FORMER US president Donald Trump has launched another verbal attack on his one-time close ally Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the ex-Israeli prime minister did not want to make peace with the Palestinians.
He made the remarks in a series of interviews with Israeli journalist Barak Ravid earlier this year for his upcoming book, some excerpts of which were released on Saturday.
In the taped comments broadcast by Israel’s Channel 12, Trump claimed that when he came into office, he had asked Netanyahu to make overtures to the Palestinians, raising the possibility of a settlement construction freeze in the occupied West Bank, but the Israeli premier kept avoiding the issue.
‘Bibi did not want to make a deal,’ he said, using Netanyahu’s nickname. ‘I don’t think Bibi ever wanted to make peace. I think he just tapped us along … “No, no, we want to, we want to”… But I think Bibi did not want to make peace. Never did.’
‘Now I don’t know if he didn’t want to make it for political reasons, or for other reasons. I wish he would have said he didn’t want to make a deal, instead of … Because a lot of people devoted a lot of work.
‘But I don’t think Bibi would have ever made a deal. That’s my opinion.’
Trump also said he believed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ‘wanted to make a deal more than Netanyahu. And I will be honest, I had a great meeting with him, Abbas, right. I had a great meeting with him. And we spent a lot of time together, talking about many things.
‘And it was almost like a father. I mean, he was so nice, couldn’t have been nicer.’
Trump recalled he then told Netanyahu that ‘I had a very good meeting with Abbas. We can definitely do a deal. The Israeli leader’s response? “Well, let’s think about it. Let’s not move too fast, you know.”
‘After he started talking, I said, wait a minute, you don’t want to make a deal.
‘And he said, “Well, uh, uh, uh.” And the fact is I don’t think Bibi ever wanted to make a deal. I (had) thought the Palestinians were impossible, and the Israelis would do anything to make peace and a deal. I found that not to be true.’
Trump further claimed that he had himself stopped the Israeli plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
‘I got angry and I stopped it, because that was really going too far. That was going way too far, you know, when Netanyahu did the big “Let’s build. Let’s take everything and just start building on it”. We were not happy about that.’
In other interviews about his forthcoming book, released on Friday by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Trump spat out an expletive about Netanyahu being too quick to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory in last year’s election.
‘He was very early. Like earlier than most. I haven’t spoken to him since,’ the former US president said.
‘Nobody did more for Bibi. And I liked Bibi. I still like Bibi,’ Trump added. He was ‘the man that I did more for than any other person I dealt with.
‘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. And it was on tape.’
In response, Netanyahu’s office said on Friday he ‘really appreciates’ Trump’s backing for Tel Aviv, but ‘he also really appreciates the importance of the strong alliance between Israel and the US, and it was therefore important for him to congratulate the incoming president.’
In a break with the past US policy, Trump recognised occupied Jerusalem (al-Quds) as the ‘capital’ of Israel and ordered the transfer of the US embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv.
During his time in office, the former US president also recognised Israel’s false claim of sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights which marked an unprecedented escalation of Israel’s settlement expansion and other aggressive plans.
- Newly uncovered documents have revealed the details of the massacres of Palestinians during the Nakba, or ‘Catastrophe’ when the ethnic cleansing of more than 700,000 Palestinians took place along with the destruction of more than 500 villages as Israel was created in 1948.
According to letters of soldiers, unpublished contemporary memoirs, minutes of political party meetings and other historical records, Israeli newspaper Haaretz and the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research have shed light on three massacres committed by Israeli forces in the villages of Reineh, Meron and al-Burj.
The documents show that prominent Israeli leaders ‘knew in real time about the blood-drenched events that accompanied the conquest of Arab villages.’
The Israeli historical records reveal that a massacre of 14 Palestinians took place in September 1948 in the Galilean village of Reineh, near Nazareth.
According to Haaretz, one of the 14 Palestinians killed was a member of the so-called Land of Israel Workers Alliance, identified as Yusuf al-Turki.
Al-Turki was arrested near Reineh, along with a Bedouin woman and several others, charged with being a smuggler and then killed.
Another document reveals the gruesome death of a Palestinian worker named Hajj Ibrahim, ‘a sick elderly woman and another elderly man and woman’ in the Palestinian village of al-Burj in July 1948. The illegal Modiin settlement now stands in its place.
Israeli soldiers asked Hajj Ibrahim to go and collect vegetables, apparently so he would not witness what was about to happen, and ‘the three other (Palestinians) were taken to an isolated house.
‘Afterwards an anti-tank shell was fired (at them). When the shell missed the target, six hand grenades were thrown into the house. They killed an elderly man and a woman, and the other elderly woman was put to death with a firearm,’ the document details.
‘Afterwards they torched the house and burned the three bodies. When Hajj Ibrahim returned with his guard, he was told that the three others had been sent to the hospital in Ramallah.
Apparently, he didn’t believe the story, and a few hours later he too was put to death, with four bullets.’
Moreover, a document written by Shmuel Mikunis, a communist member of the then Provisional State Council – which later became the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) – exposes further atrocities against the Palestinians.
In the document, the Provisional State Council asks then Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion to make a clarification about acts committed by the Zionist Irgun militias.
These included the killing of 35 Palestinians in Mount Meron after they raised a white flag; the arrest of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, who were made to dig a pit, pushed into it, then shot to death; the rape of a girl by Irgun members; and the killing of 13 or 14 Palestinian children who were playing with grenades.
Israel occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem (al-Quds) in a move not recognised by the international community.
Palestinians claim the West Bank as part of their future independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
But Israel’s aggressive settlement expansion and annexation plans have dealt a serious blow to any prospects of peace.
The Gaza Strip has also been under an inhumane Israeli land, air and sea siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008.
Meanwhile, international support for the Palestinians is growing.
A branch of the American Federation of Teachers in San Diego, California, has passed a resolution in support of Palestine and condemning Israel.
And lawmakers from the British Labour Party have also passed a resolution condemning Israel for perpetrating an ‘ongoing Nakba’ in the occupied Palestinian lands.