White House press secretary Jay Carney said the remarks -- if accurate -- were “offensive and inappropriate, especially in light of everything that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs.”
A report in an Israeli newspaper said that Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had called Kerry “obsessive and messianic” and expressed hope that Kerry “gets a Nobel prize and leaves us alone.”
Carney defended Kerry, who has made restarting Israeli-Palestinian talks toward a peace deal a centerpiece of his agenda.
“Secretary Kerry and his team have been working nonstop in their efforts to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the deep concern the United States has and the deep commitment the United States has for and to Israel's future and the Israeli people,” said Carney. “To question Secretary Kerry's motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally.”
Carney said that the U.S. is “committed to Israel's security; we are committed to the Middle East peace process in a way that secures Israel.”
The White House also praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that both had “demonstrated courageous and determined leadership" over the last five months.
Netanyahu is said to be skeptical about Kerry's push for peace.
“They've made tough choices, and they are contemplating even tougher choices in the weeks ahead,” said Carney.
“We're pressing forward with both the Israelis and the Palestinians on this process and hope that it bears fruit,” he added.