Trump used Netanyahu to sell Mexican president on border wall
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Trump used Netanyahu to sell Mexican president on border wall

'Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works,' Trump told counterpart in tense phone call, according to transcript published Thursday

Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, and then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shake hands after a joint statement at Los Pinos, the presidential official residence, in Mexico City this past August. (AP/Marco Ugarte)
Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, and then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shake hands after a joint statement at Los Pinos, the presidential official residence, in Mexico City this past August. (AP/Marco Ugarte)

US President Donald Trump cited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s security barrier during a tense phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto shortly after he took office, according to a transcript published Thursday.

Much of the conversation revolved around Mexico’s opposition to Trump’s plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico and have the Mexican government pay for it.

In the call, which took place a week after Trump was inaugurated, the president tells his counterpart: “You know, you look at Israel – Israel has a wall and everyone said do not build a wall, walls do not work — 99.9 percent of people trying to come across that wall cannot get across and more.”

“Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works,” Trump said in a transcript of the call obtained by the Washington Post, which published it in full.

Building a wall on the US border with Mexico was a key Trump campaign promise, sparking tensions between the US and its southern neighbor and earning the then-candidate accusations of racism and xenophobia, specifically following comments he made on the campaign trail claiming that Mexico was sending “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc” across the border to the US.

 

Five days after he was inaugurated, Trump signed an executive order to begin construction on the wall, tweeting a day later that Mexico will pay for it.

The comment prompted Pena to cancel his trip to Washington to meet with Trump on January 31.

A day after the tweet, Netanyahu posted a tweet of his own appearing to praise Trump’s push for the Mexico wall, saying: “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

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