The media fallout from the Ya’alon story in Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth revealed that for some weeks now the defense minister has been conducting private briefings to journalists, diplomats and politicians in which he has been speaking out against Secretary of State John Kerry, using the same terms that were revealed earlier this week.
Yedioth’s diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer quoted Ya’alon as saying that the secretary of state’s is “messianic and obsessive” with his peace efforts, accusing Kerry of being unfamiliar with the issues (“The U.S. security plan is ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’”), and adding that “the best thing that could happen is that Kerry wins his Nobel Peace Prize and leaves us alone.” Ya’alon was later made to apologize for his remarks.
Since the publication, media organizations and Ya’alon’s proxies have accused Yedioth of violating an understanding of anonymity with him. According to a report on the Israeli site Walla!, sources close to Ya’alon stated that “Yedioth did something that cannot be done—the quotes were given in an indirect and unattributed manner [a form of briefing in which the journalist cannot quote his or her source word for word nor disclose his or her identity] and yet they were quoted and attributed to him directly.”
In recent weeks, similar quotes made by Ya’alon to Yedioth’s reporter appeared in other Israeli publications. One Israel Hayom headline, attributed to a senior Israeli source, called Kerry “obsessive” and said that he was motivated by a personal agenda; the term “obsessive” was also used in a story published in the Israeli weekend paper The Post.
Another journalist told Walla!: “Ya’alon has been saying this text, word for word, in a series of meetings with journalists, politicians and diplomats for many weeks, on the condition that they remain off-the-record.”