Using strong language, US Secretary of State John Kerry told the attendees of AIPAC’s annual conference on Monday night that he has stood against boycotts of Israel for more than thirty years. He also stressed that his country and Israel are the closest of friends.
As Israeli is increasingly facing the threat of an international boycott, Kerry had warned in the past that Israel risks growing isolation if an agreement with the Palestinians is not achieved.
Appearing before the secretary of state at the AIPAC conference, New York’s Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer sharply criticised those “friends” of Israel who pressure Tel Aviv to accept peace deals or face the boycott. According to the Times of Israel newspaper, Schumer argued that such statements add to the strength of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, whereas “friends should be condemning the boycotts in every possible way, weakening them.”
Following Schumer’s remarks, Kerry responded by harshly criticising the boycott campaign and vowing to stand jointly with Israel to reject these “arbitrary and unwarranted” boycotts.
“In order for Israel to continue thriving economically, we must stand together and with a single voice reject arbitrary and unwarranted boycotts of Israel” Kerry said.
He emphasised that he has personally stood against the boycott campaign for a long time: “For more than 30 years, I have staunchly, loudly and unapologetically opposed boycotts of Israel – and I will continue to staunchly, loudly and unapologetically oppose boycotts of Israel. That will never change.”
The secretary of state also stressed the unequivocal friendship between the US and Israel: “Like no other two countries on the planet, against the deepest odds, both America and Israel confidently, purposefully set out to be examples to the world.”
Kerry, who expressed his country’s discontent about Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, said that now is the time to reach a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel.
He explained that: “I believe we are at a point in history that requires the United States, as Israel’s closest friend and the world’s pre-eminent power, to do everything we can to help end this conflict once and for all.”
Regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, he noted that his country would never allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, pointing out that the talks with Iran are not a matter of trust, but a test.
“This is not about trusting Tehran,” he said, “This is about testing Tehran. And you can be sure: If Iran fails this test, America will not fail Israel.”