After being accused of trying to help the Romney campaign, in , Netanyahu and Dermer knew that they had to proceed with caution during the race. Democratic lawmakers and Jewish-American leaders delivered similar warnings. Meanwhile, other Israeli diplomats tried to develop less official connections to a possible Trump Administration. One of these was through George Papadopoulos, a young energy consultant based in London, who had met Israeli diplomats at a conference about oil and gas operations in the eastern Mediterranean. When, in March, , Papadopoulos joined the Trump campaign as a foreign-policy adviser, he shared the news with his Israeli contacts.
American officials soon learned of the activity between Israel and the Trump team. Other governments took a Clinton victory as a foregone conclusion, but a former U. They were working the Trump people with great energy before anybody else was engaged with them. The Israelis knew the Trump team from the inside. By the end of the campaign, according to the former U.
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In late September, , seven weeks before the election, Netanyahu attended the annual gathering of the U. General Assembly. Kushner proposed to Dermer that Netanyahu meet with Trump during his visit, in the belief that such a visible event would help to energize evangelical-Christian voters, and make his father-in-law look more Presidential. Trump was initially hesitant. And Bibi has a commanding presence coupled with immense intellectual firepower that lets him drive the narrative.
Netanyahu saw Clinton, too. He wanted to sell whoever became the next President on what he saw as a historic opportunity to fashion an anti-Iran alliance. Later, after a series of confidence-building trades, the Arab states would pressure the Palestinians to accept a full deal with the Israelis—one that was likely to be substantially less advantageous to the Palestinians than what they had rejected in previous negotiations.
Clinton knew that the U. The task of persuading them was easier, at least in part because they had so little experience with the long, tortured history of the region and had yet to formulate a detailed strategy of their own. This was well articulated, and it dovetailed exactly with our thinking. They met discreetly at the Four Seasons Hotel, instead of at Trump Tower, where there were always reporters in the lobby.
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Participants in the meeting said that M. While M. And the Gulf Arabs promised to help get the Palestinians to go along with the new program. Netanyahu understood that Putin could be the key to getting Iran to eventually withdraw its forces from Syria, an objective shared by Trump and his team. Word spread in M. Later, disorder in the Trump White House created openings for M. This play for contracts, influence, and status has attracted the attention of Robert Mueller. According to a former U. It remains unclear whether he was freelancing or making pitches on behalf of Emirati, Saudi, and Israeli leaders.
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When the Americans floated the idea with the Saudi and the Emirati leadership, the response was negative, a senior Arab official told me. Israeli officials backed off the idea, telling their American counterparts that Netanyahu understood M. The last thing the Prime Minister wanted was for a mere photo op to spark a popular revolt against them. Barack Obama had come into office hoping to achieve what his predecessors could not: a reconciliation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. As a young politician in Chicago, he had numerous Jewish friends and supporters; his local coalition depended largely on African-Americans on the South Side and left-leaning Jews farther north.
Within Israel, he was drawn to a political culture exemplified by the liberal readers of Haaretz , who lived in Tel Aviv and Haifa, voted Labor or Meretz, and admired the novels of David Grossman and Amos Oz. But his Jewish supporters were generally centrists and liberals. For many of them, Israel was not a primary issue. These Jews are only a minority of the roughly six million who live in the United States, but they tend to be more focussed on issues pertaining to Israel, and are, in some cases, willing to spend a great deal of money to influence U. In December, , Trump spoke at an event in Washington, D.
Adelson helps to fund the group, and he owns a popular tabloid in Israel called Israel Hayom , which has long served as a loyal tribune for Netanyahu. Adelson exerts almost as much influence on electoral politics in the U. No Republican candidate can easily afford to ignore him. Adelson considered Obama an enemy of Israel, and, in the election, he and his wife, Miriam, contributed at least ninety-three million dollars to groups supporting the G.
Officials in the U. Trump cast himself as a neutral party, interested in getting the Israelis and the Palestinians what they needed to end the conflict.
Brooks pressed Trump. Is that a position you support? Boos erupted from the audience. Early in the campaign, Adelson considered Trump to be little more than a braggart. Trump and his advisers thought that Adelson would back Marco Rubio; their objective in the New York meeting was to caution Adelson. In May, , after it became clear that Trump was going to win the nomination, Adelson endorsed him, but he informed the campaign that he wanted a commitment to move the U. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. For many years, Palestinian, Israeli, and American negotiators had discussed a Palestinian state that would have as its capital at least some part of East Jerusalem.
It was his dream.
