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Senator Scott Speaks Out: ‘Terrible & Not Helpful’ Response to Trump’s Criticism of Israel’s Netanyahu

In response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the peace process, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) called Trump’s comments “terrible and not helpful.” Scott, who was the lone Republican in the Senate to vote to withdraw U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen, also discussed Middle East policy in an interview on Sunday. Scott said that while the peace process has been stalled for two decades, criticizing Netanyahu isn’t the correct way to bring about change. “I think it’s terrible to criticize the Prime Minister of Israel on the eve of an election and I disagree with that,” Scott told Fox News Sunday. “I think the president should be careful not to do that.” Scott noted that the two countries have a strong relationship, and that a stable and secure Israel strengthens the U.S in the region. “I believe that the strong relationship between Israel and the United States is absolutely critical,” Scott said. “So, I think attacking the Prime Minister of the nation with one of our closest allies is not helpful.” He went on to say that although the peace process has stalled, he believes Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, “is a legitimate partner for peace” and that the U.S must “engage him as a partner to move the process forward.” Scott also warned against the over-reliance on military solutions, saying there has to be “an equitable and lasting solution to the conflict.” “We have to have concerted effort … from both sides in order for there to be an agreement,” he said. Scott’s comments come in stark contrast to Trump’s criticism of Netanyahu, who is facing a tough re-election. Trump has accused Netanyahu of moving away from the basic tenets of the peace process, tweeting: “Hate has no place in Israel.” The President’s remarks were met with criticism both in Israel and the U.S. While Scott has voiced his opposition to Trump’s comment, he agrees with the administration’s approach of having a two-state solution and attempting to keep the conflict out of the courts. Scott is one of many Republicans who disagree with Trump’s approach. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a close ally of Trump, also criticized the President’s comments, saying he doesn’t think “it’s helpful to throw fuel on the fire”.