Trump Urges Israel to ‘Finish Up Your War’

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Former President Donald J. Trump, in an interview with a conservative Israeli news outlet that was published on Monday, exhorted Israel “to finish up your war,” mixing bellicose support for the government of Israel with harsh warnings that the Jewish state was losing international support by providing “a very bad picture for the world.”

But while Mr. Trump had typically harsh words for President Biden — he called Mr. Biden “dumb” — he offered no prescriptions for what the United States should do, or for what he would do, if elected, to bring the war in Gaza to an end or to advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The interview with Israel Hayom, a publication started by the conservative American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, was released on the same day that the Biden administration allowed the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution demanding a cease-fire in Gaza.

It also came as former members of Mr. Trump’s administration have become more outspoken on policies that diverge sharply from President Biden’s. Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a former senior White House adviser who led the Trump administration’s diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, took heat last week for calling the war in Gaza “a little bit of an unfortunate situation,” then adding, “but from Israel’s perspective I would do my best to move the people out and then clean it up.”

And David M. Friedman, who was ambassador to Israel during Trump’s administration, critiqued Vice President Kamala Harris on social media over the weekend for saying as many as 1.5 million Palestinians crowded into the southern Gaza city of Rafah had nowhere to go if Israel attacks. Mr. Friedman suggested that Gaza’s Palestinians could always emigrate.

“She ‘studied the maps’ and concluded that the people in Rafah have no place to go,” Mr. Friedman wrote. “It must have been an awfully small map — obviously left out Egypt and other Arab countries.”

Mr. Trump did not embrace the rhetoric of expulsion, but he told the Israeli interviewers that he planned to meet with Mr. Friedman to listen to his pitch that the United States recognize Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

Mr. Trump’s main thrust, however, was a more mixed prescription for the Israeli right: Israel should finish the war in Gaza — “You have to get it done,” he said — and then move on quickly to “peace,” in some form, because “Israel is in trouble.”

“Israel has to be very careful, because you’re losing a lot of the world, you’re losing a lot of support,” Mr. Trump warned. “You have to finish up, you have to get the job done. And you have to get on to peace, to get on to a normal life for Israel, and for everybody else.”

The former president also delivered what appeared to be a critique of Israel’s propaganda efforts.

Asked how he would counter a rise in antisemitism during the Gaza War, he answered, “I think Israel made a very big mistake.” He continued, “These photos and shots, I mean, moving shots of bombs being dropped into buildings in Gaza. And I said, ‘oh, that’s a terrible portrait. It’s a very bad picture for the world.’”

Mr. Trump appeared to fault Israeli military officials for releasing such images of destruction. “Every night, I would watch buildings pour down on people,” he told Israel Hayom.

“It would say it was given by the Defense Ministry,” he said, adding: “I think Israel wanted to show that it’s tough, but sometimes you shouldn’t be doing that.”


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