Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a CNN Republican Presidential Town Hall, in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 18, 2016.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump lambasted Barack Obama for his Middle East policies, telling Fox News that what the president has done to Israel is a “disgrace.”
Talking to Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Trump said that it was a wonder that the Jewish state would still even talk to the White House, given what he said was shoddy treatment at the hands of the Obama administration.
“Israel is so important,” Trump said in response to a question about the Middle East, before launching into fierce criticism of the president’s policies.
“What Obama has done to Israel is a disgrace. How they even talk to us is hard to believe. How do they talk to Obama? I have friends, they support Obama and I say, ‘How do you do it?’ It’s almost like they do it out of habit. They agree he’s been terrible,” he said.
“You look at what he’s done to Israel, with just this Iran deal, which is such a terrible deal. He has been the worst thing that’s ever happened to Israel,” Trump continued. “Now, a lot of my friends that are Jewish do not support him any longer. But I still have some that do. I say, ‘How can you do it?’”
The real estate mogul also praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recalling that he alone had been invited to participate in a 2013 election campaign.
“I like him, he’s strong,” Trump said of the prime minister, whose relationship with Obama has been notoriously rocky. “He’s always been good to me, he asked me to do a commercial for him. I was his only celebrity that he asked to do a commercial. I think he’s been treated very, very badly by Obama.”
Trump did concede that resolving the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be simple, but pledged to try should he win the presidency.
“The toughest deal to make … I’ve ever seen is Israel-Palestine,” he told Hannity. “The toughest single deal to make is getting them together, and I’ve been told by some Israelis that no matter who it is, you’ll never do it. I’m gonna give it a shot, but I will say it is probably of all the deals, it’s probably the toughest.”
The businessman also condemned Palestinian incitement, singling out the Hamas terrorist organization, which has ruled Gaza for almost a decade. Palestinian children, Trump said, “grow up hating.”
This is not the first time this week that Trump has weighed in on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The businessman turned politician said Wednesday that if he were elected president, he would be “neutral” on the issue.
Speaking at a town hall event hosted by MSNBC in Charleston, South Carolina, Trump declined to ascribe fault to either Israelis or Palestinians over the failure to reach a lasting accord.
“You know, I don’t want to get into it, because … If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you and the other side now says, ‘We don’t want Trump involved,’” he said.
“Let me be sort of a neutral guy,” he continued. “A lot of people have gone down in flames trying to make that deal. So I don’t want to say whose fault is it. I don’t think it helps.”
Trump’s comments Wednesday came hours after a dramatic upset in polls saw Trump fall behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the first time in 31 consecutive polls, coming in at 26% of registered Republican voters nationally, two points behind Cruz at 28%.
Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report