US Demands Apology from Israeli Defense Minister
JERUSALEM, Israel -- While the Obama administration demanded and got an apology for Israeli Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon's criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry, a former Israeli diplomat told CBN News Ya'alon's comments should serve as a wakeup call for the U.S.
"This issue reflects exactly how one should focus on the merit of the issue rather than the narrative of the person -- the adjectives attributed to John Kerry," former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Yoram Ettinger told CBN News.
"In a way, Bogie's commentary constitutes a wakeup call for the U.S. to abandon its wishful thinking and reconnect with reality," he said.
Israel's Defense Ministry issued the following apology:
"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," the statement read.
"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 toward that end," it said.
According to a Jerusalem Post report, a U.S. State Department official said they expect more from a "close ally."
"Kerry and his team, including Gen. 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," the official said.
He called Ya'alon's assessment "offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs."
But Ettinger said Kerry's track record on Middle East issues speaks for itself.
"This is the same Kerry who praised leaders like [Syrian President] Bashar Assad for being constructive and peaceful leaders -- who is still singing the praise of an Arab Spring while there is an Arab tsunami in the region," he said.
"This is the same Kerry who defines the opposition of Assad, namely the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, as moderate opposition," he continued. "And this is the same Kerry who is preoccupied with the Palestinian issue while American interests are threatened with very serious threats from Islamic terrorism, which is disconnected and unrelated completely to the Palestinian issue."
Click here to read Ettinger's assessment of Secretary Kerry's proposal.
Ya'alon made headlines Tuesday over remarks he reportedly made in private conversations both abroad and at home, according to the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot.
"The only thing that can 'save us' is for John Kerry to win a Nobel [Peace] Prize and leave us in peace," Yediot Ahronot quoted Ya'alon as saying.
"Secretary of State John Kerry, who came here very determined and operates based on an unfathomable obsession and messianic feeling, cannot teach me anything about the Palestinians I live and breathe the conflict with the Palestinians. I know what they think, what they want and what they really mean," said Ya'alon, himself a former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas restated the P.A.'s demands in the midst of Kerry's efforts to push the process forward. They will never recognize Israel as the Jewish nation-state; there will be no deal without east Jerusalem as their capital; and they will never give up the "right of return" for so-called Palestinian refugees -- all non-starters for Israel.
Abbas made his remarks in Ramallah over the weekend before attending an Arab League conference in Paris.
Ya'alon called the security plan presented by retired U.S. Gen. John Allen untenable for the Jewish state.
"The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it's written on," he said. "It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and the Jordan River will guarantee that Ben Gurion Airport and [the northern coastal city] Netanya do not become targets for missiles from every direction."
"You presented us with a plan based on smart technologies, satellites, sensors, war rooms with television screens, without our forces being present on the ground," Ya'alon continued.
"And I ask you, how will your technology help us when a Salafist terror cell or one from Islamic Jihad tries to carry out a terror attack against Israeli targets?" he asked. "Who will take care of them? What satellites will take care of the rocket industry developing in Shechem (Nablus), and the rockets that will be launched at Tel Aviv and the central region?"
Ya'alon called negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority illusory.
"There are no negotiations with the Palestinians. The Americans are holding negotiations with us and in parallel with the Palestinians," he explained. "So far, we are the only side to have given anything -- the release of murderers -- and the Palestinians have given nothing."
On releasing more convicted terrorists, Ya'alon said "enough is enough."
"We have given enough and received nothing," he said. "Let us say to our American friends, 'enough is enough.'"
Still, there are no guarantees.
"The question is will the prime minister conduct his policy in accordance with Bogie's valid criticism of U.S. policy or will the prime minister adopt the policy of Kerry, who has proven himself for many, many years to be wrong, wronger and wrongest on Middle East issues," Ettinger said.