In a lengthy speech to supporters in Palm Beach, Florida, former President Donald Trump criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and characterized the recent attack on Israel by Hezbollah as a consequence of inadequate action.
Addressing over 3,500 supporters, Trump spoke on a wide range of topics, including his achievements during his presidency, the 2020 election, the recent terrorist attack in Israel, and his GOP rivals. Trump described an alternate universe he believed would have existed had he been reelected in 2020 instead of President Joe Biden, stating that “Israel would be flourishing, they would have no problem.”
Trump claimed that if he were still in office, Iran would not have played a role in the recent attacks, resulting in a world devoid of “chaos, bloodshed, war, terror, death.” He criticized President Biden, labeling him as “grossly incompetent,” and described members of the Biden administration as “stupid people.”
Trump Slams Bibi
In a notable rebuke, Trump directly criticized Netanyahu, asserting that the Israeli Prime Minister did not sufficiently assist the United States in the drone strike that killed Suleimani, the leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in 2020. He stated, “I’ll never forget that Bibi Netanyahu let us down,” expressing his disappointment in Netanyahu’s response.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a GOP contender for the 2024 election, immediately responded to Trump’s criticism of Netanyahu, calling it absurd to attack a friend and ally of the United States, Israel, during this time.
This speech was the first extensive commentary made by Trump on Israel since the recent terrorist attacks that have escalated into a war threatening the stability of the Middle East. The conflict has claimed the lives of over 1,200 Israelis, 1,100 militants, and Palestinians. The State Department reported that 22 Americans were among those killed, and 17 more remain unaccounted for.
President Biden has expressed solidarity with Israel, and the White House plans to seek approval from Congress for aid. However, Trump and other Republicans vying for the 2024 presidency are framing the attack on Israel as a test of Biden’s capability to manage international conflict as he seeks reelection.
While Trump’s speech covered a range of topics, he did not explicitly mention Israel until almost 20 minutes into his address. He discussed the recent terrorist attacks, his 2024 GOP rivals, and praised his supporters before addressing Israel. He emphasized his significant role in promoting Israel during his presidency and criticized Biden’s approach towards Iran, accusing him of enabling the “bloodthirsty Jihadists.”
Trump also criticized Biden’s decision to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets as part of a prisoner-swap deal, vowing to reimpose a stronger version of his travel ban on certain Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, if elected in 2024.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.