In Jerusalem, top US diplomat tells Peres he has ‘no illusions about difficulties, but peace can be done.’ On Iran threat: Obama will stand with Israel; he’s not bluffing
During a meeting with Shimon Peres on Monday at the Israeli president’s official residence in Jerusalem, Kerry said “It has been expressed by your leaders and others for years that people believe in the possibility of the two-state solution. I am convinced there is a road forward.
“I would say to everyone that I have no illusions about the difficulties; we’ve seen them. But you have to believe in the possibilities to be able to get there. You and I believe in them and I’m convinced there is a road ahead,” the top US diplomat said.
Peres acknowledged that a peace deal was feasible.
“A belief in peace is possible, is needed, is real,” Peres said. “And peace is possible: I believe that the gaps between us and our Palestinian neighbors can be bridged, and I speak out of experience.
“The two-state solution is the best solution and the parameters for that agreement already exist. Two states for two peoples – a Jewish state, Israel, and an Arab state, Palestine,” the president added.
“We all know it’s not easy,” Kerry told Peres, “but as you said yourself, it can be done.”
‘We all know it’s not easy.’ Kerry (L) and Peres (Photo: Mark Neiman, GPO)
Addressing the Iranian nuclear crisis, Kerry said the Obama administration “understand(s) the threat of Iran and as the president has said many times he doesn’t bluff. He is serious and we will stand with Israel against this threat, and with the rest of the world who have underscored that all we are looking for is Iran to live up to its international obligations.”
The secretary of state said that while Washington continues to seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, “no options are off the table and no options will be taken off the table.
“No one will allow the diplomatic process to stand in the way of whatever choices need to be taken in order to protect the world from another nuclear weapon in the wrong hands,” Kerry vowed.
Peres said during the meeting that the “Iranian regime with its hegemonic ambition is the greatest threat to peace, security and regional stability. Today of all days we should condemn that regime, which denies the Holocaust and threatens another one. We have full faith in you, in President Obama and in the global coalition which is committed to preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power.”
Kerry and Peres met on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom Hashoah, after the US secretary of state participated in the national wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem.
Kerry said it was an honor “to share in the uniqueness of that expression of sorrow and honor for this remarkable moment in history which we mark,” adding that the wailing of the siren marking the Holocaust remembrance “had a profound impact on me.”
On Sunday Kerry met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but neither side offered details on how, when and whether that might happen.
Kerry, who spoke one-on-one with Abbas for about an hour after a 20-minute group meeting, is on his third trip to the region in three weeks, having accompanied President Barack Obama on his March 20-22 visit and returned alone a day later.
Prior to meeting Peres on Monday, Kerry met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Later he had dinner with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Reuters contributed to the report