In a phone call last year, US President Donald Trump questioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to making peace with the Palestinians, according to an Axios report on Monday. The White House did not deny the report, stating that the two leaders enjoy “an extremely close and candid relationship.”

Trump and Netanyahu

Trump and Netanyahu Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

US President Donald Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call last year whether he actually cares about making peace with the Palestinians. According to an Axios report, three sources who have knowledge of the call confirmed that Trump’s tone was blunt.

The conversation reportedly took place after Trump heard about Netanyahu’s plan to build additional settlements in the West Bank. “Trump thought Bibi was unnecessarily angering the Palestinians,” the Axios report explained. “So, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, he bluntly asked Bibi whether or not he genuinely wants peace.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Axios in response to the report: “The President has great relationships with a number of foreign leaders but that doesn’t mean he can’t be aggressive when it comes to negotiating what’s best for America.”

In a separate statement, a senior White House official said that Trump and Netanyahu have “an extremely close and candid relationship,” adding that the former appreciates the latter’s “strong efforts to enhance the cause of peace in the face of numerous challenges.”