US pushes back against Israeli media’s ‘misinformation campaign’ against Kerry
The Obama administration has pushed back at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry's latest bid to secure a ceasefire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of a "misinformation campaign" against the top American diplomat.
"It's simply not the way partners and allies treat each other," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Her comments were echoed by the White House, where National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the United States was "dismayed" by mischaracterisations of Kerry's efforts. Israeli media have cast Kerry as seeking a ceasefire that is more favourable to Hamas and being dismissive of key Israeli concerns.
Kerry, in a speech to the Centre for American Progress, noted the criticism but did not give ground. "Make no mistake, when the people of Israel are rushing to bomb shelters, when innocent Israeli and Palestinian teenagers are abducted and murdered, when hundreds of innocent civilians have lost their lives, I will and we will make no apologies for our engagement," he said.
In recent days, US officials have been using noticeably tougher language in pressing Israel to accept a ceasefire.
As Kerry returned from the region over the weekend, Israeli media levelled nonstop criticism at his attempts to bring Qatar and Turkey - viewed by Israel as strong Hamas supporters - into the ceasefire negotiations.
In trying to implement the ceasefire, "US Secretary of State of State John Kerry ruined everything," wrote columnist Ari Shavit in Haaretz, a liberal Israeli newspaper. "Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a 'strategic terrorist attack'."
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer distanced his government from that view. "The criticism of Secretary Kerry for his good faith efforts to advance a sustainable ceasefire is unwarranted," he said.