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White House slams Israeli defense chief’s disparaging remarks

JTA

March 19, 2014 | 10:10 am

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at the Knesset on March 18, 2013. Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at the Knesset on March 18, 2013. Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said he supports unilateral Israeli action against Iran and that the United States is weak, prompting condemnation from the Obama administration.

“We had thought the ones who should lead the campaign against Iran is the United States,” Yaalon said during a speech at an event at Tel Aviv University, according to Haaretz. “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. Therefore, on this matter, we have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.”

Yaalon as a Likud member of the Knesset had been opposed to a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran when Ehud Olmert was the defense chief.

He reportedly suggested that President Obama is stringing along the Iran issue so he can pass it on to his successor.

“But in the end, it will blow up,” Yaalon said.

He also called the United States weak in Ukraine and around the world.

In response, a senior administration official told Israeli media, “We were shocked by Moshe Yaalon’s comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States. Moreover, this is part of a disturbing pattern in which the defense minister disparages the U.S. administration and insults its most senior officials.

“Given the unprecedented commitment that this administration has made to Israel’s security,” the unnamed official said, “we are mystified why the defense minister seems intent on undermining the relationship.”

The Israeli reports did not say why the U.S. official would not be named.

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