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Trump was 'played' by Netanyahu, says former secretary of state Tillerson: Report

Former top US diplomat says Israeli prime minister used 'misinformation' to persuade US president on issues
Tillerson says he could have created solution Palestinians would have agreed to, but took back seat in Middle East issues (AFP)

Former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said that President Donald Trump was "played" by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on multiple occasions, the Harvard Gazette reported.

Speaking at a forum at Harvard University on Tuesday, where he discussed his 13-month tenure as the country's top diplomat, Tillerson addressed the relationship of the US and Israel, according to the report .

The former long-time Exxon Mobile chief executive called Netanyahu a skilled politician who used "misinformation" to persuade the US president on certain issues.

'It bothers me that an ally that's that close and important to us would do that to us'

-Rex Tillerson, former US Secretary of State

"They did that with the president on a couple of occasions, to persuade him that 'we're the good guys, they're the bad guys'. We later exposed it to the president so he understood, 'You've been played,'" Tillerson said, according to the Gazette's report.

"It bothers me that an ally that's that close and important to us would do that to us."

In March 2018, the president fired Tillerson and replaced him with Mike Pompeo, who previously served as director of the CIA.

The former secretary of state had numerous disputes with Trump while serving in his administration, and according to media reports referred to the president as a "moron", as well as saying he was "undisciplined, doesn't like to read".

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Since Trump took office, the US has made several unprecedented unilateral decisions in favour of Israel.

Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, shut down the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's office in Washington and cut off aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Tillerson said he believed he could have presented a two-state solution that the Palestinians would have agreed to.

Still, in the end a deteriorating relationship with Trump, who delegated key parts of the country's foreign policy to his son-in-law Jared Kushner, led Tillerson to take a back seat in issues involving the Middle East, the Gazette reported.

Kushner remains in charge of creating a peace plan - dubbed the "Deal of the Century" - to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but given Trump's biased policies, Palestinian leaders have already rejected the proposal, which is yet to be released.

Earlier this year, Tillerson told US lawmakers that he was "angry" about Kushner's role in the administration, which often left him in the dark on key issues. 

For example, Tillerson said he and then secretary of defense Jim Mattis were taken by surprise by the Saudi-led blockade against Qatar, which he suspected had been discussed with Kushner in Riyadh. 

Tillerson also recalled running into Kushner and Mexico's foreign secretary at a restaurant in Washington, when he did not even know that his Mexican counterpart was in town.