Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s positive comments on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did not go unnoticed by the State Department.
On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki welcomed the statements by Liberman, who said, "Kerry is a true friend of Israel, he leads the process correctly and has the right to think differently from that of belligerent [Jewish Home chairman] Naftali Bennett.”
"All I hear is a competition of who can be more blunt and belligerent against Kerry," he continued. "We support peace with the Palestinians, but not at any price [. . .] if I have to choose between the unity of the people and the unity of [Israel with] Judea and Samaria, I choose the unity of the people."
Speaking to reporters later Friday, Psaki commented on Liberman’s comments and said, “We certainly welcomed his remarks and his sentiment and the importance of the peace process, and it’s a reflection of, of course, the belief of many people in Israel that a two-state solution is the right outcome at the end of this process.”
She added, “It certainly is a powerful statement and a powerful message given his history and his background on these issues and where his view was. It doesn’t mean there’s an end to opponents for a two-state solution, an end to opponents of a peace process, but certainly, we’re hopeful that we can get back to the focus on the difficult issues at hand.”
Kerry has come under fire in Israel over the past week, since he threatened Israel with boycotts if peace talks fail.
Several Israeli officials hit back at the comments, including 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."
Kerry played down the Israeli criticism, telling CNN on Wednesday, “I’ve been, attacked before by people using real bullets, not words, and I am not going to be intimidated.”
President Barack Obama backed Kerry’s peace efforts on Thursday, saying at an interfaith breakfast in Washington, “I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Kerry for his extraordinary passion and principled diplomacy that he’s brought to the cause of peace in the Middle East. Thank you, John.”