Report: Kerry to Speak With Netanyahu Over ‘Chickenshit’ Insult
American Secretary of State John Kerry plans to speak with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and clarify that “personal criticism” against the Israeli leader “is not appropriate,” Israel’s Walla News reported Wednesday.
Speaking at a press briefing, Spokesperson Jen Psaki would not say whether the administration intended to officially apologize for anonymous caustic remarks released in an article by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic on Tuesday, nor when the chat was scheduled to take place.
“President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry don’t see them as accurate or appropriate,” Psaki stressed, and told reporters at the presser that the unnamed official who spoke with Goldberg did so without a White House okay.
“If this issue comes up we will make sure it is clear it’s not reflective of the secretary’s views,” Psaki said.
The remarks appeared to be part of furious, but calculated backpedaling by the Administration.
Likewise, National Security Council Spokesman Alistair Baskey said that scurrilous personal insults by US officials towards Netanyahu, as revealed in the article, were “not the Administration’s view.”
Netanyahu, for his part, said in a Knesset address on Wednesday, that “As Prime Minister, I am responsible for Israel’s security. I care about the lives of every citizen and soldier. I have been on the battlefield many times. I have risked my life for the country and I am not prepared to make concessions that will endanger our state.
“It must be understood that our supreme interests, with security and the unity of Jerusalem first and foremost, are not among the top concerns of those anonymous elements that are attacking us and me personally, because the attack on me comes only because I am defending the State of Israel.”
“If I did not defend the State of Israel, if I did not vigorously uphold our national and security interests, they would not attack me,” Netanyahu said at a special session in memory of past tourism minister, Rehavam Ze’evi, shot to death by four Palestinian assassins in 2001.
Noting the political uproar over the issue, Netanyahu noted that, “Since the foundation of our state we have had disagreements with the US and we will yet have them. But this is not at the expense of the deep ties between our peoples and countries. And we see this again and again, including this year, in the rise in support for the State of Israel among the American public, support that has reached an all-time high. The strategic alliance, and the alliance in values, between the two countries is continuing and will continue.”
Robert Sugarman and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said they were “deeply concerned” over the imbroglio.
“We are deeply concerned by a number of recent public and private criticisms, personal insults and inappropriate characterizations emanating from official sources,” the two said in a statement on Wednesday.
“These often anonymous, but no less harmful, declarations undermine the common interests of the United States and Israel on the critical issues which face both countries and the real extraordinary cooperation on the security, intelligence, political and other levels. It is the common efforts of these two great democratic allies to address the threat of Iran becoming a threshold nuclear state, the rise of ISIS and other extremist Islamist groups, the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Libya, and the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, among other issues of vital significance to both countries, that is of primary importance. It is only natural that there may be disagreements on issues, but we believe those should be discussed privately between the leaders of both countries and there should be no place for personal attacks which undermine mutual confidence and support so essential to advancing the interests of both the United States and Israel.”
While the two welcomed the Administration’s fence-mending moves, they asked “that the person responsible be held to account and the appropriate steps be taken by the Administration.
“We call on officials, media and others in the public arena to consider the consequences of the words and deeds. Apologies do not undo the damage and every manifestation of division between these two allies is exploited by the enemies of both,” Sugarman and Hoenlein said.