U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks past American (back) and Israeli flags at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv January 6, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday played down criticism by Israel's defense minister of American efforts to broker peace in the Middle East, saying he wouldn't let "one set of comments" undermine his work.With his subdued reaction, Kerry appeared to be attempting to quickly move beyond the uproar that exploded Tuesday over the comments reportedly made by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. Kerry has been shuttling between Israel and the Palestinians for months, and is expected back in the region in the coming weeks to deliver his ideas on a framework for peace.In comments published Tuesday by the Yediot Ahronot daily, Yaalon called Kerry "obsessive" and "messianic" and dismissed Kerry's security plan as worthless. Since becoming defense minister last year, a position of great influence in Israel, he has been a vocal skeptic of Kerry's peace efforts.Yaalon is a former military chief of staff and close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.In the West Bank town of Ramallah on Wednesday, Palestinian protesters demonstrated against Kerry's peace efforts.
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