Copies of the book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Everyone is talking about Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” but Israeli experts are skeptical about extraordinary details and quotes in the book relating to the Middle East peace process.
Ex-Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon is quoted in Michael Wolff’s explosive bestseller, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” as saying, “Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.” The fly-on-the-wall account of Donald Trump’s first year as US president also quotes Bannon saying, “Day one we’re moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all in. Sheldon Adelson is all in. We know where we’re going.”
Israeli experts were unified in questioning the veracity of Bannon’s comments and dumbfounded by the author’s remark that Trump told multiple people that his son-in-law Jared Kushner was qualified to handle the Israeli-Palestinian peace process because “the Kushners know all the crooks in Israel.”
One source who has known the Kushner family for many years told WIN, “The person that Jared and his father Charlie know best in Israel is Prime Minister Netanyahu. The late former Justice Minister Ya’acov Ne’eman served as Charlie’s attorney.” According to this source, “Both father and son considered major investments in Israel in recent years with Jared looking to buy the Phoenix Insurance Company and Charlie considering buying into Discount Bank.” Neither of the deals went through.
Palestinian affairs expert Dr. Gershon Baskin raised doubts that the White House was drafting a plan that considered giving Judea and Samaria to Jordan and the Gaza Strip to Egypt. Baskin told WIN, “Nobody believes that. I guess it’s possible that Bannon may sit in a dark room with a board and Middle East map and think that’s how things work. But really, nobody has considered a role for Jordan in the ‘West Bank’ or Egypt in Gaza since the 1980s.” Baskin went on to say, “Maybe anything is possible with Trump, but I don’t buy that this is part of the US peace plan.”
Dan Diker from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs says that it’s hard to take Bannon’s quotes seriously because they run counter to longstanding Israeli policy. Diker told WIN, “Bannon is quoted saying the US peace includes tossing the Palestinian areas of the ‘West Bank’ back to Jordanian control and Gaza to Egypt. This concept totally ignores profound regional complexities of both potential moves. The Israeli government and the general staffs of the IDF of all political and strategic persuasions have placed the stability of Jordan and Egypt as a top strategic concern for Israel, even at the price of an unresolved Palestinian conflict.”
Diker also defended the first year of the Trump presidency. “He may be ‘fire and fury,’ but he also chalked up major accomplishments including the biggest tax reform in 30 years, the strongest stock market ever, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, support for the Iranian people in their confrontation with their tyrannical government, the military defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and reinstated US support in the Arab world. That would be a solid first year record of accomplishment for any president,” Diker said.
Marc Zell, who heads Republicans in Israel, dismissed Wolff’s book as “third party hearsay.” Zell told WIN, “The words attributed to Bannon have nothing to do with the Trump peace plan. I don’t have a clue what he is talking about. I don’t give credit to anything in this book. The author has defied fair assessment and there is nothing here resembling the message heard from the Trump administration.”
Trump is continuing his twitter assault on Bannon and on the book’s author, remarking, “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”
According to Forbes, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” is topping all bestseller lists and the publisher Henry Holt & Co. is reporting “unprecedented demand.”