Steve Bannon, the chief strategist to U.S. President Donald Trump who was fired on Friday, refused to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when the Palestinian leader visited Washington in May, according to a report by Vanity Fair.
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When Abbas visited the White House, the report said, citing Bannon allies, Trump's chief strategist simply stayed home. “I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist,” Bannon reportedly texted a friend.
Bannon had pushed during his time at the White House for the U.S. administration to take a harder line against the Palestinians than Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, the report said.
Bannon was particularly miffed at being branded an anti-Semite in the wake of demonstration by right-wing extremists in Charlottesville, Virginia this month, according to the report. “It’s one of the attacks he takes most personally because it’s not true,” a staffer for the right-wing website Breitbart News to which Bannon returned after leaving the White House said in the report.
The report also said that Bannon pushed hard to have the U.S. move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but had his efforts scuttled by Kushner.
"There’s a deep animosity between Bannon and Kushner, amplified by a lack of respect," the report said. "Bannon finds Kushner’s political instincts highly questionable." The report quotes one Bannon supporter as saying that Bannon "said Jared is a dope."
Kushner will be arriving in Israel this week as the head of an American delegation for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.