US Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to apologize for the quotes attributed to anonymous White House officials referring to the Israeli premier in harsh terms, Channel 10 reported.

Kerry sought to convey to the prime minister that the comments reported in The Atlantic "do not reflect the position of the United States."

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The apology comes one day after Kerry said that insulting the character and leadership of the Israeli premier is “disgraceful, unacceptable and damaging.”

The public spat has put noticeable strain on the administration, Kerry said, who has known Netanyahu for decades and has worked on a near-daily basis with him since becoming secretary of state.

“Such statements are disgraceful, unacceptable and damaging,” Kerry said in a press conference.

“I don’t know who the people that said those things are, but it made our lives much harder.”

Tensions between Washington and Jerusalem were already on public display before Jeffrey Goldberg, a prominent columnist on matters of interest to the Israeli and American Jewish communities, reported a senior administration official calling Netanyahu a “chickenshit coward” for his stance on Iran.

The White House and State Department rejected that characterization and called the language offensive. The administration official has not been identified.

Goldberg, the diplomatic correspondent for The Atlantic, spoke to Army Radio on Thursday morning about the splash he made in the headlines this week.

“That’s a completely normal course of events: Someone tells the truth, and then because the truth isn’t diplomatic, they have to say the y weren’t authorized to speak,” Goldberg said. “The level of frustration [in the White House] is incredibly high, possibly higher than ever, from the Washington side, and people are boiling over.”

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