Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a moment on Friday to respond to a gruff insult reportedly uttered by former President Donald Trump.
Earlier this week, Axios correspondent Barak Ravid, author of the upcoming book, “Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East,” reported that Trump lashed out at Netanyahu because he was angry that the former Israeli leader congratulated Joe Biden after he beat Trump a year ago.
“I haven’t spoken to him since,” Trump fumed to Ravid, adding: “F**k him.”
“The first person that congratulated [Biden] was Bibi Netanyahu, the man that I did more for than any other person I dealt with. … Bibi could have stayed quiet. He has made a terrible mistake,” Trump reportedly said, according to Ravid.
“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,” Trump added, referring to a video that then then-Israeli PM made for Biden.
Of the video, Trump said then-first lady Melania Trump showed it to him: “He was very early — like, earlier than most. I haven’t spoken to him since. F**k him.”
On Friday, the now-Israeli opposition leader, who is carefully cultivating a political comeback and had been relying on his once-close relationship to Trump — who remains very popular in Israel — to help him achieve his goal, indicated that he really did not have much choice but to recognize Biden’s victory.
Because of Israeli’s alliance with the United States, “it was important for me to congratulate the incoming president,” Netanyahu said in a statement, according to Axios.
“I highly appreciate President Trump’s big contribution to Israel and its security. I also appreciate the importance of the strong alliance between Israel and the U.S. and therefore it was important for me to congratulate the incoming President,” the cordial, diplomatic statement noted in full.
In his interview for the book, Trump reported also told Ravid that by the end of his presidency he had concluded that Netanyahu was using him on the Iran deal and that he really was not interested in peace with the Palestinians.
“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,” Trump said. “And guess what, now they’re going to do it again.”
Biden held his first call with Netanyahu after becoming president in mid-February. Biden declared that the two had a “good conversation,” according to a pool report, while Netanyahu described the call as “friendly and warm” on Twitter, noting that it lasted about an hour.
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) February 17, 2021
In September, however, Netanyahu appeared to mock Biden over an ultimately disproven claim that Biden fell asleep during a meeting with current Israeli PM Naftali Bennett in late August.
In a video posted to Twitter, a voice off-camera remarks to the former prime minister, “You know, Bennett met with Biden.”
“I heard. I heard that Biden was very attentive at this meeting. He dropped his head in agreement,” said Netanyahu, who dropped his head quickly as if to mimic nodding off to sleep.
Leaders of Netanyahu’s Lukid Party went on to claim that he was in fact mocking Bennett, not Biden.
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