Donald Trump
Donald Trump Reuters

Phillip Gordon, a veteran diplomat who served as White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf Region under the Obama Administration, warned that Israel should not be too reliant on the Trump Administration to defend the Jewish State.

"Israel's security has remained a priority for the administration." Gordon said in a radio interview with Galai Tzahal's Nurit Kanety "There is a question, I think, though, about President Trump's genuine commitment to the region and his willingness to expend American blood and treasure anywhere. He's shown that his overall main priority is this nationalist-populist approach to world affairs, and I don't think even Israelis can be confident that, if push came to shove, Trump would risk his own domestic interests even for an ally as close as Israel."

Gordon, who is visiting Israel as part of a J Street delegation from the United States, criticized Trump's justifications for the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike in Iraq. "What the administration alleged was that he was planning imminent attacks that would have killed hundred Americans, and then President Trump went on television and said that he could reveal that this was about striking four US embassies. But others in the administration have denied that that was the case. The Secretary of Defense said he never heard of it. The embassies themselves and their ambassadors and security officers never heard about it, which means that if it were true, which it almost certainly isn't true, that seems hard to believe. And if true, it would be a wild dereliction of responsibility."

He questioned the president's goals in withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and increasing the pressure on the regime. "The problem with President Trump is, it's not really clear. He's not very detailed when he talks about this. His administration, the Secretary of State and others have put out very detailed definitions of what they want to see, including Iran having no enrichment at all and a deal covering ballistic missiles and Iran's regional activities. I don't think that sort of deal is possible. Some people are speculating that what he really doesn't like about the 2015 deal is that it was done by President Obama, and like other deals, Trump just wants to say he did a better one. Now, to be honest, I think the greater problem is an Iranian refusal to negotiate rather than Trump's refusal to negotiate."

Gordon noted that the Iranian government is facing unprecedented internal dissent following its admission that the Iranian military accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner over Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, including many innocent Iranian citizens. "I think the protests in Iran are very significant and very serious, possibly the most serious that the regime has faced in 40 years. The regime has proven very resilient. They are willing to kill people to stay in power, so nobody should have any illusions about the regime going away easily. That said, we haven't seen anything like this before in terms of the genuine anger over Iran shooting down its own civilian airplane. I think there are even some similarities there with the way the Soviet Union handled Chernobyl, the nuclear accident. So I think this is a real crisis for the regime and it's really putting pressure on its leadership."