The Obama administration says Secretary of State John Kerry "absolutely" retains its full support after catching heated criticism for warning that Israel risked becoming an "apartheid state."

White House press secretary Jay Carney described Kerry as having "long been a staunch supporter of Israel" and pointed reporters to a "substantial" statement the State Department issued on the controversy.

In that statement, Kerry said he "would have chosen a different word" to describe the consequences of failed negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two-state solution," Kerry said.

The remarks, first reported in the Daily Beast, have resulted in a political firestorm for Kerry, and led Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to call for his resignation on the Senate floor.

“Secretary Kerry has proven himself unsuitable for the position he holds,” Cruz said. “John Kerry should offer President Obama his resignation.”

Asked if Obama agreed with Kerry's sentiment — if not use of the word apartheid — Carney said that "the best outcome" for both the Israeli state and the Palestinian people was a deal.

"I think that the overall point that we have made as a matter of policy, that Secretary Kerry makes repeatedly, that President Obama makes, that Prime Minister Netanyahu makes, is that the desired outcome here is a two-state solution in which there is a sovereign Palestinian state and a democratic Jewish state of Israel that is secure and safe. That's the outcome that we seek," Carney said.