Congressional Republicans lashed out on Monday at Secretary of State John Kerry, over his remarks that Israel could become an "apartheid state".
According to Fox News, the number two House leader said that Kerry should apologize for the comments, while another senator called on the top diplomat to resign.
"Reports that Secretary Kerry has suggested Israel is becoming an apartheid state are extremely disappointing," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is Jewish, said in a statement quoted by the network.
"The use of the word apartheid has routinely been dismissed as both offensive and inaccurate, and Secretary Kerry's use of it makes peace even harder to achieve," added Cantor, who urged Kerry to "apologize to the Israeli government and people."
Hours after Cantor’s call for an apology, Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz called for Kerry’s resignation on the Senate floor.
"Mr. President, it is my belief that Secretary Kerry has thus proven himself unsuitable for his position and that before any further harm is done to our alliance with Israel, he should offer President Obama his resignation.” Cruz said. “And the president should accept it.”
The Daily Beast website first reported about Kerry’s comments on Sunday. The remarks were made during a closed-door meeting, and the website received a recording of them.
The comments came one day after Israel suspended the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, a response it its unity deal with longtime rival Hamas.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also slammed Kerry over the reported remarks, made ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
"These comments are outrageous and disappointing," he said in a statement quoted by Fox News.
"Incendiary name calling does not change the fundamental fact that Israel does not currently have a viable partner for peace. I urge Secretary Kerry and the administration to focus on pressing challenges in the Middle East such as ending the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon instead of pressuring Israel to make additional concessions to partners who have now chosen to align themselves with a terrorist group," he added.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) sharply criticized Kerry’s comments on Monday, connecting them to Holocaust Memorial Day.
"Holocaust Day ceremonies. [We hear] terrible descriptions [of] how the Nazis and their collaborators, drenched in hate and race theory, turned millions of defenseless Jews into dust and ashes - and the world stood by in silence," Katz wrote, in a Facebook post.
"And now the Secretary of State describes Israel as an 'apartheid state,'" Katz lamented. "Us? The Jewish state, [which was] established to protect itself after [it was] intimidated with threats of extermination?"
"Kerry, shame on you!" he concluded. "There are things you just can't say."
Katz was preceded by Dani Dayan, Chief Foreign Envoy of the Council of Judea and Samaria, who also slammed Kerry over the remarks.
Meanwhile, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was baffled on Monday when pressed by a reporter to explain Kerry’s remarks.
All Psaki could come up with to justify the statement was that it was part of Kerry’s support for the “two-state solution” and that “many officials have used similar phrases”.