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Remarks With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Before Their Meeting


Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Office of the Prime Minister
Jerusalem
May 23, 2013

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The video is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, John, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to Jerusalem. You’re an old, personal friend and a longstanding friend of Israel. And that friendship was demonstrated in President Obama’s historic visit here in March. It was demonstrated yesterday in the extraordinary resolution by the U.S. Senate to stand with Israel against Iran’s nuclear program. I want to commend the House Foreign Affairs Committee for upgrading the sanctions.

We’ll discuss Iran. We’ll discuss the terrible harm to stability in Syria. But above all, what we want to do is to restart the peace talks with the Palestinians. You’ve been working at it a great deal. We’ve been working at it together. It’s something I want. It’s something you want. It’s something I hope the Palestinians want as well. And we ought to be successful for a simple reason: When there’s a will, we’ll find a way.

So welcome.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you as well.

SECRETARY KERRY: My pleasure. We were just saying what a pleasure it is; it’s always wonderful to come back to Israel, and particularly to Jerusalem. It’s a pleasure for me to visit with my friend of many years now – longer than we can count – Bibi Netanyahu. And I’m really grateful to him for the seriousness with which he is working and undertaking the homework that President Obama asked all of us to engage in when he came here on his visit.

There have been some very serious meetings, a lot of very serious discussions. We’re working with the Prime Minister, with Minister Tzipi Livni, with military – General John Allen was here on the ground, working with his counterparts on the issues of security. I would reiterate that the United States of America is committed now, as it always has been and will be, to the security of Israel. The security of Israel is paramount in our discussions with respect to the peace process.

I am appreciative that the Prime Minister has really put personal energy into helping us to define some of the work that we need to do to figure out the way forward. Let me just say to everybody I know this region well enough to know that there is skepticism. In some corridors, there’s cynicism. And there are reasons for it. There have been bitter years of disappointment. It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient – but detailed and tenacious – that we can lay out a path ahead that could conceivably surprise people, but certainly exhaust the possibilities of peace. That’s what we’re working towards, and I thank the Prime Minister for his serious commitment to this endeavor.

On Syria, I just came from a meeting in Amman with 10 other ministers. They all agreed and are committed to try to move towards a negotiated solution. Nobody has any illusions about how difficult, complicated, what a steep climb that is. But we also understand that the killing that is taking place, the massacres that are taking place, the incredible destabilization of Syria, is spilling over into Lebanon, into Jordan, and has an impact, obviously, on Israel. So we have an obligation to try to see if we can implement Geneva One. Again, we’re aware of the pitfalls, but I think the Prime Minister knows better than anybody what the implications of these security threats are.

And S-300 missiles coming from Russia or other countries – from Iran, missiles – are destabilizing to the region. The United States is committed not only in its defense of Israel, but in its concerns for the region, to try to address this issue.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you. Great to be with you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you. Please, sit down, have a glass of water.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.



PRN: 2013/ T07-07



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