US still waiting for apology from Israeli Defense Minister Ya'alon for Obama remarks

The Defense Minister was slammed for the remarks earlier this week in which he said that Obama's image in the world is "feebleness."

March 21, 2014 22:10
2 minute read.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon . (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry spokesman)


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The United States is still waiting for an apology from Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon over critical comments that he made about President Barack Obama earlier this week.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Friday that the US is “disappointed with the lack of an apology” by Ya'alon. Psaki added that the US still had "concerns" about Ya'alon's "pattern of behavior."

Psaki said that an apology from Ya'alon would be a "natural next step."

"His comments, as we’ve stated a couple times, don’t reflect the true nature of our relationship with Israel," she said.   

On Tuesday the US used unprecedented language to condemn Ya'alon after he continued weeks of criticism of US President Barack Obama, and members of his foreign policy team.

“We were shocked by Moshe Ya’alon’s comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States," a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday night. "Moreover, this is part of a disturbing pattern in which the Defense Minister disparages the US Administration, and insults its most senior officials."

Among the impugned remarks that Ya'alon made on Tuesday at Tel Aviv University, was that in light of developments on crises in the Middle East, relations with China and with Russia over the annexation of Crimea, Obama's "image in the world is feebleness." 

After the US criticism Ya'alon spoke with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Wednesday night, saying that his comments "were not intended to express opposition, criticism or offense to the United States," adding that maintaining strong ties with the United States is Israel's utmost priority.

Ya'alon expressed his appreciation for the close relationship Israel shares with the United States, and emphasized his full commitment to cooperation between the two nations.

Hagel thanked Ya'alon for his clarification, acknowledging that some of the comments may have been taken out of context.

On Friday it seemed as if Ya'alon's "clarification" had not satisfied the Obama administration. 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu initiated damage control of his own on Wednesday.

Hours after senior US officials slammed Ya’alon, Netanyahu told the Knesset on Wednesday the US remained Israel’s greatest ally.

Ya'alon was criticized in January for calling US Secretary of State John Kerry "messianic" for his fervent pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The State Department demanded an apology for those comments, which he delivered at the time at Netanyahu's insistence. 

Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

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