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Yesh Atid MK: Ya'alon Hurting Israel's Foreign Policy

MK Ronen Hoffman sides with the U.S. against Ya'alon, says Defense Minister should stick to defense issues.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/23/2014, 3:19 AM

MK Ronen Hoffman
MK Ronen Hoffman
PR photo

MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) on Saturday sided with the United States against Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Hoffman said that the relations between Israel and the United States were a strategic asset for Israel and that Ya’alon was harming those relations.

"When our Defense Minister harms Israel-U.S. relations, he harms Israel's foreign relations. The Defense Minister should focus on handling issues related to security, and not interfere in foreign affairs," charged Hoffman.

"Foreign policy is primarily the art of diplomacy. The Defense Minister lacks the necessary skills to engage in diplomacy, and his words are creating crises that hurt Israel-U.S. relations, harm Israel's foreign relations and as such, ultimately, can indirectly harm state security,” he continued.

Hoffman called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to call Ya’alon to order before he does any further to damage to Israel’s relations with the U.S.

"Just as no one even thinks about the Foreign Minister giving orders to the IDF, so must the Prime Minister ensure that the Defense Minister stops sabotaging Israel’s foreign policy and that he leaves it in the hands of those responsible,” he said.

The comments come in the wake of the harsh criticism of Secretary of State Jen Psaki against Ya’alon on Friday.

Psaki told reporters that the U.S. is still waiting for a more substantial apology from Ya’alon over his remarks that the United States “shows weakness” in various arenas around the world, including Ukraine, and has a “soft” approach over Iran’s nuclear program.

"We still have remaining concerns about Ya'alon's pattern of behavior," she said, adding, "I think we clearly expressed our displeasure by his offensive comments and an apology would be a natural next step.”

Secretary of State John Kerry had personally protested to Netanyahu over Ya'alon's strong criticism which the U.S. saw as trying to hurt U.S.-Israel relations.

Later, Ya’alon phoned Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and clarified that his remarks were not meant to insult the United States. This, however, was apparently not enough for Washington.

On Saturday night, Economy Minister and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett strongly condemned the ongoing media and political tirade against Ya'alon.

"The media attack on the defense minister and top IDF official is unnecessary and mostly false, and so far there is no one who says: enough," Bennett wrote on Facebook.

"[Ya'alon] is an excellent defense minister, [and] his mouth and heart are the same - even if the positions [he has] are not the same positions these commentators and others [hold]. (Which is good)," he added.