Andrea Mitchell Bemoans Trump Not Putting ‘Pressure’ on Israel; Netanyahu’s ‘Slap’ at Obama

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Following at joint press conference between President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Andrea Mitchell could not conceal her disgust at the meeting. The MSNBC anchor and NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent first hammered Trump for not putting enough “pressure” on Israel, then denounced Netanyahu for supposedly taking a “slap” at former President Barack Obama.

After acknowledging that Trump’s approach to Israel represented “a great change from the Obama years” and an easing of “the tension of those years,” Mitchell warned of the “downside” that “Palestinian needs are not going to be addressed at all by the White House, and there won’t be any pressure on Israel, or there will be a lot less pressure, I should say, on Israel to address the needs of the Palestinians in terms of a comprehensive peace.”

Moment later, she ripped into Netanyahu for daring to applaud Trump’s changes to American foreign policy since taking office: “Prime Minister Netanyahu was so confrontational in his remarks. He took a real slap at Barack Obama by saying that he was congratulating, praising President Trump for his new policy on Iran, for his retaliation against Assad on chemicals – something that, as we know, President Obama did not do – and for, quote, ‘reasserting American leadership,’ U.S. leadership in the Middle East.”

Mitchell concluded that such comments were an obvious “triple slam against former President Obama” and scolded: “You don’t usually hear that from a foreign leader.”

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1 p.m. ET hour anchor Craig Melvin turned to Steve Clemons of The Atlantic to pile on Mitchell’s negative review of the presser. Of Trump, Clemons ranted: “...what we’re seeing is a new evolving pattern in the leaders that President Trump is meeting with....he’s not holding them to account for internal issues....He’s not challenging any of the leaders that he wants to like and have a personal relationship with anything, with any of the warts that may be going on inside of their society.”

The liberal reporter sneered that Trump’s whole foreign trip only amounted to “ra-ra stuff that at the end of the day will not necessarily get very far unless we have a deeper appreciation for the complexity of these situations.”

Clemons proclaimed that he was “surprised by Netanyahu’s slam of Obama” and argued that the supposed “broadside” against the former President was unjustified. Instead, he seemed to actually think Israel should be praising Obama: “The fact is, Israel has had an incredible relationship with every U.S. President in the modern era, including President Obama, who was able to wrap up, before he left, the largest aid package to Israel that has ever been done.”

While President Trump was working to repair all the damage Obama did to the U.S. relationship with Israel, all the liberal media could do was long for the days when a Democratic administration routinely lectured or insulted America’s closest ally.

Here is a transcript of the May 22 exchange:

1:31 PM ET

(...)

CRAIG MELVIN: Andrea Mitchell, you have spent a great deal of time in Israel, a great deal of time in Jerusalem. You’ve covered lots of these kinds of events. In terms of perspective here, I mean, this is a president who, over the past few days, we’ve heard a lot pundits talk about the historic nature. We know that he is the first president in a very long time to not go to Canada or Mexico as his first trip outside the United States. Do you believe, Andrea, that we are at the dawn of some sort of new beginning with regards to relations between the United States and Israel?

ANDREA MITCHELL: I think that certainly this is a great change from the Obama years and the tension of those years. But the downside of that, of course, is that the Palestinian aspirations and the Palestinian needs are not going to be addressed at all by the White House, and there won’t be any pressure on Israel, or there will be a lot less pressure, I should say, on Israel to address the needs of the Palestinians in terms of a comprehensive peace.

What they’re talking about is taking things step by step, and seeing if incremental steps, some economic benefits for the Palestinians in their working relationship. You heard earlier today from Michael Oren, making it easier for them to cross the Allenby Bridge to their jobs in Jordan. It's been taking six hours, rather than reducing it to 11 – rather reducing it to a half hour so they can get back and forth to their jobs. It’s been a huge economic drawback to the West Bank. So those are the kinds of things they’re talking about. But not anything that reaches the level of statehood, which has been the aspiration of the Palestinians and the U.S. policy for decades.

So it’s a mixed bag. I think one of the most notable things, though, was that Prime Minister Netanyahu was so confrontational in his remarks. He took a real slap at Barack Obama by saying that he was congratulating, praising President Trump for his new policy on Iran, for his retaliation against Assad on chemicals – something that, as we know, President Obama did not do – and for, quote, “reasserting American leadership,” U.S. leadership in the Middle East. So that was triple slam against former President Obama. You don’t usually hear that from a foreign leader.

MELVIN: Steve Clemons, what did you not hear from the President? What did you not hear from the Prime Minister there?

STEVE CLEMONS [THE ATLANTIC]: Well, I did not hear from President Trump a recognition of the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. I agree with Mark Ginsburg. It might not have been good to lead with that, but what we’re seeing is a new evolving pattern in the leaders that President Trump is meeting with. And he has said it himself, he’s not holding them to account for internal issues. He’s not challenging the Saudis about their treatment of women, their suppression of minorities. He’s not challenging any of the leaders that he wants to like and have a personal relationship with anything, with any of the warts that may be going on inside of their society.

I think President Obama, when he spoke in these places, and it was not – one of the reasons why he wasn’t appreciated as much, perhaps, would mix American objectives with an appreciation for that other nation’s objectives, but would talk about human rights, rights of the minorities, reaching out and trying to do something beyond what gravity looked like it would produce. Trump does not do that. That is the missing piece of this. This is ra-ra stuff that at the end of the day will not necessarily get very far unless we have a deeper appreciation for the complexity of these situations.

I agree with Andrea Mitchell, that I was surprised by Netanyahu’s slam of Obama. Of course, President Trump did the same thing along with calling the King Salman of Saudi Arabia, I don't know if many people caught this, he actually referred to him as King Solomon, which was an interesting minor gaffe, but interesting nonetheless.

But I think the broadside of Prime Minister Netanyahu – and we’re seeing it in these leaders – is that they can overstate the personal relationship at that moment. The fact is, Israel has had an incredible relationship with every U.S. President in the modern era, including President Obama, who was able to wrap up, before he left, the largest aid package to Israel that has ever been done.

(...)