U.S. calls Israeli minister's reported comments 'offensive'

Reuters
Israeli Defense Minister Yaalon visits a military base outside central Gaza Strip
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Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (C) walks next to Israel's armed forces chief Major-General …

ROME (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday rebuked Israel for comments attributed to the Israeli defense minister suggesting that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace is messianic and obsessive.

"The remarks of the Defense Minister (Moshe Yaalon) if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a brief statement that constituted a rare rebuke to close ally Israel.

She made the comment after Israel's biggest-selling newspaper quoted Yaalon as saying "John Kerry - who has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling - cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians."

Psaki issued the statement in Rome, where Kerry made a brief stop before traveling on to Kuwait.

"Secretary Kerry and his team including General (John) Allen have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the Secretary's deep concern for Israel's future," she added. "To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the Defense Minister of a close ally."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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