Trump Shifts From His Party, Increasing Criticism of Israel

GOP candidate avoided answering about whether his support in the war is still solid
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2024 2:50 PM CDT
Trump Shifts From His Party, Increasing Criticism of Israel
Then-President Trump, left, talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a ceremony in May 2017 in Jerusalem.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

After he said in an interview last week that the bombing campaign in Gaza is a "very big mistake," Donald Trump's allies provided assurances that he'd revert to his old Israel-supporting ways if elected president again. But Trump's change did not appear to be a one-time thing Thursday when he twice avoided a direct answer on whether he's "100 percent with Israel" on its war against Hamas. Taken together, the comments are a clear split from Republicans' stance on Israel's right to defend itself, the Hill reports, as well as a reminder of Trump's stated ambiguity on certain national security issues.

Trump, who's largely avoided discussing the issue, told radio host Hugh Hewitt that Israel is "losing the PR war" by posting images of destruction on social media, per Politico. The presidential candidate said similar things to Israeli reporters last week, including that "Israel has to get better with the promotional and with the public relations because right now they're in ruin." The CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition is among those who said Trump's statements won't hurt him with Jewish voters. "Trump is giving the Israelis a blank check to finish the job and eliminate Hamas but be cognizant of the fact that time is not their ally and each day that passes public opinion is getting worse," Matt Brooks said.

One of Trump's former White House national security advisers told the Hill not to expect Trump to commit to any specific foreign policy—saying his actions toward Israel will depend on what would help him. "At bottom, Trump doesn't have a national security policy," John Bolton said. "He sees things primarily through the prism of, 'Does this benefit Donald Trump?'" Bolton added. (More Donald Trump stories.)

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