Israel Abuzz After Netanyahu Gets 'Slap in the Face' From Trump

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 |  Ryan Jones

Israel's mainstream media was abuzz Tuesday amid the first real tension between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.

Until now, the close cooperation between the two leaders and the amplified pro-Israel positions of the current White House have been unprecedented, even for this long-time "special relationship."

But on Monday, Trump called Netanyahu a "liar," or so reported Israel's major newspapers.

Speaking to members of his Likud party, Netanyahu stated that "for some time now" he had been discussing with the Trump White House his government's intention to apply Israeli civil law to the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

The so-called "Sovereignty Law" is regarded by many as nothing less than the annexation of territories claimed by the Palestinians.

In other words, Netanyahu suggested that he and Trump had been conferring about Israel's possible annexation of the "West Bank."

The White House immediately fired back, with spokesperson Josh Raffel telling reporters:

"Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false. The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the President's focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative."

Israel's best-selling daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, as well as several competing publications, chose to translate the word "false" as "lie" when reporting in Hebrew. The provocative headline referencing Raffel's statement read:

"What Netanyahu said is a lie"

The subheading sought to further drive home the point that the honeymoon between Netanyahu and Trump is officially over:

"Netanyahu didn’t expect a slap in the face like this. Especially when the president of the US is Trump, who loves to describe Netanyahu as his good friend"

The question, of course, is whether these are just journalistic word-games aimed at selling newspapers, or the first cracks in what many at first viewed as an unassailable diplomatic and personal friendship?

Many Israelis would agree that Netanyahu has to some degree taken advantage of Trump's affinity for the Jewish state. And we all know that Trump makes no qualms about slapping down even good friends if they get in the way of his deal-making.

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