Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon said at a public event earlier this week that he does not fear American pressure regarding Jewish settlements, and urged the rest of the government to take a similar stand against US President Barack Obama's demands that Jewish construction come to a halt in areas claimed by the Palestinians.
"I, for one, am not afraid of the Americans," Ya'alon said. "I believe that Jews have the right to live anywhere in the Land of Israel forever."
Ya'alon called often-militant left-wing groups that regularly assail Israeli settlers "a virus," and lashed out at a left-leaning media that frequently resorts to character assassination against right-wing politicians.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned Ya'alon for an urgent meeting regarding his remarks. Netanyahu was reportedly upset that Ya'alon spoke at an event organized by his Likud Party rival, Moshe Feiglin.
Sources close to Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post that he is "annoyed" by what he sees as pressure from Ya'alon and other right-wing ministers prior to next week's meeting with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.