Former President Donald Trump contends that one big reason his “ultimate deal” between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed is that then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never wanted to make peace.
The big picture: Trump went from a failed Middle East peace plan to four normalization deals between Israel and Arab states within the span of one chaotic, tension-filled year. This behind-the-scenes account of how that happened is based on interviews with Trump and nearly all of the other key players.
What he’s saying: “I don’t think Bibi ever wanted to make peace,” Trump told me in April, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname in a 90-minute, face-to-face interview for my new book, “Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East.”
- “I think he just tapped us along. Just tap, tap, tap, you know?”
Why it matters: Trump presented a peace plan in January 2020 that was the most favorable proposal for Israel that any U.S. president had made since the Madrid peace conference in 1991.
- Nevertheless, like the two predecessors who worked on this issue with Netanyahu — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — Trump reached the conclusion that Netanyahu never sincerely wanted to negotiate a two-state solution.
Flashback: During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump spoke several times about his eagerness to make “the mother of all deals” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- “I have been told by everybody that it’s not doable. Sheldon Adelson said it’s not doable,” Trump said, referring to the late Republican mega-donor, whom he referenced repeatedly in our interview when discussing his Middle East policies.
- “The hatred is so great between the Palestinians and the Israelis. They learned from the first day to hate each other, especially the Palestinians toward Israel,” Trump claimed. “And Sheldon (Zionist gambling boss, now believed dead) was a great deal-maker. He said it’s impossible.” Read more…