US: Israeli's comments about Kerry 'offensive'

The State Department on Tuesday slammed comments from Israel's defense minister as “offensive and inappropriate,” after he reportedly accused Secretary of State John Kerry of being “messianic.”

“The remarks of the Defense Minister if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement.

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The unusually sharp rebuke against an Israeli official comes after Moshe Ya’alon reportedly suggested the Obama administration — and Kerry in particular — were endangering Israel with their push for a two-state peace deal with the Palestinians. Israel is balking at U.S. proposals for Israel's long-term security, which would require Israel to reduce the size of its buffer zone along the Jordanian border that has traditionally protected the country from an Arab invasion from the east.

“The only thing that can 'save us' is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace,” the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot quoted Ya'alon as saying just days before Kerry returns to the region to pursue peace talks.

“The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it's written on,” Ya'alon reportedly said. “American Secretary of State John Kerry, who turned up here determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.”

Psaki bristled at the accusation. She pointed out that retired Marine Gen. John Allen, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is serving as Kerry's adviser on Israeli security.

“Secretary Kerry and his team including General Allen have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the Secretary's deep concern for Israel's future,” Psaki said. “To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the Defense Minister of a close ally.”

The spat is but the latest sign that Kerry's peace push is teetering as a self-imposed April deadline for a deal quickly approaches. Both sides are now having to make painful concessions, displaying fissures that had been downplayed so far.

Ya'alon served as chief of the Israeli Defense Forces during the second Palestinian uprising and is a member of the conservative Likud party. His political opponents also rushed to criticize his latest statement

“Our relations with the U.S. are our biggest national strategic asset, and they are vital for Israel's security,” Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the leader of the liberal Hatnuah party and a crucial player in the peace talks, wrote on her Facebook page. “You can oppose the negotiations and still not verbally attack and damage our relationship with our best ally.”

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