JERUSALEM, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Israeli politicians scrambled to do damage control on Tuesday, following harsh statements attributed to Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon regarding U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's performance on Tuesday.
Israel's Yedioth Aharonot daily published on Tuesday comments attributed to hawkish Ya'alon, who said that Kerry should "get a Nobel Prize and leave us (Israel) alone."
The defense minister reportedly complained ahead of one of Kerry's ten trips to the region since July of last year that there were no negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in the past month, but between Israel and the Americans.
Ya'alon, who headed the Israeli army's West Bank Division and Central Command during the second Palestinian intifada, has also slammed a U.S.-devised security provisions for an Israeli pullout from the West Bank if a peace deal is established, reportedly saying that it is "not worth the paper it's written on."
The harsh statements led to a furious response on Tuesday afternoon from the U.S. State Department.
"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.
"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 motive and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally," she added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to calm down the rhetoric and control the damage caused by his cabinet minister.
"Even when we have disagreements with the United States, they are always on the heart of the matter, not on the merits of an individual," Netanyahu said in front of the Knesset (parliament) plenum in a special assembly marking 65 years since its establishment, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.
"The U.S. is our greatest ally," Netanyahu said. "We are partners in goals and joint interests: regional stability, the war on terror, growth, security and peace. We are making efforts to bring security to the region and stand up for our interests."
Following the reports in Yedioth, Ya'alon's bureau released a statement saying that Israel attaches great value to its ties with the United States, but did not deny or retract the reported remarks.
"The relationship between Israel and the U.S. is intimate and of great significance to us. The U.S. is our greatest friend and most important ally, and when divisions emerge we work them out behind closed doors," Ya'alon said in a statement released hours after the newspaper quoted him describing Kerry.
Ministers and lawmakers reacted to the reported remarks, with some calling on Netanyahu to dismiss Ya'alon from his post.
"You can oppose negotiations professionally and responsibly without tongue-lashing and destroying relations with Israel's top ally," Justice Minister and lead peace negotiator Tzipi Livni said in a post on her Facebook page.
"I think Ya'alon is revealing the true face of Netanyahu's government," opposition leader Isaac Herzog told Israel's Army Radio, calling on Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid to pull their parties out of Netanyahu's coalition and form a center-left bloc that would seek to topple the government.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said that while he agreed with the content of Ya'alon's remarks, Israel must refrain from "personal insults" in voicing disagreement with the U.S.
Kerry has visited Israel multiple times since assuming his post in February 2012 in an attempt to kick start the peace process after a three year halt stagnated the talks. He managed to revive the talks in July of that year.
Kerry continues to closely escort the process and presenting both sides with suggestions and proposals in order to create a framework for the parties to reach an agreement, even as reports mount that the talks have deteriorated.
Despite repeated declarations of the strong alliance between Israel and the United States there have been tensions recently reported between the countries.
On the issue of the diplomatic contacts with Iran, Israel rejected the U.S. efforts to reach an interim agreement with Iran, charging Iranian leaders with trying to stall for time instead of stopping their nuclear program, whereas the United States worked hard to end the 30 years of hostility with Teheran.
As for the peace talks with the Palestinians, although the United States did adopt many of Israel's security demands, Israel has repeatedly been condemned by its ally for its continual construction of thousands of housing units in the West Bank and east Jerusalem settlements, despite explicit requests not to do so.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Tuesday rejected as "offensive and inappropriate" remarks made by the Israeli defense minister about Secretary of State John Kerry's ongoing peacemaking efforts in the Middle East.
"The remarks of the Israeli defense minister, if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate, especially in light of everything that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs, " White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a regular news briefing. Full story
JERUSALEM, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Israel attaches great value to its ties with the United States, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday in the wake of media reports that revealed scathing remarks he allegedly made regarding U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's peacemaking efforts.
"The relationship between Israel and the U.S. is intimate and of great significance to us. The U.S. is our greatest friend and most important ally, and when divisions emerge we work them out behind closed doors," Ya'alon said in a statement released hours after the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted him as calling Kerry " obsessive and messianic" in pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Full story