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Kerry warns: Israel could become an apartheid state

The apartheid analogy is common among centrist Israeli politicians, but the U.S. administration has been careful not to use it in the past. Also: What makes Kerry think that Israel is not already ‘a unitary state?’

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (State Dept. photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (State Dept. photo)

The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin obtained a recording of a meeting in which Secretary of State John Kerry used the term “apartheid” to describe what an Israeli regime would look like – if and when efforts to bring about a two-state solution fails.

Speaking to senior officials and experts from the U.S., Western Europe, Russia and Japan, Kerry warned of renewed violence in the West Bank, and criticized Palestinian and Israeli leaders for not making enough concessions in order to reach an agreement. The money quote:

“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 […] Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to.”

On the one hand, there is not much new in this statement. This is the kind of talk we have been hearing from centrist Israeli politicians from some time now. Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni have all issued similar warnings. In Barak and Livni’s case, it didn’t prevent them from cooperating and even leading governments that set record numbers in new settlement construction. It’s interesting to note how senior U.S. officials always use the framing of the Israeli center-left when describing the Palestinian issue. As readers of this blog know, I believe that this is the reason for repeated American failure here – every administration since the mid-1990s’ willful blindness to the Palestinian narrative and interests.

Read +972’s full coverage of the peace process

But there is also something telling in this quote. As Rogin observes, the apartheid analogy is something the administration has rejected in the past, either because it feared the response of the pro-Israeli lobby, or because it simply thought it wasn’t true. The terms used by Secretary Kerry reveal the level of frustration with the current Israeli leadership, or with the administration’s repeated failures to get concessions out of Netanyahu.

The most interesting thing in Kerry’s comments was the term he chose to describe Israel if and when a two-state solution is not reached – “a unitary state.” Normally this term is used to distinguish models in which a central state government delegates powers to sub-national, local governments and authorities, as opposed to federal or confederate models, in which the sub-units grant power to the central authority.

But if you examine the kind of control Israel already exercises in the West Bank, one could claim that this is already a unitary state.

Israel controls all the entry and exit points in the entire territory (the occupied territories and “Israel proper” within the Green Line). It controls the air space, and treats the borders of the entire territory as if they were it’s own soverign borders. It settles its own citizens freely on the entire land. It controls the official currency of the land (the shekel) and the only central bank; it has a monopoly over the use of force; and finally, it controls the registration of the population, allowing Israel to be the sole authority to determine who is granted entry, or considered a native, and who isn’t.

In other words, this is a single, sovereign regime, which delegates some authorities to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo Accords. Israel also has the power to revoke much of what it handed to the Palestinians, unilaterally. (For example, Israel is now withholding tax money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority as a punitive measure for the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas.) Most Israelis and Palestinians living in this land – myself included – were born into this reality, and if you ask anyone in this land who is the sovereign power, they will have the same answer.

The secretary of state was not referring to a future scenario, but to what is already here.

‘There was no generous offer’: A history of peace talks
If this isn’t apartheid, then what is it?

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    1. Rab

      Well, at least he’s acknowledging that at the present Israel isn’t an apartheid state.

      Throughout this process Kerry has been making public statements that undermine Israel. For example, his threat earlier in the “peace talks” that if Israel doesn’t make peace, it should expect a boycott. Or his “poof” statement. Nothing critiquing the Palestinians, and, in fact, equating their intransigence with Israel.

      Taken together with Obama’s ridiculous praise for Abbas, who then thanked him with three categorical No statements (including no to “end of conflict”) the following week when they met, earlier administration tacit encouragement of EU’s boycott settlements document, and the administration’s attack on Israel and Israel supporters who opposed the Iran “interim” plan as “warmongers,” it is evident that this US administration has a world view that is very much in line with the far left when it comes to Israel.

      Not to worry, Israelis will pay the price, just as they did when the Americans forced them to let Hamas run for elections in 2006.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben Zakkai

        Yeah, that was where Kerry wimped out and avoided the ugly truth: Israel has been an apartheid state for a long time now. There’s a good post at Mondoweiss with a money quote from Max Blumenthal, thumping a table: “Saying Israel is in danger of becoming an apartheid state is like saying this table is in danger of becoming a table.” What else can you call a country where Israelis live under civil law and Palestinians under military dictatorship? A tomato?

        Reply to Comment
    2. Tzutzik

      Maybe Kery should worry a bit more about the apartheid that Arab countries ALREADY practice against their own brothers. The Palestinian Arabs. Oh and a bit of consistency from other assorted moralisers, who are so vocal about much lesser transgressions by Israel, would not go astray either. Shame on them for their silence about what Arab countries do. Contrast their shrill voices on sites like these against Israel. Any wonder then that one suspects that many of those so called moralisers don’t give a damn about ordinary Palestinians. Instead, their real intent is to bash and smear Israel.

