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Daily Israel Report

State Department: Attacks on Kerry Are Unacceptable

Israeli criticism of Kerry's peace efforts "distort his records and distract from key issues," says State Dept. spokeswoman.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/6/2014, 12:13 AM

John Kerry
John Kerry
Reuters

The State Department once again took Israel to task on Wednesday for criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to achieve peace.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that criticism of Kerry over his threats of a boycott of Israel if peace talks fail were meant to distract attention from progress in the peace process.

“Any rhetoric that is inaccurate and critical as this is unhelpful. These kind of attacks are unacceptable. They not only distort his record but they distract from the key issues at hand,” she said.

Psaki added, however, that Kerry was planning to ignore the criticism and continue his efforts.

“He has a tough skin and he has seen worse than having personal verbal attacks against him,” she said, adding the Secretary of State would not “spend a lot of time worrying about words people are using against him. His greatest concern is the result they could have on the process. The words aren’t an attack on him but rather on the peace process.”

“Peace isn’t a favor we’re doing for the Israelis and Palestinians, it’s something that the Israeli people and the Palestinian people want,” she continued.

Psaki also commented on the series of videos that have been prepared by nationalist activists who are opposed to Kerry’s pressure on Israel to concede lands in order to achieve peace.

The videos, entitled “John Kerry Solutions”, feature a salesman modeled on Kerry who is hell-bent on offering his customers solutions that only make their problems worse.

The United States, said Psaki, supports freedom of speech, but the content of the videos are “rhetoric” that “we find unacceptable.”

Psaki’s comments from Wednesday are not the first time she has rejected Israeli criticism of Kerry, but were the harshest ones she has made.

On Monday, Psaki told reporters that Kerry was “frustrated” by suggestions that he’s anti-Israel.

“Secretary Kerry himself personally has a proud record of over three decades of steadfast support for Israel’s security and well-being, including staunch opposition to boycotts,” said Psaki.

“There is no greater or opponent to boycotts – or proponent of Israel’s security and their future,” she added.

She was followed by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who blasted Israel over its criticism of Kerry’s boycott threats.

“Personal attacks in Israel directed at Sec Kerry totally unfounded and unacceptable. John Kerry’s record of support for Israel’s security and prosperity rock solid,” she wrote on Twitter, adding, “POTUS and Sec Kerry remain committed to negotiations that can secure Israeli and Palestinian futures.”

Her last tweet read, “U.S. Govt [sic] has been clear and consistent that we reject efforts to boycott or delegitimize Israel.”

Kerry’s comments in Munich were blasted by many Israeli officials, such as Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, who made clear that “a country has yet to be born that will give up its land because of economic threats, and we won't either. Only security will bring financial stability, not a terror state next to the Ben Gurion Airport."

Communications and Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan also criticized Kerry on Monday, saying he was not a fair intermediary in the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon shot down the idea that Israel might buckle under the pressure being exerted by Kerry.

“We want to negotiate,” he explained, “but we will not do it under the pressure coming from Secretary of State Kerry.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to Kerry’s threat and said, "Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust.”