Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met today in Jerusalem to discuss the recent developments in the Middle East and the efforts to renew peace talks with the Palestinians.
PM Netanyahu's remarks at the start of the meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry:
"John, it’s a pleasure to welcome you in Jerusalem. You’re an old personal friend and a long-standing friend of Israel, and that friendship was demonstrated in President Obama’s historic visit here in March. It was demonstrated yesterday in an extraordinary resolution by the U.S. Senate to stand with Israel against Iran’s nuclear program.
I want to commend the House Foreign Affairs Committee for upgrading the sanctions so we’ll discuss Iran; we’ll discuss the terrible carnage and instability in Syria, but above all, what we want to do is to restart the peace talks with the Palestinians. You’ve been working at it a great deal. We’ve been working at it together. It’s something I want, it’s something you want. It’s something I hope the Palestinians want as well and we ought to be successful for a simple reason. When there’s a will, we’ll find a way. Thank you. So welcome. Good to see you again."
Sec. Kerry's Remarks:
"My pleasure. Let me just say what a pleasure it is. It’s always wonderful to come back to Israel and particularly to Jerusalem. It’s a pleasure for me to visit with my friend of many years now – longer than we can count, Bibi Netanyahu, and I’m really grateful to him for the seriousness with which he is working and undertaking the homework that President Obama asked all of us to engage in when he came here on his visit.
There have been some very serious meetings, a lot of very serious discussions. We’re working with the Prime Minister, with Minister Tzipi Livne, with military. Gen. John Allen is here on the ground, working with his counterparts on the issues of security. I would reiterate that the United States of America is committed now as it always has been and will be to the security of Israel. And security of Israel is paramount in our discussions with respect to a peace process. I am appreciative that the Prime Minister has really put personal energy into helping us to define some of the work that we need to do to figure out the way forward.
Let me just say to everybody: I know this region well enough to know that there is skepticism. In some quarters there is cynicism and there are reasons for it. There have been bitter years of disappointment. It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient, but detailed and tenacious, that we can lay out a path ahead that can conceivably surprise people, but certainly exhaust the possibilities of peace. That’s what we’re working towards and I thank the Prime Minister for his serious commitment to this endeavor.
On Syria, I just came from a meeting in Amman with ten other ministers. They all agreed and are committed to try to move towards a negotiated solution. Nobody has any illusions about how difficult, complicated, what a steep climb that is, but we also understand that the killing that is taking place, the massacres that are taking place, the incredible destabilization of Syria is spilling over into Lebanon, into Jordan and has an impact obviously on Israel. So we have an obligation to try and see if we can implement Geneva One. Again, we’re aware of the pitfalls, but I think the Prime Minister knows better than anybody what the implementations of these security threats are. S-300 missiles coming from Russia or other countries, from Iran, missiles are destabilizing to the region. The United States is committed, not only in its defense of Israel, but in its concerns for the region to try to address this issue. So Mr. Prime Minister, thank you.