US Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to distance himself on Monday from his previous remarks describing Israel as being at risk of becoming "an apartheid state" during a closed-door meeting with international officials in Washington.
Kerry did not deny making the remarks, but released a clarifying statement to reporters after Israeli officials reacted with fury, insisting that: "I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one."
However, he also indirectly admitted to using the term by saying that he wished he had used a different word to convey his belief in the necessity of realising a two state solution.
The Daily Beast news site revealed on Sunday Kerry's remarks warning that Israel risks becoming "an apartheid state" if the proposed two state solution fails and a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel is not established.
According to the news site, Kerry made his remarks during a closed-door meeting on Friday with officials from the US, Europe, Russia and Japan.
Kerry is reported to have stressed to the officials that there is no substitute for the two state resolution in ending the conflict between Israel and Palestine, saying: "A two state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens – or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state."
His statement on Monday further clarified that: "I want to see a two state solution that results in a secure Jewish state and a prosperous Palestinian state, and I've actually worked for it," adding that, "I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes."