Israeli Defense Chief Apologizes to Kerry for Scathing Comments

Moshe Yaalon's interview calling Kerry "obsessive" and "messianic" sparked a diplomatic row with the U.S.

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Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon apologized to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for comments where he derided Kerry as “obsessive” and “messianic.”

Yaalon was quoted in an Israeli newspaper Tuesday saying Kerry’s peace efforts between Israel and Palestinians were naive and foolhardy, which triggered a diplomatic spat with Washington. “The only thing that might save us is if John Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone,” Yaalon was quoted as saying in the Yedioth Ahronot daily.

While the quotable lines got the most press, perhaps the most damning comments regarded Kerry’s security proposals for the West Bank, which were drawn up by his security adviser, retired Marine General John Allen, who commanded coalition forces in Afghanistan. “The American plan for security arrangements that was shown to us isn’t worth the paper it was written on,” Yaalon was quoted as saying. “Secretary of State John Kerry — who arrived here determined, and who operates from an incomprehensible obsession and a sense of messianism — can’t teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.”

On Wednesday, Yaalon’s office issued a statement apologizing for the remarks. “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 said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke with a “senior U.S.official” by phone to smooth over the row.

[Yedioth Ahronoth]