Benjamin Netanyahu is an "armour-plated bull****ter" – or so was the view of Britain’s Foreign Office in 1998.
Alastair Campbell, the former Labour party spin doctor, has revealed that this was what “some of the Foreign Office guys” thought of Mr Netanyahu at the time of Tony Blair’s first official visit to Israel in April 1998.
At the time Mr Netanyahu was serving his first term as prime minister of Israel.
Mr Campbell, whose second volume of diaries about his career is published this week, also revealed what Mr Netanyahu’s main opposition – Ehud Barak of Israel’s Labour Party – thought of his rival.
According to Mr Campbell, Mr Barak told the British visitors at a meeting that “he was pessimistic because Bibi was a total bull****ter.”
But Mr Campbell also said that it was felt that Mr Barak, who this week created shockwaves by breaking with Labour to form a new political faction, “was…not everything he had been cracked up to be”.
Other revelations include the claim that Mr Blair was concerned his car had been bugged by the Israelis during the trip, and that Mr Blair’s envoy to the Middle East, Lord Levy, had an expletive deleted knack for appearing in official photographs.