37 MKs sign petition urging Netanyahu to cancel Trump meeting

Lawmakers, including coalition members, say Republican frontrunner’s ‘racist comments’ mean hosting him would ‘disgrace’ Israeli democracy; PMO: Meeting was set 2 weeks ago

Thirty-seven MKs signed a petition Wednesday calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel his planned meeting later this month with US presidential candidate Donald Trump, two days after the Republican front-runner said all Muslims should be banned from entering the US.

Netanyahu’s office earlier Wednesday said the December 28 meeting with Trump was decided upon two weeks ago, long before the billionaire candidate made the controversial remarks.

The petition was initiated by Meretz MK Michal Rozin, the Hebrew-language website NRG reported.

Rozin was seeking to “publicly condemn Trump’s racist remarks and to cancel the planned meeting (with Netanyahu) before he regrets his comments.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Jewish Federations of North America's 2015 General Assembly November 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI)

“While leaders around the world are condemning the racist and outrageous remarks by the Republican presidential candidate, Netanyahu embraces him warmly,” she lamented.

“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,” Rosin wrote.

Most signatories were members of opposition parties, but MK Yaacov Margi (Shas) and Roy Volkman (Kulanu) also signed it.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said the prime minister would meet with any presidential candidate from any party in the US elections, but added that Netanyahu “does not agree with every comment by every candidate.”

According to NRG, officials close to the prime minister acknowledged that in the current circumstances, there is “a certain complexity” around the meeting but insisted that it will take place as planned.

Trump has not walked back his comments, and on Tuesday doubled down on the widely condemned remarks.

Ahead of the 2013 Israeli elections, Trump appeared in a short clip calling on Israelis to vote for Netanyahu.

Trump on Tuesday tweeted that he may leave the Republican Party and run as an independent candidate.


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