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Trump Felt Used On Soleimani Strike: ’‘Israel’ Did Not Do the Right Thing’

Trump Felt Used On Soleimani Strike: ’‘Israel’ Did Not Do the Right Thing’
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Barack Ravid - Axios

The assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in January 2020 seemed like the height of US-‘Israel’ cooperation, but it actually became a major point of tension between the allies.

Behind the scenes: Donald Trump expected ‘Israel’ to play a more active role in the attack, and he griped that then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "willing to fight Iran to the last American soldier,” according to a former senior Trump administration official. Trump himself told me, “‘Israel’ did not do the right thing."

Trump made that remark in an interview last July for my book “Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East."

“I can't talk about this story. But I was very disappointed in ‘Israel’ having to do with that event. ... People will be hearing about that at the right time," Trump said.

Between the lines: It's unclear if Trump's anger is entirely justified. A senior ‘Israeli’ official told me that ‘Israel’ proposed a more active role for ‘Israeli’ forces but the US insisted on being the ones to execute the strike.

‘Israel’ also provided the US with key intelligence support, including tracking Soleimani's cellphone, Yahoo News reported.

The former senior US official said Trump's anger wasn't totally warranted, but that he put the episode into the same box he had put his feelings for NATO — of allies wanting the US to do their fighting for them.

Warranted or not, the episode stuck with Trump during his last year in office.

Netanyahu tried to pull Trump aside to make amends when he visited the White House in September 2020 for the signing of the Abraham Accords, but Trump wasn't convinced and continued to believe Netanyahu had used him, a former White House official told me.

Flashback: On the night of January 3, 2020, Soleimani arrived in Baghdad. A few minutes after his car left the airport, it was struck by a missile fired by a US drone.

The Trump administration's contention that Soleimani had posed an "imminent threat" was intensely debated at the time.

Worth noting: A former senior ‘Israeli’ official said other senior members of the Trump administration, including Vice President Pence, had expressed appreciation for the ‘Israeli’ role in the Soleimani killing and its aftermath.