December 2, 2023

By Kaitlan Collins, Kate Sullivan and Shania Shelton | CNN

Former President Donald Trump lashed out Wednesday at Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the Israeli prime minister was caught unprepared by Hamas’ assault and praising the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah as “very good.”

The remarks mirror the soured relationship between the 2 males and are notable at a time when Trump’s Republican presidential rivals have uniformly sought to place themselves as steadfast supporters of Netanyahu throughout Israel’s struggle with Hamas.

“(Netanyahu) has been damage very badly due to what’s occurred right here. He was not ready. He was not ready, and Israel was not ready,” Trump informed Fox Information’ Brian Kilmeade in an interview clip that aired Wednesday night time.

Trump went additional at a marketing campaign occasion in West Palm Seashore, Florida.

“After I see generally the intelligence, you discuss in regards to the intelligence, otherwise you speak about among the issues that went unsuitable over the past week, they’ve bought to straighten it out as a result of they’re combating probably a really massive drive,” Trump mentioned Wednesday.

Relating to Hezbollah, which the US and its allies have warned towards escalating the present battle, Trump mentioned, “They’re vicious, they usually’re good. And, boy, are they vicious, as a result of no one’s ever seen the sort of sight that we’ve seen.”

The criticism is a stark reversal from the agency friendship Trump shared with Netanyahu whereas in workplace, embracing the Israeli chief at each flip. Nevertheless it’s pushed by animosity Trump has held for Netanyahu ever for the reason that prime minister publicly acknowledged that Joe Biden received the 2020 election. Within the months that adopted, Trump accused Netanyahu of disloyalty and fumed to Axios, “F*** him.”

Although Trump later congratulated Netanyahu after he returned to energy late final 12 months, his hostility towards him has hardly waned, sources conversant in his pondering informed CNN, and Trump maintains that Netanyahu shouldn’t have commented on Biden’s win. On the marketing campaign occasion Wednesday night time, Trump once more resurfaced his false claims of election fraud and prompt that Hamas’ assault wouldn’t have occurred if he had been president.

“If the election wasn’t rigged, there can be no one even fascinated about going into Israel,” the previous president informed his supporters.

He additionally invoked the US authorities’s 2020 killing of prime Iranian common Qasem Soleimani and claimed Israel declined to take part within the strike.

“I’ll always remember that Bibi Netanyahu allow us to down. That was a really horrible factor, I’ll say that,” Trump mentioned.

On the time, nevertheless, Netanyahu praised the strike, saying it was justified as a result of Soleimani “was planning additional assaults.”

When CNN pressed Netanyahu in his final interview with the community in September about whether or not the newfound hostility from Trump bothered him, the Israeli chief mentioned, “I’ve been lengthy sufficient within the political life to place apart the periodic ebb and circulation of emotion and to take a look at the substantive positions that leaders and allies have executed. … So, yeah, I don’t significantly take care of that. I imply, I don’t care about it, is the best way I’d say it.”

Within the interview with Fox’s Kilmeade, Trump wouldn’t say if he has spoken with Netanyahu within the days for the reason that Hamas assault.

“I don’t wish to say about, you realize, who I’ve talked to. However I used to be very disillusioned {that a} factor like this might occur,” the previous president mentioned.

Whereas a lot of the 2024 GOP area has in any other case been reluctant to criticize Trump head on, a number of contenders seized on his Wednesday remarks.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not too long ago escalated his assaults towards Trump, posted on X, previously referred to as Twitter: “(It) is absurd that anybody, a lot much less somebody operating for president, would select now to assault our pal and ally Israel, a lot much less reward Hezbollah terrorists as ‘very good.’”

Former Vice President Mike Pence additionally pushed again on his former boss’s remarks, saying, “Hezbollah aren’t good, they’re evil.”

“That is no time for the previous president, or another American chief to be sending any message apart from America stands with Israel,” Pence informed a neighborhood New Hampshire radio present Thursday.

Whereas Trump’s feedback towards Netanyahu are private, Israeli officers have acknowledged they had been caught without warning when Hamas attacked. US officers have additionally mentioned they didn’t see intelligence that this sort of assault was going to unfold any greater than the Israelis did.

“We had been stunned this morning,” Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, the worldwide spokesperson for the Israel Protection Forces, informed CNN on Saturday. “About failures, I choose to not discuss at this level proper now. We’re in struggle. We’re combating. I’m positive this will likely be an enormous query as soon as this occasion is over.”

Trump was a vocal Netanyahu ally throughout his presidency. He finally ended the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and successfully took Israel’s facet in negotiations with Palestinians, shifting the US Embassy to Jerusalem and endorsing the annexation of West Financial institution and East Jerusalem settlements into Israel.