America’s top soldier was in relaxed mood in Israel this week, explaining how his wife had complained that he spoke to Israeli counterparts more than her.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, began his latest visit on Monday, meeting Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

The Israeli minister is not currently flavour of the month in Washington, DC. Only weeks earlier he angered US officials by describing diplomat John Kerry’s efforts to renew peace talks as “messianic”.

The Obama administration has let it be known that it is furious with Ya’alon for his continued refusal to apologise for leaked criticism of US policy in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Ya’alon, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, was also caught suggesting that Israel might have to attack Iran unilaterally if it lost faith in Washington.

But greeting Dempsey this week, the Israeli Defence Minister’s tone was very different, as he reiterated that the US was “truly our best friend”.