a Dynamic Middle East."
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The American Secretary of State discussed his recent visit to the region, saying that his visit focused on Israel's security concerns.
He asserted that "If you care about (Israel's) security, its future... we need to believe that peace is possible, and we all need to act on that belief."
Urging a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kerry said that "Israel and Jordan must know that they will have a responsible neighbor, not a failed state, living between them."
He also addressed the Syrian crisis, in the context of which he wished to prove that diplomacy could work, as the dismantling of President Bashar Assad's chemical stockpiles is, according to Kerry, underway.
In terms of diplomacy, he added, the US was hopeful that the nuclear crisis could be solved diplomatically, noting: "Israel perceives a nuclear Iran as an existential threat. Why? Because it is."
He said he believed Israel would be safer the moment the nuclear deal with Iran is implemented, insisting: "We will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapon. Not now, not ever." He further noted that nuclear diplomacy will allow western control of Iran's nuclear program, including inspection of plants and supervision of uranium enrichment.
US President Barack Obama addressed Saban Forum earler in the day. He spoke about the issue of nuclear Iran and the on-going peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon delivered a speech on the issue of Israel-PA talks, saying that "some say it is the source of instability in the Middle East. We wonder – is really this conflict the source of Mideast instability? All that is happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria has nothing to do with this conflict. Nor does the Iranian issue. This conflict is local, but not the biggest in the Mideast.
"As someone who supported Oslo, I've learned that there is no partner on the other side for two states for two peoples. There isn't on the other side, nor was there ever since the birth of Zionism, a leadership that was willing to recognize our right to exist as the nation State of the Jewish people," the defense minister said.
"We will not negotiate an inch, a millimeter of land if we don’t realize that we have a partner that discusses recognition, the end of conflict and conceding the right of return."
According to Ya'alon, "There is an unsolvable issue here, but it is not lost. We can promote essential factors such as economy, governance, law and order. When wil I be convince that we have a partner? The moment they stop teaching their children to fasten seatbelts and explode on us, and when Israel appears in textbooks and Tel Aviv, which they conceive to be a settlement, is on the map. As long as that doesn’t happen, where would we go?"
"We are discussing issues of security. Security is not only how to block eastern borders. It is also how to prevent Nablus' development of a Hamas , Salafi, Islamic Jihad infrastructures. If we didn’t have freedom of movement in the West Bank, radical Islam would bloom and defeat Abu Mazen. Before we talk about technology, security starts with education – with the recognition of our right to exist as a national Jewish home.
Ya'slon turned "to those who say that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is larger than the Iranian threat," saying "the greatest threat is the Iranian threat. This is a regime that now, even after the accord in Geneva, is performing terror in Afghanistan against American interests, in Iraq, in Bahrain, in Syria, in Lebanon and in Gaza, and it is calling to erase Israel off the map.
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