Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) fired back at US pressure Wednesday, maintaining that there should have been no need for Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to apologize for his harsh criticism of US Secretary of State John Kerry, in which Ya'alon referred to Kerry as "obsessive and messianic" in his quest to force a deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
"I congratulate the Defense Minister on his courage; what he said was right." Hotovely stated, in an interview with Arutz Sheva. "The American stance is disconnected from the reality of the situation in the Middle East. They are trying to force a solution on us which is unacceptable to most members of the [ruling party] Likud."
Hotovely notes what many Israelis feel: that it is inconceivable that one sovereign state should be subject to the whims of another state.
"There is a blatant attempt here to bind Israel, a sovereign country, to foreign considerations and interests," Hotovely explained. "Moshe Ya'alon stands up for our own interests - and that is exactly his job."
"An apology was uncalled for, because the [criticism was spoken] in private conversations," she continued. Hotovely noted that the case bears similarities to the in 2011 incident in which then French President Nicholas Sarkozy criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"[Sarkozy] did not apologize. What they are asking here is not an apology, but a fundamental change in principles"; namely, Israel's defending its right to defend itself she said.
The comments made by Ya'alon in a private conversation were made public by Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot.
Ya'alon was quoted as saying that "Secretary of State John Kerry – who came here very determined, and operates based upon an unfathomable obsession and a 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," he continued. "The American security plan that was presented to us is not worth the paper it was written on.”"
The US responded with shock Tuesday, calling the remarks "offensive" and "inappropriate." Ya'alon responded Tuesday to the US with more criticism, stating that the US knows that the source of instability in the Middle East is not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Some things cannot be solved in one [day]," Ya'alon stated, addressing US efforts. "Note that we still we have not solved all the problems of medicine and mathematics; it is not like we don't have special challenges also facing us."
He called on Israel "not to panic and give in to these [statements] and other intimidation, because this ( standing up for oneself) is the only way to protect the security of Israel."
Ya'alon later apologized for the remarks, stating that he had no intention of "offending" Kerry. The apology itself has garnered a backlash, as many see the statements as yet another bow to US pressure.