President Donald Trump reportedly put a blunt question to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by asking if the leader of the Jewish state genuinely wanted peace.
Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported that, in a phone call with Netanyahu last year, Trump shocked his aides by getting straight to the point and pressing the Israeli leader on making a deal with Palestine.
The call followed Netanyahu’s approval of Israeli settlements outside the country’s borders, something which Trump reportedly thought would needlessly anger Palestinians.
“The President has an extremely close and candid relationship with the Prime Minister of Israel and appreciates his strong efforts to enhance the cause of peace in the face of numerous challenges,” the White House told Axios.
“The President 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,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added.
Trump has often discussed a “deal” to be had in the Israeli-Palestine conflict that has raged for decades, but made little tangible progress towards securing peace.
In December, Trump went through with the longstanding US promise to recognize Jerusalem, the divided city that all three Abrahamic religions hold as a high holy site, as Israel’s capital in a move that angered Palestinians and many around the world.