John Kerry
John Kerry Reuters

Secretary of State John Kerry said on ABC Sunday that Israel prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu is "welcome to speak in the United States," taking a mollifying tone after earlier administration statements attacked Netanyahu for the decision to address Congress.

"Let's move back then to Israel and Iran," said the host. "You're headed over for further negotiations. While you're gone, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be addressing Congress. Susan Rice said it was destructive to U.S.-Israeli relations. Do you agree?"

"Well, look," Kerry said, "the prime minister of Israel is welcome to speak in the United States, obviously, and we have a closer relationship with Israel right now in terms of security than at any time in history. I was reviewing the record the other day: we have intervened on Israel's behalf in the last two years more than a couple of hundred times in over 75 different fora in order to protect Israel. I talked to the prime minister regularly, including yesterday. We don't want to see this turned into some great political football.

“Obviously, it was odd if not unique that we learned of it from the Speaker of the House and that the administration was not included in the process. But the administration is not seeking to politicize this."

Kerry said the US deserves "the benefit of the doubt" to see if a nuclear deal can be reached with Tehran that would prevent any need for military action against Iran.