update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Trump: Netanyahu has been ‘rightfully criticized’ for Oct. 7 massacre

Asked by Time magazine whether he believes Netanyahu should resign from office, Trump noted he "had a bad experience with Bibi" in 2020.

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem/POOL.
President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem/POOL.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump “never forgot” how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “dropped out” of the attack that killed Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani four years ago, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee said on Tuesday.

Questioned by Time magazine’s Eric Cortellessa whether he believes Netanyahu should resign from office in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks, Trump noted he “had a bad experience with Bibi” in 2020.

“That was something I never forgot. And it showed me something,” stated the former American leader, charging that the Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in Israel’s northwestern Negev “should have never happened.”

“It happened on his watch,” Trump said of Netanyahu. “And I think it’s had a profound impact on him, despite everything. Because people said that shouldn’t have happened. They have the most sophisticated equipment. They had—everything was there to stop that. And a lot of people knew about it, you know, thousands and thousands of people knew about it.”

“Bibi Netanyahu rightfully has been criticized for what took place on October 7,” he added.

National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz, who serves as a minister in the War Cabinet alongside Netanyahu but continues to decline in the polls, could make a “good” prime minister, Trump said, though he refused to say whether he would be able to work better with Netanyahu’s political rival.

“You have some very good people that I’ve gotten to know in Israel that could do a good job,” Trump told Time magazine.

In an interview with Israel Hayom late last month, Trump advised the Jewish state to “finish up” the ongoing war against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. “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,” he told the Israeli daily.

Asked about the remarks in the Tuesday interview, Trump repeatedly dodged the question of whether he would rule out ever conditioning or withholding U.S. military assistance to the Israel Defense Forces.

“I think that Israel has done one thing very badly: Public relations. I don’t think that the Israel Defense Fund [sic] or any other group should be sending out pictures every night of buildings falling down and being bombed with possibly people in those buildings every single night,” he claimed.

However, the Republican candidate vowed to side with Israel if the U.S. ally got into a war with the Islamic Republic of Iran. “I have been very loyal to Israel, more loyal than any other president. I’ve done more for Israel than any other president. Yeah, I will protect Israel,” stated Trump.

On the two-state solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict, the candidate explained that “there was a time when I thought two states could work. Now I think two states is going to be very, very tough.

“Every day it changes now. If Israel’s making progress, they don’t want two states … And if Israel’s not making progress, sometimes they talk about two-state solution. Two-state solution seemed to be the idea that people liked most, the policy or the idea that people liked above,” he said.

American Jews have remained largely unmovable in their political loyalties, voting overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic candidates. In 2016 and 2020, roughly 70% of Jews voted for Trump’s opponent.

In Israel, the situation is reversed. More Israelis (44%) want the Republican candidate to win in November, compared to 30% who prefer Biden, according to a recent poll by the Channel 12 broadcaster.

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