Israeli Defense Minister offers harsh words for Kerry’s peace plan

BY Andy Swab  January 14, 2014 at 3:55 PM EST
Israeli Defense Minister offers harsh words for Kerry's peace plan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a dinner in July 2013 as part of the Middle East Peace Process Talks. Parties from both Israel and the Palestinian Territories were in attendance. Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon vocally criticized U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Tuesday.

Ya’alon condemned the State Department’s policies on Israel and called for the U.S. to leave Israel to negotiate on its own, reports Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli tabloid newspaper.

“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,” Ya’alon said in the interview. “The only thing that can ‘save’ us is for John Kerry to win his Nobel Prize and leave us alone.”

Ya’alon is a prominent official in Israel’s defense establishment and a member of Israel’s right-wing Likud party. Before his appointment to the defense minister post, he fought in the Yom Kippur War, was appointed head of Israeli military Intelligence, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs.

The U.S. State Department quickly issued a rebuke of the comments. “The remarks of the defense minister, if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a short, but rare statement criticizing Israel, traditionally a close American ally. Ya’alon offered an apology to the U.S., but the State Department requested he endorse Kerry’s peace plan.

This news also comes as former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates offered his criticism of the White House’s decision-making on issues in the Middle East. In his new book “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” Gates writes that he was not fond of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. He even once attempted to ban Netanyahu from the White House.

Gates writes he was most offended by Netanyahu’s “glibness,” “criticism of U.S. policy,” “arrogance and outlandish ambition.”