Washington: Former US President Donald Trump has gone into damage control mode after being heavily trolled widely in the US and the Israeli media for privately calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s impeachment for failing to anticipate the brutal Hamas onslaught.
After his remarks on Netanyahu garnered unwanted attention in Israel and the US, he went on to say that the “Hezbollah was smart”, and now, Trump’s team has sone some damage control by issuing a statement, which said: “There was no better friend or ally of Israel than President Donald J. Trump.”
As he continues to come under fire,Trump is also continuing the damage control.
In a post on his Truth Social social media platform, the former President wrote: “I have always been impressed by the skill and determination of the Israeli Defense Forces. As they defend their Nation against ruthless terrorists, I want to wish every soldier the best of luck. May you return home safely to your families, and may God bless you all!”
Rolling Stone magazine was the first to report that Trump has privately been calling for Prime Minister Netanyahu to be “impeached” for failing to anticipate the brutal Hamas attack on October 7.
As the Rolling Stone report rolled on, Trump was already under heavy fire from Israel, President Joe Biden and even Republican rivals over comments he made at a campaign rally on Wednesday, criticising Jerusalem over the intelligence failure that led to the Hamas assault, calling Defence Minister Yoav Gallant a “jerk” and the Hezbollah terror group “very smart”, ABC News reported.
Trump laid it on thick by saying Netanyahu did not do enough to assist the US in the latter’s 2020 killing of Quds force Chief Qassem Soleimani.
His campaign later issued an additional statement listing all of the steps Trump took as President to support Israel.
On Friday, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said the Rolling Stone report was “100 per cent untrue” and “never happened”.
“These unnamed ‘sources’ are simply making this up out of thin air. This is the most egregious example of Fake News,” Cheung wrote on X.
Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper said that the White House in a rare move on Thursday publicly pushed back against Trump after his remarks on the Israeli Defence Minister and the Hezbollah.
Trump in a campaign speech in Florida referred to Hezbollah, based out of Lebanon to the north of Israel and the Pentagon’s deep concern about the militants attacking Israel from the nort , opening up two fronts.
“Two nights ago I read all of Biden’s security people … they said, ‘Gee, I hope Hezbollah doesn’t attack from the north, because that’s the most vulnerable spot’. I said, ‘Wait a minute. You know, Hezbollah is very smart’. They’re all very smart,” Trump said, going on to add that “the press doesn’t like when” he says things like that, as he has when praising the effectiveness of China’s President Xi Jinping.
Trump swiped at two top Israeli officials, Defence Minister Gallant and Prime Minister Netanyahu, with whom Trump once appeared to be close.
“They (Israel) have a national defence minister … if you listen to this jerk, you would attack from the north because he said that’s our weak spot,” Trump said.
Gallant’s office reportedly said in response that Trump was making “far-fetched speculation” and attested to the military’s strength.
Of Netanyahu, Trump said he “let us down” while talking about the US killing of Soleimani.
Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said in a Thursday statement that what Trump said about Hezbollah was “dangerous and unhinged”.
“It’s completely lost on us why any American would ever praise an Iran-backed terrorist organization as ‘smart’… This is a time for all of us to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel against ‘unadulterated evil’,” Bates said.
Trump’s comments also drew criticism from his former Vice President Mike Pence, who is challenging him for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
“Hezbollah aren’t smart. They’re evil,” Pence said during a New Hampshire radio appearance on Thursday.
Trump, the frontrunner for the nomination so far, is “simply not expressing — and his imitators in this primary are not expressing — the same muscular American foreign policy that we lived out every day”, Pence said.