Netanyahu Denies Rift Between Israel and U.S. Democratic Party: Support for Israel Is Critically Important

On Trump's reaction to anti-Semitism, Netanyahu says the U.S. president's statement that 'whoever comes to destroy the Jews, we will destroy him' is one he 'hadn’t heard from leaders before'

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron welcome Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, in Paris, France, November 11, 2018.
REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

PARIS - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied on Sunday a rift exists between Israel and the Democratic Party in the United States.

At a press conference in Paris, where the prime minister attended a gathering of world leaders, Netanyahu was asked whether he seeks to reestablish ties with the Democratic Party in the United States following the gains it made in the midterm elections.

"I don't have to reestablish relations because they’re there, they’re excellent," Netanyahu replied, adding that he has good relations with both the Republican and the Democratic members of Congress, and that he called a number of them following the elections.

"The bipartisan support for Israel is critically important," he said at the Paris Peace Forum, hosted by French President Emmmanuel Macron.

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Netanyahu said he called leaders from both parties in the aftermath of the midterm elections, including U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

"I called two personal friends, one Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey who is a tremendous champion and a Democrat, who fought the Iran deal, and I congratulated him. And I called Ted Cruz who’s been a champion of Israel from the other side and I congratulated him, and I’ll talk to more," he said. 

Netanyahu said he'll do everything he can to maintain the bipartisan support for Israel "and even expand it."

Asked about U.S. President Donald Trump's response to anti-Semitism, Netanyahu said "what is necessary is for leaders to stand up." He said that Trump's statement "that whoever comes to destroy the Jews, we will destroy him" is a "statement I hadn’t heard from leaders before."

Netanyahu added that that anti-Semitism exists in the U.S.: "When Jews are killed in a synagogue by someone who is saying 'death to the Jews,' it means something. It hasn’t happened until today and that’s of course very very troubling." 

As for anti-Semitism more generally, he said: "There’s a great issue of anti-Semitism. And I spoke to Angela Merkel now, at lunch, about her important speech, her statements that she said in Germany. I think she understand well how absurd it is that in the 21st century we need security in a Jewish school or synagogue. It says something, she really shed a light on a troubling phenomenon. Anti-Semitism isn’t decreasing, it’s grown by 69% here [in France] in the past year."