plays down criticism from Israeli officials, citizens
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[February 06, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday brushed off Israeli criticism
of his Middle East peace efforts, saying he has been "attacked" with
bullets in the past and would not be intimidated by words.
On Sunday, Israeli's minister for strategic affairs accused Kerry
of holding a gun to Israel's head by speaking of "an increasing
de-legitimization" campaign against Israel. In January, Israel's
defense minister was quoted scorning his quest for
Israeli-Palestinian peace as "messianic" and obsessive.
A parody video, reported by Israeli media to be the work of a
pro-settler group, ridicules Kerry and shows an actor portraying him
describing Jerusalem as "holy to all religions: Jews, Christians,
Muslims, Buddhists, Klingons and Hobbits."
Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper, Kerry appeared to allude to his
military service during the Vietnam War as he played down the
"I've been, quote, 'attacked' before by people using real bullets,
not words. And I am not going to be intimidated," Kerry told CNN
according to a transcript released by the broadcaster.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the criticism of Kerry
was aimed at the possibility of a peace agreement, the outlines of
which the United States hopes to achieve by April.
"The words aren't an attack on him. They're actually an attack on
the peace process itself," she said. "His view is that some of this
is a sign that the heat is on and we're getting down to the
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The major issues in the conflict include borders, security, the fate
of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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