News / Middle East

Israeli Minister Apologizes to Kerry Over Scorn for Peace Drive

FILE -Moshe Yaalon attends a Likud-Beiteinu party meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, March 14, 2013.FILE -Moshe Yaalon attends a Likud-Beiteinu party meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, March 14, 2013.
x
FILE -Moshe Yaalon attends a Likud-Beiteinu party meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, March 14, 2013.
FILE -Moshe Yaalon attends a Likud-Beiteinu party meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, March 14, 2013.
Reuters
Israel's hawkish defense minister apologized to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday after a newspaper quoted him scorning the diplomat's quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace as messianic and obsessive.
 
Moshe Yaalon did not deny making the closed-door remarks published on the front page of the best-selling Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, which drew rare condemnation from Washington and added to acrimony over Jewish settlement of occupied West Bank land where the Palestinians seek statehood.
 
Yaalon was initially silent about the report but he moved to calm the furor after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implicitly rebuked him in a speech. He issued a statement of guarded appreciation for the United States and followed it hours later with another explicitly praising Kerry.
 
“Israel and the United States share a common goal to advance the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians led by Secretary Kerry,” it said, in Hebrew and English.
 
“The defense minister had no intention to cause any offense to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by the remarks attributed to the minister.”
 
Kerry has been on a diplomatic blitz in recent weeks to persuade Israel and the Palestinians, who resumed statehood talks in July after a three-year deadlock, to agree on an outline proposal addressing the core issues of their conflict.

There has been scant sign of progress, however.
 
Israel balks at removing settlements - viewed as illegal by most world powers - and has questioned the credibility of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose authority has been limited to the West Bank since he lost control of Gaza in a 2007 civil war to Hamas Islamists, who spurn the Jewish state.
 
“Secretary of State John Kerry - who has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling - cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians,” Yedioth quoted Yaalon as saying, without specifying when or where he had spoken.
 
“The only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone,” Yaalon reportedly said.
 
Censuring Yaalon, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier on Tuesday that, if accurate, his remarks were “offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs.”
 
White House spokesman Jay Carney had similar condemnation.
 
‘Great ally’
 
Kerry, who made his 10th visit to Jerusalem last week in less than a year, has been pushing both sides to agree to at least a preliminary deal. Israeli misgivings at the peace talks compound anger within the Netanyahu government at an interim deal that the United States - represented by Kerry - and five other world powers reached with Iran in November to rein in its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
 
Netanyahu spoke by phone to a senior U.S. official in a bid to smooth over the controversy over the Yaalon report, an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity. He said Yaalon also discussed the matter with U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro.
 
Addressing parliament, Netanyahu appeared to take Yaalon, a member of his right-wing Likud party, to task, extolling Israel's shared interests with “our great ally” in Washington.
 
“Even when we have disagreements with the United States, they always pertain to the matter at hand, and are not personal,” Netanyahu said in his speech.
 
Yaalon has been a strong supporter of settlement building. As Israel's military chief, he was replaced in that post before its 2005 Gaza pullout, a move he opposed.
 
One of the sticking points in peacemaking has been Israel's demand to keep a military presence under any future peace deal in the Jordan Valley, between Jordan and the West Bank.
 
Kerry has presented the sides with ideas for security arrangements in the Jordan Valley. Neither has publicly endorsed them. According to Yedioth, Yaalon said: “The American security plan is not worth the paper it is written on.”
 
The State Department challenged Yaalon on the issue.
 
“Secretary Kerry and his team ... have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the secretary's deep concern for Israel's future,” Psaki said. “To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally.”
 
The dispute erupted a day after U.S. media published excerpts from a memoir by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in which he said he had tried to get Netanyahu barred from the White House, accusing him of being arrogant and ungrateful.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid