‘The only way to win this fight is with the other side’ – Trump on Israel
Israel’s new Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has made a personal appeal to American voters in the coming weeks to keep him in power, but US President Donald Trump is now publicly questioning whether it is in the US’s interest to back Israel’s prime minister.
Trump has accused Netanyahu of a “shameful and dangerous” attempt to “get rid of me” in his address to Congress on Tuesday, while the Israeli leader has repeatedly rejected the accusation.
The Republican president has repeatedly insisted the two countries’ security is vital to US foreign policy.
But Trump has also repeatedly questioned Netanyahu’s commitment to Israeli security, describing it as “weak” and a “complete lie”.
Speaking to supporters in Pennsylvania, Trump said he was “very disappointed” that Netanyahu would now attack Trump for his perceived failure to support the Israel’s right to defend itself.
“I don’t know that it’s in the interests of America to get rid of him,” Trump said, referring to the outgoing Israeli prime minister who has made many controversial statements.
Trump said he believed Netanyahu would not make good on his threat to “bomb the hell” out of Iran, saying the “tremendous threat” posed by Iran was one that could be “used by the Iranians to bring about the destruction of Israel.”
“He will be a great leader, but the great leader will not be a leader who’s not prepared to take care of the Israelis, the great leaders, the American people,” Trump added.
The US president, who has repeatedly criticized Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, has also suggested that the US should be willing to engage in direct talks with Iran over its nuclear programme.
“They’re going to have to stop making nuclear weapons, they’re going, they’ve been making nuclear bombs for 20 years.
They’re a total mess,” Trump told a campaign rally in Wisconsin in February.”
But they’re not going to get around to it.”
The White House and the US State Department have denied that Netanyahu’s threats were aimed at Trump, but they did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A US official who was not authorised to speak to the press on the record told The Associated Press that while Trump was “proud” of Netanyahu’s decision to “put his thumb on the scale” to make his case to the American electorate, the US would still be inclined to support Israel.
“We think it’s an important time for American democracy and a great opportunity for American engagement in the Middle East,” the official said.
Israel’s prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves during a meeting with US President Joe Biden (L) in Jerusalem March 12, 2021.
Netanyahu was sworn in on Sunday.
“I am determined to maintain Israel’s strong military, strategic and economic ties with the United States, and I look forward to working with President Trump to ensure Israel has the right tools to deter Iran’s ambitions,” Netanyahu said in his inaugural address.
Trump’s comments came after the two leaders met in a summit in Turkey on Monday, during which the president offered praise for Netanyahu but also reiterated his opposition to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The White house did not respond to requests for comment from the AP.
Israel has been embroiled in an increasingly bitter diplomatic standoff with the US over the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed by the US and Iran in July.
Israel, which has threatened to cut off diplomatic relations with the European Union and impose trade sanctions on European goods, has repeatedly accused the US of having breached the nuclear deal by demanding that Tehran make concessions on its nuclear program.