The ongoing feud between Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and the American administration continued escalating on Wednesday when a US official told Israeli media that Ya'alon was "determined to undermine US-Israel relations."
In response, sources close to the defense minister charged that some in the Obama administration were "trying to hurt (Ya'alon's) legitimacy and his great popularity."
The sources said Ya'alon was not someone who was willing to compromise on issues of security in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In wake of the public spat, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Ya'alon, and said Ya'alon is expected to smooth things over with the Americans.
"The Americans are calling him a 'hard nut to crack' and an 'extremist,' but in actuality he is standing firm facing what he identifies as a danger to the state and the security of its citizens," one of the sources said.
"In actuality, Ya'alon always stresses the tight relationship with the United States and its importance, but he raises all kinds of strategic issues that (the Americans) say cause damage to the United States. He has been saying these things for a long time, and it never bothered anyone. But now they are seeking out chances to clash horns with him," the source added.
Ya'alon has been vocally critical against the United States in recent months, saying US Secretary of State John Kerry was "acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor" during the latest round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and adding that Kerry should just "win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace."
The US official quoted in Israeli media said the Obama administration was "shocked by Moshe Ya'alon's comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States."
"Moreover, this is part of a disturbing pattern in which the defense minister disparages the US administration, and insults its most senior officials," the source added.
Sources close to Ya'alon explained that he had been expressing his concern of American weakness in the world and particularly in the Middle East. They pointed to American policy about Iran and Syria, saying "the United States' confused policy weakens it in its activities in the region."
"Both American and Israeli officials are trying to hurt (Ya'alon). It is a fact his relations with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel are great, and relations between the two (security) institutions are great," the source added.