Donald Trump has sparked rumours he will visit Israel before the US presidential election as advisers look to improve his image abroad and further his foreign policy credentials. The billionaire tycoon cancelled a planned trip to the country in December shortly after calling for a ban on Muslims entering the YS.
The comments led to condemnation from around the world and prompted a strongly worded statement from Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump said at the time he would postpone his visit to Israel until after the US presidential election.
But a recent report in the Ma'ariv daily – which cited a close adviser to Trump – claimed the presumptive GOP nominee was now planning a visit to Israel, Russia and Germany shortly after securing the nomination at the Republican convention in July.
Trump's campaign initially denied the report, but in a subsequent interview in Israel Hayom Trump appeared to confirm the trip. "I heard you are going to visit us soon, before the election?" the paper's Boaz Bismuth asked. "Yes – I will be coming (to Israel) soon," Trump responded.
He added: "I just want to say that my support for Israel is great and strong, and I have always loved the Israeli nation. I have many friends in Israel. We will ensure that the situation in Israel will be very good, and will remain that way forever."
The trip will likely seek to mend relations between Trump and Israeli leaders. Trump had planned to meet Netanyahu during the December trip but revealed the prime minister's public condemnation of his Muslim immigration policy announcement had made him change his mind.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump's recent remarks about Muslims," the statement from the Israeli government had said at the time. "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 said last month: "He said something that wasn't as positive as I would have liked, and I cancelled it. I did not particularly like his statement."
A poll conducted in Israel last month showed most Israelis did not want Trump to become the next US President. The survey, conducted by TNS for Channel 1 television, found 42% wanted Clinton to win, with Trump trailing behind at 34%. The rest held no opinion either way.