US Secretary of State John Kerry took offense to critical comments made by Israel’s defense minister, calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to vent his anger.
According to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, Kerry “protested” the remarks by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who criticized the United States for projecting a feeble image throughout its foreign policy agenda, from the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program to the escalating tensions in Ukraine.
Psaki said Yaalon’s comments were “not constructive,” adding that Kerry told Netanyahu they were not consistent with America’s “unshakeable commitment” to Israel.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has said that the breadth of our security cooperation is unprecedented," Psaki said, according to the Associated Press. "So, it is certainly confusing to us why Defense Minister Yaalon would continue his pattern of making comments that don't accurately represent the scope of our close partnership on a range of security issues and on the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel.”
For its part, Yaalon’s office later released a statement to AFP saying the defense minister did not intend to criticize or offend the United States with his remarks.
Speaking to Tel Aviv University on Tuesday, Yaalon said the United States would face negative consequences if it projects a weak image on the world stage.
"If you sit and wait at home, terrorism will come again," he said, according to Haaretz Daily. "If your image is feebleness, it doesn't pay in the world...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."
"We had thought the ones who should lead the [military] campaign against Iran is the United States...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," he added.
Last year, the US and five other world powers agreed on an interim deal with Iran that would lift some sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear program – a deal that's been blasted by Netanyahu as a "historic mistake."
Yaalon's recent comments mark the second time this year that he's been critical of US policy. Back in January, he panned America's emphasis on restarting stalled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, saying Kerry “operates based upon an unfathomable obsession and a messianic feeling." He added that "the only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone.”