WASHINGTON -- Insulting the character and leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "disgraceful, unacceptable and damaging," US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday, responding to reports of anonymous slurs from Obama administration officials against the Israeli premier.
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.