Mexico says Israel should apologize over Netanyahu wall tweet

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Abir Sultan/Pool

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Israel should apologize for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s praise for U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall on the Mexican border, Mexico’s foreign minister said on Monday, calling it an “aggression” against the country.

The Israeli government had sought to nuance Netanyahu’s tweet after a rebuke from Mexico on Saturday, saying the prime minister was referring to Israel’s specific security experience and not taking a position on U.S.-Mexico relations.

However, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said that explanation was not good enough, and that the Israeli government needed to clarify and “correct” its position.

“I would ask prime minister Netanyahu how many walls has President Trump said he wants to build? It’s obvious he was referring to the relationship with Mexico, and we should be serious and assume responsibility for what we say,” he said.

“I think an apology ... would be appropriate in this case,” he said, noting that Israel was a “close friend” of Mexico.

“It’s absolutely incomprehensible that its prime minister should express himself in this way, which frankly we consider an aggression,” Videgaray added.

Trump’s planned border wall, which he wants to keep out illegal immigrants, has caused serious strain to Mexican-U.S. relations at a time when the American president is threatening to impose punitive taxes against Mexico to rebalance trade.

Netanyahu, who is under pressure at home with police questioning him in two criminal probes into abuse of office, came under fire both domestically and abroad for the tweet.

“President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great Success. Great idea,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.

Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli