A day after being criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his comments about Muslims, Donald Trump abruptly announced Thursday that he is “postponing” a planned trip to Israel and rescheduling a meeting with the country’s leader until “after I become President of the U.S.”
Trump had previously promised to travel to Israel before the end of the year, and he was slated to meet with Netanyahu on December 28.
He tweeted the announcement early Thursday.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu rebuked Trump for his suggestion that the United States should place a temporary ban on Muslim entrants to the country.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump's recent remarks about Muslims,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “The State of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens. At the same time, Israel is fighting against militant Islam that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews alike and threatens the entire world.”
“As for the meeting with Mr. Trump that was set some two weeks ago, the Prime Minister decided earlier this year on a uniform policy to agree to meet with all presidential candidates from either party who visit Israel and ask for a meeting,” the statement read. “This policy does not represent an endorsement of any candidate or his or her views. Rather, it is an expression of the importance that Prime Minister Netanyahu attributes to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States."
In an appearance on FOX News on Thursday, Trump said that he pulled the plug on the trip because he didn't want to put Netanyahu "under pressure."
“I didn’t want to put him under pressure,” he said. “I also did it because I’m in the midst of a very powerful campaign, that’s going very well, and it was not that easy to do.”
Other Israeli politicians have also criticized Trump, and many experts expressed concern about a report in the Jerusalem Post that the real estate mogul was considering a trip to the Temple Mount, a site that is the subject of controversy in the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A spokeswoman for Trump told msnbc on Wednesday that the Jerusalem Post report was "false."