Kerry: I Don’t Know the Endgame for Israel — But Neither Do the Israelis

Expressing renewed exasperation over the United States’ inability to forge a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry says he has no idea how the more than 60-year-old conflict will come to an end. But what’s potentially worse, he says, is that the Israelis don’t know either, even though they have the most incentive to find a solution.

“What is it going to be like, is the question. Will it be a democracy? Will it be a Jewish state? Or will it be a unitary state with two systems … I don’t know. I have no answer to that. But the problem is, neither do they.”

Neither do the people who are supposed to be providing answers to this,” he told writer David Remnick in a 10,000-word profile, published in the Dec. 21 edition of The New Yorker magazine and released Monday.

In recent weeks, as the White House all but rules out a final push for a two-state solution by the end of Obama’s presidency, Kerry has struck an increasingly pessimistic note about the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In a speech at the Brookings Institution earlier this month, Kerry said the distrust between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has never been more profound. “President Abbas feels great despair, more than I have ever heard him,” he said.

Those remarks followed Kerry’s late November trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah, where he failed to secure an agreement on confidence-building measures between Netanyahu and Abbas to curb a surge of violence that spiked this fall during demonstrations and Palestinian stabbing attacks.

In his remarks to Remnick, Kerry criticized Israeli settlement construction and warned that “the window for a two-state solution is closing,” a development that would result in a binational state of Israelis and Palestinians.

Netanyahu, as recently as last week, ruled out that possibility during a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “Israel will not be a binational state,” he said. In explaining the lack of progress toward a two-state solution, Netanyahu accused the Palestinian Authority of inciting the latest wave of violence against Israelis.

“In order for there to be peace, the other side must decide that they also want peace, and unfortunately that is not what we are seeing,” Netanyahu said.

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