tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg January 11, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
♪ >> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: mr. secretary, this journey, this part of your life is coming to an end. we talk about iran first. how do you view that now? is that a primary legacy for john kerry? secretary kerry: i don't think there's any one thing, if i can say respectfully, that is the legacy. i think the legacy is severalfold, to the degree that there is a legacy. these four years have been
defined by a world around us that is going through massive transformation. some people confuse that transformation with sins of omission or commission by administration. but in fact there are forces , that are at play that we can't necessarily stop or shift the direction of, we have to manage. and i'm speaking specifically of something like the arab spring. we could not have a stopped the arab spring, no one could. that happened, and it happened because of a combination of new communications, aspiration, modernity, the tensions that have been created because of the invasion of iraq, which left shia and sunni with a new definition and contest. it happened because of aspirations of young people above all, because of bad governance, failing states. there are many forces that are unleashed right now.
so the task for any administration is to tame the worst manifestations of these forces, to try to put together a strategy for how the united states can in fact advance its values and protect its interests in the mix of that transformation. i believe we've done a pretty darn good job of managing more of these crises that have come simultaneously than any time in recent memory. if you look -- i have said to many people and i will stand by this, it's completely legitimate that the united states of america in the last four years has been more engaged, more proactively, in more places, with more crises of different
kinds, and with positive impact, than at any time in american history. you can look at africa, where we are on the cusp of a generation being born of kids free from aids, where we stopped ebola, without the million people dying they predicted. or the south china sea, where we asserted the rights of navigation, or ukraine, where we stood up against russia's incursion and put sanctions in place and held europe together, or iran, where we got an agreement to get a country we hadn't talked to in 35 years to stop its nuclear weaponry program, assuming that's where they were going, and joining the international community under the iaea to live up to standard -- standards. we had a trifecta with respect to the environment, unprecedented.
if we had done the paris agreement, that would have been a huge deal. we sent a signal to the global marketplace about clean energy and alternative, renewable energy. but we did not just do that. we got the airline industry together, which altogether is the size of the 12th largest emitter in the world. we have them reducing their emissions under a new agreement. we've got about 200 nations came together in kigali, and rwanda. there we managed to phase out refrigerants, which are 1000 times more potent than carbon dioxide and which in and of itself could save the planet 1/2 degree centigrade of warming. i'm just starting to describe the things. in afghanistan we held a government together that threatened to implode, completely, with the afghan effort completely shredded as a result because of the bad
election. we put a unity government together. i can go from place to place, charlie, where i think the united states has offered leadership, and it contradicts completely this notion of retreat or retrenchment, that the united states is somehow pulling back. that is a false and narrative that has been advanced by people with different interests. charlie: let me come to that point. do you believe that because of the events over the several years, that there is a new world order emerging? secretary kerry: clearly they -- there are strains because of this transformation i'm talking about. for many years, the united states and americans have been able to, at times, when even when we made bad decisions, because we were really the only power standing for a long period of time, after world war ii as the order emerged and as we
created the u.n., all these things emerged, which is the order as we have referred to it, nato and so forth, the united states has been critical to the development of all of these structures, but increasingly, other countries are more powerful. inherently. charlie: and want to participate. secretary kerry: and they want to participate. they don't simply want to sit there and take orders from us or simply be passive about the choices we are making in the context of those institutions. china, 1.3 billion people. second-largest economy in the world, which will be automatically the largest economy in the world at some point in time, wants to play differently. they want to be more determinative of their future and protect their interests. likewise, other countries,
russia. if you have a leader of a country like russia, whose leader says the most tragic moment of the 20th century was the fall of the soviet union, you can have a sense of where that person is coming from as he moves in response to things that the united states -- he wants to restore a level of respect and acceptance, and perhaps even more than that. charlie: do we give him that? we want to respect you, we want to give you a level of acceptance. after all you have the world's , largest collection of nuclear weapons. secretary kerry: i think it is important and it is clear from the diplomacy i pursued, i think it's very important to talk to russia. people need to take note of the certain reality. russia, when brought into the process and respected in the conversation and dealt with, actually produced.
