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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid