State Dept. slams Israeli defense minister's comments about Kerry

Jan. 14, 2014 at 4:45 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department issued a strong response Wednesday to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's attacks on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Ya'alon was quoted in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonth calling Kerry "obsessive and messianic," and that he hopes Kerry "gets a Nobel Prize and leaves us alone."

Ya'alon continued his attack in an address to high school students in Ofakim, saying, "We should not be alarmed by all kinds of fear-mongering. We shouldn't get confused, get stressed or give up," the Israeli news website Haaretz reported.

Kerry has lately stressed the urgency of resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and warned that due to demographic changes in the area, Israel might not exist as a Jewish and democratic state if a Palestinian state is not established.

State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Wednesday that Ya'alon's remarks, if accurate, are "offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the U.S. is doing to support Israel's security needs."

Israeli leaders quickly refuted Ya'alon's comments, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saying Israel and the United States remain in full cooperation. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called Ya'alon's comments "unhelpful," and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said relations with the United States are Israeli's largest strategic asset and essential to its survival, Haaretz reported.

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