The US president has condemned the “evil losers” behind Monday night’s attack on a pop concert in Manchester that claimed the lives of at least 22 people and injured scores more.
In remarks delivered alongside the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Donald Trump lambasted the “wicked ideology” behind the attack, going beyond what British police and politicians have thus far said in attributing responsibility for the bombing.
Trump used the Manchester attack to echo a message he has delivered in Saudi Arabia and Israel on his first overseas tour as US president, calling on countries to root out terrorism.
“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families – so many families of the victims,” he said, describing his emotions on this “horrible morning of death”.
The White House said earlier that Trump was being updated on the attack by his national security team. Islamic State has claimed responsibility.
“We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” Trump said. “So many young beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life.
“I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are. They are losers. And we will have more of them. But they are losers, just remember that.
“Our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed, we cannot stand a moment longer for the slaughter of innocent people. And in today’s attack it was mostly innocent children. The terrorists and extremists and those who give them aid and comfort must be driven out from our society for ever.
“This wicked ideology must be obliterated – and I mean completely obliterated – and the innocent life must be protected. All civilised nations must join together to protect human life and the sacred right our citizens to live in safety and in peace.”
Trump and Abbas, who also offered his condolences, had been expected to talk about the US president’s plans to advance the moribund Middle East peace process. He hoped to kickstart what he has called his “ultimate deal”, but instead the day has been dominated by the events in Manchester.
Trump was greeted on Tuesday morning by Abbas at the president’s headquarters in Bethlehem. His brief journey to the West Bank city on the outskirts of Jerusalem offered a stark a visual reminder of the complexities of the conflict.
The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.
More than a decade ago, Israel built a separation barrier in the West Bank, saying it was a defence against Palestinian militants who carried out deadly attacks. Palestinians say the barrier is a land grab because it slices off 10% of the West Bank.
Trump’s remarks closely followed his comments on terrorism given during a speech to Sunni Arab leaders in Riyadh on Sunday and in comments to Israeli leaders on Monday.
Standing alongside Abbas, Trump said a peace agreement with Israel could “begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East” – although he provided no details of how that breakthrough would occur.
Abbas said he was keen to “keep the door open to dialogue with our Israeli neighbours”. He reiterated the Palestinians’ demands, including establishing a capital in East Jerusalem, territory Israel claims as well.
Trump’s stopover took in Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, on Tuesday afternoon:
Afterwards, he returned to his condemnation of the Manchester attack at what had been billed as his keynote speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem’s Givat Ram neighbourhood.
To applause from an audience of Israeli political and other leaders, the US president delivered an uncritical paean of praise to Israel.
“I had a meeting this morning with President Abbas and can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace,” he said. “In my meeting with my very good friend [Israeli prime minister] Benjamin [Netanyahu], I can tell you also, that he is reaching for peace. He wants peace,. Making peace, however, will not be easy. We all know that. Both sides will face tough decisions. But with determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal.”
Saying, as he has before, that he was “personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement”, Trump added he would support any coalition that emerged between Israel and Sunni Arab countries.
In what was essentially a trip empty on ideas, in which Trump trumpeted the “big, beautiful difference” on policy with Barack Obama, observers noted that what was most significant was what Trump did not say -– specifically the two-state solution.
Trump also dodged any public talk of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he had promised during last year’s election campaign.
The Manchester attack was also condemned by senior Israeli political figures, including Netanyahu. “I am sending condolences to the families of those murdered and wishes of a speedy recovery to the wounded,” the Israeli leader said. “Terrorism is a global threat and it is incumbent on the enlightened countries to defeat it everywhere.”
Source: The Guardian