Former Israeli Prime Minister: President Trump 'more rhetoric than action'
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert strongly dismissed President Trump's foreign policy, saying his policies were "more rhetoric than action" and threatened to destabilize parts of the world.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Olmert said a Joe Biden administration would "create a much greater balance in the face of America's position on the Middle East."
“It would be unfair to blame President Trump for more than he deserves. But I think that President Trump's style is sometimes more damaging than the substance of his politics, ”said Olmert on the sidelines of the extraordinary Horasis meeting. “At first we thought he was going to attack North Korea and that would upset the whole balance in the Far East. In the end, it was more rhetoric than action. The same goes for Iran. This also applies to Syria. "
Olmert's comments come weeks after the Trump administration brokered an agreement between Israel and two Arab nations, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Trump hailed the deal as "the beginning of a new Middle East" and said the so-called Abraham Accords would "serve as the basis for comprehensive peace across the region".
While Israel was neither at war with the United Arab Emirates nor with Bahrain, the agreement was the first recognition of Israel by an Arab state since 1994. Olmert admitted that the agreement represented a “very positive development” in the region, but said that that it is at the cost of a two-state solution for the Palestinians.
Earlier this year, the former Prime Minister traveled to the United Nations in New York to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to revive the talks he had started with the Palestinian leadership during his tenure, despite the current administration under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“While it is dramatically important and in many ways changes, it cannot replace an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It has to be signed, it has to be negotiated. This is primarily up to Israel, ”said Olmert. “There will never be peace between Israel and the Palestinians without the Palestinians having their own state. It's easy."
Olmert, who served as prime minister between 2006 and 2009, was a vocal critic of his successor, saying that Netanyahu put Israel in "ruthless hands". Olmert himself resigned in 2008 after being convicted of taking bribes and serving 16 months in prison. He was released in 2017.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 7: Democratic presidential candidate Former Vice President Joe Biden comments on recent Trump administration actions in Iraq on January 7, 2020 in New York City. Biden criticized Trump for not having a clear policy towards Iran after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani heightened tensions between Iran and the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
A return to the Iranian nuclear deal
While Olmert has largely failed to weigh in on US politics, the ex-prime minister said he supported Biden's call for a return to the joint comprehensive plan of action, often referred to as the Iranian nuclear deal, and said there was “no smoking weapon the President presented Trump that the Iranians had violated the agreement. "
During the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday evening, Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Reiterated Biden's support for the deal, saying Trump's withdrawal from the deal and his "unilateral foreign policy approach" had made America "less safe".
"It wasn't an ideal deal, but it did improve the ability to prevent Iran from pursuing nuclear capabilities," said Olmert. “I think [Iran] is a major force helping to upset the Middle East, which is a threat. It is not Israel's job to fight Iran, a nuclear Iran. This must be done by America and other powerful nations. I think President Obama did it. I regret the fact that President Trump has wavered. American support for the deal and Joe Biden will decide to renew this deal based on what it was, or perhaps even better, with a view to inspecting and overseeing Iran's nuclear efforts. I don't see anything bad about it. "
Regarding the US presidential election, Olmert expressed disappointment with the political discourse in America, especially after the recent presidential debate between Biden and Trump. The chaotic 90-minute exchange in Ohio was encapsulated by the president's refusal to turn down white supremacists, and Biden urged him to shut up after repeated interruptions.
"This wasn't the prettiest presentation of American culture as we've seen it in the past," said Olmert. “America is in many ways a role model for so many people in so many parts of the world. To think that the political leaders can argue this way is bad, and this is now characteristic of the way political discourse takes place in the State of Israel, which is another reason I am unhappy. "
Akiko Fujita is a moderator and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AkikoFujita
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