JERUSALEM, Israel -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has a tiger in his corner. National Security Advisor Susan Rice took to the airwaves to defend Kerry against his critics, saying "personal attacks" against him are "totally unfounded and unacceptable."
It took four consecutive tweets to express the administration's full support of Kerry's efforts to carve out an historic agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"John Kerry's record of support for Israel's security and prosperity are rock solid," Rice tweeted, saying both the president and Kerry "remain committed to negotiations that can secure Israeli and Palestinian futures."
The "U.S. Govt has been clear and consistent that we reject efforts to boycott or delegitimize Israel," she tweeted.
Meanwhile, one Obama administration official told the Jewish Telegraph Agency Rice's remarks were meant for "a series of senior Israeli officials," not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"The tweets were not directed at the prime minister, but were in response to ad hominem, on-the-record attacks by a series of senior Israeli officials against Secretary Kerry," he said by email. "Legitimate disagreement and debate is [sic] one thing, but these statements by senior officials crossed a line. Furthermore, they didn't even reflect the reality of what Secretary Kerry had said, but instead distorted it."
Several Israeli officials criticized Kerry's remarks during a speech in Munich last weekend warning against increasing efforts to delegitimize and isolate the Jewish state through "boycotts and other kinds of things" should talks fail to bring about an agreement.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel expects "our friends around the world to stand beside us against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel and not for them to be their amplifier."
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Kerry's remarks were "offensive, unfair and insufferable," saying no one could expect Israel "to conduct negotiations with a gun pointed to its head."
At the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said talk of a boycott distances the prospects for peace with the Palestinian Authority.
"Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust," Netanyahu told cabinet ministers. "Moreover, they will not achieve their goal."
"First, they cause the Palestinians to adhere to their intransigent positions and thus push peace further away," he explained. "Second, no pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the State of Israel, especially the security of Israel's citizens. For both of these reasons, threats to boycott the State of Israel will not achieve their goal."