A Budding Symbiosis between Trump and Netanyahu

photo: Stephen Crowley / The New York Times

Political lift as both Netanyahu and Trump face mounting challenges on home front.

By Mark Landler / The New York Times
March 7, 2017

“It appears that President Trump is prepared to go a long way to help Prime Minister Netanyahu with his domestic difficulties and that Netanyahu, in return, is willing to provide a kosher seal of approval for a president who was slow to condemn anti-Semitism.”
— Martin S. Indyk, former special envoy to the Middle East

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was sitting in his residence in Jerusalem on Monday, being questioned by the police in a murky bribery and fraud investigation that could put an end to his political career, when the telephone rang.

On the line was President Trump, who wanted to talk to Mr. Netanyahu about Iran and a few other matters.

The prime minister excused himself for several minutes to take the call, and later issued a statement in which he thanked Mr. Trump “for his warm hospitality during his recent visit to Washington and expressed his appreciation for the president’s strong statement against anti-Semitism during the president’s speech before Congress.”

It was the latest example of what has become a budding political symbiosis between the two men. The Israeli leader’s praise for Mr. Trump’s stand against anti-Semitism helped inoculate the president from charges that he had not responded swiftly enough to a skein of threats against Jewish community centers and the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries.

And Mr. Trump’s conveniently timed call was a not-so-subtle reminder to Israel’s attorney general that indicting Mr. Netanyahu — a step that would precipitate his resignation as a prime minister — could harm Israel’s national security at a dangerous time.

Mr. Netanyahu has survived past inquiries into his personal trips and home expenses without charges, and he has steadfastly denied wrongdoing in this case. But political analysts say this is the most serious legal challenge he has faced in his long political career — one that comes just as he has made a powerful new friend in the White House.

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