WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday night that he is “not happy” about the new election in Israel, and that Israeli politicians “should get their act together.”
Trump made the comments during a short conversation with journalists in the White House, during which he was asked about comments by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding the prospects for the administration’s Middle East peace plan.
“Israel is all messed up with their election — I mean, that came out of the blue three days ago. So that’s all messed up. They ought to get their act together,” Trump said, visibly irritated. “I mean, Bibi [Netanyahu] got elected, now all of a sudden they’re going to have to go through the process again until September. That’s ridiculous. So we’re not happy about that.”
Last Tuesday, Pompeo told a group of U.S. Jewish leaders in an off-the-record meeting that he understands “why people think this will be a [peace] deal that only the Israelis could love, I understand the perception of that. I just hope everyone will just give us the space and see if in fact we have struck the right place.” His comments were reported in the Washington Post on Sunday.
During the previous Israeli election, which took place in April, Trump weighed in several times in an attempt to boost Benjamin Netanyahu's reelection efforts. He praised the prime minister, shared some of his election ads on social media and, two weeks before Election Day, recognized Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
After Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition by last week's deadline, the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and hold a new election on September 17, just seven weeks after the previous one.
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Coalition negotiations had been deadlocked, caused by friction between Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox parties over a bill to draft yeshiva students to the Israeli military.
Trump also tried to help Netanyahu assemble a coalition last week by tweeting his support for the Israeli premier. Despite the tweet, Netanyahu failed to meet the parties’ demands and Israel was forced into a new election.