Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry has recanted his statements about the possibility of Israel becoming “an apartheid state,” asserting that he does not believe “ Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one.”

Kerry’s controversial comments during the Trilateral Commission meeting last week—in which he warned that the lack of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could turn Israel into an “apartheid state”—were secretly recorded, and released Sunday by The Daily Beast, prompting a flood of criticism from lawmakers and Jewish organizations.

Kerry backtracked Monday in a statement reaffirming his commitment to Israel and ongoing peace talks, declaring: “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.”

“John Kerry can backpedal all he likes but the damage has been done,” said The Heritage Foundation’s Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. “The secretary of state has insulted a close friend and ally of the United States in the most offensive manner possible.”

Gardiner noted that the Obama presidency comes across as  “no friend of Israel,” and added “Kerry’s remarks will undoubtedly further harm relations between the Obama administration and the Israeli government, which are already at a very low point.”

“Perhaps John Kerry should take a crash course in basic diplomacy before he steps foot on the international stage again,” Gardiner said. “Clearly at present he’s barely up to the job of being America’s chief diplomat.”

This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.