Former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday defended fellow ex-premier Benjamin Netanyahu against an expletive-laden assault upon him by former US president Donald Trump.
A new book by journalist Barak Ravid quotes Trump as raging at Netanyahu over the fact that he’d congratulated Joe Biden on winning the presidency, an election result Trump continues to deny to this day. Trump’s comments have also been broadcast on Israeli TV.
“He was very early. Like earlier than most. I haven’t spoken to him since. Fuck him,” Trump told the Israeli reporter, among other astounding comments.
Netanyahu in response said he “really appreciates” Trump and that he’d had to congratulate Biden for the sake of the vital US-Israel relationship.
Speaking in English via video link at the Annual Leadership Dialogue on Israel-UK-Australia Relations, Olmert called Trump “a person which for him, everything is personal.”
“Everything is judged according to his own personal interests. The fact that Netanyahu congratulated Biden on his election victory shows that he acted as we should expect the Israeli PM to act — to congratulate the duly elected American president,” Olmert said.
Olmert noted Netanyahu was in fact quite late in congratulating Biden, saying it even “became an embarrassment” that it took him so long.
“Trump said that the fact that Netanyahu congratulated Biden is a betrayal of the special relationship between Israel and the US; that is crazy and beyond understanding, he is a pathetic man,” Olmert added of the former American president.
Despite backing Netanyahu in this instance, Olmert stressed there was no love lost between them.
“Everyone knows my opinion of Netanyahu. I am not fond of him, I don’t appreciate him, I don’t trust him, I don’t believe in his integrity,” he said.
Olmert also commented on the talks in Vienna on reviving the international accord limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, arguing it was a mistake by Trump to withdraw the US from the deal. Netanyahu was a proponent of that move.
“The American withdrawal from the nuclear deal was a major strategic error that moves Iran closer to a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Olmert, who led the Kadima party, served as premier prior to Netanyahu, leaving office in 2008 before being formally indicted on corruption charges. He was convicted of fraud in 2014 and served 16 months of a 27-month prison sentence.
He has been a vocal critic of Netanyahu, who is alleged to have abused his own powers when he served as premier and is on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu, who is now opposition leader, denies wrongdoing.