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Trump doesn't rule out ending aid to Israel to halt war on Gaza

Former US president sharply criticises Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with Time
Former US President Donald Trump speaks to the media at his ongoing trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on 26 April (AFP)

Former US President Donald Trump did not rule out a withdrawal of military aid to Israel over its ongoing war on Gaza in an interview published by Time on Tuesday.

The Republican, who is likely to win his party's candidacy for the US presidential election in November, also criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to stop the Hamas attack on 7 October. 

In his meandering interview style, Trump praised Israel, condemned Hamas and Iran and avoided the issue of whether Washington will turn off the taps to its ally as it conducts a military campaign that has killed at least 34,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of them women and children.

Trump was asked, "Would you consider withholding aid?" 

His answer did not address the question but included criticism of the way Israeli soldiers had conducted the war.

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The former president said: "I think that Israel has done one thing very badly: public relations. I don't think that the Israel Defence [Forces] or any other group should be sending out pictures every night of buildings falling down and being bombed with possibly people in those buildings every single night, which is what they do."

He was then asked whether he would rule out withholding or conditioning aid, to which he said: "No." 

When pressed, Trump continued to avoid the question, instead criticising Netanyahu, as well as praising his own record on countering Iranian influence in the Middle East.

Losing the PR war

Trump's candidacy on the Republican ticket is all but confirmed, as he leads his closest rival Nimarata Nikki Haley by 1,977 delegates to 97 in the Republican primary elections.

While a strong supporter of Israel, with a track record in office to boot, Trump has criticised Israel and its leaders over its inability to stop the 7 October attack and its failure achieve its military objectives in Gaza.

Earlier in April, Trump told a conservative radio host that Israel should "get it over with", adding, " let’s get back to peace and stop killing people".

"I’m not sure that I’m loving the way they’re doing it," he continued.

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Describing the footage of destruction caused by Israel to Gaza's infrastructure, he said the images were, "the most heinous, most horrible tapes of buildings falling down".

"They’re losing the PR war. They’re losing it big," he added.

Trump has repeatedly labelled himself the most pro-Israel president in US history, noting his decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and his backing of Israel's claim to sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.

Current US President Joe Biden faces a tough challenge in November against a candidate who refused to accept he lost the 2020 contest.

Biden's base is in turmoil amidst discontent over his enthusiastic support for Israel with many younger voters vowing not to help him get reelected.

Israel faces genocide charges at the International Court of Justice, which were filed by South Africa, as well as possible investigation by the International Criminal Court.

Not only is Israel losing supporters on the left, but conservatives are also increasingly questioning Washington's unconditional support of the state.

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