President Rivlin Tells Mexican Counterpart He Regrets Any Hurt Caused by Netanyahu's Tweet

In phone conversation, president says crisis over tweet backing Trump's wall was 'misunderstanding.' Mexico's Pea Nieto: 'interpretation of what was said was unavoidable.'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin at a memorial service for for slain PM Yizhak Rabin, November 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

President Reuven Rivlin spoke by phone with his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pea Nieto on Tuesday evening in an effort to quell the diplomatic dispute between the two countries over the wall that the U.S. plans to build along its border with Mexico.

The dispute was triggered by a tweet posted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday in which he described President Donald Trump's plan to build the wall as a "great idea."

Netanyahu's tweet was vociferously criticized by Mexico, with Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray saying that it "felt like an aggressive act" and calling on Israel to apologize.

Rivlin explained to the Mexican president during their conversation that the crisis was the result of a misunderstanding and expressed regret for any hurt caused to the feelings of the Mexican people.

"The security situation in Israel and the region brought us to the important decision to build a barrier along our borders," Rivlin said. "We have no intention of drawing comparisons between Israel's security situation and constraints and the situation of any of our friends around the world."

"I am certain that no one intended to make a comparison between the situation in Israel and that of Mexico. It was all a misunderstanding."

He added that the ties between Israel and Mexico were strong and important and that both countries needed to leave the misunderstanding behind them. "I'm sure we can put it behind us," he said.

The president also referred to the close ties between Israel and the Jewish community of Mexico, according to his office, saying that the community "plays an important role in Mexico's socio-economic development and acts as a bridge between the two countries."

Pea Nieto thanked Rivlin for his efforts to resolve the crisis. "I want to stress that Mexico has always had close relations with Israel and we want that to continue," he said.

Unfortunately, he added, the ties had been damaged by Netanyahu's tweet. "We are fully aware of the explanation that has been given for the tweet, but the interpretation of what was said was unavoidable."

"It aroused many reactions in Mexico and I'm sure you're aware of them," he added. "Our request for public clarification was unavoidable."

A statement published by Mexico's Foreign Ministry after the call said Rivlin apologized for the fact that Mexico was hurt by Netanyahu's tweet. The rest of the statement published by the Mexican ministry was identical to the one published by Israel's Foreign Ministry.

A senior Israeli official noted that that fact that Mexico sees Rivlin's remarks as an apology suggests that it is willing to end the diplomatic crisis.

Both leaders expressed the hope that the tension between the two countries would be reversed and that their ties would return to normal.

"I hope that this conversation and the clarifications that have been given will assist us to continue our important relations. I will be sure to make that known to the Mexican people," Pea Nieto told Rivlin.

Earlier on Tuesday Netanyahu described the crisis between the countries surrounding his tweet as a misunderstanding, and said that the great relations between Israel and Mexico would continue.