EXCLUSIVE: Trump called Netanyahu’s congratulations to Biden ‘an ultimate betrayal,’ new book claims
Former President Donald Trump resented that Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Israeli prime minister he had forged a close relationship with, congratulated Joe Biden upon his electoral victory, according to a new book by journalist Michael Wolff.
“It was startling to aides, however much they were anticipating an eruption, that Trump’s wrath fell on Bibi Netanyahu,” Wolff writes in his third book on the Trump presidency, titled “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,” a copy of which was obtained by the Forward.
On November 7, hours after the media called the election for Biden, Netanyahu tweeted his congratulations to Biden, saying he’s looking forward to working with him “to further strengthen the special alliance between the U.S. and Israel.” At the time, Trump refused to accept defeat, later encouraged those who took part in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol and continues to challenge the integrity of the election. A week later Netanyahu also placed a congratulatory call to Biden.
According to Wolff, Trump told his aides that the tweet came before the ink was dry” and was an “ultimate betrayal.”
“As in all Trump reactions, a variety of grievances welled up here,” Wolff writes in the book, due to be published on July 13. “There was his belief that he had singularly done more for Israel than any American president — and that therefore he was owed. And now sold out.”
The Trump-Netanyahu bromance knew ups and downs in past years. In 2019, amid political stalemate, Trump expressed his frustration that he had to postpone the rollout of his Middle East peace plan due to Netanyahu’s failure to form a government. Back in 2016, Trump told this reporter he was “disappointed” that Netanyahu condemned his plan to ban all Muslims entering the United States and canceled a planned trip to Israel. But the two leaders patched things up once Trump came to power. Toward the end of his term, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump hosted Netanyahu at the White House for the signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords.
Despite his call to Biden after the elections, Netanyahu walked on eggshells to avoid a public rift with Trump. Even after Trump left office, Netanyahu avoided appearing too friendly with Biden and publicly, hesitated to speak as fondly of him as he spoke of Trump..
Yet, while Biden is expected to host new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the White House later this month, Netanyahu, the new opposition leader, has yet to receive an invitation to spend a summer weekend at the Trump golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
In the book, Wolff writes that Trump also complained about the lack of Jewish support he received in the 2020 election. Two exit polls showed Trump received the backing of 30% of American Jews, while a J Street-sponsored poll indicated his support was at 21%.
Trump conflated his disappointment with Netanyahu “with his own increasing anger at his failure to much improve his standing among Jewish voters, even with what he regarded as the quid pro quo nature of his support of Israel,” Wolff writes.