Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has apologized for quotes that appeared in a newspaper that lambasted US Secretary of State John Kerry’s role in the Middle East peace process.
Moshe Yaalon was quoted as saying that John Kerry was acting out of “misplaced obsession and messianic fervor”.
The US state department expressed anger at the remarks.
However, in a statement, Moshe Yaalon’s office said that he had no intention to cause any offence.
“The defense minister… apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.”
Israel and the US shared “a common goal” of advancing peace talks with the Palestinians, the statement said.
“We appreciate Secretary Kerry’s many efforts towards that end.”
The White House said the alleged comments were “inappropriate” given America’s support to Israel’s security.
It was a rare rebuke to America’s ally.
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has apologized for comments that lambasted John Kerry’s role in the Middle East peace process
Moshe Yaalon’s alleged comments – first published by Yediot Ahronot newspaper – may reflect the mind-set of other government officials, but Israelis want to protect their relationship with their strongest ally.
The minister said a security plan that John Kerry had presented to Israel was “not worth the paper it was written on”.
“John Kerry – who has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and messianic fervor – cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians,” he was quoted as saying.
Moshe Yaalon expressed the hope that John Kerry, who has made 10 trips to Israel since March, would terminate his drive for peace and focus his energies elsewhere.
“The only thing that might save us is if John Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us be,” he was quoted as saying.
Moshe Yaalon made his comments in private conversations in Israel and the US, the Israeli newspaper said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney accused the minister of misrepresenting John Kerry’s proposals.
“Secretary Kerry and his team have been working non-stop in their efforts to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the deep concern the United States has, and the deep commitment the United States has for and to Israel’s future and the Israeli people.
“To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally.”
Moshe Yaalon’s comments also drew criticism from PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
John Kerry has in recent months attempted to inject momentum into Israeli-Palestinian peace talks re-launched last July.
But the talks have so far shown little sign of progress.
Earlier this month, he held talks with Israeli and Palestinian representatives in an effort to secure a “framework” for a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
However, Israel is said to be demanding that it maintains a military presence under any future peace deal with the Palestinians.
While the peace talks have been continuing, Israel last week announced plans to build 1,400 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
A dispute over settlement construction led to the collapse of the last peace talks.
[youtube tv803xGTJEY 650]
Ariel Sharon’s funeral program:
- 09:30 Knesset state memorial service in Jerusalem attended by international dignitaries
- Speeches from family members, President Shimon Peres, US Vice-President Joe Biden and Middle East envoy Tony Blair
Ariel Sharon lauded at Israel state memorial service
- Army-led funeral procession from Knesset to Ariel Sharon’s farm
- Stop-off on the way for private army ceremony at Latrun, where Ariel Sharon was wounded in 1948 war of independence
- 10:00 Military burial ceremony at Sycamore ranch, near Sderot
- Selected invited guests and family present for burial beside Lili Sharon’s grave; other members of public allowed to observe ceremony from a distance[youtube HqDzak3VHSc 650]
Israeli Jews craving a smoke during the week-long Passover holiday that starts at sundown Monday can now enjoy a rabbi-approved cigarette.
It’s the first time cigarettes have joined the long list of goods stringently checked to ensure they comply with Passover rules on what items are allowed, or kosher for the holiday, meaning they have not come in contact with grains or other forbidden ingredients.
The stamp of approval came from the Beit Yosef private rabbinic group, which certifies foods as compliant with Jewish dietary restrictions. Last month, Beit Yosef approved three local cigarette brands for smoking during Passover.
Israeli Jews craving a smoke during the week-long Passover holiday that starts at sundown Monday can now enjoy a rabbi-approved cigarette
The chief rabbinate in Israel, however, disapproved of the measure, saying cigarettes are life-threatening and should not be approved by rabbis.
“Poison is not kosher. For all days of the year, not just Passover,” said the chief rabbinate’s spokesman Ziv Maor.
But Rabbi Igal Ben Ezra, Beit Yosef’s chief supervisor, said the certification was meant for Israeli smokers who only buy products marked as “kosher for Passover” and who might be concerned about buying cigarettes without such a label.
It’s “mostly for people who have doubts on this subject,” said Ben Ezra.
The Jewish holiday of Passover celebrates the biblical Exodus story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. According to tradition, the Israelites were in a rush and had no time to let their bread rise as they fled. To commemorate the hasty Exodus, Jews eat matzo, or flat wheat crackers that symbolize unleavened bread, and refrain from foods containing leavening such pasta during Passover.
During the holiday, Jewish law forbids chametz, anything consisting of grains that may have come in contact with water, starting the process of fermentation.
Traditionally, Jews, including many who are not religiously observant the rest of the year, spend weeks ahead of Passover cleaning their homes and belongings to rid them of any morsel of food considered to be chametz.
The week-long Passover diet is in addition to the year-round kosher regulations that ban pork and shellfish, require meat to be ritually slaughtered and forbid the mixing of meat and dairy.