Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a “mistake” for Donald Trump to meet with rapper Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) and far-right activist Nick Fuentes, both of whom have made antisemitic remarks.
Why it matters: The remarks from Netanyahu, who is highly popular among Republicans, echo criticism from senior Republicans in Congress and several of Trump’s former advisers.
What he’s saying: “I condemned Kanye West’s antisemitic statements. President Trump’s decision to dine with this person I think is wrong and misplaced. He shouldn’t do that. I think he made a mistake. I hope it’s not repeated,” Netanyahu said in an interview with American journalist Bari Weiss.
- Netanyahu added that Trump “has been a tremendous supporter of Israel … and the Jewish people,” and stressed he’s “unabashedly appreciative” of what Trump did for Israel.
- Netanyahu mentioned Trump’s decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, move the American embassy to Jerusalem, recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
- When asked to describe Trump with one adjective, Netanyahu chose “irreverent.”
Between the lines: Throughout the interview, Netanyahu tried to reassure the Biden administration and the Jewish community in the U.S. about the incoming Israeli government, which is expected to include extremist parties.
- Netanyahu stressed that he will be the one deciding on government policy and will not allow steps that could inflame the security situation between the Israelis and Palestinians.
- Netanyahu stressed that he will not allow the rights of the LGBTQ community or Israel’s Arab minority to be harmed.
- He also said the new Israeli government will maintain Israel’s democracy, and the country “is not going to be governed by Talmudic law.”
Worth noting: Several former Trump advisers — including former ambassador to Israel David Friedman, former Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and former envoy for fighting antisemitism Elan Carr, all of whom are Jewish — criticized Trump for meeting with West and Fuentes was wrong.
- In a statement after the meeting, Trump said: “Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”
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