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30 Apr, 2024 21:14

Trump won’t rule out cutting aid to Israel

The ex-president has grown more critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since leaving office
Trump won’t rule out cutting aid to Israel

Former US President Donald Trump has refused to rule out withholding military aid to Israel to force an end to the war in Gaza if he is reelected. Once a stalwart defender of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump has argued that the Israeli leader and his military have bungled the war with Hamas.

In an interview with Time magazine published on Tuesday, Trump stood by his insistence last month that Israel should “finish up [its] war” before it loses any more international support.

“I think that Israel has done one thing very badly: public relations,” Trump told the outlet, adding that he thinks the Israeli military shouldn’t “be sending out pictures every night of buildings falling down and being bombed.”

Asked whether he would rule out withholding or applying conditions to US military aid to Israel in order to bring the war to a conclusion, Trump replied “no,” before launching into a scathing critique of Netanyahu.

“I had a bad experience with Bibi,” he said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname. Trump recalled how Netanyahu allegedly promised to take part in the US airstrike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in January 2020, before pulling out at the last minute.

“That was something I never forgot,” Trump told Time, adding that the incident “showed me something.”

Netanayhu, he said, “rightfully has been criticized for what took place on October 7,” referring to Hamas’ attack on Israel. “And I think it’s had a profound impact on him, despite everything. Because people said that shouldn’t have happened. 

Israel has “the most sophisticated equipment,” he continued. “Everything was there to stop that. And a lot of people knew about it, you know, thousands and thousands of people knew about it, but Israel didn’t know about it, and I think he’s being blamed for that very strongly.”

Trump is not the first person to allege that the Israeli military and government failed to respond to warnings of an impending attack by Hamas. According to Israeli media reports, multiple military and intelligence personnel tried to warn their superiors that an attack was in the works, while Egyptian officials told the Associated Press that they passed on warnings to their Israeli counterparts in the weeks leading up to October 7.

Trump was a close ally of 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.

Asked whether he could work better with Netanyahu’s main political rival, Benny Gantz, if he were to return to the White House after the November presidential election, Trump did not give a straight answer. However, he remarked that “Gantz is good,” and that there are “some very good people I’ve gotten to know in Israel that could do a good job.”