Trump hasn’t called Netanyahu, ‘our relations are with Israel’

“His comments Wednesday underscored Trump’s penchant for separating himself from political allies once they become weakened,” writes The Washington Post.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News 

Is U.S. President Donald Trump distancing himself from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the heels of the Knesset election results which have made Netanyahu’s future uncertain?

Or is he demonstrating expected behavior by staying out of the internal politics of an ally, and expressing the encouraging fact that the U.S.-Israel alliance is stronger than any one individual?

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Trump said that he had not spoken with Netanyahu since Tuesday’s election and that “our relations are with Israel, so we’ll see what happens.”

Trump noted that the election is close, said The Washington Post.

The newspaper interpreted the president’s stress on the binational ties as opposed to his personal relationship with the incumbent prime minister as “playing down Netanyahu’s importance to the alliance between the United States and Israel.”

The paper said Trump was “declining to offer either encouragement or praise to his most enthusiastically loyal foreign ally now that he faces potential electoral defeat.”

It is accepted protocol for foreign allies to keep a distance from the internal machinations of another country’s politics in order to avoid indicating a preference over who the winner should be in an election.

On the other hand, Netanyahu used Trump’s praise of the prime minister and touted the close personal relationship with the U.S. president to bolster his Likud party’s election campaign.

A Likud campaign ad widely seen on Israeli billboards showed the two smiling leaders shaking hands, accompanied by the prime minister’s election slogan that he is in “a different league.”

In turn, Trump has called Netanyahu a close friend, said the Post.

The president’s close ties with Netanyahu have played their way into the contentious atmosphere in American politics between Trump and Democrats in Congress.

Most recently, Trump was seen as persuading Netanyahu to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) from entering Israel, and has questioned the loyalty to Israel of those who support the Democrats.

“His comments Wednesday underscored Trump’s penchant for separating himself from political allies once they become weakened or could serve as a liability to him,” said The Washington Post. 

The paper also cited a tweet by Brookings Institution Middle East specialist Tamara Cofman Wittes, who called Trump’s reaction to the Israeli political situation: “ice cold.”