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A not-so-innocent abroad: Trump bumbles across the Middle East

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24.05.2017

President Trump arrived in Jerusalem this week with a most curious bit of information for Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

“We just got back from the Middle East,” Trump announced. “We just got back from Saudi Arabia.”

At this, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, put his forehead in his palm.

Did Trump not know Israel is in the Middle East? Did he not know he was in Israel? There was little time to contemplate this mystery, because Trump was moving on to generate more puzzlement at his meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

The two men had wrapped up a news conference and reporters were shouting questions when Trump volunteered a confession. “Just so you understand,” he announced, “I never mentioned the word or the name Israel in conversation. Never mentioned it during that conversation. They are all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”

Thus did Trump apparently confirm that Israel was the unnamed ally that had provided sensitive intelligence to the United States that Trump then handed over to Russia. U.S. officials were concerned that if the ally were identified, Russia might try to disrupt the source.

Mark Twain wrote “The Innocents Abroad” in 1869 while traveling through the Holy Land and Europe. This week, Trump wrote his own chapter as he bumbled his way through Saudi Arabia and Israel before heading for Rome. Americans by now........

© Washington Post