TEL AVIV, Israel -- The state department shot back Tuesday after Israel's defense minister branded Secretary of State John Kerry "messianic" just days before he is due to visit the country.
"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," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Moshe Yaalon, Israel's defense minister, was quoted by the Yediot Aharonot newspaper on Tuesday as saying that the only thing that could "save" Israel was for Kerry to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and "leave us alone."
"Secretary of State John Kerry came here very determined and operates based upon an unfathomable obsession and a messianic feeling," Yaalon was quoted as saying. "Throughout the recent months, there is no negotiation between us and the Palestinians, but rather, between us and the Americans. The only thing that can 'save' us is that John Kerry will get a Nobel Peace Prize and leave us alone."
The state department's stinging response added that questioning Kerry's motives and distorting his proposals were "not something we would expect from the Defense Minister of a close ally."
The United States is seeking to broker an agreement on a "two-state solution" in which Israel would exist peacefully alongside a new Palestinian state. Kerry wants the sides to agree to a framework for an interim accord ahead of a deal in April, which would launch another year of talks aimed at a full-blown peace treaty.