Netanyahu rejects Trump’s comments on Muslims, upholds scheduled meeting

While rejecting Donald Trump’s remarks on Muslims, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is upholding his commitment to meet any US presidential candidate who wishes to do so.

By: Aryeh Savir,World Israel News
Donald Trump

Donald Trump. (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

Prime Minister Netanyahu released a statement on Wednesday rejecting recent remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump about Muslims, but said he would still meet with him when he visits Israel at the end of the month.

“The State of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens. At the same time, Israel is fighting against militant Islam that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews alike and threatens the entire world,” the statement read.

The meeting with Trump that was set some two weeks ago, and Netanyahu declared an impartial policy earlier in the year in which he welcomed meetings with all presidential candidates from either party who visit Israel and ask for a meeting.

However, Netanyahu stressed in the statement that this policy “does not represent an endorsement of any candidate or his or her views.” Rather, it is “an expression of the importance” Netanyahu attributes to “the strong alliance between Israel and the United States.”

Trump has recently called for the monitoring of mosques in the US and proposed this week to temporarily bar Muslims from traveling to the US in wake of the San Bernardino Islamic terror attack, remarks which generated a political storm in Israel as well.

Netanyahu issued his statement in response to calls by Israeli lawmakers demanding that he refrain from meeting with Trump because of his remarks on Muslims. About a third of the Knesset’s lawmakers, mostly from the opposition and the left-wing parties, signed a petition calling for the cancellation of the meeting.

Member of Knesset (MK) Zehava Galon, head of the extreme left-wing Meretz party, said such a meeting would be “a slap in the face” to all Israel’s Muslims citizens.

Arab MK Ahmed Tibi called on Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to bar the entry of “the Neo-Nazi” Trump, “until we understand the threat posed by all Trumps,” a play on Trump’s statement regarding the threat Muslims pose to the US.

Incidentally, Trump did not say he would visit the Knesset. In the meantime, reports have been circulating that Trump intends to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, an event which is sure to spark controversy and even violence.