Trump to meet Netanyahu on Dec 28: Israeli source

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the visit had been scheduled two weeks ago.

AFP| Updated: Dec 09, 2015, 18:48 PM IST

Jerusalem: US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will travel to Israel to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on December 28, an Israeli government official said Wednesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the visit had been scheduled two weeks ago, before the recent controversy over Trump`s call to bar Muslims from entering the United States.

According to the official, the meeting was in line with Netanyahu`s practice of meeting candidates visiting Israel.

US presidential candidates often go there while campaigning as part of efforts to shore up their foreign policy credentials.

Opposition lawmakers, including Arab Israelis, have opposed Trump`s visit because of his comments regarding Muslims.

His trip will also come at a tense time, amid a wave of Palestinian gun, knife and car-ramming attacks.

Israel`s population includes more than a million Muslims out of a total of roughly eight million people. The vast majority of Palestinians are also Muslim.

Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, made the provocative remarks regarding Muslims after last week`s shooting that left 14 dead in California by a Muslim couple said to have been radicalised.

Trump urged a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country`s representatives can figure out what is going on."

Netanyahu faced accusations of racism himself earlier this year.

In a polling-day bid to energise rightwing voters in March, the prime minister warned that Arab Israelis were going to the polls "in droves" -- a comment for which he later apologised.