US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he was watching missiles fly into Israel with concern, and also joked at Israel’s political system. Speaking at a Jewish event, he quipped that if impeached he could move to Israel and quickly become prime minister.
“What kind of a system is it over there, right, with Bibi and…? They are all fighting and fighting,” Trump said, addressing an event hosted by the Orthodox organization America First in New York City.
“We have different kinds of fights. At least we know who the boss is. They keep having elections and nobody is elected,” he quipped, eliciting laughter.
Israel is currently in a political deadlock after an unprecedented second election within a few months, with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his rival Benny Gantz having a clear path to a governing coalition. There is a looming possibility of the country going to the polls soon for the third time in a year.
The crowd welcomed Trump like a king — literally. In presenting Trump, the host, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson, recited a traditional blessing said when meeting a king or a state leader.
A source texted me this video of POTUS remarks (partial) at the America First Orthodox Jewish event today in NYC
I'm not sure if he's mentioned making calls to other leaders in the Middle East after changing the location of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. WH reporters would know. pic.twitter.com/6R1Blatb9s
— Yashar Ali ???? (@yashar) November 12, 2019
“We work hard on Israel, I think I have an approval rating of about 98 percent [there],” Trump said.
“If anything happens here” — a likely reference to efforts in the US Congress to impeach him — “I’m making a trip over to Israel and I’d be prime minister there very soon,” he continued, receiving more applause.
Trump also addressed the escalation of hostilities between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip, which saw hundreds of rockets launched at Israeli cities on Tuesday.
“We’re all watching very closely… a lot of missiles going in and going out,” he said. “It’s a very bad day. And it’s very scary. We’re watching it very closely.” He said he woke up to see TV footage of the missiles flying. “We have to take care of Israel,” he said.
Trump also spent several minutes talking about his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I gave you, in Jerusalem, the embassy. That was a big deal,” Trump said, before describing how he ignored numerous calls by officials and world leaders not to take that step.
Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, posted a tweet Tuesday supporting Israel in light of the Gaza fighting.
“The United States condemns the barrage of rockets on Israeli civilians,” he wrote. “It’s clear Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad put violence ahead of bettering the lives of the people of Gaza. America strongly affirms Israel’s right to defend itself.”