Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at a Capitol Hill rally to "Stop the Iran Nuclear Deal" in Washington, September 9, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration expressed relief on Thursday that Donald Trump, front-runner for the Republican nomination for president, cancelled his trip to Israel scheduled for later this month.
"Most people are relieved that he reconsidered," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. "The situation in Israel is particularly volatile."
Earnest said he also imagines Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has let out a sigh of relief. The prime minister meets with all US presidential candidates when they visit Israel, and he expected to receive Trump upon his arrival.
Trump told the Wall Street Journal he is skeptical about Netanyahu's rejection of his comments about Muslims.
"“He disagrees with me. I doubt he actually does,”Trump said.
A Trump campaign staffer told The Jerusalem Post
this week that he had planned to visit the Temple Mount
(Haram al-Sharif). Earnest said he was unaware of guidance provided by the State Department suggesting Trump cancel the Temple Mount visit– either for his security, or in the interests of national security.
Trump this week published a proposal that the US ban all Muslim foreigners from entering the United States until the country "figures out what the hell is going on" with radical extremism. The proposal has been widely condemned by Republicans, by the Obama administration, and by Netanyahu.
Adding to the controversy on Thursday, Trump told the Wall Street Journal he is skeptical about Netanyahu's rejection of his comments about Muslims.
"He disagrees with me. I doubt he actually does,” Trump said.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.