we were able to cooperate even as we know they have a different attitude about certain things, a different worldview, a different outlook. we are not going to be easily walking hand-in-hand in some kumbaya fashion down the road that brings us together because of the differences in that worldview and other interests. russia doesn't like nato. russia doesn't like the expansion of the nato. russia does not like the ballistic missile defense. russia doesn't like what we did in libya, where they believe that we reached beyond the u.n. resolution. russia doesn't like revolutions. they don't like what happened in they don't like what happened in ukraine. there are a bunch of things that they react to. we will have to work through those kinds of things in the relationship. but look, when we had to get chemical weapons out of syria,
russia was the cooperating party that helps make that happen. without them, it probably would not have. charlie: you have been in a what has been unsuccessful effort to get them to help form a transition government. how many days? and how many hours and how many sessions, trying to help the form a transition government? so you can transition assad out of power. instead of doing that, what they have done is supported assad on the ground and he is now stronger than he has been in a very long time. secretary kerry: he is stronger than he has been. charlie: because of their support. secretary kerry: well, no, that's not completely the way it played out. there are a number of reasons why the cease-fire didn't work, and why we weren't able to move to the geneva thing at this
point in time. one of the reasons was our own internal division here in the united states. we had some folks who did not want to talk to russia. thought it was wrong to have engagement with russia, and put their distrust of russia ahead of any efforts to find their way to the table. the fact is this, hard, simple, real fact. there will be no political solution whatsoever to the crisis of syria without dealing with russia. and, the fact is what we succeeded in laying out in the course of the international syria support group meetings, and the u.n. resolutions, is the outline of how that political solution is going to look and come about. i guarantee you, there will be ultimately some kind of negotiation because there has to be, and it will follow the framework of what we laid down. i am confident of that. so, while we didn't get there yet, none of that diplomacy was
wasted, none of that time to have a cease-fire, which we had several times, where we could have saved lives and got humanitarian assistance in and , it has established a framework which ultimately will work. the russians made a decision that because of our own challenges here, we weren't able to deliver the separation. one of the deals was we would separate. it wasn't able to be done. under the circumstances. so, you know, i think -- separate them out, because they are al qaeda, and there is no dealing with them. they represent al qaeda. unfortunately, the opposition we were supporting got enmeshed with them, and it was very hard to distinguish who was who. charlie: and they ended up with american supplies, it was argued. secretary kerry: yes, and some places.
but also because it allowed assad to continue to bomb people and fight pretending he was , going after al qaeda when he was going after the opposition, and never really went after isil or daesh. this is more complicated than meets the eye. meanwhile, you had a major amount of proxy pressure being put on people. for instance turkey had proxy , interests. you had saudi arabia, qataris, and so forth. those proxy efforts complicated what people were willing to do and what you could hold accountable. charlie: two things about this. you said there were divisions in america. it was said there were divisions within the administration. that the secretary of state, you wanted to do more on the ground , to give you more leverage, and you could not bring the president at that point. you had less leverage to deal with the russians and deliver than you wanted.
speak to that. secretary kerry: it is history. the administration has another few days and i'm still here and i'm not going to be going backwards yet. i am really not, in that regard. it's no secret that there were many debates within the administration, and different concepts of how to try to deal with it. charlie: but you supported the 51 diplomats who said you can't negotiate without -- secretary kerry: you need to have some leverage to negotiate. charlie: and you did not have it. secretary kerry: it is very difficult to negotiate when the other side doesn't feel compelled to be accountable or to do certain things. but that is neither here nor there. the important thing is that while syria has been frustrating for everybody, including president obama, the fact is
that we've, i think, managed to marshall major initiative within the region that has strengthened our allies in the region. partly in response to the iran nuclear agreement. beyond that -- charlie: israel, you mean sunni arab state? who do you mean our allies? secretary kerry: i mean israel, uae, the saudis. charlie: sunni arabs? secretary kerry: very much so. we had a major summit at camp david where they all came in, we strengthened the military support structure, the training, the flow of weaponry they felt they needed. we have enforced measures against iran that fell outside of the iran nuclear agreement, but which regarded u.n. resolutions or arms trafficking, state sponsorship of terrorism, so forth.
