Trump is still angry at Netanyahu for what he sees as the latter's betrayal

Twelve hours after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, then–Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted out congratulations to Biden and Harris for their victory along with a thank you to Trump for his friendship to Israel and to Bibi himself.  Trump, however, feels that this congratulatory message, which Bibi later cemented with a video after Biden's inauguration, was a major betrayal.

Netanyahu's November 8 tweeted message was short and to the point regarding the election outcome:

Congratulations @JoeBiden and @Kamala Harris. Joe, we've had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel. I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the U.S. and Israel.

However, to Trump, the fact that Netanyahu unhesitatingly accepted the election outcome meant he stabbed Trump in the back.  In an interview with Barak Ravid, an Israeli journalist, Trump did not pull his punches about his anger:

"Nobody did more for Bibi. And I liked Bibi. I still like Bibi," Trump said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname, in the remarks published by the Yediot Aharonot newspaper. "But I also like loyalty[.] ... Bibi could have stayed quiet. He has made a terrible mistake."

[snip]

Trump appeared to be particularly incensed by a video released by Netanyahu on Jan. 20, the day Biden was inaugurated, in which Netanyahu said he and Biden had a "warm personal friendship going back many decades."

"I haven't spoken to him since. F--- him," Trump was quoted as saying.

Trump was certainly right about what he did for Israel.  Within Israel itself, he acknowledged its control over the Golan Heights, and, finally, after decades of presidential promises, Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, cementing America's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's sole and undivided capital.  Just as importantly, by negotiating with individual Arab nations, Trump created the Abraham Accords, which have seen Israel enter into highly functional agreements with several Arab nations.  And of course, Trump withdrew from the dangerous and illegal Iran deal (illegal because Obama had no standing to enter into what was essentially a treaty without congressional approval).


Image: Then-veep Biden meets with then-P.M. Netanyahu in 2016.  YouTube screen grab.

The problem for Netanyahu was that, while he knew that Trump was the best friend Israel had ever had in the White House, he also knew that Democrats are increasingly hostile to Israel and that Biden, despite the occasional lip service, is a vicious anti-Israel hack.  Netanyahu, therefore, desperately needed to be seen as supportive of an incoming Democrat administration.  As it was, media outlets were already complaining that Netanyahu waited twelve hours after Biden's "victory" was announced before congratulating him.

After learning of Trump's anger, Bibi defended himself, saying it was important for him to congratulate the new administration:

"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," Netanyahu said in a statement on Friday[.]

Frankly, both men have a point.  Netanyahu, faced with a hostile incoming administration, filled with anti-Semites that had already made clear that it intended to reinstate the dangerous and illegal Iran deal, had to try to make nice with Biden and Harris.  And Trump, who really did extraordinary things for Israel, when faced with a highly questionable election outcome, understandably felt betrayed when Bibi, instead of holding off on congratulations to give Trump time to challenge the results, seemed to abandon him for the next shiny political toy on the horizon.

It's to be hoped that, if or when Trump returns to the White House and Netanyahu to the prime minister's office (because I don't see Bennett's coalition lasting very long), Trump doesn't allow his irritation with Netanyahu to color his continued, serious, and productive support for Israel.

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