Former U.S. Envoy Blasts Netanyahu for Backing Mexico Border Wall: Trump Squeezing Him Hard

Daniel Shapiro says he's 'sickened' by Trump's immigration policy, criticizes Netanyahu for his support for the U.S. president's agenda.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said he was “sickened” by President Donald Trump’s “ugly” executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and temporarily barring refugees from entering into the United States. He also harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his support of the Trump agenda, saying it showed that “Trump is already squeezing Netanyahu hard.” 

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Afterwards, following anger from Mexico, the Prime Minister Office clarified Netanyahu's statement, saying that "the prime minister was addressing Israel's unique circumstances and the important experience we have and which we are willing to share with other nations. There was no attempt to voice an opinion regarding U.S.-Mexico ties."

In his Saturday night tweetstorm, Shapiro appeared to search for an explanation as to why Netanyahu was abandoning any effort to maintain bipartisan support for Israel by helping Trump make his case for building a wall on the Mexican border. Such action will, after all, surely damage his relationship with the Democrats. Shapiro concluded that the Israeli prime minister seems to be in a vulnerable position, under pressure from Trump, with no choice but to curry favor with the volatile new president. 

Shapiro, an Obama appointee who left his post on January 20, made his opposition to Trump’s controversial executive order on refugees and immigration clear, saying that the fact that the policy is what Trump campaigned on “doesn’t make it less wrong.” 

"Ending all admission of refugees? A religious test for those admitted to the country? Legal immigrants denied re-entry? Ugly all around,” Shapiro tweeted. 

The former envoy, who has chosen to live in Israel after he stepped down from his post so his children can complete their schooling, expressed hope that the order will “be overturned in court ASAP.” 

Shapiro also added that he had reinforced his values “for my kids today” by donating to HIAS. HIAS the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was founded in 1881 to assist Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe, and over the years has extended its mission to protecting and advocating to all refugees, regardless of origin or religion. 

Shapiro then responded to Netanyahu's tweet in which the prime minister expressed support for Trump's plan to build a border wall along America's border with Mexico. “President Trump is right," Netanyahu said. "I built a wall along Israel's southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea”

The prime minister's “top aides told me a key goal in Trump's era was keeping bipartisan support for Israel. Now this?” Shapiro tweeted. 

Shapiro continued that “Israel's challenges with Sinai border not similar to US border. Their solution (a fence, not a wall) works for them, would not for us." He said that Netanyahu’s “intervention on a hotly debated issue in domestic U.S. politics" was “hard to explain. Unless this endorsement is Trump's demand of Netanyahu for something Netanyahu wants, the quid pro quo. But for what?  Canceling the Iran deal? Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem? Supporting building in settlement blocs?” and concluded “To me, it looks like Trump is already squeezing Netanyahu hard. 'The Art of the Deal.'"

Joining the criticism, Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid called Netanyahu's statement "a grave mistake."

Netanyahu has put a "crude foot in the conflict that is tearing U.S. society apart" by saying he supports Trump's border wall, Lapid said in a tweet.

The statement, Lapid wrote, is an "unnecessary declaration of war on Mexico and the Hispanics, and a divorce from the Democrats (including most U.S. Jewry). It doesn't matter what we think about the wall, don't we have enough trouble of our own?"