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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Trump tells Israel it made ‘big mistake’

Images of bombed buildings have turned the world against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war, the ex-president has declared

Former US President Donald Trump has warned that Israel is “losing a lot of support” and must “finish up” its war in Gaza before its reputation declines any further. The comments represented a rare moment of criticism of the Jewish state by Trump.

In an interview with Israel Hayom partially published on Monday, Trump said that he would have acted “very much the same way as you did” if the US was attacked like Israel was by Hamas in October. “Only a fool would not do that,” Trump added.

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However, Trump called Israel’s wholesale destruction of civilian homes in Gaza “a very big mistake.”

“It’s a very bad picture for the world. The world is seeing this…every night, I would watch buildings pour down on people,” Trump continued.

“Go and do what you have to do. But you don’t do that,” he told the Israeli newspaper. “And I think that’s one of the reasons that there has been a lot of kickback. If people didn’t see that, every single night I’d watch and every single one of those… And I think Israel wanted to show that it’s tough, but sometimes you shouldn’t be doing that.”

Trump was a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his term in the White House, and described himself as “history’s most pro-Israel US president.” He imposed sanctions on Iran at Netanyahu’s request, moved the US embassy in Israel to West Jerusalem, and brokered the Abraham Accords, which saw Israel normalize relations with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Sudan.

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However, this relationship soured after Netanyahu congratulated US President Joe Biden on his electoral victory over Trump in 2020. Speaking to Fox News in October, Trump claimed that Netanyahu was “not prepared” for Hamas’ attack. At a campaign event later that day, Trump declared that Netanyahu needed to “straighten out” his intelligence apparatus.

With the war in Gaza approaching the six-month mark, the former president urged Netanyahu to bring it to a swift conclusion, telling his Israeli interviewers that “you’re losing a lot of support” internationally.

“You have to finish up your war,” he said. “You gotta get it done. And, I am sure you will do that. And we gotta get to peace, we can’t have this going on.”

Netahyahu has vowed to continue fighting until Israel achieves “total victory over Hamas,” and has promised to invade the city of Rafah  – currently home to more than a million displaced Gazan civilians – in defiance of the White House’s pleas. The Israeli leader on Monday canceled a visit to Washington by an Israeli delegation to discuss the planned Rafah operation, after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The resolution passed thanks to the US abstaining from the vote. Given Washington’s typically unconditional support for Israel at the UN, the abstention and failure to veto by the US was seen by pundits as an historic show of dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s conduct in Gaza.

Israel declared war on Hamas on October 7, after the militants carried out a cross-border raid, killing more than 1,100 people and taking at least 250 hostages. Israeli forces have killed more than 32,000 Palstinians in the time since, according to the enclave’s health authorities.