Netanyahu’s January 2020 announcement that Israel would annex large swathes of Judea and Samaria infuriated Trump and Kushner, new book reveals.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Former president Donald Trump and his senior advisor Jared Kushner were incensed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “surprise” announcement that Israel would annex wide swathes of Judea and Samaria, according to a new book.
Axios journalist Barak Ravid details Trump’s efforts to bring about a sustainable end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the development of the Abraham Accords in his book Trump’s Peace, revealing surprising behind-the-scenes information about dynamics between the world leaders.
Speaking on the Axios podcast, Ravid said that Trump and Kushner were enraged by Netanyahu’s chutzpah in January 2020, when the then-Israeli premier announced Trump’s peace plan would grant Israel sovereignty over large areas in Judea and Samaria.
“Israel will apply its laws to the Jordan Valley, to all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and to other areas that your plan designates as part of Israel and which the US agrees to recognize as part of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
According to Ravid, the Americans were taken completely off guard by the declaration, which was not part of Trump’s plan.
In a meeting with his advisors shortly after Netanyahu’s announcement, Trump reportedly asked his advisors, “What the hell was that?”
Ravid said that then-U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman had told Netanyahu that Trump would be fine with the announcement, but Kushner and Trump were deeply angry with Friedman and Netanyahu for never discussing the matter with them.
A furious Kushner then ordered Friedman to tell Netanyahu that the U.S. had not given the green light for annexation, which forced the Israeli leader to walk back his jubilant announcement.
About a month later, then Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer expressed his displeasure with the situation to Kushner, saying Trump had embarrassed Netanyahu.
An irritated Kushner responded that no U.S. president had ever done more for Israel, to which Dermer responded Netanyahu was unsure he could trust the Trump administration.
That remark was too much for Kushner to take, and he angrily ordered Dermer to leave his office.
Several months later, Netanyahu told the U.S. he would unilaterally move forward with annexation, even without American support. Avi Berkowitz, then special advisor to the Middle East, warned him that the decision would seriously anger Trump.
“You’re going to take your greatest friend in the world, and make him an enemy. I can’t tell you what to do but I strongly advise you against it,” Berkowitz reportedly told Netanyahu.
On Sunday, Friedman took to Twitter to dispute Ravid’s account, writing that “the president was informed and aware of the sovereignty process…and there were numerous follow-up discussions as well, all of which included me.”