Sunday 18 March 2018

Calls for Netanyahu to cancel meeting with mogul

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Calev Ben-David in Tel-Aviv

Thirty-seven Israeli politicians have demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancel a planned meeting with Donald Trump, citing the Republican presidential hopeful's "racist" proposal to bar Muslims from entering the US.

Mr Trump said last week that he plans to visit Israel "very soon" to meet with Mr Netanyahu, whom he described as a "great guy".

Their Jerusalem meeting has been set for December 28, according to an Israeli official not authorised to speak on record.

"While other world leaders condemn the racist and outrageous remarks of the Republican presidential candidate, Mr Netanyahu embraces him," said a letter signed by more than three dozen opposition legislators, posted on the Meretz party's Facebook page. They represent nearly one-third of parliament's 120 members.

Mr Netanyahu's office hasn't commented publicly on Mr Trump's widely condemned proposal, which has struck a raw nerve in the Muslim-dominated Middle East.

The meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Netanyahu was scheduled before the candidate's latest comments on Muslims, the Israeli official said.

Ahmad Tibi, from Israel's Joint List of Arab parties, said in a Twitter post that he had asked the speaker of Israel's parliament, or Knesset, to ban Mr Trump from the premises.

Arabs comprise about 20pc of the Israeli population, and the Joint List is the third-biggest faction in parliament.

"Until we figure out the danger posed by neo-Nazis such as Trump, we cannot let him enter the Knesset," Tibi said, playing on Trump's statement that the US should bar Muslims "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

The Knesset speaker's office said Trump hasn't asked to visit parliament during his visit.

Netanyahu was criticised during his election campaign in March for exhorting supporters to vote by warning that "Arab voters are going in droves to the polls."

He later issued an apology, saying he "never intended to offend" Arab citizens.

Irish Independent

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