Gates with Netanyahu - AP - March 25, 2011
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Caesarea on March 25, 2011. Photo by AP
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An embarrassing incident between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in July 2010 led to serious, two-month crisis between the Pentagon and the Israeli defense establishment, according to a senior Israeli official.

The official said that Gates was deeply insulted by a number of claims against him Netanyahu aired in a meeting regarding the supposed breaching of bilateral agreements regarding the sale of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

The tense meeting in 2010, a similar incident in March 2011 and other incidents are behind the former U.S. defense secretary's anger and frustration with Netanyahu that found expression in an article yesterday by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg on a Bloomberg news website.

In his article, Goldberg said Gates told President Barack Obama in a closed meeting of senior government officials shortly before his retirement that Benjamin Netanyahu is "not only ungrateful, but also endangering his country by refusing to grapple with Israel's growing isolation and with the demographic challenges it faces if it keeps control of the West Bank."

According to the report, no one at the meeting disagreed with Gates.

Although Goldberg's statements yesterday were indirect and not an interview, Netanyahu's bureau did not hesitate to roundly attack Gates and the American administration in general.