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Making amends, Israel defence minister apologises for critical Kerry remark

The Sydney News.Net Wednesday 15th January, 2014

TEL AVIV/ WASHINGTON - Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has apologized for criticizing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's peace efforts as messianic and obsessive. The Obama administration has condemned his comments as "offensive and inappropriate."


"Israel and the United States share a common goal of advancing the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians led by Secretary Kerry," Ya'alon said in an e-mailed statement overnight.

"The defense minister had no intention to cause any offense to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister."

Ya'alon did not deny making the closed-door remarks published on the front page of the best-selling Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Kerry, in Kuwait for a Syria donors conference, told reporters Wednesday he wouldn't let Ya'alon's comments "undermine" peace efforts.

He said he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are "both very committed to moving the process forward and we just can't let one set of comments undermine that effort and I don't intend to."

The Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported Tuesday that Ya'alon in a private discussion characterized Kerry as having an obsessive, "messianic" zeal to reach a peace deal.

"The only thing that will 'save' us is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us alone," the newspaper cited him as saying. It did not explain how it obtained the information, and Ya'alon didn't deny the report.

State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said that the remarks, "if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs."

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 in an e-mailed statement.

"To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally."

The US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said it was shocking that a close ally would question Kerry's motives.

"If these comments are accurate, we find the remarks of the defense minister to be offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States has done to support Israel's security needs and will continue to do," she said at a regular media briefing.

"Secretary Kerry and his team, including Gen. (John) Allen, 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."

President Barack Obama's press secretary Jay Carney said much the same thing to reporters at the daily news conference at the White House. He added that Kerry met Sunday in Paris with Arab leaders to discuss peace initiatives, efforts that will continue.

"We're pressing forward with both the Israelis and the Palestinians on this process and hope that it bears fruit," he said.

Kerry recently visited Jerusalem where he met multiple times with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He declined to share details of the conversations with reporters but told them that progress was being made during the trip, his ninth to the region since becoming secretary about a year ago.

The diplomatic incident highlights tensions between Israel and the U.S. as Kerry prepares to present Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a blueprint meant to guide talks toward a final peace accord. Netanyahu tried to contain damage by declaring in a speech to parliament that any differences with the U.S. are "not personal."

"When we do have disagreements with the U.S., they are always on matters of substance, and not personal," Netanyahu said.

"We are working with the president of the United States, with the vice-president who just visited here and with his secretary of state, with the goal of advancing peace, security and regional stability."

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4 days ago flordel said :

If Israel negotiates with the Palestinians seriously and honestly they would not need John Kerry and the US. Israel needs to promote regional peace and security. Less headache for Kerry.



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