U.S. Wants Public Apology From Israeli Defense Minister for Verbal Assault

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tells Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the minister's criticism is 'not constructive;' Moshe Ya'alon pledges to 'clarify' remarks.

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The United States expects a public apology and no less from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who had pledged to clarify statements he had made earlier this week criticizing American foreign policy, a senior U.S. official told Haaretz Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, expressing his opposition to Ya'alon's remarks.

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State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki stated that Kerry told Netanyahu that he is concerned over Ya’alon’s comments, calling them “not constructive.” Psaki also said that the State Department is interested in moving forward and talking about how to advance the peace process.

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday with Ya’alon, regarding 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. At one point, the defense minister had said: "Look what’s happening in Ukraine, where the United States is demonstrating weakness, unfortunately.”

An official from Ya’alon’s office stated that the defense minister told Netanyahu that he plans to clarify his statements during upcoming meetings with senior American officials.

Officials from the White House, the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon became angered after reading Ya’alon’s statements. In addition to releasing angry statements in response to the Israeli defense minister’s remarks, American officials also voiced their complaints directly to Netanyahu’s office, citing specifically their anger at the fact that numerous times, Ya’alon has criticized Obama administration officials using less-than-diplomatic language.

American officials were especially angered, “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."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon speaking in Eilat, March 10, 2014.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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