Netanyahu urges ministers to keep quiet about Trump election


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on lawmakers and government ministers to refrain from speaking publicly about the election of Donald Trump and possible policy changes.

Netanyahu said Sunday during the weekly Cabinet meeting that during his telephone conversation with the president-elect last week, “Trump expressed very deep friendship for Israel, a friendship which has characterized him and, I must add, also the team around him, for many years.”

Netanyahu said he and Trump “decided to meet soon in order to discuss all of the important issues on the agenda between the U.S. and Israel.”

He called on all government ministers, deputy ministers and lawmakers to “allow the incoming administration to formulate – together with us – its policy vis-à-vis Israel and the region, through accepted and quiet channels, and not via interviews and statements.”

“In recent years we have wisely and responsibly managed our relations with the United States – the greatest and most important of our allies – and we will continue to do so in the coming months and years,” he said.

Netanyahu met with Trump the candidate during a visit to the United States in September, when he also met with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Trump will take office with his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.

In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper, which took place after the president-elect’s meeting at the White House with current U.S. President Barack Obama and was published over the weekend, Trump said:

“I love and respect Israel and its citizens,” and “I look forward to strengthening the unbreakable bond between our great nations. I know very well that Israel is the one true democracy and defender of human rights in the Middle East and a beacon of hope to countless people.”

Trump said he hoped his administration would play a “significant role in helping the parties to achieve a just, lasting peace. Peace, he said, “must be negotiated between the parties themselves and not imposed on them by others. Israel and the Jewish people deserve no less.”

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