Israel’s defence minister Moshe Ya’alon has issued a formal apology to the United States, after he branded Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts in the peace process “inexplicably obsessive” and “messianic”.
On Tuesday, Mr Ya’alon had been quoted in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper criticising Mr Kerry’s peace proposal, saying it was “not worth the paper it is printed on”.
He added: “The only thing that might save us is if John Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us be.”
But following rebukes from Washington, as well as ministers in his own country - including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Mr Ya’alon was forced to issue a public statement of apology.
The statement said: “The defence minister did not intend to insult the secretary and he apologises if the secretary was hurt by the remarks attributed to the defence minister”.
He added that Israel and the US shared a “common goal” towards peace with Palestine, and that he appreciated “Secretary Kerry’s many efforts towards that end”.
Mr Ya’alon’s backtrack came after US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said yesterday: “The remarks of the d efence m inister, if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also said to have put pressure on his defence minister to re tract his comments – holding a an emergency meeting with him and stating in the Knesset that the US is Israel’s “greatest ally”.