JERUSALEM (JTA) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that he is in Israel to talk about how to “restore calm.”
“I’m here today to talk with the prime minister about the ways that we can work together, all of us – the international community – to push back against terrorism, to push back against senseless violence and to find a way forward, to restore calm and to begin to provide the opportunities that most reasonable people in every part of the world are seeking for themselves and for their families,” he said Tuesday morning in Jerusalem at the start of his meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kerry condemned the recent spate of attacks on Israelis.
“Clearly, no people anywhere should live with daily violence, with attacks in the streets, with knives or scissors or cars. And it is very clear to us that the terrorism, these acts of terrorism which have been taking place, deserve the condemnation that they are receiving and today I expressed my complete condemnation for any act of terror that takes innocent lives and disrupts the day-to-day life of a nation,” he said.
Kerry also reaffirmed Israel’s to defend itself. “It has an obligation to defend itself. And it will and it is,” he said.
The secretary of state confirmed that he had spoken Monday with the family of American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz, who was killed in a terror attack in Gush Etzion in the West Bank.
“I talked to the family of Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, a young man who came here out of high school, ready to go to college, excited about his future, and yesterday his family was sitting shiva and I talked to them and heard their feelings, the feelings of any parent for the loss of a child,” he said.
Kerry added that the leaders also would talk about Syria, the Islamic State and about other “regional unrest.”
Netanyahu told Kerry that: “There can be no peace when we have an onslaught of terror, not here or not anywhere else anywhere else in the world, which is experiencing this same assault by militant Islamists and the forces of terror.” He added, “It’s not only our battle, it’s everyone’s battle. It’s the battle of civilization against barbarism.”
Kerry was scheduled to meet on Tuesday with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and with opposition leader Isaac Herzog, and then to travel to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.