President Barack Obama does not think Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a "chickens--t," as one of his administrative officials was quoted saying in an Atlantic article Tuesday, according to a White House statement. The article said the relationship between the two leaders is "the worst it's ever been" and "a full-blown crisis."
"Certainly the comments in the article do not represent the administration's view, and we think such comments are inappropriate and counterproductive," National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said in the statement. "Prime Minister Netanyahu and the President have forged an effective partnership and consult closely and frequently, including earlier this month when the President hosted the Prime Minister in the Oval Office."
On top of the disagreements over Iran's nuclear program and peace talks with Palestinians, the U.S.-Israel relationship has been rocky recently: The White House denied its defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, the opportunity to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Advisor Susan Rice while he visited the U.S. The meetings would have showcased the close relationship between the two countries, according to Foreign Policy. "I am being attacked because I am willing to defend the State of Israel," Netanyahu said Wednesday, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Atlantic reporter Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in his story that he's kept a list of the adjectives Obama administration officials have used to describe Netanyahu: "Recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous and aspergery."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama has talked more with Netanyahu than he has with any other leader, USA Today reported. Netanyahu himself reinforced the ties between nations in his speech, saying, "I laud the deep connection we have with the United States. We have more support from the American people than ever, and our strategic ties continue."
Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a statement that Obama has not treated Netanyahu with respect. "When the president discusses Israel and Iran, it is sometimes hard to tell who he thinks is America’s friend and who he thinks is America’s enemy," he said. "Over the last several months, I have watched the administration insult ally after ally. I am tired of the administration’s apology tour. The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not. It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people [who] can’t muster professionalism that it is time to move on."