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Israeli ambassador to U.S. has Kerry’s back

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, left, listens as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement during a news conference on Jan. 2 before their talk at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem.  (Brendan Smialowski/ AP)

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer let the world know Thursday morning that he’s not angry with Secretary of State John F. Kerry for suggesting Israel could become an “apartheid state.”

In a statement that he also tweeted, Dermer sought to distance himself from Danny Danon, Israel’s deputy defense minister, who was bluntly critical of Kerry this week.

Danon wrote an op-ed for Politico Magazine with the headline, “We Will Not Be Threatened,” where he accused Kerry of trying to scare the Israeli government into acquiescing to Palestinian demands.

“Time and again, Secretary Kerry’s erroneous declarations have come dangerously close to suggesting moral equivalency between Israel and its adversaries,” Danon wrote. “They call into question his administration’s ability to act as an honest broker in our region.”

Kerry walked back his comments, which he made at a closed door event, in a lengthy statement Wednesday, saying he would not “allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes, so I want to be crystal clear about what I believe and what I don’t believe.”

This is not the first time Dermer has rushed to Kerry’s defense. In February, Kerry argued that Israel needed to negotiate with Palestinians, which drew widespread criticism by many in the Israeli government. Dermer told Time in an interview that Kerry was making “a descriptive statement” and was not trying to “pressure Israel.”

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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