Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to former US President Donald Trump, reveals in a forthcoming book that then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted when Trump decided in 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there accordingly downright lukewarm The forward.
Citing excerpts from the book posted online by a Saudi official, the outlet reported that according to Kushner, Netanyahu’s cool reaction nearly sabotaged the plan.
Kushner’s book, Breaking History: A White House Memoir, is slated for release on August 23.
The book reportedly said that Trump briefed Netanyahu on the move in a phone call ahead of the official announcement, but the former prime minister simply replied, “If you choose to do so, I will support you.” Kushner wrote that a confused Trump, expecting an ebullient response, repeated, to which Netanyahu again “reacted with less than expected enthusiasm.”
“Trump began to question his decision… [he] wondered out loud why he was taking that risk if the Israeli PM didn’t think it was that important,” Kushner wrote, claiming Trump then told the former PM, “Bibi, I think you’re the problem.”
Netanyahu countered “coldly” by declaring he was part of the solution. However, Kushner wrote that he could see that Trump was visibly “frustrated.”
Kushner apparently did not say why he thought Netanyahu reacted the way he did.
A statement from Netanyahu’s office said: “Contrary to claims, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has repeatedly asked President Trump to move the embassy, has expressed great appreciation for this decision.
“President Trump said to Prime Minister Netanyahu before making the decision: ‘Some of my people are saying that this move will be dangerous for the US. What do you think?’ Netanyahu replied that he saw no real danger and that there was no reason not to move the embassy.
“It is doubtful that the embassy would have been moved if Netanyahu had answered the President differently.”
Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since its founding in 1948, although much of the international community does not recognize this, as the United Nations’ original partition plan intended Jerusalem to be an international city.
Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 when he announced plans to move the embassy there. In May 2018, his administration opened the new facility — a move that drew much controversy in both Washington and the Middle East.
After the move, the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, severed ties with Washington and called the Trump administration biased towards Israel.
At the time, Trump said the decision was made to further US interests and peace in the region, and out of respect for Israel’s sovereignty.
Kushner’s book also revealed that Trump was upset over an extended three-hour meal with Netanyahu during his 2017 visit.
“It was beautiful, but every time I thought the meal was going to end, another course would come out,” Trump apparently told Kushner, complaining that the then-Prime Minister was “talking my ear off.”
Netanyahu and Trump maintained a good relationship throughout his tenure until Trump felt reveal of Netanyahu as he congratulated current US President Joe Biden on his 2020 election victory.
Kushner is married to Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka and has served as a White House adviser. He played a significant role in the previous government’s Middle East policy and was involved in a diplomatic push that led to the Abraham Accords – a peace deal that saw Israel establish diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.