Trump: Had I not come along, Israel was going to be destroyed

Former friends and allies, Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, have fallen out with each other since Joe Biden's win in 2020 US presidential election. (Photo by AFP)

Former friends and allies, Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, have fallen out with each other to the extent that the former US president says he hasn’t spoken to him since he lost power.

In interviews with journalist and author, Barak Ravid, for his new book 'Trump’s peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East,' Trump accuses the former Israeli premier of “making a terrible mistake” by congratulating Joe Biden on his electoral win.

The former US president, who brokered the normalization deals between the regime in Tel Aviv and some Arab states last year, gave two freewheeling interviews to Ravid in April and July – one of them over phone – for his book, which will be out this week.

One of the interviews will feature in a new season of Axios' "How It Happened" podcast, to be released on Monday, Ravid informed in an article on Axios.

In the interviews, Trump speaks at length about his loss to Biden in 2020 presidential elections and his love-hate relationship with Netanyahu, who has since been replaced by Naftali Bennett.

Trump rails against Netanyahu in new book:

“The first person that congratulated [Biden] was Bibi Netanyahu, the man that I did more for than any other person I dealt with. ... Bibi could have stayed quiet. He has made a terrible mistake."

— Oren Kessler (@OrenKessler) December 10, 2021

“Nobody did more for Bibi. And I liked Bibi. I still like Bibi," he says, referring to Netanyahu. "But I also like loyalty. The first person to congratulate Biden was Bibi. And not only did he congratulate him, he did it on tape. And it was on tape.”

Trump says his wife Melania was the one who saw Netanyahu’s video and told him about it.

“She said, Wow, look at this”, he recalls in the first interview recorded in April 2021 in Mar-a-Lago, a resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

"The first person who congratulated Joe Biden, because this was an election in dispute, it's still in dispute. The first person who congratulated was Bibi Netanyahu, the man that I did more for than any other person I dealt with…Bibi could have stayed quiet. He has made a terrible mistake,” Trump is quoted as saying in the interview.

Congratulations President @JoeBiden and Vice President @KamalaHarris on your historic inauguration.

President Biden, you and I have had a warm personal friendship going back many decades.

— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) January 20, 2021

Trump broke his predecessor Barack Obama’s popular vote record with over 74 million votes, but still fell short of Biden, who racked up 81 million votes. The Biden-Harris ticket gained roughly 51% of the popular vote to the Trump-Pence ticket’s 47%.

The bitterly fought election ended with Biden being declared the winner over Trump, but the latter never accepted the defeat, claiming largescale fraud.

In the interview with Ravid, Trump claims that unlike Netanyahu, many other leaders like Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not congratulate Biden right away because “they felt the election was rigged”.

“He was very early. Like earlier than most. I haven’t spoken to him since,” he complains.

Listing out the favors he did to Netanyahu, Trump refers to his decision to recognize Israel's dominion over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights days ahead of the April 2019 elections.

"Take the Golan for example," he says, "That was a big deal. People say that was a $10 billion gift. I did it right before the election, which helped him (Netanyahu) a lot… he would have lost the election if it wasn't for me. So he tied. He went up a lot after I did it. He went up 10 points or 15 points after I did Golan Heights."

Trump also refers to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers, from which he unilaterally withdrew in 2018 allegedly under Netanyahu’s pressure, as "disaster".

"Now Biden is going back to the deal because he has no clue. The Israelis fought this deal and Obama wouldn't listen to them,” he says.

"The decision to back out of the deal was because of my relations with Israel – not with Bibi. Those were my feelings towards Israel," he hastens to add.

The former US president says had it not been for him, the Israeli regime would have been “destroyed”.

“I'll tell you what - had I not come along I think Israel was going to be destroyed. Okay. You want to know the truth? I think Israel would have been destroyed maybe by now."  

Now in the opposition, Netanyahu has been making strenuous efforts to reclaim power while facing trial for corruption. On the other hand, Trump has been battling multiple legal troubles of his own.

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