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Trump urges Netanyahu to ‘get it over with,’ questions Israel’s approach to war in Gaza

Former president Donald Trump sharpened his criticism of Israel over the country’s handling of the war in Gaza on Thursday, expressing concerns about bad optics and questioning Israel’s approach to the conflict.

When asked by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday whether he was “100 percent with Israel,” the former president did not give a direct answer but emphasized the optics of the ongoing conflict, saying the country is “losing the PR war.”

“They’re releasing the most heinous, most horrible tapes of buildings falling down,” Trump said. “And people are imagining there’s a lot of people in those buildings … and they don’t like it. And I don’t know why they released, you know, wartime shots like that. … To me, it doesn’t make them look tough.”

Trump said his advice to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be to “get it over with,” and “get back to normalcy.”

“I’m not sure that I’m loving the way they’re doing it. … You have to have a victory, and it’s taking a long time,” he continued.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has in recent weeks found himself increasingly at odds with the Republican Party’s de facto position of steadfast loyalty to Israel.

In an interview last month with the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, Trump similarly urged Israel to “finish up your war” and said that “Israel has to be very careful, because … you’re losing a lot of support.”

At the same time, Trump has also criticized Biden’s handling of the conflict. During his interview with Hewitt, Trump hit Biden for his handling of Israel’s war, saying, “The whole world is blowing up with this idiot president we have.” The former president also repeated his assertion that “October 7th would have never happened” if he was president, but he didn’t clearly outline what he would do differently about the war if reelected.

Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, have been rallying around Netanyahu and the Jewish state, particularly since Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N. Y.), who is the highest-ranking Jewish official in the United States and a staunch ally of Israel, took to the Senate floor last month to call on Israel to hold a new election to replace Netanyahu.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has been critical of Schumer’s remarks, said last month that “bipartisan support for Israel seems to be cracking on the political left in this country.” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has said that he wants Netanyahu to address Congress and called Schumer’s comments “highly inappropriate.” He also said it’s “plain wrong for an American leader to play such a divisive role.”

After Schumer’s call for new elections in Israel, Netanyahu updated Senate Republicans on the status of the war and criticized Schumer, as multiple GOP lawmakers reassured him that they strongly disagreed with the majority leader’s critiques.

Trump made support for Israel a cornerstone of his presidency and brokered the 2020 Abraham Accords, a set of treaties negotiated during his administration that normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

But since leaving office, he’s been harshly critical of Netanyahu — once one of his greatest allies.

According to interviews in 2021 about his Middle East peace efforts, Trump was incensed with Netanyahu for congratulating President Biden on his 2020 election victory as Trump disputed the results. Trump said the call was a betrayal of their relationship and all the work he’d done to help Israel during his presidency.

Trump has also criticized Israel’s approach to the war since it began nearly six months ago. Just days after the deadly Hamas attack on Oct. 7, Trump said at a rally that Netanyahu “was not prepared and Israel was not prepared.” He also called Hezbollah terrorist attackers “very smart” and said Netanyahu “let us down” in the lead-up to a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in 2020.

Republican presidential candidates still in the primary race at the time — including his former vice president Mike Pence and his former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley — condemned Trump’s comments.

Biden, meanwhile, continues to face pressure from members of his party who are concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis and are calling for the administration to cut off U.S. military aid to Israel. The tension has amplified since seven humanitarian aid workers were killed this week in an Israeli airstrike.

On Thursday, in his first call with Netanyahu since the strike, Biden pushed for “an immediate cease-fire” and “made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers,” according to a White House summary of the call.

U.S. policy with respect to Gaza, the White House said in the summary, “will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post
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