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Netanyahu Sidesteps Trump’s Invitation to Badmouth Biden

Following normalization agreement with Sudan, Trump asked Netanyahu if he thought 'Sleepy Joe could have made that deal,' but PM chooses more diplomatic response

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Haaretz
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Netanyahu stands with Trump after signing the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations between Israel and some of its Middle East neighbors, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, September 15, 2020
Netanyahu stands with Trump after signing the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations between Israel and some of its Middle East neighbors, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, SeptemberCredit: TOM BRENNER/ REUTERS
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Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu faced an awkward situation on Friday during a phone call with President Trump, which was broadcast live to reporters in the White House.

Netanyahu and Trump spoke in order to jointly celebrate the beginning of normalization talks between Israel and Sudan. Trump put the Prime Minister on speaker in front of the media, and presented an opportunity to denigrate the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Bibi, do you think Sleepy Joe could have made that deal? I don’t think so,” Trump asked Netanyahu, grinning. The Prime Minister hesitated for a moment but then said – “Uh, well, Mr. President, one thing I can tell you is we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America.”

Netanyahu emphasized the word ‘anyone’, and Trump seemed to be irritated by his response.

Netanyahu has been accused in the past of interfering in American elections, particularly in 2012, when he met during the election with the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, and attacked the policies of President Barack Obama.

In his conversation with Trump on Friday, Netanyahu clearly tried to avoid facing similar accusations. Netanyahu and Biden are known to have a friendly relationship spanning several decades, and the former VP was often asked by Obama to solve tensions with Israel.

Israel and Sudan on Friday agreed to normalize relations in a deal brokered with the help of the United States, making Sudan the third Arab country to set aside hostilities with Israel in the past two months.

U.S. President Donald Trump, seeking re-election on November 3, sealed the agreement in a phone call on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, senior U.S. officials said.

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