Ya'alon Warns Bennett Over Kerry Criticism

Defense Minister rebukes Bennett for 'casting a shadow' over shared US-Israel 'interests and values,' particularly defense funding.

Hezki Baruch and Tova Dvorin , | updated: 21:38

Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe Ya'alon
Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon criticized Economic Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) on Saturday night, after the latter issued a fiery response to the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry Friday linking peace talks with ISIS. 

According to Ya'alon, Bennett's criticism lacks respect for the financial and diplomatic support the US has provided for Israel's right to self-defense against Hamas terrorism. 

"Relations between the United States and Israel are based on shared interests and values​​, and a dispute or other comments should not cast a shadow over that," Ya'alon stated. "The United States supports Israel in a variety of fields - including, of course, security - and we need to remember that and to recognize and thank its leaders for that."

"The security systems of the two countries have an intimate relationship, one unprecedented in scope and importance to the security of Israel, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and I have a close relationship," he added.

Ya'alon spoke prior to taking off for a five-day visit to the US, where he will meet with Hagel, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Ambassador Samantha Power, Mayor of New York Bill De Blasio, and other defense officials.

Financial backing, political immunity? 

Kerry sparked ire from at least two ministers - not just from Bennett, but also from Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) - on Friday, when he claimed that Israel "humiliated" Palestinians and that it led to an "increase in recruitment" in the context of ISIS. 

"It is imperative that we find a way to get back to the negotiations," Kerry said. He then moved on to a separate commentary on ISIS, before juxtaposing the extremist group with peace talks.

"There wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he said - referring to the Cairo conference which eventually saw 5.4 billion dollars raised for Hamas - "because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation." 

"People need to understand the connection of that," he continued. "And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity." 

Bennett fired back at the comments late Friday, saying that "even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian there will always be someone who blames the Jews."

Erdan also responded, saying that the remark proved a "lack of understanding" of both the regional situation in general and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular. 

The US State Department has vigorously denied that Kerry meant to link the two, and even accused Bennett of "distorting" the comments for "political purposes" shortly after reactions began to surface. 

But this is not the first time the suggestion has been made that the US's decision to provide funding for such projects as the Iron Dome Missile Defense System gives it free reign to make comments regarding Israel's policies. 

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama insisted that US funding for Iron Dome was an "American value," and thus provided the justification for criticizing the decision to build 2,610 Jewish homes in the Jewish Givat Hamatos neighborhood of Jerusalem.