Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer is convinced that remarks made by US Secretary of State John Kerry implying boycott threats against Israel do not actually intend to harm Israeli citizens.
“I think he was making a descriptive statement,” Dermer stated to TIME magazine Monday. “I don’t think he was doing it in order to pressure Israel.”
He added, “Secretary Kerry is opposed to the boycotting of Israel, something he made clear again this week. President Obama has also been crystal clear about that.”
Kerry warned earlier this month that if Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinian Authority fail, Israel will find itself facing global boycotts and delegitimization.
“Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary,” Kerry stated earlier this month, at the Munich Security Conference. “You see for Israel there’s an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up [. . .] there are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”
Kerry’s comments in Munich were blasted by many Israeli officials, such as Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, who made clear that “a country has yet to be born that will give up its land because of economic threats, and we won’t either. Only security will bring financial stability, not a terror state next to the Ben Gurion Airport.”
Communications and Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan also criticized Kerry on Monday, saying he was not a fair intermediary in the peace talks with the PA.
“Currently threats are still heard against citizens of Israel and they try to terrorize us. When we hear John Kerry and the American State Department, we think they are wrong in their analysis of what’s happening in the Middle East,” he said, speaking at Arutz Sheva’s eleventh annual Jerusalem Conference.
“It would be expected from someone who’s supposed to be a fair and objective intermediary to also tell the Palestinian side about the price they will have to pay over their stubborn refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to their own nation state,” remarked Erdan. “Where’s the Palestinian price on all the continued incitement against Israel’s existence?”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has warned that one-sided boycott threats make peace less likely.
“Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust,” Netanyahu stated. “Moreover, they will not achieve their goal. First, they cause the Palestinians to adhere to their intransigent positions and thus push peace further away. Second, no pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the State of Israel, especially the security of Israel’s citizens.
“For both of these reasons, threats to boycott the State of Israel will not achieve their goal,” Netanyahu concluded.
Netanyahu has taken the threat seriously over the past several days; Monday, he convened a secret meeting over what to do about the threat of the wider Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and allegedly declined to invite leftist MKs over their support for Kerry’s remarks.
The Israeli people have also taken Kerry’s threats seriously; according to a recent poll, 61% of Israelis believe Kerry’s comments constituted a threat, whereas only 21% believe his statements were meant to help