Israeli defense minister walks back anti-US remarks


In a phone call with Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelWho will temper Trump after he takes office? Hagel: I’m ‘encouraged’ by Trump’s Russia outreach Want to 'drain the swamp'? Implement regular order MORE, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon “clarified” openly critical remarks about U.S. foreign policy this week. 

During the call, Hagel “expressed deep concern about the minister's comments on U.S. policy towards Iran and reiterated the U.S. commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” according to the statement by Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby. 

“Minister Ya'alon clarified his remarks by underscoring his commitment to the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he said. 

In a speech at Tel Aviv University on Monday, Ya’alon criticized President Obama for having a weak foreign policy and said Israel could no longer rely on the United States to lead nuclear negotiations with Iran. 

“We had thought the ones who should lead the campaign against Iran is the United States,” Ya’alon said. “But at some stage the United States entered into negotiations with them, and unhappily, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better.”

Ya’alon also went on to say the U.S. was demonstrating weakness in its foreign policy overall, citing its handling of Ukraine as an example. 

“If your image is feebleness, it doesn’t pay in the world. Nobody will replace the United States as global policeman. I hope the United States comes to its senses. If it doesn’t, it will challenge the world order, and the United States is the one that will suffer," he said. 

Meanwhile, Israeli news reports said Ya'alon had apologized to Hagel. Ya'alon said his comments "were not intended to express opposition, criticism or offense to the United States," the Jerusalem Post reported. 
"The secretary and minister pledged to continue working closely with one another on the range of security issues facing the United States and Israel.”
Rebecca Shabad contributed.