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January 14, 2014 9:27 pm

American Friends of Likud Expresses ‘Vigorous’ Support for Ya’alon, Says Comments Were ‘Refreshing’

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Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, during dinner with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, on April 21, 2013. Photo: Israel Ministry of Defense

American Friends of Likud (AFL), an educational charity with ties to Israel’s ruling Likud party, expressed “vigorous and unwavering”  support for Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon who came under fire on Tuesday for comments he allegedly made about U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

“At such a perilous time for the State of Israel in which doubletalk and smooth evasions are so prevalent and can have the dangerous effect of lulling the public, Minister Ya’alon’s no-nonsense, direct statements are refreshing,” the group said in a statement. “Whether one agrees with Minister Ya’alon’s recent statement or not, he is to be commended, not reprimanded, for stating his opinion so clearly.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that in closed conversations before Kerry’s latest visit to Israel, Ya’alon said that the current U.S. proposed framework agreement under discussion between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is “not worth the paper it was written on.”

“[Kerry’s plan] contains neither security nor peace,” Ya’alon said, according to the report. “Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan River will guarantee that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya do not become targets for missiles from every direction.”

The reported comments prompted an angry response from Washington and a subsequent apology from Ya’alon. Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that U.S. officials are now calling for Prime Minister Netanyahu to publicly express his disagreement with the alleged comments.

AFL went further in its defense of Ya’alon saying that it appreciated his concerns.

“The leadership of AFL shares the concern of many security-minded Israelis, as well as staunch supporters of Israel in the U.S. and given the complexity and delicate nature of the state of affairs, we need to ensure that our leaders, such as Sec. Kerry, do not apply undue pressure on the Israeli government to take reckless security risks while totally ignoring the never-ending incitement to violence on the part of the Palestinian Authority,” the group said.

Ya’alon was expressing “his frustration with the pressure that the U.S. Administration is placing on Israel to compromise its vital security interests in a futile effort to appease the Palestinian Authority,” AFL added.

“Although Minister Ya’alon’s candor may not be ‘politically correct,’ he has the same right to express his views as any other political figure, whether Israeli, Arab or American,” the group said.

On its website, AFL clearly stipulates that it “is not an extension of the Israeli political party –  Likud.”

“All funds raised by AFL only go toward its educational programs and events, not the Likud party, its Ministers or MKs” its website reads.

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