Netanyahu ‘rejects’ Trump’s Muslim remarks, will meet with him anyway

Julie Wiener

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Oct. 15, 2015. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Oct. 15, 2015. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP Images)

(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “rejects Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Muslims,” but will not cancel his already scheduled meeting with the Republican presidential hopeful.

In response to a news release Netanyahu’s office issued Wednesday evening, 37 Knesset members signed a petition urging him to cancel the Israel meeting, according to the Times of Israel.

Netanyahu’s news release did not detail his objections to Trump’s remarks. Trump this week called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Republican and Democratic politicians have condemned his remarks, as have numerous Jewish leaders.

“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,” Netanyahu said in the news release.

Netanyahu and Trump are scheduled to meet on Dec. 28, a meeting arranged two weeks ago, according to the release. Trump’s remarks this week about barring entry to Muslims have not been his only controversial comments on Muslims. In November the candidate said that if president he would create a database to track all American Muslims.

Netanyahu “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,” the release said, adding that the policy “does not represent an endorsement of any candidate or his or her views.”

According to The Jerusalem Post, Trump, in addition to meeting with Netanyahu, is considering a visit to the Temple Mount, a heavily contested site that is holy to both Jews and Muslims.

Taleb Abu Arrar, a Knesset member from the Arab Joint List party, told the Post: “If Trump the racist plans to visit Al-Aksa, the holiest place in the world for Muslims, to harm the sensitivities of people against whom he incites, he and Netanyahu will be responsible.

“Such a visit will set the whole region on fire, I am warning,” Abu Arrar added.

In the petition urging Netanyahu to snub Trump, Meretz MK Michal Rozin, wrote: “Their meeting at the end of the month lends support to (Trump’s) racist comments, and in this disgraces the democratic character of the State of Israel and hurts its Muslim citizens.”

While most of the MKs signing it belong, like Rozin, to opposition parties, MK Yaacov Margi (Shas) and Roy Volkman (Kulanu) also signed it, according to the Times of Israel.

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