Former Trump Officials Meet in Israel With Netanyahu.


One of former President Donald J. Trump’s closest foreign policy advisers, Robert O’Brien, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Monday as part of a delegation of former Trump officials that visited a number of Israeli leaders.

Mr. O’Brien, who served as national security adviser to Mr. Trump and is expected to play a significant role in any second Trump administration, was joined in the meetings by two other former Trump officials — the former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, John Rakolta, and the former ambassador to Switzerland, Ed McMullen. The members of the delegation were described by Marshall Wittmann, a spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobbying group whose affiliate, the American Israel Education Foundation, funded and organized the trip.

In a brief phone interview, Mr. O’Brien said he had wanted to visit Israel ever since the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 to express his “solidarity for Israel and the Jewish people.”

Mr. O’Brien said Mr. Trump was aware of his trip to Israel, but he said the former president had not asked him to go or directed him to say anything to Mr. Netanyahu. He said he was there as a “private citizen,” adding that he did express his view to Mr. Netanyahu that the Hamas terrorist attack would never have happened if Mr. Trump were still president.

Asked whether Mr. Netanyahu also expressed these views about Mr. Trump, Mr. O’Brien said: “He’s a pro, and he understands he needs good relations with the Biden administration. But that was my sentiment.”

The former Trump administration officials and Mr. Netanyahu met on Monday not long after the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor in The Hague, Karim Khan, sought arrest warrants for Mr. Netanyahu, his defense chief and three Hamas leaders on charges of crimes against humanity.

Mr. O’Brien said he told Mr. Netanyahu that Mr. Khan’s decision was a “disgrace,” and he reminded the Israeli leader of the Trump administration’s decision to impose sanctions on the International Criminal Court in 2020.

“I’ve spent my entire career as an international lawyer and I’m sickened by this prosecutor,” Mr. O’Brien said. “If he’s really concerned about a genocide he ought to be looking at the C.C.P. and the Uighurs,” he added, referring to the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression of Muslims in the far western region of Xinjiang.

Mr. O’Brien and the other former Trump officials met with several other Israeli policymakers, including the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, and Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel’s war cabinet who is increasingly at odds with Mr. Netanyahu.

The delegation also visited two sites of the Hamas terrorist attacks on Oct. 7: the Nir Oz kibbutz and the field in southern Israel, close to the Gaza border, where young Israelis were murdered while dancing at a music festival.

Mr. Wittmann, the AIPAC spokesman, said the trip was planned several months ago and the organization had arranged and funded visits to Israel for former officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations.



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