i think we've managed to make it clear that the united states has been solidly engaged. we put together a 68-coalition country effort to defeat daesh. how can people suggest we are retreating when isil is moving across iraq, threatening baghdad, black flags flying, and -- people being beheaded, and the president of the united states immediately moved to put our aircraft in the sky and begin to take them on, to retrain the army, rebuild the army, and now we have liberated 65% of iraq that was taken over by daesh, 35% to 40% of syria. we are beginning to surround raqqa. we are in the liberation of
mosul, and i'm telling you without any question in my mind, daesh, isil is going to be defeated sometime in the course of next year. charlie: in the next year i will be defeated. because you are driving them out of those two power centers. secretary kerry: it's more than that. driving them out of the power centers will not fully deal with the problem. it could go into the next year. i will not get precise about the year. it's within a measurable period of time that i am confident we are going to be able to liberate. charlie: the way that isil came out of al qaeda, won't there be some other terrorist organization that will be worse than they are that will follow isil? where are we in the long struggle against terrorism? secretary kerry: we're at the beginning of that struggle, which will go on for some period of time. i said today that the united states naval academy i think is
generational challenge. it is a big challenge. there's boko haram. there's al-shabab. you can run the list of these people, from africa to southeast-central asia. where i think we need to go, where the world has got to put more energy and effort, is into , people can imagine what it is we need a new marshall plan. , we need a greater engagement not just by the united states, but by all the developed and near developed worlds, need to come together more effectively to deal with this astounding bulge in many parts of the world. where you have young people who in many places, they are not going to go to school and they
don't have opportunity. and if all that we do, collectively, is leave them to the devices of radical religious extremists who grab those young minds, everybody is going to have a problem going forward. in terms of foreign policy, it is a mistake for somebody to say, we are not going to deal with over there. there is no over there anymore. everywhere is in the same place. charlie: you can't deny that after the so-called red line was crossed and there was not an american reaction, though you will say the reaction was to get the chemical weapons out, others expected more and were prepared for more, and so were you -- we can talk about that specifically. after what happened to mosad, happen to mubarak, many people believed our allies had real
questions about where the u.s. was and could they count on them and the united states had to go to those nations and reassure them. secretary kerry: fair to say that some people drew a message from the departure of mubarak and the red line. on the mubarak thing, i think that is erroneous because in fact, mubarak already by virtue of the decision of the egyptian people coming out in the streets in the tens of millions, it was clear mubarak wasn't going to swallow that. egypt was not going to. president obama simply made clear publicly what was already clear on the ground, that he was gone, fundamentally. and that got hung on somehow on the president and became this moment of doubt. now to the red line with respect to syria. the president of the united
states, barack obama, never, ever retreated from his position that he was going to strike. he announced that he would strike, he announced we would take action, and he went to congress to ask congress for permission to do that. he did that after david cameron, prime minister of britain, had gone to parliament and been turned down. i was on a telephone call with about 100 congressmen, many of whom were saying, you have to come to us. we need to be part of this. the president decided to go to congress. while intervening time a congress was deliberating, and congress became far more difficult to persuade than anybody thought they would be, but while that happens i was , asked at a press conference in london, is there any way that assad could avoid being bombed? and i said declaratively, yes. you could get all the chemical weapons out of syria.
