US President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump Takes an Apparent Step Back from Netanyahu

President Trump appeared to be preparing for an electoral defeat by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when he told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that the American relationship is “with Israel.” The unspoken part of the message was clearly that the often-discussed Trump-Netanyahu relationship should not be personalized, but rather be seen as U.S.-Israel relationship. The comment reverberated throughout Israel where Prime Minister Netanyahu used the perceived closeness of his personal relationship with President Trump as a campaign plank, stressing not only the nation’s improved position in the international community but his comradery with the American and Russian presidents as well. The Trump comment seemed to leave no doubt that its intent was to reassure a potential successor to Netanyahu that a change of administration will not harm the U.S.-Israel relationship. An unprecedented second election in less than five months was held this week after the incumbent Netanyahu was unable to build a ruling coalition of 61 or more of the 120 parliamentary seats after winning the April 9th election. With final results of this week’s election expected to be released at any time, and with a certainty that political novice Benny Gantz and his Blue and White bloc have a lead of at least one seat over Netanyahu’s Likud, most of the speculative scenarios involve Netanyahu’s departure from the chairmanship of the Likud Party – an act that would presumably free-up those rival politicians who have sworn to eschew any coalition or unity government presided over by Netanyahu. “Bibi” has held the prime ministry longer than any other prime minister.

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