Daily Israel Report

Steinitz: Ya'alon Comments Won't Hurt Strong US-Israel Ties

Interior Minister Yuval Steinitz praised Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon for apologizing to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/16/2014, 10:40 AM

Minister Yuval Steinitz
Minister Yuval Steinitz
Flash 90

Interior Minister Yuval Steinitz on Thursday said that he was glad that Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had apologized for calling U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic.” The comments, Steinitz said, were “not helpful,” and Ya'alon did the “right thing” by apologizing.

In a statement Tuesday, Ya'alon's office said that there had been “no intention to cause any offense to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.” Israel and the United States, the statement said, “share a common goal to advance the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians led by Secretary Kerry. We appreciate Secretary Kerry's many efforts towards that end.”

Steinitz said that Israel's friendship with the United States was “strong enough to overcome this unfortunate incident.”

Commenting on the barrage of rocket attacks against southern Israel on Wednesday night, Steinitz said that the ongoing attacks on Israeli communities were proof that Israel needed to retain the Jordan Valley. “Israel needs to retain the entire Jordan Valley, including all settlements and military installations, with each bolstering each other.” Surrendering the area to the PA would place more Israeli communities in the range of Arab terror rockets, he said.

A report in Maariv Thursday said that Ya'alon's comments were prompted by his exasperation over a massive campaign by the U.S. to use top military officials to convince Israel that it could afford to give up the Jordan Valley. The report said the the State Department had drafted many military officials who have worked with IDF officers, at various levels, in an orchestrated campaign to pressure the Israelis that there is no danger in surrendering the region in order to sign a deal with the Palestinian Authority.

According to the report, Ya'alon, annoyed and upset by what sources called the “gross American intervention” in Israeli security matters, lashed out at Kerry in a private setting, saying that “the American security plan that was presented to us is not worth the paper it was written on. It contains neither security nor peace. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan River will guarantee that Ben Gurion Airport and (the northern city of) Netanya do not become targets for missiles from every direction."