US Secretary of State John Kerry hit out Thursday at reported insults by an American official against the Israeli prime minister, saying it was "disgraceful, unacceptable and damaging."
Kerry also pledged that the United States would continue to work "quietly and effectively" in order to relaunch the peace process with the Palestinians in a thoughtful and even-handed way, saying it was "doable."
Turbulent US-Israel ties plunged to new lows this week, when an anonymous senior Obama administration official was quoted in The Atlantic magazine as calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "a chickenshit" only interested in preserving his own political skin.
Kerry told a forum hosted by The Atlantic that the comments did not reflect the views of either President Barack Obama or his cabinet.
A bid by the top US diplomat to reach an elusive peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed earlier this year amid bitter recriminations on both sides.
But Kerry said: "We still believe it is doable, but it takes courage and it takes strength."
"Both sides have to be prepared to compromise in order to do it," he added.