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Once Again, Israel’s Ya’alon Offends U.S. and Offers Apology


U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Photo: Yaron Brener).

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Photo: Yaron Brener).

For the second time in two months, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has had to apologize for publicly criticizing the United States. Lecturing at Tel Aviv University on Monday, Ya’alon delivered a speech saying that the U.S. “shows weakness” on the world stage and that Israel should not rely on U.S. efforts to deal with Iran.

Ya’alon attacked the U.S. for failing to lead the campaign against Iran, stating “But at some stage the United States entered into negotiations with them, and unhappily, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better,” according to Barak Ravid’s article in Haaretz.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to express his anger with Ya’alon’s recent comments in a new sign of tensions between the two countries.

In Israel, an official in Ya’alon’s office said Netanyahu and Ya’alon discussed the recent mishap and put out a statement late Wednesday that Ya’alon had spoken to his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

“There was no opposition or criticism or intention to offend the United States or our relations in my remarks,” Ya’alon told Hagel in a phone call, the statement said. “The strategic ties between our countries have a supreme importance, as do our personal ties and mutual interests.”

U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Ya’alon’s remarks were “not constructive” and “inconsistent” with the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

“The comments of the defense minister are completely inconsistent with that,” Psaki told reporters. “So, it is certainly confusing to us why Defense Minister Ya’alon would continue his pattern of making comments that don’t accurately represent the scope of our close partnership on a range of security issues and on the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel.”

Officials from the White House, the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon became angered after reading Ya’alon’s remarks, especially by “taking into proportion” the fact that the U.S. annually provides some $3.1 billion of military aid to Israel.

In January, the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth quoted Ya’alon calling Kerry “obsessive and messianic,” adding that he hoped Kerry “gets a Nobel Prize and leaves us alone.”



Samantha Quint
Samantha Quint

My name is Samantha, I’m 25, and I made Aliyah in June 2013. I got my BA degree from George Washington University where I studied Jewish Studies and Middle East Studies. During my Junior year, I spent the traditional semester abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Since then Israel kept pulling me back, first with a summer professional course on peacemaking in Jerusalem and the West Bank and then a move to Tel Aviv to get my MA in Middle East Studies at Tel Aviv University. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston. I have a unyielding passion for traveling, Boston sports teams, and making the people around me laugh.

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