U.S. 'Disappointed' With Lack of Apology From Israel's Defense Minister

State Department spokeswoman reiterates call for explicit apology from Moshe Ya'alon over offensive comments on the Obama administration.

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The U.S. is "disappointed with the lack of apology" from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman told reporters on Friday.

"We still have remaining concerns about Ya'alon's pattern of behavior," Jen Psaki said during a press briefing. "I think we clearly expressed our displeasure by his offensive comments and an apology would be a natural next step."

Psaki added, however, that Ya'alon's comments don’t reflect U.S. relations with Israel.

Washington has been incensed at the Israeli defense minister since he leveled harsh criticism at the Obama administration in an address at Tel Aviv University, reported in Haaretz on Tuesday. Ya'alon said the United States “shows weakness” in various arenas around the world – including Ukraine – and that its allies in the Middle East are disappointed. Ya'alon said that because it is “sitting at home," America is opening itself up to terror attacks “and the United States will suffer.”

Following 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 reportedly apologized to his American counterpart Chuck Hagel, saying, among other things, that there was no defiance, criticism or intention to hurt the United States or Israel's relations with its ally with his words.

However, in its statement following the Ya'alon-Hagel talk, the U.S. Defense Department refrained from referring to Ya'alon's statements as an apology, instead saying that Hagel said he thanked Ya'alon for the clarification, and appreciated what Ya'alon had to say about his commitment to those relations.

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."

Moshe Ya'alon speaking at INSS, January 28, 2014.Credit: Moti Milrod

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