Israel apologises after minister’s insult to US Secretary of State 16Jan14 January 16, 2014

MEMO-Middle East Monitor    -    15 January 2014

moshe-yaalonIsraeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon apologised for calling US Secretary of State John Kerry “obsessive and messianic.”

The remarks caused a diplomatic uproar between the two allies. The US was disappointed as the head of its foreign policy had been exerting gruelling efforts to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

A statement issued by Ya’alon’s office said, “The defence minister did not intend to insult the secretary and he apologises if the secretary was hurt by the remarks attributed to the defence minister.”

The statement was issued after a meeting between Ya’alon and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The officials composed the statement together after a previous one by Ya’alon was rejected by the White House.

Prior to the release of the last statement, a senior American official said that the US was not satisfied with the Israeli response to Ya’alon’s remarks. The official said that the US expected Netanyahu to make an apology at a public speech.

Ha’aretz reported the US official as saying, “We expect the prime minister to put this right by publicly expressing his disagreement with the statements against Secretary Kerry, the negotiations with the Palestinians and Kerry’s commitment to Israel’s security.”

Yedioth Aharonoth had reported Ya’alon describing Kerry as “obsessive” and “messianic.” He was also reported to have said that “The only thing that can ‘save’ us is that John Kerry will get a Nobel peace prize and leave us alone.”

US State Department Spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told Ha’aretz on Tuesday evening that Ya’alon’s remarks, if accurate, were “offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the US is doing to support Israel’s security needs.”

The apology said that, “Israel and the United States share a common goal to advance the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians led by Secretary Kerry. We appreciate Secretary Kerry’s many efforts towards that end.”

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