Hagel and Ya'alon.
Hagel greets Ya'alon at the Pentagon during a visit in the U.S., 2013. Photo by AP
Text size

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon is apologizing for the second time in two months about critical statements he made against the U.S. government.

In the wake of tremendous anger in Washington, a telephone call between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a personal talk with the prime minister, Ya'alon told his American counterpart, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, that there was no defiance, criticism or intention to hurt the United States or Israel's relations with its ally with his words.

Ya'alon said he sees utmost importance in the strategic relations between the countries, as well as in personal relations and mutual interests. He told Hagel he values relations on all levels between Israel and the United States in general, and on the defense level in particular.

The defense minister said he has very deep admiration for the relations between the countries and for Hagel on a personal level. He said he valued these relations as Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and continues to do so as defense minister, and that he recognized the full depth and importance of these relations. He added he was fully committed to these relations and cooperation between Israel and the United States in all forms.

Hagel said he thanked Ya'alon for the clarification. He said he recognized that some of the things Ya'alon said were taken out of context. He also said he valued their personal relationship as well as relations between the countries, and appreciated what Ya'alon had to say about his commitment to those relations.

On Monday, Ya'alon attacked the United States for failing to lead the campaign against Iran. “But at some stage the United States entered into negotiations with them, and unhappily, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better,” said Ya’alon, speaking during an event at Tel Aviv University, as reported by Haaretz.

Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday with Ya’alon concerning the uproar caused by the latter’s remarks, which also criticized American conduct regarding the Ukraine crisis, as well as American relations with China and Asia. 

Officials from the White House, the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon became angered after reading Ya’alon’s remarks, especially by “taking into proportion” the fact that the U.S. annually provides some $3.1 billion of military aid to Israel.

In January, Ya'alon raised the ire of fellow Israeli politicians and the U.S. State Department, after he was was quoted by the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth calling Secretary of State John Kerry "obsessive and messianic," adding that he hoped Kerry "gets a Nobel Prize and leaves us alone."