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Yesterday Secretary of State John Kerry was quoted as warning Israel that if it would not follow through with a peace deal it risked becoming an apartheid state. There was an immediate backlash from right wing groups like the Emergency Committee for Israel calling on Kerry to resign.

Now Secretary Kerry says he wishes he used a different word than apartheid to describe the future Israel that could exist if the two-state solution collapses saying “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.”

Kerry’s original statement never said current day Israel is an apartheid state, only that it could become one if no peace deal is reached:

A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens — or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.

It is going to be hard to unring that bell. Now that a senior US official has been caught thinking of Israel as an apartheid state, even in just a future scenario, the term to describe a discriminatory political system (long used by Israeli leaders) has entered the public consciousness.

The story itself came from an unauthorized recording from a reporter from the Daily Beast who snuck in to a meeting of the Trilateral Commission and recorded Kerry’s speech without his consent and after being told by those running the events that comments were “off the record.”

Regardless of how the information was obtained, it is out there. Given that the two-state solution looks increasingly unlikely the real question is what will the future for Israel and Palestine be. Secretary Kerry is not painting a very happy picture.