foreign minister lavrov called me within a couple hours and said, i heard what you said in london. we need to work on that. the fact is president obama and , president putin had talked about it. we went to work on it and in a matter of days we came to an agreement to get all of the chemical weapons out of syria. in effect, in reality, we achieved far more by having said we were going to bomb, getting all the chemical weapons out, but people interpreted the president going to congress as an avoidance of the bombing. and i will absolutely confirm with you right here. yes, it did hurt us. it took hold. somehow there was this perception that the president backed off. charlie: the perception is if you cross a line and you say you are going to attack if there's a red line, and then you don't --
secretary kerry: what was the reason for the red line? charlie: to get the chemical weapons. secretary kerry: it was to tell him, don't use these. what was the best way to not use them? take them away. we accomplished the goal exponentially beyond what we would. -- what have by bombing. i concede, the fact of how it played out created this mythology and perception that somehow the president wasn't willing to do that. it did cost us. i know it cost us. i heard it, and i felt it, and i had to argue it with many people. charlie: and you had to convince them it was not the reality? secretary kerry: that's one of the reasons why we built up what we built up with camp david, the assurance program, the training, the increased efforts on the ground. a lot was done in terms of reassurance. charlie: as you remember, i was there talking to assad a week before that and he said at that time that he would give up the
chemical weapons if there was no strike because he thought it would be good to avoid war. and i remember you in london, looking at that, and how timely it was. there's also this in terms of history. the famous walk around the white house lawn, with a man i interviewed yesterday, the chief of staff. it is said the president came back from that walk and announced he would not attack. secretary kerry: i never heard an announcement that he would not attack. he announced he was going to go to congress to get the permission to attack. charlie: there was nothing discussed and no decision made as a result of that walk. this is history, i am asking you. without consulting with the secretary of state, the national security advisor. he took a walk, and that was a decisive moment in his own confirmation of his own thinking.
secretary kerry: did the chief of staff tell you the president made a decision not to strike, or to go to congress? i got a phone call at 9:30 that night from the president saying, here's my thinking. we spent a half an it was the hour. night after the walk. the president said to me, i think we have to go to congress and get permission. he never said to me, i decided not to strike. he went to congress to get permission to strike. the foreign relations committee voted something like 13-7. to permit the strike. we were still on a track to strike. charlie: so the decision was not to go to congress but get permission from congress. secretary kerry: that's as i understand it. charlie: i assume you are right. much has been made of that walk. secretary kerry: i know. much has been made of the walk because it was a walk about whether or not he would strike on saturday, literally, or whether we have to go to congress. one of the reasons people felt compelled that the congress
thing made sense was because david cameron, our close ally, british parliament, refused him permission to strike. if this democracy and ally had been refused permission to join in this, was the president on weaker ground therefore, to go ahead and strike notwithstanding? or was it wiser to go to congress in our democracy and get the affirmation of the american people? charlie: there were those who argued you did not have to go to congress. secretary kerry: true. we were not arguing whether we had to go. we knew the president had the authority constitutionally to do the strike. that wasn't the issue. the issue was, should he go. was he wiser to get the permission and buy-in from the american people for use of force, and many members of congress argued he ought to do that.
