John Kerry has denied that he made a comment about Israel becoming an "apartheid state". While not apologizing for the remarks, he stressed that he is a strong supporter of Israel, which he called a "vibrant democracy".
Kerry said that his remarks were only an expression of his firm relief that a two-state resolution is the only resolution to the long-running conflict in the area. He stressed that he does not believe that Israel is an apartheid state.
"I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes, so I want to be crystal clear about what I believe and what I don't believe," he said in a statement.
"First, Israel is a vibrant democracy and I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one. Any one who knows anything about me knows that without a shred of doubt.
"Second, 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."
This comes after The Daily Beast reported that Kerry had told a room full of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting on Friday that if there is no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming an apartheid state.
The comment invited a surge of criticisms. Republican Senator Ted Cruz called for Kerry's resignation over the comments, the Press TV reported.
Cruz said Kerry should offer his resignation "before any more harm is done to our national security interests and our critical alliance" with Israel.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republican Senator John McCain also urged Kerry to apologize for the comments.