Former US president Donald Trump claimed Saturday he would have brokered additional peace agreements between Israel and “maybe all” remaining Arab countries had he remained in office for a second term, repeating his false claims that the 2020 election had been “rigged.”
“We would have had maybe all of them, that includes Saudi Arabia, within a short time after the election,” Trump said in a satellite address to the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership conference in Las Vegas.
His administration managed to broker peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and Kosovo in Trump’s final months in office.
Trump, who received several standing ovations from the hundreds of Republican Jews in the audience, used the opportunity to blast the Biden administration for failing to expand those normalization agreements known as the Abraham Accords.
“They haven’t signed any of them. We could have truly had peace in the Middle East,” Trump said.
“The election was rigged, and it’s too bad it was, and Israel lost a lot,” he said when asked about the Abraham Accords during a question and answer session after his prepared remarks.
He argued that the relationship with Israel under US President Joe Biden “is a very bad one… They don’t even listen to your leaders.” The vast majority of audience members were American Jews though, not Israelis.
He also repeated his belief that many Jews in the US “don’t appreciate the way they should,” contrasting them with Evangelicals who more overwhelmingly vote Republican and support right-wing Israeli governments. The line, which has been criticized by mainstream Jewish groups in the past, received applause at the RJC convention on Saturday.
It was Trump’s first major appearance since announcing his intention to run again for the presidency in 2024, and despite the lackluster Republican midterm results this month, he used the opportunity to argue that the party had grown under his leadership.
“The Republican Party is a much bigger and more powerful party than it was before I got there,” he said.
While Trump received a warm reception, the same could be said for the handful of other key party figures who are planning to contend with him in the GOP presidential primary.
Many of them hit out at Trump’s grievance-laden style of politics, which Republican Party operatives have said was partially to blame for their tepid showing on November 8.
New Jersey’s former governor and one-time Trump confidante Chris Christie said candidate quality had been the issue.
Trump speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition: "Some people in the US, Jewish people, don't appreciate Israel the way they should. And I'll tell you who does appreciate Israel very much are the evangelicals, because they evangelicals are on your side." pic.twitter.com/yz61xicBFS
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 19, 2022
“Donald Trump picked candidates with one criteria. Not electability, not experience, not wisdom, not charisma, not the ability to govern, but ‘do you believe the 2020 election was stolen or not? If you do I endorse you. If you don’t I reject you,'” Christie said.
“The fact of the matter is the reason we’re losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everybody else,” he said.
Chris Sununu, the governor of New Hampshire, expressed a similar sentiment in his address to the convention.
“I got a great policy for the Republican Party. Let’s stop supporting crazy unelectable candidates in our primaries,” he said.
On Friday evening, Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who is also understood to be mulling a run at the White House, urged fellow Republicans to be more forward-looking and more positive.
While he did not mention his old boss by name, Pompeo made none-too-subtle digs about the need to be doers, rather than complainers.
“As we present the conservative case, as we make the argument… we do so with joy, and a smile,” he said.
“We don’t simply rail against the machine… we don’t simply go on Fox News or send tweets, we actually do the hard work,” Pompeo said.
Outgoing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said the Republican party was “desperately in need of a course correction.”
He hailed some of Trump’s policies while insisting that the brand was not translating to success in repeated elections.
“Three strikes and you’re out. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again,” he said.
Trump did not address his potential rivals in his appearance on Saturday, but has already begun his customary bomb-throwing about potential presidential competitors, dubbing Ron DeSantis, who is set to speak later Saturday, “Ron DeSanctimonious,” and saying Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s name “sounds Chinese.”