that was the decision he made. now, in the deliberations of the national security council, i will tell you, i want this clear the vast majority of people , there -- it may have been all but one or two people, held that congress would give permission and do it pretty quickly. it was with that in mind that the president made the decision to go. turned out not to be something congress was ready to do quickly. that added to the notion that it was an escape hatch. but it was not put forward in that fashion, to the best of my recollection. and it is pretty good. charlie: one, where is syria today? what would it have taken to have a better result? secretary kerry: syria is a colossal catastrophe and a horrendous humanitarian situation today. it pains me, i hate what i see. it's painful to watch her
children being bombed, historic communities being destroyed. the passions of revenge and hatred being stoked. and harder and harder to put back together as a nation. i personally believe if the russians had felt some pressure, if assad had felt some pressure, we would have had a greater capacity. charlie: what kind of pressure? secretary kerry: any kind of pressure. i think what happened is the russians wouldn't put pressure. russians never held them completely accountable. putin should've said you do not go to the table and do this, we are out of here. but there was permissive this to which raisedns, everybody's hackles about russia's approach to this. charlie: has assad won? has he won temporarily? secretary kerry: no, he's in a
stronger dominant position , today, but there is no victory without a political solution. no military solution to syria. there will continue to be suicide bombings and car bombs and insurrection and low grade insurgency for a long period of time, if you do not resolve all the fundamental, underlying questions of the future of syria. charlie: is it the most disappointing aspect of your secretary of state-ship? secretary kerry: i don't view it as over. i don't view it as our failure. i think it's a collective failure. i view it is a failure of everybody who has touched it and been involved in it, that the international community could not come together and unite around a standard of decency and
behavior, as is expressed within the u.n. and international community with respect to war and laws of war. i object to the fact that we were not able as an international community to prevent the carnage of syria. and, the things that might have been done or that weren't done or weren't considered are a fair subject of debate once we are finished. charlie: i hope to talk to you then. ♪
♪ charlie: first, the iran deal. many people thought that was such a towering diplomatic achievement. others didn't. that it almost deserved or did deserve a nobel prize for you and the foreign minister of iran. how difficult was it? tell us how you did it. what was the essence of all those hours and all that talk and all those people who had their own interests? secretary kerry: well, leaving sort of myself out of this, just as an observer of -- charlie: was there no person more central to it than you? secretary kerry: no. i'm trying to make a comment about it because i don't want to make it sound like i'm building it up. this was hard. this was tough.
i've been involved in these discussions and these efforts for 30, what, 34 years 32 years, , or something, 28 years in the senate, plus. and to sit down with a nation with whom we've had no formal, high-level discussions for 35 years, to break the barrier of mistrust to be able to get to the table and start working down a road, where a country was talking about intrusive inspections, a country particularly as full of pride and nationalism and privacy as a country like iran, was really hard and complicated. and they had interests, we had interests. and you have to always find a way to thread the needle in a way to satisfy interests but still get the job done.
we needed to know that if we got an agreement, we were not putting israel at risk, putting countries in the region at risk. we needed to know this was not an agreement just for 15 years, but an agreement for life, which is why the additional protocol allows a demand inspection at any time in the life of this agreement. so if we see a facility at some point 20 years from now, it's being developed, and we have cause to believe that enrichment is taking place or that there is a breakout effort underway, we have a right to inspect. and if we can't, we have legitimacy in challenging that particular activity. so we are never without recourse in the course of this particular agreement. and it was critical to be able to achieve that, for, frankly, hard for iran to be able to come to the table and make an agreement to say ok, we are , doing this for the long haul.
and we are not going to have weaponry, and we are prepared to let the outside world look in. charlie: in the end why do you , think you were able to do it? secretary kerry: because we both had an interest in doing it. it was clear that the supreme leader of the country of iran had made a fundamental decision that their nation needed to grow. they needed to do better by their people. and because of the sanctions regime, which was a huge success, they were simply not capable of doing that. it was impossible. now, if they think they have averted an ultimate confrontation of what their program is, they're mistaken. because what is in place will always permit us to know whether or not and to challenge whether or not they are trying to move towards weaponry. we will always have the time we need, charlie to be able to , protect our friends in the region and to protect our own interests. they needed to do that, and we
needed to make sure they didn't have a pathway to a nuclear weapon. you combine those two interests and put them together, that was really the bedrock foundation of what would bring the two countries -- not to countries, seven countries, p5+1, to the table in order to get this -- charlie: this is an area where russia was very helpful. ,ecretary kerry: yes, it was and people need to understand that. russia was one of the key players in helping to get to this agreement. russia also was a key player in getting the chemical weapons out of syria. russia was a key player in helping us to move on the environmental agreements that i discussed. russia was key to getting the marine area protected a few weeks ago. we have been able to have some cooperation from russia even as we have disagreed deeply and bitterly over ukraine, over
