National Security Adviser Susan Rice took to Twitter late Monday night and blasted what she called “personal attacks” on Secretary of State John Kerry in Israel in recent days, calling them “unfounded and unacceptable.”
Kerry was criticized over the weekend by Israeli ministers for invoking looming boycotts of Israel as one reason the Jewish state should accept a peace framework he is proposing.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency characterized Rice’s tweets as “the latest salvo in increasingly testy exchanges between the Netanyahu and Obama governments.”
In a series of four back-to-back tweets, Rice emphasized Kerry’s “rock solid” support for Israel and the Obama administration’s opposition to boycotts. She wrote:
Earlier on Monday at the State Department briefing, spokeswoman Jen Psaki insisted Kerry opposes boycotts. “There is no greater advocate – or opponent, I should say, to boycotts – or proponent of Israel’s security and their future,” Psaki said of Kerry.
Psaki further suggested that Israeli ministers were distorting Kerry’s words. “Certainly, he always expects anyone, even those who are against the efforts underway moving towards a peace process, not to distort his words or his record. And so I think that’s frustrating for not just him but for any of us,” Psaki said.
The criticism of Kerry began on Saturday after the secretary of state argued that Israel should take into consideration potential future boycotts should a peace deal with the Palestinians not be reached. He said at the Munich Security Conference, “[Y]ou see for Israel there’s an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”
Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz called Kerry’s remarks “offensive and unacceptable” and said that Israel should not be pressured to negotiate with "a gun against its head.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Jewish Home party wrote of Kerry’s words, “We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier.”
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not directly criticize Kerry, on Sunday he called attempts to boycott Israel “immoral and unjust.”
The Israeli news site Maariv reported Tuesday that in an effort to reduce tensions with the Obama administration, Netanyahu has now asked his ministers to stop criticizing Kerry publicly.
Maariv reported that during a closed-door meeting on Monday, Netanyahu told lawmakers from his Likud party that personal attacks on Kerry are unacceptable.
Communications and Home Front Minister Gilad Erdan on Monday questioned Kerry’s conduct as a fair mediator.
"It would be expected from someone who's supposed to be a fair and objective intermediary to also tell the Palestinian side about the price they will have to pay over their stubborn refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to their own nation state," Erdan said. "Where's the Palestinian price on all the continued incitement against Israel's existence?"