By Erik Wasson
Kerry nudges Israel to back peace, Iran
Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday used a Washington speech to try to urge Israel to do more to support peace talks with the Palestinians and a nuclear deal with Iran.
Kerry, freshly returned from the Middle East told an audience at the Saban Center that he spent his recent trip focusing on Israel's future security needs and that the country should rest assured that the United States would never abandon it.
“This visit I have spent most of my time on Israel's security concerns,” Kerry said. “We will always stand up for Israel's right to defend itself.”
He said the U.S. is committed to preserving its military edge over its neighbors and knows that no peace deal creating a new Palestinian state bordering Israel is possible without Israel's security needs being met.
That being said, Kerry said Israel has to recognize the “demographic time bomb” of a rising Palestinian population within its own borders means it cannot remain both a Jewish state and a democracy unless the Palestinians get their own country.
“A careful balance of strength and diplomacy gives us our best chance,” at peace, he said.
Kerry highlighted work the U.S. defense department is undertaking to map out possible security problems in the future for Israel.
“Never before, ever has the United States conducted such an in depth analysis,” he said.
On Iran, Kerry defended the temporary nuclear enrichment deal the United States struck with Iran.
“Israel will be safer the day after this deal is implemented,” he said. “Iran's program will not advance while we negotiate.”
Kerry's comments come ahead of a major Washington speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday. Israel's leader has called the Iran deal an “historic mistake.”