crimea, over syria. we still manage to move on some of these other issues. coming back to iran, i think that, i mean there were just hours and hours of very detailed and complicated issues, and at one point, we became very much affected by the desire of congress to pass more sanctions, because they didn't understand where we were in the process. and so we had to come out -- charlie: if a new congress would impose new sanctions, what would happen to the agreement? secretary kerry: well they could , break the agreement apart. charlie: walk away from it. secretary kerry: it could happen. charlie: so far they have kept the bargain. secretary kerry: iran has definitively kept the bargain. there have been a couple things here and there that we have had to tweak in order to make sure we are staying up with it. we have set it up now that it is on a track to be able to move fairly automatically going
are cooperating on iran, on climate. secretary kerry: yeah, but -- charlie: trying to interrupt the democratic process in america. secretary kerry: putin alleges that we tried to disrupt his process, as you know. it's one of the reasons why he chose not to like hillary clinton and her candidacy. and he believes that the obama administration interfered with the legitimacy of his own race. charlie: and it hasn't been to do with tf? -- kiev? secretary kerry: yes. very deeply believe we were involved -- i'm not giving it legitimacy. i'm not saying that's a reason for us to not believe what we believe. i'm just saying if you don't understand where the other person is coming from or the other country is coming from, you have got a problem. that does not excuse anything he did particularly after the president of the united states made it clear to him this was
unacceptable. charlie: this was at the g20 meeting. secretary kerry: among others. i raised it. charlie: they have stopped it because you raised it with lavrov, the foreign minister? secretary kerry: what happened is the horses were already out of the barn. they had already invaded wiki leaks. they had already done certain things, but there was not evidence that other things grew significantly after that. but charlie: there was a meeting -- but damage done. charlie: there was a meeting between turkey and back to syria for just a moment because we are talking about russia. turkey, iran, and russia. shouldn't you have been there? secretary kerry: they have been at the table with us. charlie: but you were not there. secretary kerry: the reason we were not there is because we -- they perceived we would not deliver on what we said we would deliver on. charlie: that was their perception. were they right? secretary kerry: we didn't
deliver. charlie: tell me when you became secretary of state, what did you think you could do, and why? in doing something that had been unattainable so far, to bring the palestinians and the iranians to an agreement supported by both and supported by -- secretary kerry: israelis and irradiance. -- iranians. this is an issue i've lived with for 30+ years. i traveled to israel in 1986 for the first time as a young senator, with 15 or so of my friends in massachusetts, and we traveled all around the country and i got to know it. ,and that was my introduction. you know i love israel. ,i think that it's a beautiful country with a spectacular founding idea. when hertzel and company came together years and years and years ago, and zionism was born,
it was the idea of creating this homeland. after world war ii, 1948, it was created. and we recognized it within a -- eight minutes, but the arab world did not. and so for years, there has been this question of, how do you makepeace here? -- make peace here? there's been an evolution in that process, through various presidencies, republican and democrat alike, all of whom have opposed settlements. republican and democrats alike have continually said, settlements are an obstacle to peace. charlie: ronald reagan, george bush, george bush 43. secretary kerry: everybody. policy in the united states is settlements, unilaterally decided upon, unilaterally announced, you know relatively -- unilaterally built are an
obstacle to the two state solution. in 1993 the oslo accords were signed, which embrace this -- embraced this notion of two states for two people living side-by-side in peace and security. what is what we support. -- that is what we support. and this administration has been more supportive of israel historically than any administration. we have built we gave them the , iron dome. we have saved thousands of lives of israelis because of iron dome. a $38 billion, 10-year mou. charlie: their prime minister and their u.s. ambassador have acknowledged that. they have said that. more military support and more things in terms of that nature. yet at the same time, their prime minister comes here and speaks to congress against the nuclear deal. secretary kerry: he believes -- he was opposed to the nuclear deal. that's ok. let's go, let me come back to where we are. this is important. so the united states has continually, and we, for four years, i have defended israel in various forums where people have
brought de-legitimizing and unfair resolutions, whether unesco or the human rights council or u.n., we have said no. charlie: vetoed at every count. secretary kerry: either said no or vetoed it before it got off the ground. now on, you know why the timing? ,why did you wait until the end? we waited because we were negotiating for a year. we had a negotiation going. after the negotiation, there was a presidential race. if we didn't announce something in the middle of a residential race, both candidates, i guarantee you would have been forced into opposition, and it would have been dead on arrrival. the timing was that we couldn't walk away, charlie, and leave people with a sense that this didn't matter, that there was impunity for the continued building of settlements -- charlie: you couldn't walk away from what has been a principle of american policy having to do with israel and its neighbors.
