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Interview With Gwen Ifill of PBS NewsHour
Secretary of State
May 29, 2014
QUESTION: I want to end by asking you about something that you expended a lot of your personal energy on, and that’s on the Middle East peace negotiations, which Benjamin Netanyahu has said are dead, the process is dead. Hamas is clearly involved in this unification plan and moving ahead that has so offended Israel that everybody has walked away from the table. Are you personally disappointed at all that this seems to be going nowhere fast?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, obviously I’m disappointed that the process, what is in place, that that didn’t produce the next step. But I don’t believe that in the Middle East either party can afford to simply maintain the status quo and believe that there’s a road to greater stability and to peace without re-engaging and without coming back at some point in time to the negotiating process.
President Abbas has said that he is prepared to go back to the talks, but he has certain conditions that have to be met. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel are waiting to see what happens with the Hamas reconciliation, with the announcement of a new government, with the question of what that new government may or may not choose to do. That’s an appropriate thing to be doing. We’re all waiting to see what happens.
QUESTION: Are you the last living optimist on this?
SECRETARY KERRY: I’m not an optimist. I’m a realist. And my reality check tells me that neither side is going to be able to live for the long haul with the status quo without serious problems evolving. So eventually, there’ll have to be some discussion about some management of that process. Whether it’s a full-blown peace process or whether it’s individual steps or not, I don’t know, Gwen. But I know this: that Israel’s security, which is paramount for the United States and for Israelis, will be better protected by finding a road ahead; Palestinian rights and ability to have a state can only come through some kind of political process; and both of those aspirations are what govern life ultimately in that region and the hopes of that region.
So my job is to push it forward. My job is to try to find the optimism and the possibilities, not to give up, and I refuse to give up. I think that we have to find the way ahead. This hasn’t gone away in 40, 50 years, and it’s not going to suddenly just sort of solve itself by itself. That’s our job is to try to push the process forward.