Remarks With Israeli President Shimon Peres Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
November 6, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much – very, very much – Mr. President, Shimon. You really are both a good friend, but equally importantly for me, you are both a mentor and an inspiration. And I think you know how much I respect your journey, your many initiatives, your incredible patience, yourself, and commitment to this effort. So I’m really honored to be both sitting with you and working in the same cause with you in this effort.

Last night, I had the privilege – when I arrived here, I was taken to that infamous site, which you know too well, where you were the night that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. And you were right there. And I know that the two of you had just finished singing a song together, Don’t Whisper a Prayer, Sing a Song of Peace in a Loud Voice.

PRESIDENT PERES: Let the Sun Shine.

SECRETARY KERRY: And it was very moving. Dalia was there, and I was very touched that members of the family came. But most importantly, I was inspired because that was 18 years ago and he dared to fight for peace then; the least we can do – any of us – in following his example and inspiration is to continue and to try to find the goal line here.

I am convinced from my conversations today with Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as with President Abbas that this is not mission impossible; this can happen. It will require both leaders to make big, historic, difficult decisions. But I am also convinced that those are decisions that are absolutely, totally in the interests of their country, Israel and their country-to-be, Palestine, and in the interests of both peoples.

As you said a moment ago, there is no alternative. There will be chaos, violence, turmoil, confrontation, in the absence of peace. You cannot live with perpetual war, particularly in the Middle East, and not find huge complications. So President Obama has asked me to put this time into this effort. He is deeply committed to this cause. We believe that over the next months, with good effort we can hopefully make some progress.

Obviously, on Iran, our eyes are wide open. We appreciate your comments and we certainly appreciate your support for exhausting the possibilities of diplomacy. And our hope is that Iran will understand that this is a simple obligation: Show the world that you are pursuing a peaceful program. It’s not that hard. Lots of other nations do it. So we will remember our friends and their interests, and we will be very thoughtful and careful as we proceed. But I’m very grateful to you, again, for your support for our diplomatic effort.

So as always, Mr. President, it is a great honor and a special moment for me to visit with you, and I look forward to our conversation.

PRESIDENT PERES: Thank you so much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir.

# # #

PRN: 2013/T17-14