secretary kerry: yes, that, yes but more than that. what has been happening because of the continued process is the slow destruction, deterioration, blockage of the possibility of a two-state solution. now why is that so important to us? because frankly it's important to israel, and it is important to the palestinians. because you cannot possibly have a democracy and a jewish state and be a single state, a unitary state. so if israel doesn't create two states, is going to be that unitary state. and guess what? there are more non-jews today right now -- ,[speaking simultaneously] charlie: netanyahu recognizes that. that if they create a unitary state, they will face these problems. secretary kerry: he says he does recognize that. charlie: so he says he is still in favor of the two state
solution and in favor of settlements at the same time. secretary kerry: correct. he says he has to do x number of settlements because his coalition is a coalition which is built up of many people, the majority of his ministers don't believe in a two state solution. so in effect, you have a settler movement that is driving those politics, and that's what creates this tension. you have many more people in israel who, by all polls, believe in two states. why did we do this? why did we push this? because we support israel, we care about an israel that can be a jewish state and a democracy. and unless there are two states that can -- charlie: but you had a firestorm of criticism among the jewish community in america. secretary kerry: some people. charlie: the majority it would seem. secretary kerry: i don't believe so. look at the polls. i have actually seen polls that show the majority of jews in
america, american jews, actually support the idea of a two state solution. charlie: i am not talking about that. i am talking about not vetoing the resolution. secretary kerry: i saw polls that showed 36% supported what we did. about 29% or 30% opposed and the rest were undecided. i have seen polls that actually show this division. it is not the division that's important, it's the policy that's important. israel, to be a democracy and a jewish state at the same time, has got to resolve this issue and make a choice. and the choice is, you've got to create that state, or you give up on the idea -- charlie: it has been trending this way for a while. the settlement has continued in one administration to another. secretary kerry: that is precisely why after -- charlie: reaching a tipping point. secretary kerry: yes, and after many discussions, look i have
had over something like 375 to 400 hours of conversation with the prime minister of israel. and we have considered ourselves friends. i have known him for a long time, we get along, we talked many many hours, we spent great , times together. but i have said to him, mr. prime minister, you are taking your country to a place where it is going to be increasingly hard for us to fend off resolutions and still be true to our own policy. now that's a choice we face. we are a sovereign nation. we are israel's best friend. so what we did we stood up and , said we have to be true to the two state process. we have to be true to the policy every administration has reported, and so we voted the way we did. we didn't support it, we abstained. but we allowed it to go through. we did allow it to go through. [speaking simultaneously] charlie: would you let it go through? secretary kerry: we also didn't say we agree. why didn't we agree with it?
