updated 8/6/2009 6:58:40 PM ET 2009-08-06T22:58:40

A senior Israeli diplomat has warned that his government's confrontational attitude toward the Obama administration is seriously harming Israel's standing, according to a TV report broadcast Thursday.

The diplomat wrote an internal memo that was leaked to Israel's Channel 10 TV. It said that Israel's public clashes with Washington over the U.S. demand for a settlement construction freeze was causing "strategic damage to Israel."

Channel 10 identified the diplomat as Nadav Tamir, Israel's consul in Boston. The TV news report showed pictures of the leaked memo, which was written in Hebrew. A TV reporter read from it on the air.

"In the distance created between us and the U.S. administration, there are clear implications for Israel's deterrent capabilities," the diplomat said in the memo.

President Barack Obama has demanded a total halt to building in Israel's settlements in the West Bank. Israel has publicly rebuffed the demand in rare public spats. Channel 10 rebroadcast an icy televised news conference exchange on the subject between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during Clinton's recent visit to Israel.

The U.S. is Israel's most important ally, traditionally providing it with political backing and large amounts of foreign aid.

'We are the source of disputes'
In the strongly worded memo, the diplomat wrote, "There have always been differences between the governments, but coordination was always maintained. Now there is the feeling in Washington that Obama has to deal with obstinacy from the governments of Iran, North Korea and Israel."

He added, "The U.S. administration makes efforts to lower the profile of the disagreements, but ironically, we are the source of the public disputes."

Almost from the day he took office on March 31, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been on a collision course with the Obama administration. Washington's first goal was to wring acceptance of creation of a Palestinian state from the hawkish Israeli leader, who has supported Israeli control over the West Bank and expansion of Jewish settlements there for many years. Netanyahu eventually agreed, while posing tough conditions.

The settlement construction dispute, however, continues full force.

Netanyahu has pledged not to build new settlements in the West Bank but has refused to freeze construction in the existing ones.

Israel's ambassador in Washington, Michael Oren, was called in to the State Department on Sunday to hear a protest against the eviction of two Palestinian families from homes in east Jerusalem. It was the second time in as many weeks that Oren has been summoned for complaints against Israeli policy, reflecting a depth of dispute almost unheard of in six decades of U.S.-Israel relations.

Officials dismiss memo
Channel 10 TV quoted an anonymous official in Netanyahu's office as dismissing the memo as politically motivated.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Associated Press late Thursday, "We don't comment on leaked reports."

The diplomat warned that the public clashes are undermining Israel's support in the United States.

"The standing of American Jews is also being damaged," he wrote, according to the TV report. "The perception of confrontation between the governments of Israel and Obama puts the American Jewish community, which is so important to us, in a problematical position. The confrontation is distancing many from Israel."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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