The White House has denied that President Joe Biden called Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “bad f***ing guy”.
Politico columnist Jonathan Martin reported that Mr Biden had used the four-letter epithet about Mr Netanyahu, citing sources who had talked to him.
Mr Martin said that the president was “deeply suspicious” of his Israeli opposite number and fearful that he wanted to drag the US into a broader war in the Middle East.
However, Mr Biden's spokesperson Andrew Bates said that the US president “did not say that, nor would he”, and claimed that the pair’s relationship is “respectful in public and in private”.
Mr Biden is under serious fire from other Democrats for his supportive relationship with Israel and its right-wing prime minister, often referred to familiarly as “Bibi”.
The country's brutal conduct in its war against Hamas, which has so far killed tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, has driven a wedge between Israel and the US as well as between Mr Biden and his domestic political base.
According to Politico, Mr Biden's vice president Kamala Harris has been advocating in private for him to express more sympathy for innocent Gazans, while deliberately avoiding college towns while campaigning for fear of pro-Palestinian protesters.
Meanwhile, the destruction in Gaza has triggered wider chaos across the Middle East, dragging Israel's allies into a series of brushfire conflicts with Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.