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Thursday, December 16, 2021 

Trump's divisive statements about Netanyahu - and Israel - aren't doing any favors

Donald Trump may have been far better than most USA presidents towards Israel, but in his recent biography, he made some awfully ludicrous statements that are troubling:
In newly released interview excerpts Saturday, former United States president Donald Trump offered more startlingly frank views on Israel’s leadership during his time in office, a day after he was quoted in an astounding assault on ex-premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the latest taped comments broadcast by Channel 12, Trump said he believed Netanyahu “did not want to make peace. Never did”; claimed he prevented the Israeli leader from annexing West Bank land (“I got angry and I stopped it”); offered his favorable opinion on Defense Minister Benny Gantz (“I think [he] wanted to make a deal… if he won, I think it would be a lot easier”); and his evolving view on the Israel-Palestinian conflict (“I [had] thought the Palestinians were impossible, and the Israelis would do anything to make peace and a deal. I found that not to be true”).

Speaking to journalist Barak Ravid earlier this year for an upcoming book, the ex-president commented on his efforts to mediate between Jerusalem and Ramallah, and his feeling as time went on that Netanyahu wasn’t truly interested in reaching a settlement.

Trump said that when he came into office, he’d asked Netanyahu for overtures toward the Palestinians, raising the possibility of a construction freeze in the West Bank, but the Israeli leader often demurred.

“Bibi did not want to make a deal,” he said, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “Even most recently, when we came up with the maps” as part of his administration’s peace plan, Netanyahu’s reaction was “‘Oh this is good, good,’ everything was always great, but he was never… he did not want to make a deal.

“Now I don’t know if he didn’t want to make it for political reasons, or for other reasons. I wish he would have said he didn’t want to make a deal, instead of…. Because a lot of people devoted a lot of work. But I don’t think Bibi would have ever made a deal. That’s my opinion. I think the general [Gantz] wanted to make a deal.”

Trump said he believed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “wanted to make a deal more than Netanyahu. And I will be honest, I had a great meeting with him, Abbas, right. I had a great meeting with him. And we spent a lot of time together, talking about many things. And it was almost like a father. I mean, he was so nice, couldn’t have been nicer.”
Here's where things get as embarrassing as they're alarming. Trump speaks in a positive light about Mahmoud Abbas, who was involved in the Munich massacre planning? I realize Trump's not a saint, but that he'd do this is horrific and damaging. To say nothing of demonstrating a thin skin. I'd assume what Trump really wanted was for Netanyahu to defend him in a valid case of the election being hijacked, but it's no excuse for being so crude (and surely such vulgar profanity as Trump employed isn't a serious flaw?). This only makes more problems better avoided, and all those harmed by Abbas in the past are going to be rightly disturbed by what Trump is saying. Does he even buy into the taqqiya Abbas would go by as per the Religion of Peace?

Trump's words have already drawn criticism from Evangelist Mike Evans:
Top evangelical leader Mike Evans has warned Donald Trump to end his spat with former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the ex-president said “F**k him,” saying it would alienate American Christians.

Evans, a former Trump adviser and financial backer who is also a close confidante of Netanyahu’s, sent a letter to Trump which was published [by] the Washington Post, expressing his “horror” at Trump’s remarks to Axios reporter Barak Ravid.

[...] Trump also said that the Palestinians, not Netanyahu, were more partners to peace. This despite the fact that the Palestinian leadership boycotted Trump during the last years of his presidency and turned on him at the end.

“Please, I beg of you, don’t put us in the position to choose between you and Bible land,” the letter said according to the Post. “There is no possibility you can win again if Bible-believing evangelicals see you as the ‘F–k Netanyahu’ president who . . . blames the State of Israel, and not the Palestinians, for not making peace.”

Evans implored Trump to “understand that Benjamin Netanyahu,” who “has much greater support among evangelicals in America than you.”
It goes without saying that to make it sound as though Abbas was more acceptable company is repellent, right down there with Trump's use of the F-curse. And this is all very sad. It's divisive and galling, and doesn't really bode well for USA-Israeli relations. Worst, it's all part of the sad decline in the quality of life we're seeing unfold in this past decade. It's also very depressing.

Update: Ryan Jones asks if Trump's ruined chances for reelection with his ill-advised, crude language and galling lenience on one of the worst PLO dictators.

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