Former President Donald Trump wanted to leverage Israel aid, upcoming book reveals

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  September 28, 2023

According to the book, Trump asked whether US aid could be leveraged for a peace deal, and displayed frustration when told it couldn’t be done.

Former President Donald Trump floated the idea of conditioning aid to Israel for a peace deal, a book by the former executive editor of The Washington Post reveals.

Marty Baron’s book, Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and The Washington Post, says that in 2017, after Trump’s visit to Israel where he met both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Trump questioned whether the annual $3.8bn US aid to Israel could be leveraged to facilitate a peace agreement with the Palestinians, and upon learning that US military assistance to Israel could not be used in that way, he displayed frustration.

“I was told ‘there’s no connection’,” Trump told a group of journalists during a dinner at the White House, according to the book, which is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, The Forward reported on Thursday.

“No connection?” Trump said in disbelief.

A recent book by Israeli journalist Barak Ravid claims that Trump had a favourable impression of Abbas. In an interview with Ravid, Trump said: “I thought he was terrific.” He further expressed his belief that Abbas was more inclined towards making a deal compared to Netanyahu.

In May 2018, Trump made the highly controversial decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the historic city. 

In March 2019, Trump enacted an executive order acknowledging Israel’s authority over the Syrian Golan Heights, which were annexed by Israel in 1981. Experts criticized Trump’s order as a breach of international law, which forbids countries from seizing territory through military force.

The Trump administration was the architect of the Abraham Accords, a 2020 agreement normalizing relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco (with Sudan joining later). The Biden administration has since attempted to expand the agreement to bring forth a normalization of ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel. 

Trump, who is running for president again and is the Republican Party frontrunner, has been charged with state and federal crimes and is currently facing four indictments. He is accused of having broken New York State law by purportedly consenting to conceal a series of reimbursement payments made to his previous attorney, Michael Cohen.

He is also accused of keeping classified documents after leaving the White House and storing them “in various locations at The Mar-a-Lago Club including in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room”, according to the indictment. He is also accused of a “scheme to conceal” that he had kept those documents, CBS reported.

Trump is accused of being involved in a plot to disrupt the smooth transition of power following his 2020 election defeat to President Joe Biden.

And lastly, Trump, along with 18 individuals, faces accusations under Georgia’s Rico law for allegedly orchestrating a plan to obstruct the certification of the state’s 2020 presidential election results.