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January 15, 2014 9:43 am

Journalist Who Reported Ya’alon’s Kerry Slam Says ‘Insulting Lack of Transparency’ in Peace Talks is Underlying Problem

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, observing a war drill in the Golan Heights. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, observing a war drill in the Golan Heights. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO.

The Israeli journalist who first reported Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s criticism of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the underlying problem is an “insulting lack of transparency” in how the U.S.-led negotiations are being conducted, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Shimon Shiffer, the Yediot Ahronot correspondent who broke the story on Tuesday that triggered a negative reaction in Washington, leading to a terse apology from Ya’alon, said, “The negotiations are being pursued at present with an insulting lack of transparency.”

“The parameters of the agreement that they are proposing could end in a security catastrophe for Israel, but if we insist on our vital security interests they will lay responsibility for the failure of the talks on us.”

“And if that is the situation, it is no wonder that the defense minister is furious,” he wrote, implying that Ya’alon’s remarks were aimed at his own government, AFP said.

“Essentially, Ya’alon was urging [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Justice Minister and Chief Negotiatior Tzipi] Livni to stop being so terrified, to stop playing make-believe and to start sharing with the Israeli public the things that are happening behind the scenes in the negotiations,” Shiffer wrote.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon would neither confirm nor deny comments attributed to him that morning calling Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic.”

Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot quoted Ya’alon as telling associates in private conversations that Kerry “should take his Nobel Prize and leave us alone.”

“Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] lives and dies by our sword,” Ya’alon was quoted as saying. “Once we leave Judea and Samaria, he is finished. In effect, during these past months, there haven’t been negotiations with the Palestinians, but with the Americans.”

“The only thing that can ‘save’ us is for John Kerry to win his Nobel Prize and leave us alone,” the defense minister reportedly said.

Late Tuesday night, after the U.S. demanded an apology, Israel’s Defense Ministry issued a statement that said,”The defense minister had no intention to cause any offense to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.”

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