Israel's US Ambassador Defends Kerry From Minister's Criticism
Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the US, defended US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday from Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.
Danon on Tuesday wrote an article in Politico Magazine denouncing Kerry's statements in a closed-door meeting with influential world leaders last Friday, in which Kerry warned that if a peace agreement is not reached, Israel could become "an apartheid state" like old South Africa.
Dermer on Thursday morning wrote on his Twitter account that "Israel deeply appreciates Sec. @JohnKerry's efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians."
The Tweet was accompanied by a press statement from Dermer, saying "Deputy Minister Danny Danon's view of Secretary Kerry do not reflect the views of the Government of Israel. Israel deeply appreciates Secretary Kerry's efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians."
"We do not believe that Secretary Kerry has tried to threaten Israel, and we believe that his decades of support for Israel reflect and abiding commitment to Israel's security and its future," claimed Dermer.
"We will not be threatened"
In Danon's article, entitled "We will Not be Threatened," the deputy defense minister called Kerry's comment on apartheid "especially troubling."
News of Kerry's apartheid comment was released in Israel on Monday, coinciding with Holocaust Memorial Day, noted Danon, who added "to suggest that the Jewish people would ever establish an apartheid regime was particularly hurtful."
Danon notes that while Kerry expressed regret for the "apartheid" comment on Monday, "the fact is that this was not a solitary incident."
"Time and again, Secretary Kerry’s erroneous declarations have come dangerously close to suggesting moral equivalency between Israel and its adversaries. They call into question his administration’s ability to act as an honest broker in our region," argued Danon.
The deputy defense minister noted that last July, when asked by an Israeli reporter why the peace talks are so vital, instead of listing possible benefits Kerry threatened "does Israel want a third intifada?”
"The secretary basically asked the state of Israel to negotiate with a loaded gun to our heads," remarked Danon.
Danon wrote that Kerry made another threat in February, this time threatening Israel with an international boycott. At the time, Kerry said "the risks are very high for Israel. People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure (of the talks)."
"Once again, instead of laying out a clear vision for why the talks he has invested so much time and effort in are in Israel’s interest, Kerry attempted to scare the Israeli public into capitulation," stated Danon.
It is worth pointing out that Dermer on that occasion likewise defended Kerry, saying Kerry "was making a descriptive statement, I don’t think he was doing it in order to pressure Israel.” He added that Kerry "is opposed to the boycotting of Israel."
The threats of an international boycott were made even more troubling given reports in January that Kerry was himself orchestrating the European boycott threats on Israel.
An additional aggressive statement made by Kerry against Israel that did not make Danon's list came in early March, when Kerry blamed Israel for the failure of peace talks before the Senate.
Kerry at the time said "Israel didn't release the Palestinian prisoners on the day they were supposed to be freed, and another day passed, and another day, and then another 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem, and 'poof'...that was sort of the moment."
A housing freeze was not a condition of talks, and the release "gesture" was dependent on progress of the talks. As for Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Abbas's request to join 15 UN agencies in breach of the peace talk conditions, Kerry simply noted that Abbas's move was "clearly unhelpful."