      Here read about it:


      “According to Human Rights Watch, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in “appalling social and economic conditions.” They labor under legal restrictions that bar them from employment in at least 25 professions, “including law, medicine, and engineering,” a system that relegates them to the black market for labor. And they are “still subject to a discriminatory law introduced in 2001 preventing them from registering property.”[2] The discrimination Palestinians “suffer” when they apply for jobs in Lebanon has been compared to the “apartheid mentality” used by the ruling Sunni family of Bahrain towards its majority Shi’ite population.[4] Unlike Lebanon however Bahrain does not have any laws to bar Shi’ite from employment.

      Israeli Arab Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh and other commentators accuse Lebanon of practicing apartheid against Palestinian Arabs who have lived in Lebanon as stateless refugees since 1948.[4][5][6][7][8] According to Human Rights Watch, “In 2001, Parliament passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from owning property, a right they had for decades. Lebanese law also restricts their ability to work in many areas. In 2005, Lebanon eliminated a ban on Palestinians holding most clerical and technical positions, provided they obtain a temporary work permit from the Labor Ministry, but more than 20 high-level professions remain off-limits to Palestinians. Few Palestinians have benefited from the 2005 reform, though. In 2009, only 261 of more than 145,679 permits issued to non-Lebanese were for Palestinians. Civil society groups say many Palestinians choose not to apply because they cannot afford the fees and see no reason to pay a portion of their salary toward the National Social Security Fund, since Lebanese law bars Palestinians from receiving social security benefits.”[9]”

      Reply to Comment
      • alex

        Yes. True. But these countries don’t claim to be “the only democracy in the middle east”. Israel set the yardstick by which it wishes to be judged.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          Yes true but we are talking about the fate of Palestinians. Are you saying that since Arab countries don’t declare themselves to be democratic, the fate of Palestinians in those countries is not of interest to those who post here?

          By the way, you are wrong about Lebanon, Alex. They do declare themselves to be a democracy.

          Reply to Comment
    3. shachalnur

      There’s an important piece of info missing:Kerry made this remarks to the Trilateral Commission.

      Trilateral commission?

      “We are gratefull to the Washington Post,the New York Times,Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years.
      It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years.
      But ,the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world-government.
      The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries”

      David Rockefeller,founder of the Trilateral Commission,in an address to the Trilateral Commission in 1991.

      Like Kerry didn’t know where he was speaking,with Russia present?

      The Rockefellers are still financially supporting lots of media and sites ,in order to help them to reach their ultimate goal,a New World Order.

      “Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal…..
      of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global and economical global structure-one world ,if you will.

      If that’s the charge,I’m guilty ,and I’m proud of it”.

      David Rockefeller’s autobiography”Memoirs” page 405.

      Another day, another (intended) leak,another kneejerk reaction by the uninformed.

      Reply to Comment
      • shachalnur

        Nahum Barnea,on Ynet(Yediot Aharonot)today,
        “Israel occupied by the settlement lobby”

        Strange piece with lot’s of typo’s,anti-settler,anti -Livni,anti-Bibi,anti-Lapid.

        Background: Adelson (Israel Hayom)and Yediot both want to buy Makor Rishon and NRG(Maariv).

        Even Meretz head Zehava Galon wants the Anti Trust Authority Director David Gilo let Adelson buy them.

        Barnea sets out a scenario where first Israel will become an Apartheid State and then international pressure will finish off the settlers.

        Huge movements going on behind the scenes,and because the “reality” being fed to you by MSM and politicians doesn’t make sense,nobody cares to touch these weird developments.

        Cognitive dissonance still works,we’ve been conditioned to accept facts that don’t make sense.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          “because the “reality” being fed to you by MSM ….”

          “Cognitive dissonance still works”

          Cognitive dissonance? Yes, yours Shakhalnur.

          Your motto is:

          The main stream media lies. Believe only what extremist propaganda sites tell you or even authors who DO write in the main stream media (Y-Net) write, provided that they write what you want to hear.

          That is truly cognitive dissonance, my friend …

          Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            There we go again,I’m writing down some facts,uncomfortable ones.

            Facts that show what you’re being fed by the MSM is not true.

            What is true ,is something else,that’s for you to figure out..

            None of these facts are from “extremist propaganda sites”(whatever that may be),they are undisputed,like quotes from an autobiography and recorded statements by the people involved.

            The fact you can’t place ,explain or debunk them,and you still think I’m lying,crazy,selfhating or whatever,shows you’re critizism,as always ,is disingenuous….

            And boring.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            What is your problem Shakhalnur?

            You said the MSM does not tell us the truth. Then you quoted:

            “Nahum Barnea,on Ynet(Yediot Aharonot)today,
            “Israel occupied by the settlement lobby”

            I merely pointed out that Y-Net is part of the MSM. But the only reason you gave it credence in that instance is because it wrote what YOU wanted to hear.

            Don’t you then think that therefore YOU seem to be the one who suffers from Cognitive dissonance?

            Reply to Comment