Shortly after assuming office, President Trump began expressing doubts about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, questioning whether it was Netanyahu who stood in the way of a Middle Eastern peace deal and not Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
“Trump had always supported Israel but had recently began expressing doubts about Netanyahu and wondering aloud if the Israeli prime minister might be the real problem,” according to a new book by Bob Woodward. “Trump had even earlier said to Netanyahu on a Washington visit that he believed he was the obstacle to peace, not Abbas.”
A copy of the book, titled Rage, was obtained by the Washington Examiner. The book is slated for release Tuesday.
Woodward recounts a subsequent meeting between Trump and Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, recalled by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Trump was shown a video compiled of clips of Abbas made to sound as though he “was ordering the murder of children.”
Tillerson, according to the book, believed that “Netanyahu had manufactured the tape to counter any pro-Palestinian sentiments that were surfacing.”
Earlier that month, Trump had vowed during a visit by Abbas at the White House to broker an agreement between Israel and Palestine, attesting, “We will get this done.”
The tape worked: Meeting privately with Abbas in Bethlehem the next day, Trump “unloaded in a tirade,” Woodward writes, calling Abbas a “Murderer!” and “Liar!” and suggesting he had viewed Abbas as a “grandfatherly” figure that could be trusted.
“Now, I realize you’re nothing but a murderer,” Trump is reported to have said. “You tricked me!”
Trump continued: “Now, we’re going to go outside, because they’ve got all the press out there. I’m going to say some nice things about you, and you’re going to say some nice things about me. But now you know how I feel.”
Jared Kushner denies this telling, according to the book, instead presenting Trump’s reaction to the Abbas video as “much calmer.”
Woodward conducted 18 interviews with Trump for the book, as well as interviewing multiple current and former senior White House officials.
Trump last month charged the book is “a FAKE, as always, just as many of the others have been.”
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