Susan Rice: There’s No Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations

National Security Advisor Susan Rice speaks to Jerry Seib at the Washington Ideas Festival, on October 29, 2014.

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National Security Advisor Susan Rice speaks to Jerry Seib at the Washington Ideas Festival, on October 29, 2014.

The national security advisor responds to reports that the U.S. relationship with Israel is at an all-time low. By Kathy Gilsinan

Yesterday, The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg published an article detailing what he called a crisis in U.S.-Israel relations, describing among other things the “gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors.” The relationship, he wrote, “is now the worst it’s ever been.”

So, The Wall Street Journal‘s Jerry Seib asked National Security Advisor Susan Rice at Wednesday’s Washington Ideas Forum, is it?

The relationship is not in crisis,” Rice said. “The relationship is actually fundamentally stronger in many respects than it’s ever been.”

Rice was echoing sentiments that have come out of the White House since the article—in which a senior administration official was quoted as calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickenshit”— came out on Tuesday. At a press briefing Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said of that remark: “Comments like that do not reflect the administration’s view, and we do believe they are counterproductive.”

(Related: Israel’s Worst-Kept Secret)

Rice went further, declaring the U.S.-Israel relationship to be enjoying an “unprecedented” level of coordination and information-sharing on the issues of mutual interest including Iran’s nuclear program and the rise of ISIS. “That’s something that has evolved uniquely in this administration,” she said. “There are issues we disagree on, the most prominent one—that you have seen manifested itself unfortunately in the press—has been on the issue of settlements, where for decades the United States has had a different view of settlements and their legitimacy than the Israeli government has.” The U.S., she said, has long viewed settlement activity as illegitimate and detrimental to the peace process. “Obviously this Israeli government has taken a different view, and when such announcements”—of plans for new settlements—”are made that are significant in their consequence, we’re compelled to comment on them.”

There are likely more comments to come.

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