Mexico says Israeli PM should apologize for wall tweet

AFP , Monday 30 Jan 2017

Mexico called on Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to apologize for praising US President Donald Trump's border wall plan but the Israeli prime minister denied he was targeting the Latin American country.
Netanyahu has shocked Mexico and the country's small Jewish community in praising Trump's wall plan on Twitter over the weekend.

"We are expecting a clarification, a rectification. I think that an apology would be something appropriate in this case," Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told the Televisa network.

Videgaray said Mexico rejects Netanyahu's statement "and we hope that the government of Israel has sensitivity to correct this position."

Videgaray said the Israeli government's explanation so far was not acceptable.

US-Mexican relations plunged into the worst crisis in decades last week after Trump ordered the construction of the wall to stop illegal immigration and insisted that Mexico will pay for it.

Israel built a more than 150-mile (240-kilometer) barrier along its border with Egypt, a route previously taken by many African illegal migrants and traffickers.

Trump hailed the Israeli wall as an example last week, prompting Netanyahu to express his support for the new US president's plans to build a 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 in English, adding the Israeli and American flags.
On Monday, the Israeli prime minister blamed the media for the controversy.

"They say 'you've hurt Mexico, you've ruined the relationship with them.' Who even referred to Mexico? We've had a good relationship with them and we will keep on having one," he said.

The Israeli leader, speaking at a meeting of his right-wing Likud party, accused the media of overplaying the dispute, failing to focus on the "fantastic success" of the fence built in southern Israel to prevent migrant traffic and spreading "fake news."

"I am not surprised. The left-wing media is on a Bolshevik hunting trip, brainwashing and character-assassination against me and my family," he said.

Since the end of 2016, Netanyahu has been the subject of two police investigations -- one regarding luxury gifts he and his family allegedly received and the other concerning a meeting with the head of a prominent newspaper to try to negotiate better coverage.

He denies any wrongdoing.

Israel's ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled, said he would meet with foreign ministry officials on Monday but he did not say whether an apology would be given.

"A tweet should not affect this very good relationship," Peled told Radio Formula, denying that Netanyahu was referring to "relations with Mexico."

Mexico's foreign ministry had already expressed its "deep surprise, disapproval and disappointment" on Saturday.

The Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Mexico said in a weekend statement: "We strongly reject (Netanyahu's) position."

The tensions with the United States over the proposed border wall had prompted Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel a meeting with Trump scheduled for Tuesday in Washington.
The Jewish community voiced support for Pena Nieto and his decision to scrap the meeting with Trump.

Mexicans "live and work in and contribute to the neighboring country. Their human rights must be respected at all moments," the statement said.

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