US President Donald Trump congratulated his close ally Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his 70th birthday as the embattled Israeli leader continued to fight for his political survival.
“There has never been a more productive time in the Israeli-American partnership, and I know there are many more victories to come,” Trump wrote in the letter, dated October 21, the date of the Israeli leader’s birthday.
Trump thanked Netanyahu for his “strong leadership and loyal friendship,” describing the Israeli leader as “one of my closest allies.”
Trump added:” I look forward to the continued success we will have working together.”
Netanyahu’s political future is murky after he acknowledged Monday that he had failed to form a majority government in parliament, marking a major setback for the embattled Israeli leader that plunges the country into a new period of political uncertainty.
“You are great!” Trump added in a handwritten message at the bottom of the letter.
תודה לך ידידי הנשיא טראמפ על הברכות החמות ליום הולדתי. הברית והידידות בינינו חזקים מאי פעם!
Thank you to my friend President Trump for your warm words on my birthday. Our alliance and friendship have never been stronger. pic.twitter.com/HnBdd0pgC1
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) October 22, 2019
Netanyahu in response thanked Trump for his “warm words,” posting on Twitter Tuesday evening that US-Israel ties “have never been stronger.”
Netanyahu made his close relationship with Trump a centerpiece of his reelection campaign, erecting billboards across the country showing him with the US president — among other foreign leaders — and casting aspersions on his rivals’ ability to match his diplomatic achievements.
But Netanyahu’s diplomatic bona fides were not enough to secure a new term as prime minister after last month’s election. Netanyahu fell short of securing a 61-seat Knesset majority in the September vote.
President Reuven Rivlin gave him the first opportunity to form a government because he had more support — 55 lawmakers — than his main rival Benny Gantz, who was supported by only 54.
On Monday, Netanyahu said he had worked “tirelessly” to establish a unity government with Gantz but had been repeatedly rebuffed. Facing a Wednesday deadline, Netanyahu said he was returning the “mandate” to Rivlin, who is now expected to give Gantz 28 days to try and form a governing coalition.