Israel’s ambassador to Mexico faces rebuke after PM’s wall comments

Jonathan Peled to be summoned for dressing down by foreign minister after Netanyahu tweets support for Trump’s southern barrier

Israel's ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled, July 2015, (Screen capture: YouTube)
Israel's ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled, July 2015, (Screen capture: YouTube)

Israel’s ambassador to Mexico is to be summoned for a dressing down Monday in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apparent support for US President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Jonathan Peled will be called for a meeting with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso and is expected to receive an angry telling off after Netanyahu tweeted that Trump’s border wall was a “great idea,” comparing it to the wall on Israel’s southern border.

Israel had already walked back Netanyahu’s tweet a few hours after the prime minister sent it.

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry stressed Saturday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not commenting on US-Mexican relations when the Israeli leader said earlier that US President Donald Trump was “right” in pushing for a wall along the US-Mexico border to block illegal immigration.

Earlier Saturday, Netanyahu praised Trump for his plan to build a security barrier. Referring to the recently built fence along Israel’s border with Egypt, the prime minister said the measure had been a “great success” in keeping out migrants, who mainly came from African nations.

“President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea,” Netanyahu wrote in English on Twitter, Trump’s preferred method of communication.

The backtracking came after Mexican officials phoned Jerusalem and angrily demanded a clarification, the Haaretz daily reported on Saturday night.

“[Netanyahu] referred to our specific security experience which we are willing to share,” spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon wrote on Twitter.

“We do not express a position on US-Mexico relations.”

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a communique that it had expressed to Israel’s ambassador its “profound surprise, rejection and disappointment in the prime minister’s message on Twitter. Mexico is Israel’s friend and should be treated as such.”

Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro also criticized Netanyahu in a string of tweets.

“PM Netanyahu’s top aide’s told me a key goal in Trump’s era was keeping bipartisan support for Israel. Now this?” began Shapiro in a lengthy string of Twitter posts that speculated on the prime minister’s true motivation for diving into a subject of such controversy in the US.

“Hard to explain this intervention on a hotly debated issue in domestic US politics,” he tweeted. “Unless this endorsement is Trump’s demand of Netanyahu for something Netanyahu wants, the quid pro quo. But for what?”

The former ambassador went on to speculate that the new president “is already squeezing Netanyahu hard,” and referenced Trump’s business book, “The Art of the Deal.”

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