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First Presidential Debate Recap: Trump vs. Biden on the Middle East

June 28, 2024


Former US President Donald J. Trump and current US President Joseph R. Biden engaged in the first presidential debate on Thursday, 27 June, which saw Trump strongly criticizing Biden’s MENA policy, claiming that it allowed terrorists to enter the US and attack Israel.

Republican Donald Trump referred to US President Joe Biden as “a very bad Palestinian” who refused to assist Israel in “finishing the job” against Hamas in the Gaza War.

“He doesn’t want to do it. He’s become like a Palestinian – but they don’t like him because he’s a very bad Palestinian, he’s a weak one,” former president Trump said.

President Biden was also accused by Trump of allowing an unprecedented number of terrorists to enter the US during his administration.

“We have the largest number of terrorists coming into our country right now. All terrorists all over the world, not just in South America, all over the world. They come from the Middle East, everywhere, all over the world. They’re pouring in. And this guy just left it open. … People are dying all over the place,” Trump said.

When questioned about supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state for regional peace, Trump did not offer a definitive response, saying, “I’d have to see.”

Trump further accused Biden of allowing Hamas to strike Israel as a result of the US’s lax enforcement of tough sanctions against Iran.

“Israel would have never been invaded in a million years by Hamas. You know why? Because Iran was broke with me. I wouldn’t let anybody do business with them. They ran out of money. They were broke. They had no money for Hamas. They had no money for anything. No money for terror,” Trump said.

This critique was also discussed during the Senate hearing that took place earlier in April of this year and looked into the potential financial benefits that Iran may have reaped from the Biden administration policies.

The two presidents also made no mention of any Palestinian casualties, despite more than 37,700 deaths reported since October as a result of Israel.

President Biden’s debate performance was largely criticised for being disjointed and difficult to follow. Following the debate, a CNN poll revealed that 67 percent of viewers believed Trump emerged as the winner, while 33 percent thought President Biden had the advantage.

Trump’s policies as president have historically favored Israel. These included relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, marking a significant departure from longstanding US policy.

Trump also cultivated a close relationship with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in counterterrorism efforts, once remarking in 2019 that Egypt and the US had “never had a better relationship than we do right now,” and commending Sisi’s leadership.

In contrast, Biden’s partnership with Al Sisi has encountered some challenges in recent months, especially concerning the Gaza war, and Biden previously referred to Al Sisi as the ‘president of Mexico’.


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