Former president was furious over ex-Israeli PM’s acknowledgment Biden won election, book says
Donald Trump spat an expletive about his old ally, Israel’s ex-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for congratulating Joe Biden on his victory in last year’s election, according to a new book.
Trump lashed out in an interview for a book on US-Israel relations during his presidency, the author Barak Ravid wrote on the Axios website on Friday. Trump’s remarks were also published by the English-language website of Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
“Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu were the closest of political allies during the four years they overlapped in office, at least in public. Not any more,” Ravid wrote.
“I haven’t spoken to him since,” Trump told Ravid in an interview. “Fuck him.”
Ravid said that he interviewed Trump in April and July for his forthcoming book, Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East.
He said Trump, who appeared close to Netanyahu while president from 2017 to 2021, was repeatedly critical of him in the interviews.
“The final straw for Trump was when Netanyahu congratulated President-elect Biden for his election victory while Trump was still disputing the result,” Ravid wrote.
Netanyahu had congratulated Biden more than 12 hours after the election was called. He did not refer to Biden as president-elect in the tweet and followed it up with a post praising Trump.
Trump appeared to be particularly incensed by a video released by Netanyahu on 20 January, the day Biden was inaugurated, in which Netanyahu said he and Biden had a “warm personal friendship going back many decades”.
Trump has never conceded the election, falsely claiming that Biden won by voter fraud.
Other foreign leaders congratulated Biden earlier than the Israeli leader, but for Trump, Netanyahu stood out.
“The first person that congratulated [Biden] was Bibi Netanyahu, the man that I did more for than any other person I dealt with,” Trump said, according to Ravid.
“Bibi could have stayed quiet. He has made a terrible mistake,” Trump said, using Netanyahu’s nickname.
The Trump administration took unprecedented steps to support Israel’s government, including dropping objections to its settlements in the occupied West Bank and recognizing Jerusalem as the country’s capital. After proposing a Mideast plan that was adamantly rejected by the Palestinians, the administration brokered normalization agreements between Israel and four Arab states.
“Nobody did more for Bibi. I liked Bibi. I still like Bibi. But I also like loyalty,” he said.
Ravid writes that Trump was unhappy that Netanyahu did not help him remain in office.
Netanyahu responded to the Axios story in a statement on Friday.
“I highly appreciate President Trump’s big contribution to Israel and its security,” he said.
“I also appreciate the importance of the strong alliance between Israel and the US and therefore, it was important for me to congratulate the incoming president.”
Netanyahu was replaced as prime minister last summer after he was unable to form a governing majority in the wake of four hard-fought elections in less than two years.
Both former leaders could return to power.
Trump is keeping the option of running for president in 2024 open. Netanyahu is currently leader of the opposition in Israel’s Knesset.
AFP and the Associated Press contributed to this report