Washington Officials Targeting Israeli Defense Minister Over His Political Stance, Associates Claim

Moshe Ya'alon is under attack because of his positions on the Palestinians, say the sources.

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Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has been marked as a problem by certain elements in Washington because of his positions on the Palestinian issue, said sources near him, hence the sharp counterattack following the minister's comments on "American weakness" around the world. These people "take every opportunity to attack him," the sources near Ya'alon added.

During discussions on the Palestinian issue, Ya'alon presented uncompromising positions, since he felt the suggestions and proposed concessions would compromise Israel's security, the sources near him said.

"Certain elements in Washington define Bogie [the defense minister's nickname] as extreme, as the hard nut in the Israeli government," said a Ya'alon adviser. "They've been trying to damage his legitimacy and popularity among the public, but it isn't working."

Despite the mutual growling, his sources say the defense minister's relations with his American counterpart, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, are excellent, as are the relations between the Israeli and American security systems.

"The defense minister always stresses the close relationship with the U.S. and its importance, but raises all sorts of strategic issues that he feels are causing damage to the U.S.," said the sources near Ya'alon. "It didn't bother anybody in the past, but now he's become a convenient target because he's perceived as being a problem regarding the Palestinian issue. In any case, on security, he won't compromise."

The comments that peeved Washington began with Ya'alon's contention that the Iranians outplayed the Americans in negotiations on nuclear development. He said he was changing his mind: Israel would evidently have to look out for itself. During his address at Tel Aviv University on Tuesday, he said several times that Washington has been showing weakness everywhere in the world.

The Obama administration lost little time in launching a blistering counter-attack on Ya'alon: accusing him of “undermining” the security ties between Israel and the United States. “We were shocked by Moshe Ya'alon’s comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States,” a senior administration official said.

Defense Minister Bogie Ya'alon speaks at Tel Aviv UniversityCredit: Friends of Tel Aviv University

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