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Trump says he’d consider endorsing Netanyahu despite past ‘disappointment’

Former US president doesn’t say how Likud leader let him down, but appears to refer to latter’s decision to congratulate Biden after ‘stolen’ 2020 election

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

Then-US president Donald Trump (right) with then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to Trump's departure to Rome at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, on May 23, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO via Flash90)
Then-US president Donald Trump (right) with then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to Trump's departure to Rome at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, on May 23, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO via Flash90)

Former US president Donald Trump said Thursday that he would consider endorsing Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming election even though the ex-premier had “disappointed” him.

Trump did not elaborate when asked about a Netanyahu endorsement during an interview with Newsmax, but he appeared to be referring to the Likud leader’s decision to congratulate Joe Biden for winning the 2020 presidential election, which Trump falsely claims was stolen.

“He was very early [to congratulate Biden]. Like earlier than most. I haven’t spoken to him since. Fuck him,” Trump said in an interview last December.

Netanyahu was actually quite late in congratulating Biden in November of last year, conspicuously doing so hours after many other world leaders.

During the December interview, the former president said no one had helped Netanyahu more than he did, and he therefore considered it a betrayal when Netanyahu congratulated Biden on his election victory.

“Nobody did more for Bibi. And I liked Bibi. I still like Bibi,” Trump said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname. “But I also like loyalty.”

Netanyahu subsequently responded in a statement, saying that he appreciated Trump’s contributions to the State of Israel but also “appreciates the importance of the strong alliance between Israel, and it was therefore important for him to congratulate the incoming president.”

Trump said in the December interview that he had saved Netanyahu in Israel’s April 2019 election by recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. That election was the first of four inconclusive national polls in two years of political chaos until Netanyahu was removed from power by the current government.

While Netanyahu publicly built up the perception that he had a very close personal relationship with Trump, the December interview that their ties were rather rocky.

During that interview, Trump also charged that Netanyahu was not serious about making peace with the Palestinians. “Bibi did not want to make peace,” he said. “Never did.”

Nevertheless, Trump was noncommittal in the Thursday Newsmax interview when asked about endorsing Netanyahu. “We’ll see what happens… He disappointed me in certain ways, but he also did a very good job in other ways.”

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