Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel phoned his Israeli counterpart Thursday to register "deep concern" over the Israeli's charge that the Obama administration was weak on Iran, Ukraine and terrorism.
In the call, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon sought to "clarify" his inflammatory remarks and also renewed "his commitment to the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship," the Pentagon said in a read out of the phone call.
In a speech at Tel Aviv University earlier this week, Yaalon said the U.S. was consistently showing "feebleness" in its policies on the Mideast, Russia and China, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
"Look what's happening in Ukraine, where the United States is demonstrating weakness, unfortunately," Yaalon said.
He also said that the U.S. was getting a good return for its 3.1 billion in annual military aid to Israel.
"It isn't a favor America is doing, it's in their interest," Yaalon said. "They get quality intelligence and technology. We invented Iron Dome [the missile shield). The wings of the F-35 stealth fighter -- we invented. We invented the Arrow [anti-ballistic missile system]."
On Iran, Yaalon said the U.S. was naïve on Tehran's willingness to give up its nuclear programs and "on this matter we have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves."
On terrorism, Yaalon said that "this is a war of civilizations. If your image is feebleness, it doesn't pay in the world. I hope the United States comes to its senses."
Following complaints from the White House and the State Department, Yaalon issued a statement saying that his remarks "were not intended to express opposition, criticism or offense to the United States."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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