Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon is reported to have recently suggested to both Israeli and American officials that US Secretary of State John Kerry is just fishing for a Nobel Peace Prize with his "obsessive" involvement in the Middle East peace process, and the sooner he wins it and leaves, the better off Israel will be.
Israel's biggest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, broke the story that in closed-door talks in Israel, Ya'alon did not hold back when confronting the Americans over their peace proposals.
"The security proposals that the Americans presented aren't worth the paper they are printed on," Ya'alon reportedly said. "The only thing that can 'save' us is for John Kerry to win his Nobel Prize and leave us be."
Ya'alon said Kerry's exaggerated peace efforts over the past six months had ignored crucial realities, and as such could never lead to true peace.
Palestinian leader "Abu Mazen is kept in power by our sword," the defense minister is said to have explained to the Americans. "The moment we leave Judea and Samaria he is finished."
Such an assertion might have at one time been brushed aside, but that is precisely what happened when Israel abandoned Gaza in 2005. Hamas promptly seized control of the territory, massacring Abbas' forces and supporters in the process.
Ya'alon, a former IDF chief of staff and head of military intelligence, pointed out, "I live and breath the conflict with the Palestinians, I know what they are thinking, what they want and what they really mean. ...John Kerry can teach me nothing about the conflict with the Palestinians."
According to Ya'alon, the only way for Israel to maintain its security at this time is to retain control of Judea and Samaria, and especially the strategic Jordan Valley. Otherwise, Tel Aviv can expect the same level of almost-daily rocket attacks that southern Israel has suffered since Israel left Gaza.
When contacted by Israel Radio, the Defense Ministry did not deny that Ya'alon had made the remarks. A source in the ministry reminded listeners that "all along [Ya'alon] has expressed deep concerns that the diplomatic process could lead to missiles on Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport. He doesn't intend to compromise on Israeli security even is he is called a hard nut to crack."
Still, the reported exchange angered fellow Israeli ministers and lawmakers across the political spectrum. Left-wing and centrist parties, some from within the government, accused Ya'alon of risking Israel's good standing with Washington. Even a member of Ya'alon's own Likud Party, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, said it had been wrong of his colleague to personally insult Kerry.
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