Former President Donald Trump was full of praise for terrorist-supporting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a recent interview — while claiming that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not want to reach a peace deal.
Axios’ Barak Ravid, who conducted the interview with Trump for a new book about Trump’s peace efforts, reported Monday:
“I don’t think Bibi ever wanted to make peace,” Trump told me in April, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname in a 90-minute, face-to-face interview for my new book, “Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East.”
Trump said that at an early stage of his presidency, he realized that Netanyahu would be a bigger obstacle to peace than Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“I thought he was terrific,” Trump told me of Abbas, reflecting on their “great” first meeting. “He was almost like a father. Couldn’t have been nicer. I thought he wanted to make a deal more than Netanyahu.”
Trump admitted to Ravid that Abbas and the Palestinians had proved to be “hardened” against the deal. Nevertheless, he said that other Israeli leaders, such as Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz, seemed to be more acceptable to the Palestinians as partners.
The Palestinian Authority government currently provides stipends to convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, and the families of Palestinian terrorists killed by Israel. It also names public buildings and parks after famous Palestinian terrorists.
The issue came up during Trump’s presidency, when he signed the Taylor Force Act, which prevents U.S. funds from being sent to the Palestinian Authority as long as it supports terror (and which the Biden administration is trying to circumvent).
Netanyahu has, in fact, negotiated agreements with the Palestinians in the past, and embraced Trump’s framework for peace in early 2020. He has, however, resisted further removals of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, or security concessions.
Notably, Netanyahu refrained from annexing the West Bank to Israel under the Abraham Accords, despite domestic pressure from right-wing parties for him to do so, out of deference to the Trump Administration’s efforts to negotiate in the region.
Last week, Ravid revealed that Trump had bitter feelings toward Netanyahu over the latter’s willingness to recognize Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election: “Fuck him,” Trump said, adding he had not spoken to Netanyahu since.
Netanyahu responded by noting that as Israel’s leader, he had no choice but to recognize the incoming U.S. government. He also thanked Trump, again, for the numerous achievements made during his presidency, including the Abraham Accords.
Some players in the diplomatic process, notably former U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, have disputed some of Ravid’s claims, saying he was never consulted for the book and that reports by Ravid should therefore be taken with “a grain of salt.”
Trump’s hostility to Netanyahu is raising questions in pro-Israel circles about his ability to manage ties with Israel if he wins in 2024, especially if Netanyahu regains office. Many potential Republican candidates for the presidency also have strong records on Israel, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and others.
Trump told Ravid that he still supports Israel, though in spite of Netanyahu, not because of his relationship with him.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.