November 30, 2023

Comply with reside information updates on the Israel-Hamas war.

Former President Donald J. Trump drew scorn from each side of the political aisle on Thursday for remarks that he made someday earlier criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and referring to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group, as “very good.”

Throughout a speech to his supporters in West Palm Seaside, Fla., on Wednesday, he weighed in on the Hamas attacks on Israel, the worst skilled by America’s closest Center East ally in half a century.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group, has clashed with Israeli forces within the days after Hamas fighters from Gaza attacked border areas in southern Israel, intensifying considerations that the nation may very well be drawn right into a battle on a second entrance.

“You understand, Hezbollah could be very good,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “They’re all very good.”

He took swipes at Mr. Netanyahu on the “Brian Kilmeade Show,” a Fox Information Radio present, broadcast on Thursday, arguing that intelligence lapses by Israel had left it susceptible to the sweeping assault, kidnappings and slaughter of civilians resulting in the warfare.

A broad spectrum of political rivals condemned Mr. Trump on Thursday, together with the White Home and several other of his Republican main opponents.

“Statements like this are harmful and unhinged,” Andrew Bates, the deputy White Home press secretary, mentioned in a press release. “It’s utterly misplaced on us why any American would ever reward an Iran-backed terrorist group as ‘good.’ Or have any objection to the US warning terrorists to not assault Israel.”

Whereas submitting paperwork on Thursday to look on the Republican main poll in New Hampshire, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who’s working a distant second to Mr. Trump in nationwide polls, additionally admonished his foremost rival.

“You’re not going to search out me throwing verbal grenades at Israeli management,” mentioned Mr. DeSantis, whose marketing campaign shared a clip Wednesday night time of Mr. Trump’s Hezbollah remarks on X, the social media platform previously generally known as Twitter.

Former Vice President Mike Pence equally objected to Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, saying that his former boss was sending the unsuitable message.

“Nicely look, that is no time for the previous president or some other American chief to be sending some other message than America stands with Israel,” Mr. Pence mentioned throughout a radio interview with “New Hampshire At present.”

Mr. Pence disputed Mr. Trump’s characterization of Hezbollah and identified that Mr. Trump’s compliments to a brutal determine weren’t new: Mr. Trump referred to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as a “genius” and “very savvy” after Russia invaded Ukraine final yr. And as president, Mr. Trump praised Kim Jong-un, the North Korean chief, as “very honorable.”

“Look, Hezbollah usually are not good,” Mr. Pence mentioned on Thursday. “They’re evil, OK.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a Democrat who’s a nationwide advisory board member for President Biden’s re-election marketing campaign, slammed Mr. Trump in a press release on Thursday.

“No true buddy of Israel, the Jewish folks or of peace would reward Hezbollah simply days after what President Biden and Jewish leaders have referred to as the deadliest day for Jews because the Holocaust,” Mr. Pritzker mentioned.

In a press release on Thursday, Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump marketing campaign, defended Mr. Trump’s feedback. He accused the Biden administration of telegraphing its considerations concerning the potential for a Hezbollah offensive in northern Israel, and he cited a background briefing {that a} senior protection official gave to the media on Monday.

However the Israeli Military had already been engaged in clashes with armed militants alongside the nation’s risky northern frontier for a number of days. On Sunday, the day earlier than the briefing, The Associated Press reported that Hezbollah had fired dozens of rockets and shells at three Israeli positions in a disputed space alongside Lebanon’s border with the Golan Heights.

“Hezbollah has operated there for many years,” Mr. Bates mentioned. “And the US’ phrases of deterrence have been welcomed throughout the board in Israel — in contrast to another phrases that come to thoughts.”

Mr. Trump, who has ceaselessly sought to forged himself as a champion for Israel, maligned Mr. Netanyahu on a number of events in current days.

On Wednesday in Florida he mentioned that Israel had in 2020 opted out of taking part within the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, who the Pentagon mentioned had been planning assaults on People throughout the area — regardless of its coordination on the plan.

“However I’ll always remember,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “I’ll always remember that Bibi Netanyahu allow us to down. That was a really horrible factor.”

Within the “Brian Kilmeade Show” interview, the previous president criticized Mr. Netanyahu and Israeli intelligence as being poorly ready for the assaults by Hamas on Saturday.

“1000’s of individuals knew about it, they usually let this slip by,” he mentioned. “That was not a superb factor for him or for anyone.”

Mr. DeSantis mentioned that Mr. Trump had crossed the road along with his assault on Mr. Netanyahu.

“All of us should be on the identical web page,” he mentioned. “Now is just not the time to air private grievances about an Israeli prime minister. Now’s the time to assist their proper to defend themselves to the hilt.”

Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who’re additionally difficult Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination, condemned his remarks as properly.

“Disgrace on you, Donald,” Mr. Hutchinson wrote on X. “Your fixed compliments to dictators, terrorist teams, and evil-doers are beneath the workplace you search and never reflective of the American character.”

Talking to reporters in New Hampshire, Mr. Burgum mentioned that “good” was not how he would describe Hezbollah or Hamas.

“I’d name them barbaric,” he mentioned. “I’d name them inhumane. I’d name it unthinkable. However what Hezbollah and Hamas have carried out, however I don’t suppose I’d characterize them in any optimistic style — not once you see this unimaginable skill to conduct the atrocities that almost all of us would discover as unthinkable and unimaginable.”

In an interview on CNN on Thursday, Chris Christie, the previous New Jersey governor, advised the anchor Wolf Blitzer: “Solely a idiot would make these sorts of feedback. Solely a idiot would give feedback that would give assist and luxury to Israel’s adversary on this scenario.”

Whereas campaigning in New Hampshire on Thursday, Nikki Haley criticized Mr. Trump in response to a query from a voter throughout a city corridor. “I don’t need him hitting Netanyahu,” she mentioned, including: “Who cares what he thinks about Netanyahu? This isn’t about that. That is concerning the folks of Israel.”

Jazmine Ulloa contributed reporting from Exeter, N.H.

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