‘Messianic’ Kerry lambasted again by Israel’s right-wingers

‘Messianic’ Kerry lambasted again by Israel’s right-wingers

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres with John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, May 2013.
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres with John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, May 2013.

There were further signs this week that the US and Israel were falling rapidly out of love, after another public spat saw senior Israeli politicians attack US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The row began after Kerry, who rekindled the long-dormant peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians last summer, appeared to apply pressure on Israel to make progress.

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett has threatened to withdraw from Netanyahu’s ruling coalition over the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Kerry warned that the risks were “very high” for Israel.

He said: “People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure. We all have a strong interest in this conflict resolution. Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100%, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary. There’s a momentary prosperity, there’s a momentary peace.”

Israel’s right-wing politicians the comments about boycotts, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying US pressure over settlements was “immoral and unjustified”.

He added: “No pressure will force me to give up the vital interests of the state of Israel, above all the security of the citizens of Israel.”

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (pictured, above right), from the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party, added to the chorus of disapproval. “We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel and not for them to be their amplifier,” he said.

Another right-wing cabinet member, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, called Kerry’s comments “offensive, unfair and insufferable”, adding that Israel could not negotiate “with a gun to its head”.

But other cabinet ministers thought the right-wingers had misunderstood Kerry’s comments, with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni saying America’s top diplomat was merely “expressing concern” for Israel’s future.

In Washington, there was a furious reaction to the condemnation from Netanyahu and his cabinet allies.

US statement department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Kerry had been referring to the actions of others and resolutely opposed boycotts.

With thinly disguised disdain, she added: “Secretary Kerry has always expected opposition and difficult moments in the process, but he also expects all parties to accurately portray his record and statements.”

The spat is the latest high-profile disagreement between Jerusalem and the Obama administration.

Kerry has been targeted by those who do not support a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, with Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon accusing Obama’s envoy of being “obsessive and messianic” in his quest.

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