Ya’alon apologizes for criticism of Kerry after U.S. rebuke

"The imperfect symmetry of diplomacy," a cartoon by Nathan Moskowitz.

(JNS.org) Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon apologized for remarks published by Yedioth Ahronoth that called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s approach to Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations “obsessive” and “messianic.”

“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,” Ya’alon’s office said in a statement.

Ya’alon reportedly said, “Secretary of State John Kerry—who came here very determined, and operates based upon an unfathomable obsession and a messianic feeling—cannot teach me anything about the Palestinians.” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki had called Ya’alon's remarks “offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs.”

“To question Secretary Kerry’s motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told JNS.org that Ya’alon “is worried about Israeli withdrawal to lines where Israel will be in a difficult strategic and military position to defend itself against future attacks.”

“He believes Kerry does not understand the complexity of the conflict,” said Halevi.

Posted on January 15, 2014 .