During a press conference at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, on December 6, Secretary of State John Kerry said, having met with both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (shown, at right) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the past two days, that he is “encouraged by the continued commitment of both leaders to the pursuit of peace.”
Kerry acknowledged the difficulty the two sides have had in finding a solution to their conflicting interests, but observed, “It is quite clear that both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu remain as determined as ever to continue down this path and to explore these possibilities. Because both parties have the same endpoint in their sights: Two nations for two peoples living side by side in peace and prosperity.”
However, Kerry continued, “neither peace nor prosperity are possible without security, and the United States will only support a final status agreement that makes both Israelis and Palestinians more secure than they are today.”
Near the beginning of his statement, Kerry made note of the death of former South African President and African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela, stating, “Our hearts are in Johannesburg with all the millions of people who loved Nelson Mandela. Madiba’s long walk to freedom gave new meaning to character and to courage, to forgiveness, and to human dignity.”
Kerry drew a parallel between Mandela’s activism in South Africa and the quest to achieve Middle East peace, saying that “Nelson Mandela is an example that we all need to take to heart as we face the challenge of trying to reach a two-state solution.”
Though Mandela is widely praised for his campaign against South Africa’s previous system of apartheid (racial segregation), less attention is given to the violent methods he advocated prior to the nation’s change of government. He co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation" — abbreviated as MK) the ANC’s armed wing that began launching guerilla attacks against government installations on December 16, 1961. Following these attacks, MK was subsequently classified as a terrorist organization by both the South African and U.S. governments.
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Photo of Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Jerusalem: AP Images