US officials lined up Wednesday in high dudgeon over Israel’s defense minister Moshe Ya’alon’s remarks in which he described the US as broadcasting weakness in the Ukraine crisis. He was also quoted as saying at a Tel Aviv University event on Monday that America’s aid to Israel needed to be “seen in proportion,” and that it was not a one-way street. “It isn’t a favor America is doing, it’s in their interest,” he said. “They get quality intelligence and technology.”
The White House and State Department protested and a senior US official said: “We were shocked by Moshe Ya’alon’s comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States.”
After US Secretary of State John Kerry called to tell Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the minister's criticism was “not constructive;” Ya'alon agreed to apologize for the second time for making disparaging remarks about the US administration after an earlier over-blunt comment was taken amiss.
In a phone conversation with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Wednesday night, the defense minister said that his comments "were not intended to express opposition, criticism or offense to the United States." Strong ties with the United States are Israel's greatest priority, he added.
Ya'alon said he appreciated the close relationship Israel shares with the United States, and emphasized he was fully committed to cooperation between the two nations.
Hagel thanked Ya'alon for his clarification, acknowledging that some of the comments may have been taken out of context.