Skip To Content
Breaking News

Yaalon Heads to D.C. as Israeli Ministers Rip Kerry Remarks

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon left for a five-day U.S. trip amid criticism by Israeli ministers of remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Yaalon headed to the United States on Saturday night, two days after Kerry linked the rise of ISIS terrorism to the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a State Department event marking the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha.

“There wasn’t a leader I met … who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation,” Kerry said.

In the U.S., Yaalon is scheduled to meet with his U.S. counterpart, Chuck Hagel, and other U.S. security officials, to discuss regional issues such as Iran’s nuclear program and the Islamic State. It is his first U.S. visit since Israel’s 50-day operation in Gaza this summer.

Yaalon also is expected to meet in New York with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. He is scheduled to attend official ceremonies at Ground Zero in New York and at Arlington National Cemetery, and to meet with Jewish community leaders.

“The relations between the U.S. and Israel are based on common interests and shared values, and those should not be overshadowed by any disagreement of any sort,” Yaalon said in a statement before he left Israel.

On Friday, some Israeli ministers rapped Kerry for his remarks.

“Even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian, someone will always blame the Jew,” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, responded in a Facebook post that linked to a report of Kerry’s remarks.

On Saturday night, Bennett posted, “The notion regarding the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not true and puts Israel at risk.” He listed several examples.

Likud minister Gilad Erdan also criticized Kerry on Facebook, asking whether anybody really believes Islamic State fighters would put down their arms if Israeli-Palestinian talks were relaunched.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday night accused Bennett of using Kerry’s remarks for his own political benefit. “There can be differences of opinion between friends, but there needn’t be attacks,” Liberman said in an interview on Israel Channel 2.

On Friday, the State Department clarified Kerry’s statement.

“What he said was that during his travels to build a coalition against the Islamic State, he was told that should the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved, the Middle East would be a better place,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “His comments were distorted for political gains. He did not make that connection.”

But PLO secretary general Yasser Abed Rabbo told the French news agency AFP on Saturday night, in response to the Kerry statement, that “linking the fight against terrorism and the end of the Israeli occupation is a strategic position that we support.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.