Had warned that Israel risked becoming ‘an apartheid state’

An audio recording of a closed-door meeting has revealed that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned world leaders that Israel risked becoming “an apartheid state,” unless a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict emerged soon, a statement that sparked off a furious reaction among some Israeli groups and prompted Mr. Kerry to express regret.

The controversy came even as a critical deadline for the now-stalled peace negotiations passed on Tuesday and news began trickling in of Israeli forces demolishing several structures, including a mosque in a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank.

After a media report surfaced on Monday quoting the recording of Mr. Kerry’s remark to the Trilateral Commission, he said in a formal statement, “If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two-state solution.”

Although the Secretary vowed that he would not allow his commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for “partisan, political purposes,” the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee said, “Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate.”

Republican lawmakers also issued critical reactions with Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, reportedly saying that Mr. Kerry’s comments were “outrageous and disappointing.”

Two-state solution

Mr. Kerry conceded that “apartheid” was “a word best left out of the debate,” although he noted that senior Israeli politicians had used it in a similar context.

Although he firmly backed away from his use of the word “apartheid,” Mr. Kerry reiterated his view that in the long term, a unitary, bi-national state could not be the democratic Jewish state that Israel deserved or the prosperous state with full rights that the Palestinian people deserved.

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