Speaking during a lecture at Tel Aviv University on Monday,
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel could not rely on its main
ally to take the lead in confronting Iran over its nuclear program.
He also pointed to Ukraine's crisis as an example of Washington
It is the second time this year that Washington has taken issue with
tough public criticism from Yaalon, a former armed forces chief and
a hawkish member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party.
In January, he described Kerry's quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace
as messianic and obsessive.
"Secretary Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning
and he protested to him his concerns about these comments,"
spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a daily briefing.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has said that the breadth of our
security cooperation is unprecedented," Psaki said.
"So it is certainly confusing to us why Defense Minister Yaalon
would continue his pattern of making comments that don't accurately
represent the scope of our close partnership on a range of security
issues and on the enduring partnership between the United States and
White House spokesman Jay Carney also rejected Yaalon's comments as
"clearly not constructive" and insisted that the United States
"maintains an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security."
Netanyahu has denounced as a "historic mistake" an interim deal
between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, on
curbing sensitive nuclear activities in return for limited sanctions
[to top of second column]
In Yaalon's latest comments, which were reported by Haaretz daily on
Tuesday and confirmed by an Israeli official who as present at the
lecture, Yaalon displayed deep disappointment with U.S. President
Barack Obama's handling of global issues.
The United States is seeking to broker a peace agreement between
Israelis and Palestinians, with efforts intensifying in recent weeks
to secure agreement on a framework for talks by the end of April.
Kerry has said mistrust between the sides has never been higher and
urged both sides to take political risks to get the deal done.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Matt Spetalnick;
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