U.S. President Donald Trump said Israel receives $4.5 billion from Israel and is doing a “good job” defending itself.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
“We give Israel 4.5 billion dollars a year. And they are doing very well at defending themselves,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday after visiting U.S. troops at an American base in Iraq.
Rejecting criticisms that his decision to pull 2,000 special forces troops from Syria would somehow weaken Israel, Trump said, “I’m the one that moved the embassy to Jerusalem. I was the one who was willing to do that. So that’s the way it is – we are going to take great care of Israel. Israel is going to be good.”
Trump said that America gives more than the $4.5 billion “if you look at the books.”
The U.S. president surprised members of his own administration when he made the announcement last week that he was withdrawing American troops from Syria. The news led to the resignation of his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and his special envoy fighting ISIS, U.S. diplomat Brett McGurk.
Both Mattis and McGurk appeared to take issue with the fact that a withdrawal of U.S. troops was an abandonment of America’s ally, the Kurdish fighters in Syria, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.
According to The New York Times, McGurk told colleagues in an email that Trump’s move “came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us … It left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered.”
In his resignation letter submitted on Dec. 20, Mattis wrote:
“One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.”
Trump also came in for criticism from GOP leaders and American Jewish organization heads. The main arguments against the move are that it would create a vacuum in which Iran could operate as well as paving the way for the revival of ISIS, which has largely been defeated.
However, Israel, on the surface at least, played down the impact of the president’s decision. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would continue to maintain its security.
Israel Army Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot echoed this view, saying it was important not to overstate the importance of Trump’s decision — that Israel had acted alone in Syria before U.S. troops arrived and would continue to do so afterwards.