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Netanyahu: Trump said I don’t want peace, in a ‘Houston, we’re the problem!’ moment

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Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reveals in forthcoming book that golfing metaphors and simple visual aids were used to convince then-US President Donald Trump to pursue regional peace between Israel and Arab states , and to counter his first positive impression of the leadership of the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas.

An advanced copy of Netanyahu’s memoir, “Bibi: My Story,” slated for release October 18, was obtained by The Guardian.

The book reveals details of the former prime minister’s relationship with the former president while they were simultaneously in power, from 2017 to 2021.

According to the Guardian, Netanyahu boasts of political successes during Trump’s tenure, such as the US moving his embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

He avoids discussing US politics, Trump’s denial of his election defeat and the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

At some point in 2017, when Trump met with then-President Reuven Rivlin, the US leader “said, ‘Bibi doesn’t want peace,’” Netanyahu recalls in the book.

The cover of Benjamin Netanyahu’s new autobiographical book, due out in November (Courtesy)

He said Ron Dermer, then Israel’s ambassador to the United States, was “flabbergasted”. according to Trump’s assessment. “It wasn’t, ‘Houston, we have a problem.’ It was, ‘Houston, we’re the problem!’ »

Netanyahu was determined to put the Palestinian issue on the back burner during his tenure as prime minister while pursuing peace with neighboring Arab states, and wrote in the book that he was frustrated with Trump’s “fixation with the Palestinians.”

In September 2020, Israel signed the US-brokered Abraham Accords with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, normalizing relations with the two states. Morocco separately forged ties with Israel, while Sudan signed the agreements later but has yet to normalize relations with the Jewish state.

In order to convince Trump that peace with the Palestinians was not possible, Netanyahu said he had rolled out slides for Trump, with maps showing the distance between Tel Aviv and the 1967 lines “that the Palestinians demanded let us retreat”, referring to the lines marking the territory of Israel before the Six Day War.

The cover of Benjamin Netanyahu’s new book is set to be published in November. (Courtesy)

It is widely reported that Trump preferred to receive information in easy-to-digest byte format, and Netanyahu appears to have taken such an approach.

“The distance between Trump Tower and the George Washington Bridge was overlaid on the map. Both distances – just over six miles as the crow flies – were identical,” Netanyahu wrote.

Netanyahu said Dermer described to Trump the prospects of achieving peace with the Palestinians as a ‘hole-in-one through a brick wall’, while ‘peace with the Emirates is a five-foot putt’ and “peace with the Saudis is a 30”. – foot putt.

“The president understood that. For the moment at least, we had certainly moved him to a better place.

Netanyahu recalled how, as prime minister, he and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman showed Trump video clips of Abbas portraying him as deceitful, promoting peace in English while praising terrorists in arabic.

“I could see the video was taped to Trump, at least momentarily. ‘Wow,’ he said. ‘Is that the same guy I just met in Washington? He looked like a so kind and peaceful guy,’” Netanyahu wrote.

US President Donald Trump signs a document restoring sanctions against Iran after announcing the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC, May 8, 2018. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

This episode was first chronicled in American journalist Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump administration, “Rage”. According to Woodward’s book, then-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson believed a video of Abbas that showed him ostensibly calling for the murder of children was likely fake, but Trump remained convinced by the claims. footage and then called Abbas a “liar” and a “murderer” the next time they met.

Netanyahu also recounts his efforts to convince Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal. It describes a Mossad raid on a warehouse in Tehran from which a “huge amount of material” was recovered.

When Netanyahu released a short video for Trump at the White House on March 5, 2018, showing what Israeli agents had found, “the president pointed to other senior officials in the Oval Office and said, ‘Maybe they needed to see this. I did not do it. I have already decided to leave the agreement.

Netanyahu presented the findings to the public in April 2018, and a week later Trump pulled out of the deal.

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