Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he had decided to cancel his planned trip to Israel at the end of December. Trump wrote a Twitter message in which he explained that he had decided to postpone the trip and his scheduled meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu until a later date, after he would “become President of the United States.”
Many pundits in Israel immediately concluded that Trump’s cancellation was the result of an action taken by 37 members of the Knesset who had signed a letter calling on Netanyahu to cancel his scheduled meeting with the Republican front-runner.
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The petition was signed by leftist members of the Knesset and by Arab MK’s, and came after Netanyahu’s office issued a statement in which he rejected Trump’s comment about a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States that would last until the Obama government had figured out “what the hell is going on.”
“Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Muslims,” the statement read.
“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.”
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Trump later told the Wall Street Journal that he doubted that Netanyahu really disagreed with him on his proposal.
“He disagrees with me. I doubt he actually does,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal. “I just decided I wanted to wait. I’m in the midst of a very powerful campaign.” During an interview with Fox News, Trump added that his decision to postpone the trip to Israel was also related to the call on Netanyahu to cancel his scheduled visit with him. “I didn’t want to put him (Netanyahu) under pressure,” Trump said.
Sources in Netanyahu’s office said that the Israeli Prime Minister was not officially informed by Trump’s staff but had learned about the cancellation via Twitter. They also indicated that the cancellation was indeed related to the petition by the Arab and Leftist MK’s that also called to bar Trump from entering the Knesset.
Ultra left MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), who initiated the petition, claimed that the MK’s had “won.” “The racism surrendered to us. Trump got the message that there is no message that there is no place in Israel for a racist, a chauvinist person like him,” he said.
MK Ahmad Tibi, a former advisor to the late PLO boss Yasser Arafat, expressed skepticism about Trump’s chances of becoming the next president of the U.S.
“The American voters will throw this racist and international pyromaniac into the thrash can of history. I assume Netanyahu is disappointed Trump won’t coming to his office,” the controversial Arab MK said in a statement. Tibi had earlier called Trump a “Nazi.”
The Obama administration also expressed satisfaction about the cancellation.
“Most people are relieved he reconsidered. The situation in Israel is particularly volatile,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, adding that he imagined Netanyahu must have been relieved by Trump’s decision.
Others in Israel think the action by leftist MK’s against Trump’s visit to Israel is sheer hypocrisy. They point to the fact that when former President Jimmy Carter, who some say was one of the most left-wing U.S. presidents in history, actually banned foreigners from the United States, nobody complained. On April 7, 1980, Carter banned the entry of Iranians into the United States during the Iranian hostage crisis.
The same MK’s did nothing when Carter, who is now one of the most prominent anti-Israel activists in the world, repeatedly visited the Jewish state and made anti-Israel comments during these visits, these pundits say.