CMEP Bulletin: Israeli Defense Minister Blasts Kerry’s Peace Efforts
Last week, CMEP warned that as negotiations on a framework agreement get more serious, opponents to a deal will get more vocal, putting more pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This week, Israel’s defense minister caused a diplomatic uproar after insulting Secretary John Kerry’s efforts to reach a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in private meetings, “Secretary of State John Kerry…is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling – cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians,” and “Throughout the recent months, there is no negotiation between us and the Palestinians, but rather, between us and the Americans. The only thing that can ‘save’ us is that John Kerry will get a Nobel Peace Prize and leave us alone.”
A State Department spokesperson fired back, “The remarks of the Defense Minister if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs…Kerry and his team, including General Allen, have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the Secretary’s deep concern for Israel’s future…To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the Defense Minister of a close ally.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, U.S. officials asked “Netanyahu to issue a statement distancing himself from both the criticism of Kerry, as well as the criticism of the diplomatic process itself.” That did not happen. After Yaalon met with Netanyahu, the defense ministry issued a statement saying, “The defense minister had no intention to cause any offense to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.” Netanyahu later praised the close relationship between the United States and Israel.
Haaretz writer Chemi Shalev explains that “Ya’alon’s remarks…are the zenith of what seems to be a concerted campaign of off-the-record slaps in the face and not-for-attribution kicks in the teeth that unnamed Israeli sources have been waging against Kerry in recent weeks.”