Dec 15, 2021 - World

Fallout from "f**k him": Netanyahu hasn't reached out to Trump over remark

Netanyahu (L) and Trump in 2020. Sarah Silbiger/Getty

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hasn’t tried reaching out to Donald Trump in the aftermath of the interview in which Trump said of Netanyahu, "f**k him," Netanyahu’s aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Trump's remarks, which came during my face-to-face interview with him in April and were published by Axios on Friday, quickly turned into a political and media firestorm in Israel that is only just subsiding. Many in Israel saw them as damaging to Netanyahu because it broke the myth that he and Trump were close allies.

  • Now opposition leader, Netanyahu is waging a continuous campaign to win back the prime minister's office despite being on trial for corruption. His "bromance" with Trump had been one of his political calling cards.
  • But Trump fumed during the interview about a video Netanyahu had posted congratulating Joe Biden on his election victory. "I haven’t spoken to him since," Trump said. "F**k him."

Driving the news: Netanyahu has kept silent on the issue other than a short statement last Friday in which he thanked Trump for his support to Israel but defended his decision to congratulate the incoming president.

  • One of Netanyahu's aides told me he “doesn’t want to touch this affair at the moment."
  • The aide said Netanyahu was sorry to hear Trump's remarks but still respects the former president and doesn't feel that there is bad blood on his side.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu's supporters and political allies have taken to social media and TV studios to defend Netanyahu, saying he had no choice but to congratulate Biden and had put the interests of the country over his own political interests.

  • Netanyahu's supporters have also latched on to Trump's remark that Netanyahu "never wanted peace" with the Palestinians to stress that Netanyahu is the true leader of the Israeli right who was willing to stand up even to Trump in opposing the two-state solution.

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