Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer on Thursday said his country has John Kerry’s back despite the secretary of State's recent remarks suggesting Israel was at risk of becoming an “apartheid” state.
“Israel deeply appreciates Secretary Kerry’s efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians. We do not believe that Secretary Kerry has tried to threaten Israel, and we believe that his decades of support for Israel reflect an abiding commitment to Israel’s security and its future,” Dermer said in a statement he tweeted.
Israeli Deputy Minister Danny Danon’s views “do not reflect the views the Government of Israel,” added Dermer, who serves as a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Time and again, Secretary Kerry’s erroneous declarations have come dangerously close to suggesting moral equivalency between Israel and its adversaries,” Danon wrote. “They call into question his administration’s ability to act as an honest broker in our region.”
The Israeli officials' were speaking out after a report surfaced that quotes Kerry at a closed-door meeting last Friday warning Israel was at risk of becoming an “apartheid” state if it doesn’t achieve peace with the Palestinians.
Late Monday, Kerry walked back his comments and said he “would have chosen a different word.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki had defended Kerry, pointing out that other Israeli officials — including former Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barack and Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni — have made similar comments.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, announced on Thursday he would introduce legislation that would establish Israel as a Jewish state in an effort to preserve “the national homeland of our people.”
The prime minister seemed to allude to Kerry’s statement during the announcement.
"The State of Israel will always preserve full personal and civil equality for all citizens of the State of Israel, Jews and non-Jews alike, in a Jewish-democratic state."