Former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned that Israel should not be too closely identified with President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, lest support for Israel become a partisan issue in the United States.
“I’m afraid of the fact that Israel is identified nowadays more with the Republicans,” he said Monday during a lecture at American University’s Center for Israel Studies in Washington. “Anti-Trump sentiments are becoming anti-Israel sentiments. This is my fear… that we are paying the price today for taking sides.”
Yaalon announced his intention several days ago to run for prime minister at the head of a new political party in the next national elections.
When asked what advice he would give to the new president of the United States, who has suggested that he might be able to make “the ultimate deal” for Israeli-Palestinian peace, Yaalon was not persuaded that his business talents could be easily translated into Mideast diplomacy. He counseled that Iran should be his focus instead.
“I would tell him there’s no clear solution, you are not going to solve the problem in your term, even if you’re going to be the president for eight years,” he said. “The first challenge is Iran. The second challenge is Iran. And the third challenge is Iran. Then it’s dealing with ISIS.”
Since his departure from the Israeli defense ministry, Yaalon has spent much of his time in the United States, and much of that time rounding up support for his future campaign for prime minister. He served as a senior visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and has been meeting with politicians, journalists and potential donors.