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Israeli on Kerry anti-Semitic charge: Not 'personal'

Feb. 2, 2014 at 2:23 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- An Israeli lawmaker tried to explain Sunday that his characterization of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as anti-Semitic was not "personal."

"Kerry is not here to reach a compromise. He wants to decrease the Jewish presence in the land of Israel and create a Palestinian state," the Jerusalem Post reported Knesset Member Moti Yogev told Israel Radio.

Israeli "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is acting under Kerry's obsessive pressure, which may have anti-Semitic undertones," Yogey said.

After a demand from U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro for an apology, Yogev wrote Shapiro a letter saying the expression possibly was "inappropriate."

"These negotiations [with Palestinians] don't have a partner, neither for peace nor for security, and there is no demographic problem or apartheid, just American and European pressure seeking to bring our enemies to the dangerous 1967 lines and evict the Jewish people from its land," the Post reported Yogev said.

"Mr. John Kerry doesn't understand the situation. Maybe the expression 'anti-Semitic' was inappropriate, but since he showed his pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel opinions in the past, John Kerry cannot be a fair broker in the Israeli-Palestinian matter."

Earlier Sunday, the United States denied the idea that Kerry had dropped hints that Israel could face international boycotts.

The State Department said in a written statement that Kerry has long been a supporter of Israel, and his mention of the "threat of boycotts" if peace talks with the Palestinians fall apart should not be taken as an official policy statement.

"Secretary Kerry has a proud record of over three decades of steadfast support for Israel's security and well-being, including staunch opposition to boycotts," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Psaki added that, "Just last year, while briefing foreign ministers at a [European Union] conference in Vilnius on his peacemaking efforts, he urged them to refrain from implementing these types of measures."

Kerry has said at an EU conference in Munich, Germany, that boycotts of Israel could follow if progress is not made. Psaki said in her statement, "His only reference to a boycott was a description of actions undertaken by others that he has always opposed."

Kerry's remarks were quickly slammed by Israeli lawmakers and officials, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said Kerry and the United States should be denouncing boycotts and "stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel."

Meanwhile, Sunday pushed back on the idea of an international boycott. He said before his weekly Cabinet meeting that boycotts were "unethical and unjustified."

"Moreover, they won't achieve their goal," he added.

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