NEW YORK, Dec. 10 (UPI) — After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, the Republican candidate announced he would postpone his upcoming visit to Israel.
Nentanyahu was originally set to meet with Trump during his visit in the coming weeks. The premier released a statement Wednesday saying, “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. At the same time, Israel is fighting against militant Islam that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews alike and threatens the entire world.”
NBC reported the visit was planned long before Trump made his remarks about Muslims on Monday.
Netanyahu’s administration said the prime minister has a standing policy to meet with all U.S. presidential candidates from either party who request a meeting.
“This policy does not represent an endorsement of any candidate or his or her views,” the statement said. “Rather, it is an expression of the importance that Prime Minister Netanyahu attributes to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States.”
Thirty-seven Knesset members signed a letter Wednesday calling on Netanyahu to block the meeting and condemn Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from the United States.
The letter was drafted by MK Michal Rozin.
“While leaders around the world condemn the Republican presidential candidate’s racist and outrageous remarks, Netanyahu is warmly embracing him,” Rozin told Haaretz. “Their meeting in the end of the month backs up [Trump’s] racist statements, thus disgracing Israel’s democratic character and hurting its Muslim citizens.”
Among the signatories on the letter was MK Ahmad Tibi, who called Trump a “neo-Nazi” and asked that he not be admitted to the Knesset. Even members of Netanyahu’s own Likud party have condemned Trump’s remarks
Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he plans to visit Netanyahu “after I become President of the U.S.”