Pressure Mounts on Netanyahu to Cancel Meeting with Trump
Pressure is being mounted on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel a scheduled meeting with Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump at the end of the month over his anti-Muslim comments.
Trump is expected to travel to Israel on December 28th and has already scheduled a meeting with the Prime Minister. “Prior to the end of the year, I will be traveling to Israel. I am very much looking forward to it,” he tweeted Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, 32 Israeli Knesset Members sent a letter to Netanyahu urging him to condemn publicly Trump’s remarks and cancel the meeting until the Republican presidential hopeful retracts his call to bar Muslims from entering the United States.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On called the expected meeting a “slap in the face to Muslim citizens of Israel.”
“It is embarrassing that Netanyahu is willing to legitimize Trump as a reasonable candidate who is worth a meeting with a head of state,” Gal-On said in a statement. “Netanyahu’s willingness to meet with Trump despite his serious racist statements authorizes what the prime minister’s statements showed about him long ago: That there has never been such a racist, irresponsible prime minister.”
Meretz MK Issawi Frej also submitted a request to bar Trump’s entry, in a letter he sent to Interior Minister Silvan Shalom. “As an Israeli citizen, I ask that the state treats the racism against me in the same way it would relate to racism against Jews. Just as it is obvious that Israel wouldn’t allow an anti-Semite to use it to advance its political goals, so too, should be the case of Trump,” Frej said in a statement. “Trump is not only a racist but a danger to the free world. “He is a man who incites against 20 percent of Israel’s population, a man who wants to fan the flames of hatred everywhere he visits.”
On Wednesday, Knesset Member and former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren said that Jews and Israelis must be the first to condemn Donald Trump’s comments against Muslims. In an interview with i24News, an English-Israeli TV network, Oren said, “Whatever the reason, it is thoroughly unacceptable. It is very important for Israelis to stand up against this, precisely because we are Israelis; precisely because we are facing threats from radical Islam. We have to stand up for the vast majority of Muslims who are not radical.”
A source close to Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the prime minister “does not agree with every statement by every candidate.”
UPDATED: Prime Minister Netanyahu issued a statement rejecting Trump’s comments but explaining why he would not cancel the meeting with him. “Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Muslims. The State of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens,” the statement read. “At the same time, Israel is fighting against militant Islam that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews alike and threatens the entire world. As for the meeting with Mr. Trump that was set some two weeks ago, the Prime Minister decided earlier this year on a uniform policy to agree to meet with all presidential candidates from either party who visit Israel and ask for a meeting. This policy does not represent an endorsement of any candidate or his or her views. Rather, it is an expression of the importance that Prime Minister Netanyahu attributes to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States.”