Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer on Thursday distanced the government from highly critical statements made the day before by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon regarding US Secretary of State John Kerry’s role shepherding the currently stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
In a Wednesday op-ed piece published online by Politico Magazine, Danon (Likud), who has been a vocal critic of the peace negotiations and of the possibility a Palestinian state existing side-by-side with Israel, said that “a number of particularly troubling statements” by Kerry regarding Israel, including this week’s “apartheid” mini-scandal, threatened the security of the Jewish state and called into question the US’s “ability to act as an honest broker in our region.”
“Deputy Minister Danny Danon’s views of Secretary Kerry do not reflect the views of the Government of Israel. Israel deeply appreciates Secretary Kerry’s efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians,” Dermer said in an official statement.
“We do not believe that Secretary Kerry has tried to threaten Israel, and we believe that his decades of support for Israel reflect an abiding commitment to Israel’s security and its future,” the ambassador added.
In his piece, Danon, while acknowledging that Kerry was a long-time supporter of Israel, said that the secretary of state, at several crucial points during the nine-month negotiation process, aired statements which were extremely detrimental to Israel.
In once case, by raising the specter of a Third Intifada, Kerry insinuated that “if we do not give in to every Palestinian demand to ensure a successful end to the talks, we would return to the era of suicide bombers murdering hundreds of civilians in Israeli city centers… [Kerry] basically asked the state of Israel to negotiate with a loaded gun to our heads,” Danon asserted.
Another statement by Kerry on the threat of international boycotts against Israel if the talks fail were an attempt to “scare the Israeli public into capitulation,” Danon said, by implying that the United States would “no longer retain its steadfast rejection of any boycotts against Israel if our government did not ensure that the talks would end to the US administration’s liking.”
The secretary of state’s “apartheid” comment of this week, Danon said, was received as “particularly hurtful” in Israel. Besides being categorically untrue, Danon added, the comment represented a double standard, where US criticism of the Palestinians has “not come close to the pointed criticism that has been leveled at our government.”