WASHINGTON, April 29 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement Monday saying he regretted using the term "apartheid state" when referring to the fate of Israel and the Palestinians if a peace deal could not be reached.
The original statement from Kerry was made during a closed-door meeting at the Trilateral Commission and published in an exclusive by The Daily Beast. Kerry told world leaders Friday if there is no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming an "apartheid state."
Apartheid describes a system of segregation that results in political and economic racial injustice, and it's most often associated with the South African system from the 1940s to the 1990s.
The backlash to Kerry's statement was swift, with figures from both the left and the right condemning the remarks and calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to repudiate Kerry's words.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and any linkage between Israel and apartheid is nonsensical and ridiculous.— Sen. Barbara Boxer (@SenatorBoxer) April 28, 2014
Kerry quickly backtracked and reaffirmed his commitment to Israel, saying he wishes he had chosen a different phrase because he does not believe "that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one."
I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution. In the long term, a unitary, binational state cannot be the democratic Jewish state that Israel deserves or the prosperous state with full rights that the Palestinian people deserve.