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Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses allegations of anti-Semitism levelled at Donald Trump and team

Israeli Prime Minister says Mr Trump's election has put Israeli-US relations in a 'better place than they've been in years,' despite tensions over alt-right and anti-Semitic support 

Monday 12 December 2016 16:50 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of his optimism for working with incoming US President Donald Trump
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of his optimism for working with incoming US President Donald Trump (Screenshot via 60 Minutes )

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he is not worried about accusations of anti-Semitism levelled at both US President-elect Donald Trump and members of his administration such as chief strategist Steve Bannon.

“The boss ultimately decides the policy,” Mr Netanyahu told CBS News’ ‘60 Minutes’ from Jerusalem in an interview aired Sunday, adding that Mr Trump would be an ally of both Israel and Jewish-Americans and set the tone for the rest of his team.

“Mr. Trump and his associates are going to be very strong, not merely in support of Israel, the Jewish state, but also in support of the Jewish people,” he said.

Mr Bannon, despite calling his right-wing news website Breitbart a “platform for the alt-right”, denies any links to the neo-fascist movement. Several rights groups, among them Israeli detractors, have called for Mr Bannon to be removed from his post in Mr Trump's inner circle.

When asked whether Mr Trump has done enough to tackle the racist rhetoric and behaviour of some of his supporters, Mr Netanyahu said while he is “not a referee” it “is just not true” that Mr Trump is anti-Semitic.

“I know his attitude toward Israel, towards the Jewish state, and the Jewish people and that’s so powerful. For God’s sake, he has Jewish grandchildren, he has a Jewish daughter [Ivanka Trump], who converted to Judaism. I think we should keep sight of that,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu congratulates Trump

The Israeli leader went on to say that he wants Mr Trump’s help both in rolling back the US-Iran nuclear deal, and in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr Netanyahu congratulated Mr Trump on his election last month but has been fairly quiet on his stance on relations with the incoming US administration since.

The Israeli leader had to caution his coalition government to refrain from speaking publicly about their views on the new US President-elect after Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Mr Trump’s victory meant that “the era of a Palestinian state” was over.

Mr Trump has previously said that he will consider recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Shortly after winning the election he called Mr Netanyahu to invite him to visit the US at “the first opportunity."

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