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Kerry, after Schumer Criticism, Seeks to Allay Skepticism

Secretary of State John Kerry addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference on Monday.

Secretary of State John Kerry addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference on Monday.
Photo Credit: Maxine Dovere

By Jacob Kamaras/JNS.org

After he was apparently criticized by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for comments he made last month on boycotts of Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry in his Monday address at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference sought to allay skepticism on nuclear negotiations with Iran and Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations.

Without mentioning Kerry by name, Schumer apparently took a shot at the secretary of state by saying those with “even with the best of intentions” who warn Israel that it will face increased boycotts if it does not reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians “have it all wrong.”

“Those quote unquote friends [of Israel] should be condemning the boycotts in any possible way, weakening them,” Schumer said.

In February, at the Munich Security Conference, Kerry said in connection with the outcome of the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian talks, “There are talks of boycotts [of Israel] and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?” President Barack Obama, asked by Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg if he agreed with Kerry’s assessment on boycotts, said in comments published Sunday that Kerry “has been simply stating what observers inside of Israel and outside of Israel recognize, which is that with each successive year, the window is closing for a peace deal that both the Israelis can accept and the Palestinians can accept.”

Obama also said, “If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction—and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time… If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout [for Israel] is going to be limited.”

On Monday, Kerry told AIPAC, “I will continue to staunchly, loudly and unapologetically oppose boycotts of Israel. That will never change.”

Regarding the nuclear talks, Kerry said there is a “healthy debate” on the effectiveness of the negotiations and that “we welcome that.” He said American diplomacy with Iran “is guided by a simple bottom line: no deal is better than a bad deal.”

“The truth is, it is strong diplomacy that has actually made this moment [of getting Iran to negotiate] possible, and we need to give it the space to work,” Kerry said.

The interim nuclear deal with Iran, according to Kerry, has “not changed one piece of the sanctions architecture, and yet we are able to negotiate.”

“This is not a process that is about trusting Tehran,” he said. “This is about testing Tehran. And you can be sure that if Iran fails this test, American will not fail Israel. That I promise.”

A “good deal” with Iran would make certain that Iran could not obtain nuclear weapons, continually ensure that the Iranian nuclear program remains peaceful, and expand Iran’s “breakout” time for obtaining a nuclear weapon so that the world could act if Iran takes improper steps, Kerry explained.

Schumer—one of 26 senators to cosponsor the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, which would levy additional sanctions on Iran should the Islamic Republic violate the terms of the six-month interim nuclear deal or fail to reach a final agreement—said America “must keep tough sanctions in place until Iran agrees to give up nuclear weapons.” The New York legislator criticized the terms of the interim deal, which gave Iran $7 billion in sanctions relief.

“It is no secret that I believe that we should not in the interim agreement have reduced sanctions in any way, until Iran reduced its nuclear capability,” Schumer said, adding that many in Congress “believe that any reduction in sanctions relieves the psychological power of future sanctions” on Iran.

About the Author: www.JNS.org is an independent, non-profit business resource and wire service covering Jewish news and Israel news for Jewish media throughout the English-speaking world.


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4 Responses to “Kerry, after Schumer Criticism, Seeks to Allay Skepticism”

  1. Ritch Joy says:

    About time he said something I can understand!!!

  2. Alan Kardon says:

    Secretary Kerry, so far he is all talk and I have seen no action that is positive on anything he does.

  3. You cannot trust Kerry. The man speaks from both sides of his mouth and you can't believe either side. He'll say one thing to AIPAC and do the opposite. He's a loser, like his boss.

  4. Yechiel Baum says:

    KENNEDY MUST BE RELATED TO JOSEPH KENNEDY WHO WAS ALSO STAUNCHLY ANTI-SEMITIC AND PRO-NAZI.

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