Lapid criticizes Netanyahu for deterioration of US-Israel relations
Yesh Atid chairman clashed with prime minister at cabinet meeting over recent criticism of Kerry's efforts.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting over the past week, blaming him for the deterioration in US-Israel relations and claiming Netanyahu dealt a severe blow to the alliance.
Lapid's remarks come in the wake of the Israeli criticism of US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to reach a ceasefire during IDF Operation Protective Edge. Israeli officials called Kerry's initiative "science fiction" at the time, and the US was quick to respond.
National Security Advisor said then that the US was astounded by the distortions of Kerry's efforts, with State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki emphasizing that allies do not behave in such manner towards each other.
Earlier this week Psaki stumbled during a State Department press conference after saying a call between Netanyahu and Kerry was abruptly terminated and not renewed. Pressed on the matter, Psaki claimed the call was disconnected due to a "communications issue."
Later she said on Twitter that the call was "brief given frequency of their calls and other time commitments."
The harsh criticism of Kerry from Israel even elicited a response from US President Barack Obama who defended his top diplomat. It turns out that it was actually Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who rushed to save the situation during a call he held with Kerry.
Lieberman expressed his appreciation for Kerry's tremendous efforts in attempting to reach a ceasefire in Gaza.
But it appears that the confrontation between Lapid and Netanyahu revolved around a separate incident entirely. A few months ago the Yesh Atid chairman opened a line of communications with the US administration's leaders in Washington, D.C. in order to build a foothold there.
Relying on the advice of an expert consultant on the US administration, Lapid arrived at the American capital to meet with several highly-placed officials.
Lapid maintained a direct line of communications with senior US officials throughout the recent period – which infuriated Netanyahu and raised his suspicions. But Lapid is convinced that regardless of recent events, he needed to strengthen his ties to the Americans – for political reasons – and to strengthen his position before the next elections to the Knesset.
The confrontations with the US administration has encouraged vocal criticism both in Washington, D.C. and in Israel, among both opposition figures and senior ministers which see ties with America as a strategic asset which cannot be damaged.
The disagreements with America have revealed the internal political clashes in Israel and the aspirations of several members of the coalition. Even Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), a confidant of Netanyahu, has harshly criticized the statements against Kerry.