Kerry stands tall in war and peace, on Israel and Palestine

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Secretary of State John Kerry spoke words of peace, security and truth in his landmark speech supporting a two-state solution to the seemingly endless conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Kerry has served the nation well, courageously and wisely over his decades of service in the United States Navy, the United States Senate, and as secretary of State during the second term of the Obama presidency. And his service will undoubtedly continue at high levels and with great passion and skill in the years after he leaves Foggy Bottom.

Regarding the recent vote in the United Nations that has generated controversy, I fully agree with President Obama, Kerry and leaders of democratic nations everywhere, including members of the Security Council, who joined together in support of the resolution. Of course, we need not agree with every word in the resolution to agree with the fundamental point that a two-state solution is the only solution that will bring peace and security to both Israel and her neighbors.

The U.N. vote, and the issue of Israeli settlements, was never merely a dispute between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama. To the degree the media suggests this, the media is wrong. It was, is and will remain, a dispute between Netanyahu and leaders of democratic nations around the world. Every other democratic nation on the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, along with every other nation on the Security Council, while the U.S. abstained. Not one nation voted “no.” Every other nation voted “yes.”

{mosads}When Kerry spoke of the great support given to Israel during the Obama presidency, every word he said was true; every fact he offered was real.

Kerry made unprecedented efforts to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Kerry knows, as every student of history knows, that in a negotiation for peace under difficult circumstances, all parties to the negotiation make concessions to other parties, and must receive concessions from other parties.

Sometime in the future — in my view, sooner than people think — the world will look back on Kerry’s efforts as creating a blueprint close to the agreement that Israel and Palestine will someday reach.

And while I have been critical of Obama at times over his response to Russia — when Russia acted aggressively during the 2016 presidential campaign to support Donald Trump through treachery — and over Syria — where the massive bombing of civilians by Russia and Syria killed countless innocent people — on Israel/Palestine I fully agree and applaud the efforts of both Obama and Kerry.

Throughout his career, from his days as a war hero in Vietnam to his efforts for peace in the Middle East, from his support for civil rights at home to his efforts to save the planet from global warming, Kerry has been at the forefront of great causes and great events.

Netanyahu would be wise to heed Kerry’s advice and compromise on the settlements. Palestinians would be wise to heed Kerry’s advice and offer compromises to Israel in return. President-elect Trump would be wise to watch the important film “The Gatekeepers,” in which six former directors of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security agency, made the same kind of case for the two-state solution that Kerry repeated again in his latest speech.

Kerry is a leader, a statesman and a voice for democratic peoples around the world on the Mideast, climate change and human rights and offers the democratic answer to the challenge from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who would destroy democracy in the United States and Europe.

On the issue of the settlements and Israel/Palestine, Secretary of State Kerry is right, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wrong, and historians will credit Kerry for playing an extraordinary role in paving the way for peace and security that will someday come to Israel and her neighbors.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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