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Trump claims Netanyahu agrees with him on Muslims

GOP frontrunner says he ‘doubts’ PM was sincere when he rejected Trump’s call for banning Muslims from entering US

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington, December, 3, 2015. (AP/Susan Walsh)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington, December, 3, 2015. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday denied he was axing his upcoming visit to Israel because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had rejected his call to ban Muslims from the US over terrorism fears, and claimed the Israeli leader actually agrees with his controversial 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.”

Earlier on Thursday, the GOP frontrunner said in an interview that he was postponing the slated December 28 visit for “lots of different reasons,” including a desire to take pressure off Netanyahu.

On Twitter, Trump announced his visit with Netanyahu would take place “after I become President of the US.”

He nonetheless voiced his support for the Jewish state, adding, “I have a tremendous amount of support from the people of Israel.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Knesset committee meeting on the controversial natural gas deal which was recently approved by the Israeli government, December 8, 2015. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Trump’s comments about Muslims, but said that he would still meet with Trump as scheduled later this month. After the visit was postponed, Netanyahu’s office said it had nothing to do with the announcement and had not spoken to Trump about the matter.

“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,” Netanyahu’s office had said in a statement late Wednesday.

An official in the Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu 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.”

Trump’s remarks have drawn anger in the US and around the world, including in Israel, where 37 lawmakers signed a petition Wednesday calling on Netanyahu to cancel the meeting with Trump.

His place at the lead of a densely packed Republican primary field has drawn criticism and some concern over the future of the party. His populist rhetoric has attracted a conservative base that has grown skeptical about the ability of more experienced politicians to carry forward their agenda, while alienating many potential voters, including Republican primary voters.

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