Trump voices strong support for Israel

Published March 8, 2024
Palestinians carry personal belongings as they flee Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Thursday.—AFP
Palestinians carry personal belongings as they flee Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Thursday.—AFP

WASHINGTON: Former US president Donald Trump, in a recent interview on Fox News, expressed explicit backing for Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza, aligning himself with the hardline stance of the Tel Aviv government.

Asked by a Fox News presenter if he was in “Israel’s camp” and whether he was “on board” with the way the Israeli army was “taking the fight to Gaza,” Trump responded, “Yeah. You gotta finish the problem.”

“You’ve had a horrible invasion that took place,” he said. “It would have never happened if I were president, by the way.”

When questioned about Vice President Kamala Harris’ call for a ceasefire, the Republican presidential candidate sidestepped the question.

“I hate seeing what’s happening again. It would have never happened — this attack on Israel — and, likewise, Israel’s counter-attack, which is what it is, would never have happened if I were president.”

Harris criticised Israel for not doing enough to allow aid into Gaza and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Trump’s resolute stance poses a dilemma for voters critical of President Joe Biden’s backing of Israel’s war. Those considering a vote against Biden may now hesitate to support a candidate advocating even stronger backing for Israel’s war.

Trump was a staunch defender of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his presidency. But he has attempted to present an anti-war posture in recent public appearances.

Trump’s latest statements, however, suggest that voters opposed to US backing of Israel’s war may not have a candidate to vote for. Biden has consistently touted his staunch support for Israel, even as concerns about the humanitarian impact of the military offensive in Gaza persist. The conflict has resulted in over 30,600 Palestinian casualties, prompting international condemnation.

The Trump campaign, when reached for comment by NBC News, highlighted the former president’s record on Israel. Karoline Leavitt, Trump’s national press secretary, asserted, “president Trump did more for Israel than any American president in history,” blaming Biden for ongoing turmoil in the Middle East.

Leavitt added, “When president Trump is back in the Oval Office, Israel will once again be protected, Iran will go back to being broke, terrorists will be hunted down, and the bloodshed will end.”

Despite Biden’s dominance in most Democratic nominating contests, significant protest votes in states like Minnesota revealed discontent with his support for Netanyahu’s government.

In Minnesota, a key swing state, nearly 20 per cent of Democrats expressed their frustration by marking their Super Tuesday ballots as “uncommitted.”

Another Midwest state, Michigan, which has a strong Arab population, has been a focal point for issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Similarly, Wisconsin, another crucial swing state, is witnessing a nuanced response to the conflict. Voters who prioritise the Israel-Palestine conflict were already concerned over the broader implications of his presidency. Trump’s resolute stance on Israel’s military campaign in Gaza adds another layer to the electoral landscape, shaping the narrative and influencing voter perspectives in key battleground states.

The extent to which these sentiments will impact the final outcome remains uncertain, but the Israel-Palestine issue is poised to be a significant factor in the electoral calculus for voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and other states with large populations sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Budget and politics
Updated 14 Jun, 2024

Budget and politics

PML-N, scared of taking bold steps lest it loses whatever little public support it has, has left its traditional support — traders — virtually untouched.
New talks?
14 Jun, 2024

New talks?

WILL this prove another false start, or may we expect a more sincere effort this time? Reference is made to the...
A non-starter
14 Jun, 2024

A non-starter

WHILE the UN Security Council had earlier this week adopted a US-backed resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza...
Budget for stabilisation
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Budget for stabilisation

The proposed steps lack any “disruptive policy changes", especially to "right-size" the govt, and doubts remain on authorities' ability to enforce new measures.
State of the economy
13 Jun, 2024

State of the economy

THE current fiscal year is but another year lost. Going by the new Pakistan Economic Survey, which maps the state of...
Unyielding onslaught
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...