Former US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner describes in his upcoming book the reaction of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and move the US embassy there. It was definitely warm Forward.
Netanyahu’s cool response almost sabotaged the plan, according to Kushner, citing a book posted online by a Saudi official.
Kushner’s book, Breaking History: A White House Memoir, will be published on August 23.
In a phone call before the official announcement, Trump conveyed the move to Netanyahu, but the former prime minister simply replied: “If you choose to do this, I will support you,” the book says. Kushner wrote that a bewildered Trump, who had expected an enthusiastic response, repeated himself and wrote that Netanyahu again “responded less enthusiastically than expected.”
“Trump began to second-guess his decision… [he] The Israeli prime minister wondered aloud why he was taking that risk if he didn’t think it was that important,” Kushner wrote, claiming that Trump later told the former prime minister, “Bibi, I think you’re the problem.”
Netanyahu “replied coolly,” explaining that he was part of the solution. However, Kushner wrote that he could see that Trump was clearly “disappointed.”
Kushner did not say why he thought Netanyahu responded the way he did.
In a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office, “Contrary to allegations, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who asked President Trump to move the embassy several times, expressed his great appreciation for this decision.
“Before making the decision, President Trump told Prime Minister Netanyahu: ‘Some of my people say this move will be dangerous for the United States. What do you think?’ In his response, Netanyahu said that he did not see any real danger and that there was no reason not to move the embassy.
“If Netanyahu answered the president in a different way, it is doubtful that the embassy would be moved.”
Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel since it was founded in 1948, although most of the international community does not recognize it, because according to the original UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem was supposed to be an international city.
Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel when he announced his plans to move the embassy there in December 2017. In May 2018, his administration opened the new facility — a move that was met with intense controversy in both Washington and the Middle East.
After this step, the Palestinians, who claim that East Jerusalem is the capital of the future state, cut ties with Washington and called the Trump administration biased against Israel.
At that time, Trump said that this decision was taken to ensure the interests of the United States and peace in the region, and to respect the sovereignty of Israel.
Kushner’s book also revealed that Trump was upset over a three-hour meal he attended during his visit to Netanyahu in 2017.
“It was nice, but every time you think the meal is over, another course comes out,” Trump told Kushner, complaining that the then-prime minister “talked my ear off.”
Netanyahu and Trump had a good relationship during his time in office, until Trump felt it betrayed Netanyahu congratulating current US President Joe Biden on his victory in the 2020 elections.
Kushner is married to Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka and works as a White House adviser. He was instrumental in the previous administration’s Middle East policy, participating in the diplomatic push that resulted in the Ibrahim Accords, which saw Israel establish diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.