Trump warns Israel ‘losing support’ for Gaza war, with public relations ‘in ruin’

GOP nominee believes pics of Gaza strikes fueling antisemitic backlash in US, says he would have responded to Oct. 7 as Israel did but urges to ‘finish it up,’ while mum on hostages

Screen capture from video of former US president Donald Trump speaking to the Israel Hayom newspaper in Florida, March 2024. (Israel Hayom. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of former US president Donald Trump speaking to the Israel Hayom newspaper in Florida, March 2024. (Israel Hayom. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Former US president Donald Trump warned Israelis in an interview published Monday that they were losing support for the war in Gaza, reiterating his call to “finish it up.”

The comments from Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee to take on US President Joe Biden in November’s US election, came as Washington abstained at a UN Security Council vote calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

“You have to finish up your war. To finish it up. You gotta get it done,” Trump told the Israel Hayom newspaper, notably offering no caveat regarding the hostages still in Gaza during an interview the freesheet said had been recorded over the weekend. Part of the interview was published on Monday, with more expected later in the week.

“And I will say, Israel has to be very careful because you’re losing a lot of the world, you’re losing a lot of support, 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.”

War erupted in Gaza after thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst across the border into Israel on October 7 by land, air, and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, mostly civilians.

“What I saw October 7 was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen,” Trump said.

Trump told Israel Hayom he would have responded to Hamas’s attack “very much the same way” Israel did, but expressed concern about the optics of a war in which Israeli strikes have left much of Gaza in ruins.

Trump also appeared to explain the rise in antisemitism in the US since October 7 as a result of images of destruction coming out of Gaza from the ongoing war.

“I think that’s one of the reasons that there has been a lot of kickback,” Trump said when asked about rising hate toward Jews, arguing the Israeli military should not continue to release footage of its strikes.

“If people didn’t see that, every single night… I’ve watched every single one of those. And I think Israel wanted to show that it’s tough, but sometimes you shouldn’t be doing that.”

The rise in antisemitism, he said, is “because you fought back. And I think Israel made a very big mistake. I wanted to call [Israel] and say don’t do it. 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.’”

Trump also faulted US President Joe Biden for Hamas’s attack on southern Israel, which he claimed the terror group perpetrated “because they have no respect for him.”

Repeating an assertion he has made in the past, Trump said that Hamas “would have never done that attack if I were there…because they knew there would have been very big consequences.”

Then-US president Donald Trump (right) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to Trump’s departure to Rome at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, on May 23, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO via Flash90)

Asked about growing tensions between Jerusalem and Washington over the war, Trump said support for Israel in the US has been dropping for the past 15 years.

Back then, “Israel had the strongest lobby,” he said. “If you were a politician, you couldn’t say anything bad about Israel, that would be like the end of your political career. Today, it’s almost the opposite.

“Israel has to get better with the promotional and with the public relations because right now they’re in ruin. They’re being hurt very badly,” Trump said.

He said there are “a lot” of American Jews who “actually fight Israel.” He cited The New York Times as an example, as it is published by the Jewish Ochs-Sulzberger family.

“I’m not Jewish. And yet Israel for me is very important,” Trump said.

The former president has lashed out at Democratic politicians including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I think it’s a terrible thing to do,” Trump said of recent remarks by Schumer calling for early elections in Israel.

Former president Donald Trump pumps his fist after speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 4, 2023, Oxon Hill, Maryland. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Trump and Netanyahu have had a checkered relationship, with the former often indicating that he has never forgiven the Israeli premier for congratulating Joe Biden after he defeated Trump in the 2020 election. a result Trump never accepted as legitimate.

Earlier this month, Trump said he would tell Netanyahu to finish the war against Hamas in Gaza “quickly and get back to the world of peace” if he won the election in November.

Trump frequently touts himself as a devoted ally of Israel, pointing to his decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and his administration’s role in brokering the 2020 Abraham Accords, which saw Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalize ties with Israel.

Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as their future capital, have opposed Trump’s policies.

Most Popular
read more: