Trump speaks with the leaders of Israel and Sudan in the Oval Office
Trump speaks with the leaders of Israel and Sudan in the Oval OfficeReuters

Former Ambassador Ron Dermer, who served as Israel's Ambassador to Washington during the Trump Administration, challenged Jared Kushner's assertion that then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unenthused about then-President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Speaking with Israel Hayom on the released excerpts from Kushner's book, 'Breaking History: A White House Memoir,' Dermer said that Netanyahu and all his advisers raised the request for recognition of Jerusalem even before Trump took office and many times after that. "When the prime minister came to Washington in February 2017, and when Trump came to Jerusalem in May of that year, he heard from Netanyahu about his support for the move. Trump and his team had heard from Netanyahu and me for a year, how much we wanted the recognition of Jerusalem. Netanyahu from the beginning to the end was in favor of this decision and I acted in Washington to promote it."

Dermer says that Trump shared with Netanyahu the American intelligence community's fear of violence and possibly even a war breaking out following the recognition of Jerusalem. To this Netanyahu replied that "our intelligence does not show that there will be an explosion. But even if there was such intelligence they would support the decision because it is so important to us." Dermer also reveals that during one of the rounds of talks with the Americans on the subject, Netanyahu took the head of the National Security Council at the time, Meir Ben Shabbat, off the plane just before taking off for Africa, so that the Americans would receive an unequivocal message regarding Israel's support for the move.

In an except from his book, Kushner claimed that when Trump informed Netanyahu of his decision to recognize Jerusalem, instead of thanking him him, Netanyahu said: “If you choose to do that, I will support you.” According to Kushner, this caused Trump to second-guess his decision.

Regarding the phone call which made the president second-guess himself, Dermer says that "I was on the call. It involved a cold intelligence analysis. Maybe that's what led to the confusion."

The former Israeli ambassador also rejected Kushner's claim that Netanyahu's move to declare Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria following the unveiling of the Trump Administration's 'Deal of the Century' in January 2020 was not coordinated with the administration.

"If Trump was surprised by the sovereignty move, it means that he did not know what he signed. And I am surprised that Jared was surprised because he has read these letters and he knows what is in them. He should be asked why he is surprised. It was explicitly stated in them that the US would support the application of Israeli law in those territories that the Trump plan marked as those that will remain in Israel's hands, and that is about 30 percent of the territory."

Dermer, one of Netanyahu's closest advisers, adds that "the prime minister at the time took a huge political risk during the election, when he accepted the plan. I can assure you that without these letters, Netanyahu would not have come to Washington. The administration backed away from its commitment."