Donald Trump Postpones Planned Israel Visit

Republican presidential hopeful, who was due to meet with the prime minister, said he didn't wish to "put Netanyahu under pressure.'

AP

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Thursday that he will not be coming to Israel at the end of the month as planned.

The real estate mogul, who was due to arrive in Israel on December 28, wrote on Twitter that he has decided "to postpone my trip to Israel and to schedule my meeting with [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu at a later date after I become President of the U.S."

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said that they weren't involved in the cancellation of Trump's visit and that they did not relay any messages on the topic to him.

Trump himself told Fox News there were many reasons he decided to hold off on a trip, among them that it was 'half planed' and because he didn't want to put Netanyahu in a bind.

"In fact, I did a campaign ad for him, and he's a good man, but I didn't want to put him under pressure," Trump said. "I also did it because I'm in the midst of a powerful campaign that's going very well."

Several dozen Israeli lawmakers had called on Netanyahu not to meet with Trump when he visits the country, citing his proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the United States.

Netanyahu distanced himself from Trump's comments, saying in a statement that 'The State of Israel respects all religions and protects stringently the rights of all its citizens. At the same time, Israel is struggling with extremist Islam that is attacking Muslims, Christian and Jews as one and is threatening the entire world.'

Officials from the Prime Minister's Office told Haaretz that they were in no way involved in Trump's decision to postpone his visit, saying that no messages of any kind were relayed between Jerusalem and the Trump campaign.

According to unconfirmed reports in the Israeli media, Trump was planning during his trip to Israel to visit the Temple Mount – a flashpoint holy site which has been the center of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the past.