Trump accuses Netanyahu of deceiving him over peace intentions

In interviews to Israeli political journalist Barak Ravid, Donald Trump reveals the real relationship he had with Benjamin Netanyahu.

 US President Donald Trump winks at Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they discuss a Middle East peace plan proposal during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, January 28, 2020.  (photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID)
US President Donald Trump winks at Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they discuss a Middle East peace plan proposal during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, January 28, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID)

In a series of explosive comments, former US president Donald Trump accused former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of deceiving him and his administration about his sincerity to make a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Trump also made coarse comments about Netanyahu and what the former president perceived to be his lack of loyalty and gratitude for his favorable policies toward Israel and the former prime minister.

Broadcast by Channel 12 News on Saturday night, the remarks seemingly undercut the perception that Trump and Netanyahu always enjoyed a close personal and political relationship. The former president’s outburst comes against the background of his still-smoldering resentment over his 2020 US presidential election defeat, and his renowned antipathy toward those he believes were not sufficiently loyal to him.

The cause of Trump’s ire was Netanyahu’s video message congratulating US President Joe Biden on the declaration of his election win.

In response to Trump’s comments, Netanyahu insisted in a statement that he had great appreciation for Trump.

 US President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive to deliver joint remarks on a Middle East peace plan proposal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, January 28, 2020.  (credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS) US President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive to deliver joint remarks on a Middle East peace plan proposal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, January 28, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)

In two interviews with Israeli journalist Barak Ravid earlier this year, Trump repeatedly expressed his suspicion that Netanyahu was not interested in coming to a peace agreement with the Palestinians, something that the Trump administration put much effort into in its peace plan made public in January 2020.

“Bibi did not want to make a deal,” said Trump. “Even most recently when we came up with the maps and everything he said, ‘this is good, this is good,’ everything was always great but he did not want to make a deal. I thought the Pals were impossible and the Israelis would do everything to make peace and a deal. I found that not to be true…

“I don’t think Bibi ever wanted to make peace, I think he tapped us along, just tapped, tapped, tapped... Bibi did not want to make peace, never did,” said the former US president.

The former president repeatedly spoke of what he described as his sense of betrayal by Netanyahu over the congratulatory message to Biden after Trump’s generous policies to Israel, which he claimed also benefited Netanyahu politically.

“Nobody did more for Bibi and Israel than I did,” said Trump. “Also money. We gave a lot of money, I gave troops, everything we did,” although it is unclear what was his reference to providing Israel with troops.

“Golan Heights was a big deal,” said Trump. “People say that was a $10 billion gift. He would have lost the election if it wasn’t for me. He was tied and then he went up a lot after I did Golan Heights.”

Answering a question about the video message to Biden, Trump said “I haven’t spoken with him since [he congratulated Joe Biden]. F*** him.”

And Trump was harsh in his criticism over what he perceived as Netanyahu’s lack of loyalty in the face of what Trump said was his great assistance to Netanyahu and Israel.

“I liked Bibi. I still like Bibi. But I also like loyalty. The first person to congratulate Biden was Bibi. And not only did he congratulate him, he did it on tape,” said Trump.

In reality, numerous world leaders congratulated Biden before Netanyahu, who took 12 hours to send his message, although leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took far longer.

Trump also claimed that he had saved Israel from destruction by Iran by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement signed by the Obama administration in 2015.

“For Bibi Netanyahu, before the ink was even dry, to do a message, and not only a message, to do a tape to Joe Biden talking about their great, great friendship — they didn’t have a friendship, because if they did, [the Obama administration] wouldn’t have done the Iran deal,” said Trump. “And guess what? Now they’re going to do it again. And if they do it again, Israel is in very grave danger…

“I’ll tell you what – had I not come along I think Israel was going to be destroyed. Okay. You want to know the truth? I think Israel would have been destroyed maybe by now.”

Trump also told Ravid he felt he advanced certain policies from his position in the White House that didn’t receive the proper recognition and thanks from Netanyahu.

One of the examples he gave was the US public and controversial recognition of the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory in 2019. A year later, the Israeli government approved a town in the region in his name, “Ramat Trump.”

“That [move] was a big deal,” said Trump. “People were saying at the time that it was a gift worth a million bucks... I did it before the [Israeli] election, and that helped him [Netanyahu] a lot. Maybe he would have lost the election without me – the Golan Heights affair raised him 10%-15% in the polls,” said Trump.