U.S. President Donald Trump was “played” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on several occasions, said Trump’s former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday during a panel interview with Harvard professors.
During the talk, Tillerson gave assessments of various world leaders - including Netanyahu.
Tillerson, who had a contentious tenure as the U.S.’s top diplomat, said that Netanyahu is “an extraordinarily skilled” politician and diplomat, but “a bit Machiavellian.” He continued, saying that “In dealing with Bibi, it’s always useful to carry a healthy amount of skepticism in your discussions with him.”
Tillerson, who first formed relationships with many world leaders while CEO of Exxon Mobile and served as secretary of state from February 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, even recounted how Netanyahu would use “misinformation” to persuade the U.S. when he deemed it necessary.
“They did that with the president on a couple of occasions, to persuade him that ‘We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys,” Tillerson explained.
"We later exposed it to the president so he understood, ‘You’ve been played,’” said Tillerson. “It bothers me that an ally that’s that close and important to us would do that to us.”
Tillerson criticized Trump for preferring the advice of political figures outside of his administration when it came to Israel, over the assessments of his own senior cabinet members. “I did believe that we were at a moment in time where perhaps we could chart a way where the Arab world could support an outcome that the Palestinians might not think was perfect,” Tillerson explained.
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“In the past, if it wasn’t perfect, it didn’t happen — but with enough encouragement, pressure from the Arab world, that we could get it close enough that the Palestinians would finally agree,” Tillerson said. “And in my view, it was a two-state solution.”
In response to Tillerson's remarks, the official Twitter account of the Prime Minister of Israel tweeted: "Secretary Tillerson, Israel *is* the good guy."