Donald Trump will visit the Jewish state on December 28, creating quite the quandary for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Two weeks ago, a meeting was scheduled between Bibi and the GOP presidential hopeful, but that was before Trump’s comments this week calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Netanyahu took flak in his last election for remarks he made about Arab voters, and now some insiders wonder if a Trump meeting might look bad for the prime minister.
A source close to Netanyahu told Israel’s Army Radio Wednesday that it is protocol for the prime minister to meet with presidential candidates who visit, whatever their views.
“Every presidential candidate that wants to may meet briefly with the prime minister,” the source said, according to the Times of Israel. “Netanyahu does not agree with every statement made by every candidate.”
This week, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Candidates and officials from both parties have harshly condemned the proposal.
In response, many Knesset members have asked that Trump be barred from entering the parliament. Thirty-seven lawmakers — nearly a third of the Knesset — have signed a petition asking Netanyahu to cancel his meeting with Trump.
“I asked the Knesset speaker to deny the neo-Nazi Trump entrance to the Knesset, ‘until we really understand the danger of all Trumps,’ even though the things he said are not foreign to some in Knesset,” Arab-Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List tweeted Wednesday, playing off Trump’s remarks.
Trump is the latest in a series of major presidential contenders to visit Israel. Republican nominee Mitt Romney visited in 2012, and Democrat Barack Obama came in 2008 before he won the presidency.