US President Donald Trump has described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the bigger anathema of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Both leaders of Israel and Palestine are problematic; however, Netanyahu is the bigger problem, Trump said in a meeting last month with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, according to seven Western and Israeli sources, who were either present at or briefed on the meeting, Israeli Haaretz newspaper wrote on Friday.
On September 19, Trump had held a 15-minute meeting with Guterres on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. According to six Western diplomats and one former senior Israeli official, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, at least half of the meeting dealt with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Trump, who had met with Netanyahu in New York the previous day, told Guterres his impressions of that meeting and his own views on the peace process.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is very old and needs a legacy to leave behind. Netanyahu, in contrast, understands that he’ll never have a president more understanding of Israel’s security needs, Trump told Guterres, adding that Netanyahu would be the harder one to persuade.
On September 18, Trump met in New York with Netanyahu. There he surprised Netanyahu when, at a joint press event before the meeting, he focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the days before the meeting, Netanyahu and his staff had repeatedly stressed that the meeting would focus on the Iranian nuclear issue.
Netanyahu told Israeli reporters in a post-meeting briefing that despite the prominence Trump gave the Israeli-Palestinian issue in front of the cameras, at the meeting itself it wasn’t a major topic of discussion.
Netanyahu was likely convincing Trump to get tough with Iran and create problems over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
A few days after he returned from New York, Netanyahu briefed the Israeli regime’s security cabinet and the ministers about his meeting with Trump.
“I presented our positions to the president,” Netanyahu told the ministers about his meeting with Trump.