Why did Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon attack John Kerry and his staff a few days ago? Although he has since apologised, the fact that Ya’alon spoke out against the Secretary of State of Israel’s main ally and supporter was astonishing.
According to Maariv, Kerry and his staff have been trying to convince Israel “aggressively” on the need to withdraw from the Jordan Valley. That alone prompted Ya’alon to launch his verbal assault on the senior US official. The newspaper noted that Kerry was applying “serious pressure” to convince the Israelis to accept the US position regarding the border between Palestine and Jordan. The minister decided that this was unacceptable interference in Israeli affairs.
It is claimed that US military officials sought to use their Israeli counterparts to put pressure on the Israel Defence Forces over the Jordan Valley issue. America’s envoy on security matters, John Allen, is alleged to have offered positions as security advisors on US committees to two senior Israelis. This was too much for Ya’alon, who considered this to be US “meddling” and an attempt to influence an Israeli security agency.
Maariv also suggested that the security of Israeli civilian aircraft at Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv could not be guaranteed, an ongoing military presence in the Jordan Valley is essential. The Americans disagree; they believe that the means exist to protect all aircraft without them having to stray over what could be Palestinian airspace following a final peace agreement. The same need for IDF presence is cited to protect Israel’s borders, although these have never been defined, even in the current negotiations. Without a permanent IDF presence in the Jordan Valley, claims Israel, there are likely to be “major security breaches”.
All of this doesn’t disguise Israeli impatience at the US. While America has reached an agreement with Iran, the Israelis still regard the Iranian nuclear file to be the main issue of concern for the region. In this respect, Kerry’s approach is at odds with Israel’s.
Finally, said Maariv, Ya’alon feels that a peace agreement will mean either the collapse of the ruling coalition in Israel or a radical change in the make-up of the government, with the right-wing parties losing out. In this respect, the defence minister was disturbed by Kerry’s meeting with the leader of the centrist Labour Party, considering it to be an attempt to influence domestic Israeli politics. For Ya’alon, this too was “unacceptable”; hence, his outburst.