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Constructive Criticism?

Moshe Ya'alon Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry
Moshe Ya'alon Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry
 
 

Kerry spoke to Netanyahu over Ya'alon's comments

Source tells Channel 10 that US will demand public apology after defense minister says US 'weak' on Iran. White House calls comments 'unconstructive'.

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 03.19.14, 21:05 / Israel News

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration vented its anger at public insults and criticism of US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, calling Ya'alon's comments "unconstructive" and "confusing".

 

A senior source within the US administration reportedly told Israel's Channel 10 that the US will request a public apology from Ya'alon.

 

 

Wednesday a US official told Israeli media that Ya'alon was "determined to undermine US-Israel relations," after the defense minister called the US "weak" on Iran, and questioned its commitment to Israel's security.

 

In response, sources close to the defense minister charged that some in the Obama administration were "trying to hurt (Ya'alon's) legitimacy and his great popularity."

 

At a press conference Wednesday, State Department Spokeswomen Jen Psaki said Kerry spoke with Netanyahu over Ya'alon's comments, which she described at "unconstructive."

 

"Clearly his comments were not constructive. Secretary Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning, and he protested to him his concerns about these comments."

 

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Jsaki further noted that Ya'alon's commitment were incongruent with the "breadth" of the "unprecedented" cooperation the two sides enjoy.

 

"Netanyahu himself has said that the breadth of our security cooperation is unprecedented. So it is certainly confusing to us why Defense Minister Ya'alon would continue his pattern of making comments that don't accurately represent the scope of our close partnership on a range of security issues and on the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel."

 

Earlier, a sources close to Ya'alon said the defense minister was not someone who was willing to compromise on issues of security in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

 

"The Americans are calling him a 'hard nut to crack' and an 'extremist,' but in actuality he is standing firm facing what he identifies as a danger to the state and the security of its citizens," one of the sources said.

 

Ya'alon's criticism

"In actuality, Ya'alon always stresses the tight relationship with the United States and its importance, but he raises all kinds of strategic issues that (the Americans) say cause damage to the United States. He has been saying these things for a long time, and it never bothered anyone. But now they are seeking out chances to clash horns with him," the source added.

 

Ya'alon has been vocally critical against the United States in recent months, saying US Secretary of State John Kerry was "acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor" during the latest round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and adding that Kerry should just "win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace."

 

The US official quoted in Israeli media said the Obama administration was "shocked by Moshe Ya'alon's comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States."

 

"Moreover, this is part of a disturbing pattern in which the defense minister disparages the US administration, and insults its most senior officials," the source added.

 

Sources close to Ya'alon explained that he had been expressing his concern of American weakness in the world and particularly in the Middle East. They pointed to American policy about Iran and Syria, saying "the United States' confused policy weakens it in its activities in the region."

 

"Both American and Israeli officials are trying to hurt (Ya'alon). It is a fact his relations with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel are great, and relations between the two (security) institutions are great," the source added.

 

Attila Somfalvi and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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