Israeli minister apologizes for anti-Kerry diatribe

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Published Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Updated 12:40 am: Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon apologized Tuesday to US Secretary of State John Kerry for accusing the American of having an "obsession" with Middle East peace.

In a statement issued late-Tuesday, Yaalon said he "had no intention to cause any offence to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister."

The United States earlier in the day rebuked Israel for the comments suggesting that Kerry was messianic and obsessive.

"The remarks of the Defense Minister (Moshe Yaalon) 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 brief statement that constituted a rare rebuke to close ally Israel.

She made the comment after Israel's biggest-selling newspaper quoted Yaalon as saying "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."

Psaki issued the statement in Rome, where Kerry made a brief stop before traveling on to Kuwait.

"To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the Defense Minister of a close ally," she added.

The Yediot Aharonot newspaper on Tuesday reported Yaalon saying in private conversations with Israeli officials that Kerry's plan for Mideast peace was "not worth the paper it was written on."

The minister also accused Washington's top diplomat of having an "incomprehensible obsession" about resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, accusing Kerry of being naive and implying he is a nuisance.

"It provides neither security nor peace," he reportedly said, adding: "The only thing that might save us is if John Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us be."

(Reuters, AFP)


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