News / Middle East

    Kerry's Boycott Remarks Anger Israel

    FILE - Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs for International Relations of Israel Yuval Steinitz listens during a news conference.
    FILE - Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs for International Relations of Israel Yuval Steinitz listens during a news conference.
    Robert Berger
    As U.S. mediated Middle East peace talks enter their seventh month, mounting tensions have emerged between Israel and Washington.   

    Israeli officials are furious after Secretary of State John Kerry warned that if peace talks with the Palestinians fail, Israel could face growing international boycotts.  Kerry was speaking at a security conference in Munich.

    “You see for Israel there is an increasing deligitimization campaign that has been building up.  People are very sensitive to it," said Kerry. "There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things.  Are we all going to better with all of that?”

    At the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Israeli ministers took these remarks as a direct threat: Make concessions to the Palestinians, or pay a heavy price.

    Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel would not negotiate with “a gun pointed at its head,” especially when its vital national interests are at stake.  

    He described Kerry's remarks “as damaging, unfair and intolerable.”

    The State Department issued a clarification saying Kerry’s remarks were taken out of context.  It said the Secretary of State staunchly opposes any boycotts against Israel and was only referring to actions taken by others.

    The European Union, for instance, has been threatening to boycott products from Jewish settlements, and several European companies have stopped doing business with Israeli companies operating in the West Bank.

    At the opening of the Cabinet session, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said international pressure on Israel harms peace efforts because it causes the Palestinians to harden their positions.

    “Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust,” Netanyahu said, and he said “they will not achieve their goal."
    The latest dispute points to growing suspicion in the Israeli government over Kerry’s push for the creation of a Palestinian state.  Kerry has visited the region 11 times in the past year, and Cabinet hawks fear that he is forcing Israel into dangerous territorial concessions that would harm national security.  Israel’s defense minister made headlines last month when he described Kerry as “messianic” and “obsessive.”

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    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Perkins from: USA
    February 02, 2014 8:19 PM
    Obama's threat to boycott Israel is an indictment of this despicable Administration that he will not be able to erase. I have never been more ashamed of the dissolute and dissipation of this corrupt administration. The idea that WE mutilate Israel and give her heart to the revolting Arabs who want her destruction is as abhorrent as the stain of the Nazis...!!!

    The Democratic Party will never live it down.
    In Response

    by: T.T. from: U.S.
    February 03, 2014 11:16 AM
    Just "Who"? are you ashamed of??? The U.S. sends $ and you wanna' grumble? Israel is a shame to the civilized world, because of..................self-serving greed and racism.

    by: Yesh Prabhu from: Bushkill, Pennsylvania
    February 02, 2014 7:59 PM
    I wish the State Department did not clarify or try to explain what Kerry said regarding the BDS movement acquiring momentum across the world. What he said needed no clarification. The Israeli politicians are beginning to feel the pressure, I believe; and so Kerry must be doing and saying the right things.
    Yesh Prabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania

    by: Amin from: Texas
    February 02, 2014 6:21 PM
    What chutzpah! How dare you criticize us for stealing land from the Palestinians. We are after all the chosen ones.
    Yeah, still living large on our dime!
    In Response

    by: T.T. from: U.S.
    February 03, 2014 11:18 AM
    Yeah..........self-appointed "chosen ones".

    by: Joe from: USA
    February 02, 2014 6:20 PM
    John Kerry, sadly, was a poor choice for any cabinet post. He is an ineffective and biased diplomat, and it is difficult to align his intentions with those which would be consistent with fair play. It seems like he really doesn't know what he is doing too often (Syrian red line in the sand is an example. Putin took Obama and Kerry to school that week). The world is falling apart in too many places and this guy is shuttling up and back to a place where no progress is being made, because the situation cannot be solved practically. Has he made any progress? Answer: NO! But Kerry will continue to waste taxpayer's money and keep banging his head against the wall, weakening US status around the globe while he is at it. In the end all he will accomplish is to weaken and insult America's allies, and make America into a sort of laughingstock.

    by: jane from: nc
    February 02, 2014 5:56 PM
    I'm no Kerry fan, but no where in his comments did he endorse a boycott? He merely voiced a concern; Israel needs to put on its big-boy pants and stop being so sensitive. We were attacked on 9/11 by countries who hate our alliance with Israel and have lost thousands of troops defending its right to exist.
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