(JNS.org) Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that his comments at a security conference in Munich last weekend, which warned that Israel would face more boycotts and isolation if the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations fail, have been "distorted" by critics.
"My comments need to be properly remitted, not distorted," Kerry told CNN. "I did not do anything except cite what other people are talking about as a problem. But I also have always opposed boycotts. I have a 100 percent voting record in support of Israel for 29 years in the United States Senate. Unfortunately, there are some people in Israel and in Palestine and in the Arab world and around the world who don't support the peace process."
U.S. National Security Advisor and former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice took to Twitter earlier this week to blast Israeli critics and defend Kerry.
"Personal attacks in Israel directed at Sec Kerry totally unfounded and unacceptable," Rice said on her Twitter account Monday evening.
Rice added that Kerry's "record of support for Israel’s security and prosperity rock solid," and that the U.S. government "has been clear and consistent that we reject efforts to boycott or delegitimize Israel."
Kerry had said in Munich, "You see, for Israel, there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There is talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?"
"Today's status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained… But the fact is the status quo will change if there is failure [in the peace talks]. So everybody has a stake in trying to find the pathway to success," he said.
Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said of the remarks, “We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier," the Associated Press reported. Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz called Kerry's words "intolerable" and said Israel "would not negotiate with a gun to our heads." Housing Minister Uri Ariel said, "The only illusions are the peace slogans Kerry is trying to pawn off on Israel. The Palestinians cannot believe their good fortune, ending up with such an 'impartial' mediator."
While Israel "needs to understand we will always stand by its security needs," no one "should distort what we're doing or saying because they're opposed to the peace process or don't like two states or whatever," Kerry told CNN.
"And words—I have to tell you, my friend—I've been, quote, attacked before by people using real bullets, not words, and I am not going to be intimidated," he said. "I am not going to stand down with respect to President Obama's commitment to try to find peace in the Middle East."