Trump reportedly asked Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu if he even cares about making peace

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REUTERS/Carlos Barria

  • In a phone call last year, President Donald Trump reportedly asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he even cares about making peace with the Palestinians.
  • Trump reportedly saw on the news that Netanyahu was seeking to build further settlements in disputed territories of the West Bank, which the president thought would anger Palestinians.
  • The relationship between the traditionally close allies has strained recently over diverging Middle East strategies.

In a phone call last year, President Donald Trump reportedly asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he even cares about making peace with the Palestinians.

Axios reported Sunday that at the time Trump had read news reports about Netanyahu seeking to build further settlements in disputed territories of the West Bank, which the president thought would further anger Palestinians.

The two allies reportedly shared a long, mostly friendly conversation, but when Trump discussed the importance of securing a “deal,” Trump plainly asked Netanyahu whether or not he truly wanted to make peace, three sources with knowledge of the call told Axios.

In response to the report, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump has “great relationships with a number of foreign leaders but that doesn’t mean he can’t be aggressive when it comes to negotiating what’s best for America.”

It’s unknown when exactly the exchange occurred, but it could have been on the first phone call between the leaders in January last year, which Trump told reporters was “very nice.” Netanyahu approved building permits for hundreds of home in settlements located in East Jerusalem on the same day as the call.

Trump and Netanyahu have spoken several times since that first phone call but the relationship between the close allies has strained over diverging Middle East strategies.

In a phone call earlier this month, talks between the Netanyahu and Trump reportedly tensed over Israeli concerns that the US would withdraw its troops from Syria, which could allow Iran, through its proxies in the region, to gain a significant stronghold and threaten Israeli security.