Photo: AFP
Monday's meeting at the White House
Photo: AFP
Orly Azoulay
Trump-Netanyahu meeting: That’s what friends are for
Analysis: Two leaders with a lot in common met at the White House on Monday to help each other in a time of need; Netanyahu gave Trump his admiration, and the US president said exactly what the prime minister wanted to hear about the Palestinians and Jerusalem.
WASHINGTON—The storm that snapped trees on Washington’s streets had already abated, and the prime minister woke up to a pleasant winter day in the capital. Blair House, where he is staying as the White House’s guest, was shaken by a different kind of storm that day. Benjamin Netanyahu woke up to another morning in which one of his associates would turn state’s witness.



In the midst of investigations, the prime minister went to meet with President Donald Trump, who is going through a hard time too: He is embroiled in criminal allegations and dealing with chaos in the White House, as his finest assistants and advisors are turning their backs on him and abandoning his ship. Like Netanyahu, he blames the media—and the entire world. His son-in-law got in trouble and lost his security clearance, and his associates say the president is “fuming and isolated.”


Melania and Donald Trump with Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Monday  (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)
Melania and Donald Trump with Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Monday (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)


Monday’s meeting at the White House was, without a doubt, a meeting between two leaders who have a lot in common. They both believe there is a “witch-hunt” going on against them and can’t understand how the world has failed to see the nature of their leadership. Being in the same boat, these two leaders need each other.


Trump needs Netanyahu's embrace and admiration to maintain his power base—which is made up primarily of pro-Israel evangelicals. Netanyahu needs Trump’s good words to prove to his base once again that there is no other statesman like him, and that no one else can deliver the US president’s blessing to Israel like he can. For a short while, Trump provided Netanyahu with a “supportive political asylum.”


Trump went to great lengths to make Netanyahu feel comfortable   (Photo: MCT)
Trump went to great lengths to make Netanyahu feel comfortable (Photo: MCT)


The issues on the table included the Iranian threat, the nuclear agreement, the tensions on Israel’s northern border and in Gaza, as well as the peace plan that Trump had promised and that Netanyahu didn’t shed a tear over when he saw it fade away. Trump said exactly what Netanyahu wanted to hear—that there is no Palestinian partner and that it’s their fault: “If they don’t return to the table, there won’t be peace. It’s possible.”


Trump went out of his way to accommodate his good friend: He and Melania greeted Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu and sat down for a short conversation with them. Trump decided to go to great lengths to make Netanyahu feel comfortable, and even said he might attend the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. In front of the cameras, the alliance between the two seems to exceed the political interest.


The two leaders avoided a press conference, and tough questions from the media. They wanted to use their friendship to their advantage, as long as they still can. The investigators’ final word, on both of them, has yet to be said.


First published: 03.06.18, 10:47
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