Trump says Netanyahu 'let us down' before the 2020 airstrike that killed a top Iranian general

Former President Donald Trump is accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of betraying him just before the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in 2020

Updated - October 13, 2023 09:12 am IST

Published - October 13, 2023 02:06 am IST - MIAMI

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. File

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

Former President Donald Trump has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of betraying him just before the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in 2020, breaking from the Republican presidential primary field's uniform support of Israel as it responds to Hamas' deadly attack.

Mr. Trump's comments at a West Palm Beach, Florida, rally on Wednesday were quickly denounced by one of Mr. Netanyahu's allies and by several Republicans who oppose Mr. Trump, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 rival.

Most American leaders have lined up behind Israel after a multi-pronged Hamas invasion that President Joe Biden said was the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. At least 2,500 people have died on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

Mr. Trump, the early front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, told the rally that his prayers were with Israel and vowed to stand by the country and not let it fail — before he went on to describe a “bad experience” with its leaders.

“Israel was going to do this with us, and it was being planned and working on it for months,” he said about the coordination to kill Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. “We had everything all set to go, and the night before it happened, I got a call that Israel will not be participating in this attack.”

“Nobody’s heard this story before,” Mr. Trump said. “They didn’t tell us why.”

“I’ll never forget that Bibi Netanyahu let us down,” he said.

“We were disappointed by that. Very disappointed,” he said. “But we did the job ourselves, with absolute precision … and then Bibi tried to take credit for it.”

Mr. Netanyahu's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But communications minister Shlomo Karhi told Israel's Channel 13 that it is “shameful that a man like that, a former U.S. president, abets propaganda and disseminates things that wound the spirit of Israel’s fighters and its citizens.”

“We don’t have to bother with him and the nonsense he spouts,” Mr. Karhi said. Asked if Mr. Trump’s comments make it clear that he can’t be relied on, Mr. Karhi replied, “Obviously.”

Mr. DeSantis posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “it is absurd that anyone, much less someone running for President, would choose now to attack our friend and ally, Israel."

Mr. Trump and other Republicans have tried to lay blame on the Biden administration, particularly citing the release of nearly $6 billion in frozen assets to Iran, a supporter of Hamas. Biden administration officials insist that money has not been spent.

The Democratic president's campaign said Mr. Trump has been pushing dangerous misinformation about the crisis in Israel when the countries should stand together.

“While Trump continues to lie about his record, President Biden is laser-focused on providing steadfast support for Israel and leading on the global stage,” Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz said.

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