there were things in the resolution. charlie: you think it could lead to, and a sense the destruction , of the state of israel as we know it. some people even use the word apartheid. secretary kerry: some people used that word and other words. i am not using that, but what i am using is, you will have two different laws. currently palestinians live in the west bank under military law. israeli settlers who live in the west bank live under israeli civil law. what has been happening is increasingly there has been a reverse of the oslo process. palestinian homes in the west bank, built illegally i grant you that, but only because they can't get permits. only one permit was granted for construction in 2014 and 2015. those have been demolished. charlie: how much aid did we give israel last year? how many billions of dollars? secretary kerry: it was $3.1
billion, somewhere approximately. charlie: largest donor in the world. secretary kerry: israel receives more than 50% of all of the foreign military sales support of the united states. and yes, we give them a lot of aid. i am not bashful about that, i think we should. i am glad we give israel a lot of aid. israel's our ally, our friend, and israel has been under siege. and israel does need to have the security to protect itself great -- itself. part of the guiding principle how we approach this process was to absolutely make certain israel could defend itself by itself. that is a premise -- charlie: you know what the israelis say. the israelis will say to you, and they have said to you 1000 times the u.n. is not the way to , go. the way to go is negotiations between israel and the palestinians. secretary kerry: you are absolutely correct. and we affirmed that in the resolution. we've affirmed that every step of the way. the final status issues cannot be imposed by the united nations. they must be resolved by the parties.
we completely support and enforce that principle. and in the resolution that was passed in the united nations, my friend, there was no final status issue decision that was made. jerusalem, we made i put forward , principles around which they should negotiate, suggesting you won't have a solution to the problem unless you have a capital for each state somewhere in jerusalem somehow. they have got to resolve that. where is it going to be? you won't have a solution without that. we also said you have to solve the refugee issue in a way that is fair and just and along the lines of what the arab peace commission is. charlie: you have to solve borders. secretary kerry: correct, you have to solve borders, and you have to make sure that israel has the ability to defend itself, and even if things were to change in 20 years or whatever, they could then still defend themselves because they have a right to be able to ultimately respond to that
crisis legally, even if it meant they have to push back in the region temporarily in order to deal with it. there are all kinds of ways we have acknowledged that the final status issues must be resolved by the two parties. nothing in the resolution that passed in the united nations -- charlie: you know -- secretary kerry: settlements are not a final status issue. settlements depend on borders. charlie: you are inexhaustible. inexhaustible. you are a believer that you will, until the last breath, you keep trying, and you keep trying, and you keep trying. secretary kerry: i believe you can make peace. i believe in rationality. charlie: others would say your time is better spent on other issues. you need to be in syria, in china. you need to be -- secretary kerry: i was. charlie: this is a fool's errand to believe you will try what everyone else has tried. secretary kerry: this is why i have traveled so many miles. i didn't give up working on any of the issues.
i have traveled how many times, seven times to china. charlie: what is that about you? secretary kerry: i traveled to many of these places. i worked on the global climate change agreement, on all these other agreements. i've negotiated in afghanistan. i did -- i mean that's the , nature of this job. it's an intense job, and you work hard at it. charlie: you traveled a lot more in terms of trying to pursue a middle east peace than secretary clinton did. secretary kerry: maybe some of it has to do with the lessons i learned as a young man, that war is a failure of diplomacy, and if countries lie or if countries avoid reality or countries don't try, particularly the united states of america, a lot of bad things can happen. and when i came back from vietnam, i resolved that if i ever had a chance or i was in a position of responsibility, i would do everything in my power to guarantee that i didn't fall into that it -- pit and make the same mistakes or lose the opportunity. we had a saying, my crew and the guys i was with over there.
we still stay in touch with each other. those of us who are lucky enough to make it back have a saying that every day is extra. so, you go at it that way. charlie: where are you going to be six months from now? secretary kerry: well i don't know about six months from now. i know that i'm going to contribute discontinue to try to contribute, to find ways to stay in this debate, the climate climate change oceans challenge is enormous, and we have an awful lot of work to do. i want to try to be involved in some track two diplomacy and some other efforts. and i want to do some private-sector stuff. i am very very excited about , what is happening in the private sector, the changes that can take place. i think that private-sector investment and choices we make, has a huge opportunity to push public policy frankly. there are all kinds of investments we can make in countries that could meet some of the challenges that i talked about earlier by young people and opportunity. i want to be engaged in that in some ways, and i'm going to sort