Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli Defense minister who has called Obama “weak,” is persona non grata at the State Department. The State Department condemned his remarks two days ago, and again yesterday.
Referring to Ya’alon’s “pattern” of criticizing the United States, a State Department spokesperson said that Secretary of State John Kerry “has remaining concerns about this pattern, but we are continuing to move forward on the peace process.”
The spokesperson, Jen Psaki, was evidently not satisfied by Ya’alon’s alleged apology, as reported by the Defense Department after a March 19 call between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Ya’alon:
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed deep concern about the minister’s comments on U.S. policy towards Iran and reiterated the U.S. commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Minister Ya’alon clarified his remarks by underscoring his commitment to the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship…
“The secretary and minister pledged to continue working closely with one another on the range of security issues facing the United States and Israel.”
Matt Lee of AP shares Gharib’s view. Questioning Psaki at State yesterday, he said, “whether it was an apology or not, [Ya’alon] tried to make up or tried to make things better.”
Lee has suggested that the State Department should be asking whether Ya’alon should be fired. He says If there really is a special relationship between the countries, and we give Israel all this aid, why does their Defense Minister feel complete impunity about running around calling Obama “a wimp”? (Lee’s word.)
The reason Ya’alon feels impunity is that he is supported by Netanyahu and the Israel lobby. Fox News is siding with Ya’alon. It runs a piece by Zev Chafets, a former Likud spokesman (who grew up in Michigan, and who used to write for the New York Times Magazine), saying that Ya’alon speaks for Netanyahu and the US Congress.
Earlier this week, at a supposedly closed gathering at Tel Aviv University, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon bluntly voiced his lack of confidence in the Obama administration. The United States, he said, has become a weak-willed giant, unpredictable in its behavior and unreliable in its international commitments. …
“If your image is feebleness, it doesn’t pay in the world,” said Ya’alon, whose remarks were predictably leaked to the local press. “Nobody will replace the United States as global policeman. I hope the United States comes to its senses. If it doesn’t, it will upset the world order and the United States is the one that will suffer.”…
Netanyahu dutifully promised to speak to Ya’alon and get him to tone it down. But the prime minister doesn’t really disagree with his defense minister’s analysis. Netanyahu has expressed his own skepticism about the reliability of the Obama administration, especially its “trust us” assurances that multilateral diplomacy will keep Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The debacle in Ukraine has only strengthened this skepticism. …
Earlier this month, large bi-partisan majorities of both houses [of Congress] dispatched letters to the president warning him not to engage in make-believe diplomacy on this issue.
They distrust the administration. Moshe Ya’alon (and his silent partner, the prime minister) let them know this week that they are right to do so.
Fox also has this piece up, Four Things America Should Learn From Israel. I wonder if they’ve got hummus in there?