‘Chickens—‘ description of Benjamin Netanyahu ‘inappropriate,’ WH says

A senior administration official’s description of Israel’s prime minister as “chickenshit” was “inappropriate and counterproductive,” the White House said early Wednesday.

“Certainly, that’s not the administration’s view, and we think such comments are inappropriate and counterproductive,” National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said. “Prime Minister [Benjamin] 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.”

In the story by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg published Tuesday, senior administration officials vent their frustrations with Netanyahu, describing him as concerned more about his own domestic politics than working toward a peace deal.

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the first official said, expanding on his “chickenshit” insult. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states,” the official said. “The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

A separate administration official said he viewed Netanyahu as a “coward” and doubted he would ever launch a pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Baskey acknowledged that “obviously,” the U.S. and Israeli governments “do not agree on every issue.”

“For instance, we have repeatedly made clear the United States’ decades-long view that settlement activity is ‘illegitimate’ and complicates efforts to achieve a two-state solution,” he said.

But the White House spokesman said the relationship between the two allies “remains as strong as ever.”

“Our security bonds have never been greater, and the ties between our nations are unshakable,” Baskey said. “We remain fully and firmly committed to Israel’s security. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly affirmed that he shares the U.S. view that the best solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to establish two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu responded to the anonymous remarks by saying he was “not willing to make concessions that will endanger our country.”

“Our paramount interests, first and foremost security and the unity of Jerusalem, are not of vital importance to those same anonymous sources who attack us and me, personally,” he said at a memorial ceremony in parliament for a Cabinet minister assassinated by a Palestinian, according to Bloomberg. “I am being attacked personally only because I am defending the state of Israel.”


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