"We know that diplomacy without strength is blind to the world’s perils. But we also believe that strength without diplomacy is blind to the world's promise," Kerry said in his remarks at the Saban Forum.

"If diplomacy, backed by the credible threat of military force, can erase the menace of chemical weapons in Syria, if it can prevent the menace of nuclear weapons in Iran, if diplomacy can solve the existential, demographic threat to Israel's future as both a Jewish and a democratic state, if we can fully address these threats near and far without going to war, Israel, the region and the world will be more secure," Kerry said. "And so will the United States."

Recalling anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, Kerry said, "Just think of the lessons that he taught the world, which have special significance at this moment in history.” He said, 'It always seems impossible until it is done.' Now all of us who seek peace, and the skeptics who think it can’t be achieved, should bear in mind those words."

Kerry said Israel has to be strong to make peace but that peace will also make Israel stronger. "We are convinced that the greatest security will actually come from a two-state solution that brings Israel lasting peace," he said.

"Shared prosperity throughout the region, good relations among neighbors, peace of mind for the people of Israel and for Palestinians alike, none of this is possible without addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns, and ensuring that, as a result of peace, Israelis not only feel more secure, but are more secure, not less," he argued.

He said the US is using diplomacy to fully and verifiably address the threat that is posed by Iran’s nuclear programme. "It is a real threat. We have always taken it as such. We have no illusions, none whatsoever. Let me restate something that President Obama has made clear since day one that we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. Not now, not ever," he said.

Addressing Israeli concerns on the Iranian deal, Kerry said he is convinced beyond any doubt that Israel becomes safer the moment this first-step agreement is implemented. "Let me repeat that. Israel will be safer the day this begins to be implemented than it was the day before. And I say that because with implementation, we will then sit down with our P5+1 united colleagues and partners, and sit down with Iran, for the comprehensive discussion that Prime Minister Netanyahu has always said he favors," he said.

"We will do so, with all due respect, with one important advantage, we will have ensured that Iran's program will not advance while we negotiate," Kerry said.

(Agencies)

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