Israel and Mexico Agree to Work to Clear the Air After Netanyahu Tweet on Trump Wall

Israeli president to talk with Mexican counterpart Peña Nieto to resolve crisis after Netanyahu tweets in favor of Trump's border wall.

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto is seen during the delivery of a message about foreign affairs at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City, Mexico, January 23, 2017.
EDGARD GARRIDO/REUTERS

Israel's ambassador to Mexico met with the country's deputy foreign minister following tensions caused by a tweet by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voicing support for U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Monday, Israel's ambassador to Mexico, Yoni Peled, was summoned by Mexico's Foreign Ministry. After the meeting, Israel's Foreign Ministry said the two had agreed to work to clear the air and continue with the two nations' good relations.

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Israel's President Reuven Rivlin will talk with his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday to resolve the crisis between the two nations.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray called Monday on Netanyahu to apologize for the incident, adding that Netanyahu's remarks "felt like an aggressive act."

"We hope that the Israeli government will have the sensitivity to correct Netanyahu's statement," Videgaray said.

Ealier on Monday, Netanyahu accused the media of exaggerating the crisis with Mexico following a tweet by the premier in which he voiced support for U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Netanyahu also cited the border fence that Israel built on the Egyptian border as successful in stopping the flow of migrants into Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, 2010.
Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

"The leftist media is on a Bolshevik witch hunt, brainwashing and character assassination against me and my family," Netanyahu said at a Knesset faction meeting.

On Saturday the prime minister voiced what seemed to be support for Trump's plan to build a border wall along America's border with Mexico and praised Trump for referencing Israel in defending his wall. 

"President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel's southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea," Netanyahu tweeted.

Mexico's Foreign Ministry expressed "dismay and disappointment" over Netanyahu's tweet. Interior Minister Arye Dery demanded that Netanyahu apologize for the tweet, but the prime minister refused.

Videgaray also called on Netanyahu to apologize, saying Mexico expects the Israeli government to show the sensitivity to rectify the prime minister's comments. Israeli Ambassador Peled was scheduled to meet with Videgaray to discuss the crisis on Monday.

Lashing out at the media at a meeting of his Likud party Knesset faction on Monday, Netanyahu accused of the media of exaggerating the crisis and creating fake news. "Commentators made a big deal in the media," his said. "These are the same commentators who had previously said that I needed to forgo Israel's defense assets of the first order for the sake of good relations with the prior president at the White House [Barack Obama] and now they are saying: 'You've hurt Mexico, destroyed relations with them.'"

"President Trump praised the fence that was built on my directive on our border with Egypt. He said that it almost totally stopped illegal infiltration into Israel, and I said in response that he was correct," Netanyahu recounted, adding that the media focus is deflecting attention to the fence's success in a constant flood of what he said is "fake news."

Tzipi Livni, the co-leader of the opposition Zionist Union Knesset faction, said: "Netanyahu's desire to receive applause in Israel over the fence [on the Israeli-Egyptian border] has caused an embarrassing diplomatic incident with an important and friendly country. Netanyahu should make it clear that he has no intention to interfere in relations among Israel's friends and that he respects the various interests of each of them."