At the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz shot back at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with harsh criticism following Kerry’s threat of a possible widespread boycott of Israel. The backlash against Kerry has continued as Israel accuses the U.S. of antisemitism for trying to take power away from local leaders and put it in the hands of Washington officials. While the United States has denied the accusation, many in Israel remain critical of Kerry.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon shot back at Kerry after his boycott remarks, saying that Kerry is obsessive and messianic. This comes shortly after Economy Minister Naftali Bennett attacked Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said that he has put himself and the state of Israel under the power of the United States.
Kerry had said that boycotts were being discussed as a very possible result if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not come to an end in the near future. He said the United States has a strong interest in seeing conflict resolution in the area. Intelligence Minister Steinitz continued by saying that Kerry’s words were hurtful, unfair, and intolerable.
Steinitz said that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate under high pressure conditions. He added that Israel’s top priority must be addressing its critical national interests. He also criticized the United States for playing both ends of the field. According to Steinitz, the US has also pushed the Palestinian to stand their ground, which could lead to a stalemate.
The United States’ State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded to the strong Israeli reaction and made an effort to smooth over the suddenly shaky relationship between the two nations. After hearing Israel accuse the U.S. of antisemitism, the State Department was quick to respond. In a recent statement, Psaki claimed that Kerry remains strongly opposed to any boycott of Israel and was simply saying that the issue had been discussed in the past by other officials.
Kerry’s current goal is to create the framework necessary for long-term peace between Israel and Palestine before the end of the 2014. The State Department’s lead envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Martin Indyk has said that the framework he is working to establish will address issues such as the controversial settlements and Palestine’s status as a state.
Despite the fact that Kerry has received wide criticism in Israel from around the country, Netanyahu has remained silent since Kerry made the statements. On the other hand, Israeli parliament member Motti Yogey of the Jewish Home Party has heavily criticized both the United States and Israel.
According to Yogey, Prime Minister Netanyahu is allowing the U.S. to slowly take over power from the Israeli government. Yogey claims that Kerry’s pressure has undertones of antisemitism as he believes that it is part of a larger effort to take control away from Israelis. He believes that the United States’ goal is to decrease the presence of the Jewish population in Israel in an effort to ultimately create a Palestinian state.
By Nicci Mende