Mar 25, 2024 - World

Trump says Israel must "finish up" Gaza war: "You're losing a lot of the world"

Trump standing behind Netanyahu at podium

Trump and Netanyahu during a press conference at the White House in January, 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former President Trump warned in an interview published Monday that the war in Gaza is damaging Israel's international reputation and repeatedly advised Israel to end it soon.

Why it matters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is picking a fight with President Biden over a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, which the U.S. declined to veto. Now the other 2024 contender — and Netanyahu's highest-profile international ally — is also calling for a swift resolution to the war.

  • Trump arguably went a step further than Biden, who hasn't explicitly called for an end to the war and has been careful to link calls for a ceasefire with demands that Hamas release all remaining hostages. Trump did not mention the hostages when he called on Israel to end the fighting.

What he's saying: "You have to finish up your war. ... You have to get it done. We have to get to peace. We can't have this going on. 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," Trump told conservative Israeli outlet Israel Hayom.

  • Trump circled back to that message multiple times in the interview, saying: "Israel has to do what they have to do but we have to get to peace, because the world is turning and it's not a good thing for Israel."
  • "Be strong, be smart and let's get this over with," he said later.

The other side: Netanyahu insists the war cannot end until Hamas is eliminated and "Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel," something he has said will take "months not years."

  • He has fumed at Biden and other top Democrats advocating for a ceasefire, but is unlikely to pick a public fight with Trump.
  • While Trump has expressed support for Israel in recent months, he has avoided publicly backing Netanyahu and the two have not spoken.

Zoom in: Most of the interview was typical Trump bluster.

  • He claimed Hamas could not have attacked Israel while he was president because "Iran was broke" (Iran provides some support to Hamas, but the group has other funding sources) and acted now because "they have no respect for" Biden.
  • He also referred to himself multiple times as the best president ever for Israel.

Between the lines: While the Biden administration's pressure on Israel has been more focused on addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Trump focused on public relations.

  • "It bothers me that people don't talk about Oct. 7 anymore. They talk about how aggressive Israel is," Trump said.
  • The former president also said Israel's military made a "mistake" by releasing videos showing bombs being dropped on Gaza.
  • "I said, 'Oh, that's a terrible portrait. It's a very bad picture for the world. The world is seeing this,'" Trump said. "Every night, I would watch buildings pour down on people. It would say it was given by the Defense Ministry."

Trump previously told Fox News that Israel needed to quickly finish the war and "get back to the world of peace."

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