Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “Budapest speech,” in which he urged Europe to stop supporting the Palestinians, was the clearest expression yet of his worldview. He arrived as an international rock star and crony of U.S. President Donald Trump; the leaders of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic flew in to meet him alongside his Hungarian host.
In a semi-closed forum, Netanyahu dispensed with the restraints and niceties that characterize his official speeches, abandoned political correctness and let loose. At least in the section broadcast to journalists (apparently by mistake), he didn’t speak about “peace” or the “two-state solution,” but about Israel’s growing power to help form alliances with other countries, a message repeated in all his speeches of the last year.
In Paris en route to Budapest, Netanyahu surprisingly harshly criticized the Trump administration. He accused his friend in the White House of endangering Israel’s security interests via the Russian-American cease-fire deal in southern Syria. Netanyahu often spoke that way about Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, and his nuclear deal with Iran, but is that any way to speak about his friend Trump?
After eight years of spats with Obama, one would have expected Netanyahu and Trump to resolve their differences quietly and not reveal the cracks in their relationship. But Netanyahu had no qualms: On top of criticizing Trump’s Syria deal, he also publicly scorned the president’s peace initiative.