Interview With Steve Inskeep of NPR


John Kerry

Secretary of State

Bloomington, Indiana

October 15, 2015


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I know you’ve been paying close attention to the latest situation involving Israelis and Palestinians. A number of Palestinians have engaged in knife attacks, killing a number of Israelis; dozens of Palestinians have also been killed at this point. Do you see what is happening now as the beginnings of a Palestinian uprising? Is that the way to think about this?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I hope not, and I pray not, and that’s the last thing anybody wants. And I think it would be extraordinarily dangerous and —

QUESTION: What is the word to describe it, then?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I don’t – I’m not going to find words and I’m not going to get into the what it is. It’s violence and it’s wrong, and the violence has to end, and Israelis have a right to defend themselves against any violence that is attacking innocent people with a knife in the Old City, in Jerusalem or elsewhere. No country should be under siege like that, and the Palestinians need to stop the incitement. They need to stop that kind of activity.

But at the same time, there is a need to see the broader conflict here and understand that there is not – there has to be some kind of ultimately negotiated political track that’s going to resolve the difference between Palestinians and Israelis that has existed long before Obama came to office, that has been there for years and years. Many presidents, many secretaries of state have been caught up in the middle of this struggle. We happen to believe that it is vital now to change the paradigm, and we’re going to be engaged in ways that reasonably hope to try to help that happen.

QUESTION: Do you mean to suggest that the lack of progress in the peace talks is in some way responsible for these latest attacks?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I’m not saying that. I’m not – I don’t want to link anything that caused the violence. There’s no excuse for the violence. No amount of frustration is appropriate to license any violence anywhere at any time. No violence should occur, and the Palestinians need to understand – and President Abbas has been committed to nonviolence. He needs to be condemning this loudly and clearly, and he needs to not engage in some of the incitement that his voice has sometimes been heard to encourage. So that has to stop.

What I am saying is that when you stop the violence, when it’s done – which I hope is immediately – then you have to still look at how are you going to deal with the extant issues that have been there for a long period of time in a serious way that helps to resolve these differences when you have the opportunity to. And I think it’s very important to do that.