Kerry Backtracks on Apartheid Comments

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Today’s Top Stories

1. A John Kerry statement backtracked on his contentious comments about Israel becoming an apartheid state:

First, Israel is a vibrant democracy and 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. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that without a shred of doubt.

Second, I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and 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.

2. Did the White House previously let Israel off the hook from engaging a Hamas-included Palestinian government? That’s what one Israeli official told the NY Times:

An Israeli official said on Monday that Israel had in the past received “a specific commitment from the American administration” backing that position — a claim that appeared to be at odds with some more recent signals from Washington . . .

The Israeli official, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the subject’s diplomatic delicacy, said that the commitment had been given to Israel during President Obama’s first term in office and that it had been restated since his re-election.

3. The Jewish mayor of Ukraine’s second largest largest city was airlifted to Israel after he was shot by an unknown assailant. Doctors at Haifa’s Elisha hospital successfully operated on Gennady Kernes, who is now in stable condition. More on the story at the Times of Israel/AP and Haaretz.

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Israel and the Palestinians

 Media reports indicate Israel is preparing to hand over the remains of suicide bombers.

 The NY Times looks at how nine months of negotiations ultimately went nowhere.

To give you an idea of the kind of flak Kerry’s getting for his apartheid comments, check out this video of AP reporter Matt Lee sparring with State Dept. spokesperson Jen Psaki (via Israel Matzav).

For more commentary/analysis, see Efraim Karsh (Palestinian leadership runs away from statehood again), Avi Issacharoff (why Ismail Haniyeh’s willing to relinquish power for unity), Richard Cohen (Hamas must repudiate its charter’s anti-Semitism), Prof. Christopher Fettweis (the real barrier to Mideast peace is psychological), the Christian Science Monitor (a trio of wonks cite their own study on the “Israeli checkpoint effect”), plus a Daily Telegraph staff-ed on the Kerry/apartheid uproar.

Rest O’ the Roundup

 In an interview with Charlie Rose, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed normalizing ties with Israel. Background at YNet.

(Image of Obama via Flickr/The White House)

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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