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12 big takeaways from John Kerry’s speech on the Mideast peace process

"We cannot — in good conscience — do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said in his speech. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Secretary of State John F. Kerry delivered frank remarks on the Middle East peace process at the State Department on Wednesday. Here are excerpts from his speech:

On “trends on the ground”:

“The truth is that trends on the ground — violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation — are destroying hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.”

On accusations that the United States was conspiring against Israel:

“We also strongly reject the notion that somehow the United States was the driving force behind this resolution” — a reference to a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity that the United States declined to veto.

On Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“In literally hundreds of conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I have made clear that continued settlement activity would only increase pressure for an international response.”

On the next U.S. administration:

“President Obama and I know that the incoming administration has signaled that they may take a different path, and even suggested breaking from long-standing U.S. policies on settlements, Jerusalem — and the possibility of the two-state solution. That is for them to decide. . . . But we cannot — in good conscience — do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away.”

On attacks against Israelis:

“The most recent wave of Palestinian violence has included hundreds of terrorist attacks in the past year, including stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks and bombings, many by individuals who have been radicalized by social media.”

On Hamas:

“Most troubling of all, Hamas continues to pursue an extremist agenda: They refuse to accept Israel’s very right to exist. They have a one-state vision of their own: All of the land is Palestine.”

On settler outposts:

“Among the most troubling illustrations of this point has been the proliferation of settler outposts that are illegal under Israel’s own laws. They are often located on private Palestinian land and strategically placed to make two states impossible.”

On “the one-state path”:

“One thing we do know: If Israel goes down the one-state path, it will never have true peace with the rest of the Arab world, and I can say that with certainty.”

On Iran:

“The Arab countries have made clear that they will not make peace with Israel without resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — that’s not where their loyalties or their politics are. But there is something new here. Common interests in countering Iran’s destabilizing activities and fighting extremists, as well as diversifying their economies, have created real possibilities.”

On the history of the U.S. position:

“It’s important to remember that every U.S. administration — Republican and Democratic — has opposed settlements as contrary to the prospects for peace.”

On direct negotiations:

“We all understand that a final-status agreement can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties, because peace cannot be imposed. … I believe the negotiations did not fail because the gaps were too wide — but because the level of trust was too low.”

On settlement expansion:

“Let’s be clear: Settlement expansion has nothing to do with Israel’s security; many settlements actually increase the security burden on the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]. And leaders of the settler movement are motivated by ideological imperatives that entirely ignore legitimate Palestinian aspirations.”

Read more:

Kerry addresses Middle East peace process amid deep U.S.-Israel strains

Read the full transcript of John Kerry's speech