A few weeks after the party Conventions in the summer of , Trump dipped in the national polls. His campaign was concerned that the Republican establishment would withdraw its support, and, in mid-August, Adelson met with Trump, Kushner, and Bannon in New York. Adelson asked again about moving the Embassy. Soon after the meeting, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson started writing checks to back the campaign. Adelson was critical.
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At the top of the list was an executive order moving the U. Embassy to Jerusalem. The Trump confidant said that Adelson was caught off guard. As the weeks passed without an announcement, Adelson started to complain. Eventually, Adelson and others pressured Trump to stop delaying by warning him that he risked losing support among evangelical Christians.
Despite the argument over the timing of the Embassy move, Trump showed every sign of being not merely pro-Israel but pro-Likud. Netanyahu now had the latitude to do as he wished regarding the Palestinian question, Israeli officials told me. Denunciations from the White House, and calls for restraint during flareups of violence in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, would be things of the past.
Two days after being sworn in, Trump had a phone call with Netanyahu. When the Prime Minister got off the line, he could barely contain his excitement. Since taking office, he has said publicly that he would favor whatever solution the two sides were able to agree on. Trump decided to put Kushner in charge of the Israeli-Palestinian issue without asking him in advance whether he wanted the assignment. Before Friedman assumed his post as Ambassador to Israel, experts from the State Department briefed him on the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
The people who live there are basically Egyptians. Friedman denies saying this. Ambassadors to Israel signed a letter saying that Friedman was unqualified for the job. Netanyahu has been delighted with the appointment. The tensions and the general chaos in the White House sometimes affected the relationship between the Israelis and the Trump Administration.
On February 13, , the day that Michael Flynn was forced out as national-security adviser, Ron Dermer went to the White House to try to arrange for Trump to sign secret documents, as other Presidents had done, which the Israelis saw as an American commitment not to ask them to give up their undeclared nuclear arsenal.
He asked to meet privately with Flynn. Aides told Dermer that he could not dictate whom he wanted to meet with. It turned out that Flynn had urgent business to attend to: writing his resignation letter. Unlike Obama, Trump is popular in Israel, and Netanyahu knows that it will now be harder for him to reject White House proposals. As a senior adviser, Kushner had access to sensitive intelligence reports, including those prepared by the National Security Agency. Many of his interlocutors were N.
Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division at the F. In the briefing, Priestap told Kushner that his father-in-law was the No. He said that Kushner probably ranked in the top five. One of the countries Priestap told Kushner he needed to watch out for was Israel. To prepare for his new role as an international diplomat and peacemaker, Kushner read past peace agreements, including the Oslo Accords. He thought they were full of high-flown ideals but short on specifics. One of the biggest differences between the Obama and Trump Administrations on Middle East policy was their approach to, and understanding of, the Palestinian question.
Never mind that, in the Palestinian view, the Oslo-era notion of a state included only a fraction of the territory of historical Palestine. His administration is the most diverse in history. He h as appointed more openly gay government officials than any president in history. He a ppointed the first openly transgender woman political appointee of any Presidential administration. Beyonce sang at his second inauguration. He h ad the Justice Department investigate Ferguson Police twice for their history of racist behavior. He is unapologetically black.
He was unafraid to cry after the Newtown shooting tragedy :. He r eformed the NSA. He is the father of two beautiful and successful young black girls:. Trayvon Martin could have been me. He improved the formerly negative opinion of America in countries across the world. Simpson was actually appointed as Technical Advisor to the Commerce department. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you.
His personal life has been scandal free. He has an undying love for his wife Michelle:. He invited Kid President to the White House and gave him his own personal tour:.
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He never takes himself too seriously:. He commuted the prison sentences of more men and women than the last 9 presidents combined:. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Join HuffPost Plus. Zeba Blay. One Donald Trump claimed Obama would not show his birth certificate because there was something on it he didn't like.
Perhaps, he suggested, it said Obama was Muslim. Obama addressed the claims at the White House Correspondents dinner that year by playing slightly altered footage of the moment Simba is held up to the light in the Lion King. The film played, with his date of birth in the lower left hand side, and Obama explained: "… that was a joke, that was not my real birth video, that was a children's cartoon. Trump was at the dinner that night. Obama "praised" him for "making the really hard decisions" like firing Gary Busey over Meatloaf in an episode of The Celebrity Apprentice.
At his final White House correspondents dinner, Obama put two fingers to his lips, kissed them and dropped his mic, saying: "Obama out". It will endure as a powerful image of his farewell to the US but it is also a nod to the basketball star Kobe Bryant. Watch Live. Ten reasons why people loved Barack Obama. Fill 2 Copy 11 Created with Sketch. Thursday 19 January , UK. Why you can trust Sky News.