WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warmly welcomed the long
anticipated appointment of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry as the next US
secretary of state, referring to the veteran politician as his
“Kerry has considerable experience and is a known supporter of
the security of the State of Israel. John Kerry and I have been friends for many
years,” Netanyahu said on Saturday. “I very much appreciated the fact that six
months ago, after my father passed away, he came to visit me during the week of
mourning. I look forward to working together with him.”
Barack Obama officially appointed Kerry, a decorated war veteran and the son of
a Foreign Service officer, on Friday. He is the chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee and a long-time ally of Obama. He ran unsuccessfully for
president against George W. Bush in 2004.
“John has earned the respect
and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of
on-the-job training,” Obama said in announcing his pick at the White House. “I
think it’s fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime
ministers, or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John
Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been
recovering from a stomach virus and concussion, was not present at the
announcement. But she sent out a statement welcoming his announcement, which
referenced their shared experience as unsuccessful presidential
“As I have learned, being able to talk candidly as someone
who has won elections and also lost them is an enormous asset when engaging with
emerging or fragile democracies,” she said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny
Ayalon and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni sent letters to Kerry on Saturday
to congratulate him on his appointment as US secretary of state.
how important Israel’s security and how important the relations between the US
and Israel are to you,” The Tzipi Livni Party leader wrote, adding she had many
conversations with Kerry about Israel’s future and the advancing of peace talks
between Israel and the Palestinians.
“There is no doubt the role you have taken upon yourself is most significant in
determining the direction in which the entire region will head during a very
challenging time. Your success is our success and our future,” she
Kerry has often traveled to the Middle East during his role as
Foreign Relations Committee chairman, including meetings with Syrian President
Bashar Assad before the civil war there began and with Afghan and Pakistani
leaders to smooth US relations with those countries.
colleagues welcomed the appointment, which comes after Obama confidante and US
Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice withdrew her name from contention after being
criticized for her handling of the controversy over a shooting at the US Embassy
in Benghazi, Libya.
“John has the experience, values and capabilities to
be a truly great secretary of state,” said Senator Joe Lieberman
“I am sure his nomination will hearten friends and
allies of America throughout the world, because they know, respect and trust
Lieberman is retiring at the end of this term and therefore
won’t get to vote on Kerry’s confirmation, but the Massachusetts Democrat is
expected to easily get the backing of the Senate.
Kerry’s selection was
also welcomed by several Jewish groups.
Americans for Peace Now spokesman
Ori Nir said of Kerry: “He has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of
the complex foreign policy challenges facing the United States in the Middle
East and around the world, and a profound appreciation of and respect for the
vital role that US diplomacy can and must play in addressing these
Another Jewish group, The National Jewish Democratic
Council, sent out a strong statement of support.
“We are ecstatic to see
that President Obama has selected Senator Kerry to be the next secretary of
state,” the group said.
“His record on the foreign policy issues of
special interest to the Jewish community is exceptionally strong,” the statement
continued. “He has been a leader when it comes to Israel and has made it
abundantly clear that he – like the Obama administration – stands squarely
behind the Jewish state.”
Morrie Amitay, a former executive director of
the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, agreed that Kerry had a good
record on Israel-related issues but was more reserved in his praise.
would not list him among the more enthusiastic supporters, but certainly it’s a
fine record,” he said, noting that on Israeli-related letters, resolutions and
other initiatives he was almost never a lead sponsor and that Iran sanctions
legislation was most strongly championed in the Senate banking committee rather
He added that regardless of the person chosen to fill
Clinton’s shoes, “The White House will continue to call most of the
shots.”Tovah Lazaroff and
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this