Benjamin Netanyahu has joined a long list of international leaders to reject Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims, while championing Israel's "respect" for all religions and citizens' rights.
The Israeli Prime Minister released a statement saying he will still meet with the Republican Presidential candidate for previously scheduled talks later this month but does not “endorse his views”.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump's recent remarks about Muslims,” the statement said.
"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.”
Trump’s meeting with Mr Netanyahu was arranged two weeks ago, the statement said, as part of a “uniform policy” to accept requests from Presidential candidates from either party who visit Israel.
The move was said to be “an expression of the importance that Prime Minister Netanyahu attributes to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States”.
He is due to meet Trump on 28 December as the mogul tours Israel. He has not announced any details but the Jerusalem Post reported that a visit to a contested holy site in Jerusalem is being “strongly considered”.
Control of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism and third-holiest in Islam, has been cited as a driving force behind a recent surge in Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
Since mid-September, 19 Israelis have died in Palestinian attacks and at least 109 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces, including 74 said to be carrying out or attempting attacks.
Opposition Israeli politicians have opposed Trump’s visit in the current climate, with Arab Knesset member Issawi Frej asking the interior minister not to let the American politician enter the country.
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
1/14 On Isis:
"Some of the candidates, they went in and didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work and sweated like dogs, and they didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS?"
2/14 On immigration:
"I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
3/14 On Free Trade:
"Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people."
PAUL J. RICHARDS | AFP | Getty Images
4/14 On Mexicans:
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists."
5/14 On China:
"I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?... I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower."
6/14 On work:
"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
7/14 On success:
"What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."
8/14 On life:
"Everything in life is luck."
9/14 On ambition:
"You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"
10/14 On his opponents:
"Bush is totally in favour of Common Core. I don't see how he can possibly get the nomination. He's weak on immigration. He's in favour of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can't do it."
11/14 On Obamacare:
"You have to be hit by a tractor, literally, a tractor, to use it, because the deductibles are so high. It's virtually useless. And remember the $5 billion web site?... I have so many web sites, I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a web site. It costs me $3."
12/14 On Barack Obama:
"Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might be on one of my courses. I would invite him. I have the best courses in the world. I have one right next to the White House."
13/14 On himself:
"Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money."
14/14 On America:
"The American Dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again."
“Imagine that a country or a candidate would say entrance to Jews is forbidden, the whole world would stand up in protest, saying this is a racist anti-Semite,” Mr Frej, from the Meretz party, told Israel Radio. “A racist like this has no place here among us.”
Taleb Abu Arrar, an MK for the United Arab List, claimed that if Trump visits the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, it will “set the whole region on fire”.
A petition by Knesset members demanding Mr Netanyahu cancel their meeting has reportedly garnered at least 37 signatures.
Trump has provoked international outrage with his call for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the US in the wake of a mass shooting in California by a husband and wife who allegedly supported Isis.
Additional reporting by AP