Moshe Yaalon, Israel's defense minister, apologized late Tuesday for a jab at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in an interview with an Israeli newspaper. He said Kerry's efforts at negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians were "based upon an unfathomable obsession and a messianic feeling."
The U.S. State Department called the remark offensive.
"The remarks of the Defense Minister if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs," spokesperson Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Yaalon for making the remarks, Yaalon released a statement apologizing to Kerry and praising his efforts to bring peace.
"Israel and the United States share a common goal to advance the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians led by Secretary Kerry. ... The defense minister had no intention to cause any offence to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by the remarks attributed to the minister," the statement read in both Hebrew and English, according to Reuters.
In the interview published Tuesday morning by Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, though, Yaalon argued that Kerry was not doing anything to advance the peace process.
"In reality," he said, "there have been no negotiations between us and the Palestinians for all these months – but rather between us and the Americans. The only thing that can 'save us' is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace."
Yaalon also called Kerry's plan "useless" and said Kerry has nothing to teach him about the Palestinians.
"The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it's written on," he declared. "It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the River Jordan will ensure that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya don't become targets for rockets from every direction. American Secretary of State John Kerry, who turned up here determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians."