Amid Crisis, Netanyahu's Senior Adviser to Hold White House Talks

Thursday meeting in Washington 'a testament to the unprecedented level of security cooperation' between the countries, White House says.

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U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice.Credit: AP

Amid the ongoing crisis between Jerusalem and Washington, a senior Israeli delegation will hold diplomatic and security-related talks at the White House on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at a daily briefing Wednesday.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice will host the Israeli delegation, headed by Yossi Cohen, the national security adviser at the Prime Minister's Office. "These consultations are a testament to the unprecedented level of security cooperation between the U.S. and Israel," Earnest said.

The White House press secretary repeated the message offered by various spokespeople throughout the day, distancing the administration from disparaging remarks about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu anonymously made to Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview published on Tuesday.

"These comments do not reflect the Obama administration's view and is counterproductive," he said.

Earnest added nevertheless that there is no intention of concealing the differences between the U.S. and Israel. "We don’t paper over our differences," he said. "Settlement activity is illegitimate and only complicates efforts to reach a two-state solution."

'An effective partnership'

Earlier on Wednesday, Alistair Baskey, Deputy Spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council told Haaretz that the official's quotes against Netanyahu did not represent the Obama administration's views.

"We think such comments are inappropriate and counter-productive," said Baskey. "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."

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said during Wednesday's daily briefing that the statements about Netanyahu in The Atlantic came from anonymous sources, and that "President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry don't see them as accurate or appropriate."

Netanyahu himself said that he was under attack by "anonymous" critics simply because he was defending Israel and its national security interests, but stressed that he "cherished" Israel's alliance with the United States despite the arguments.

The unnamed official in the article was quoted as saying, “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit." According to Goldberg, the Obama administration official said that Netanyahu frustrates the White House and the U.S. State Department the most.

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said. “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 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.”