Jerusalem: As the crisis between close allies Israel and the US deepened, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin today tried to calm tempers, saying ties with Washington were paramount for the Jewish nation's foreign policy.
"Israel's foreign policy is based on three principles the first is relations with the US; the second relations with the US; and the third, and no less important relations with the US," Rivlin told Army Radio from Warsaw.
The Israeli President's comments came on a day when unidentified US officials were quoted in the Atlantic, using some of the harshest words against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling him a "coward", who was bluffing on Iran and would not carry out an attack on its nuclear facilities.
The damning report published in the Atlantic says senior US officials continue to express "red-hot anger" at the Israeli Prime Minister and his administration.
Relations between the two close allies are at a historical low after Netanyahu decided to advance the construction of over a thousand new housing units in East Jerusalem, a move that prompted unprecedented condemnation from Washington.
Netanyahu brushed aside the criticisms saying they were "detached from the reality" and were pushing peace further away, vowing to "continue to build in our eternal Capital".
Rivlin, a rightist from Netayahu's Likud party who recently got elected as Israel's President, however said that "construction is not a provocation," adding that such constructions should not be announced as retribution for terror attacks or riots.
Tensions have been running high in Jerusalem after a three-month-old baby and a student got killed in a terror attack on the city's Light Rail, following which two Palestinian teens, one with US citizenship, were killed in clashes with Israeli defence forces.
"If it was done as a provocation or as an attempt to exact a price in response to terror then it is wrong," Rivlin told the radio.
Meanwhile, Israel's Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, in defiance of Netanyahu's decision today said that he won't allocate funds for settlement activities in Jerusalem highlighting the importance of strategic ties with the US.
"I won't facilitate money being transferred to isolated settlements, especially at this time when it causes real harm to Israel", Lapid's media adviser, Yair Zivan, quoted him as saying.
"I support building in Jerusalem ... But as with everything there is a matter of timing", Lapid said expressing concerns over worsening ties with Washington.