You'd think he learned his lesson four years ago, but if Rudy Giuliani is to be believed, Benjamin Netanyahu is once again endorsing the Republican candidate for president.
That's because one of the Netanyahu government's greatest fears is as president, Hillary Clinton might try to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the former New York mayor told the Washington Post.
In 2012 Bibi virtually endorsed Mitt Romney, accelerating the downhill slide of his already-strained relationship with the Obama Administration. It hit an unprecedented low point when his ambassador, a once and apparently still Republican operative, sandbagged the American president by going behind his back to collude with the Republican opposition for the PM to lead the lobbying against the Iran nuclear agreement.
Giuliani, the former New York mayor, told Post reporter Josh Rogin that he met with top Israeli govern officials, including Netanyahu, on a recent trip to the Jewish state and they told him they prefer Trump over Hillary Clinton.
“I’ve talked to the members of the Israeli government at the highest levels. I know who they want elected here. It’s not Hillary Clinton. It’s not Obama 3,” Giuliani told me in an interview at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.'
Israeli government leaders fear that if Clinton were elected, she would pursue policies unwanted by the Netanyahu government, such as pushing to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to the former mayor
“They know she’s going to start the two-state solution thing again, cave in to the Palestinians," Giuliani said.
One person close to Giuliani told me that during his March meeting with Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister said he preferred Republican administrations to Democratic ones and gave Giuliani a message to personally deliver to Trump with suggestions about how Trump should talk about Israel-related policy issues. Giuliani met with Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in New York following the trip and delivered the message, this person said.
Netanyahu's spokesman told Rogin that Giuliani had it wrong and he "categorically denied that Netanyahu expressed any preference" and that the PM "will continue to scrupulously avoid being dragged into the American elections." Given Netanyahu's track record it will take more than that statement to prove he means it.
If Netanyahu is secretly supporting Trump over Clinton, he’s only returning the favor. In 2013, Trump recorded an unusual video endorsement of Netanyahu ahead of Israeli elections.
Netanyahu's ability to stick to his vow not to meddle in the American election could have a significant impact on US-Israel relations over the next four years.