Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday confirmed a report that he plans to travel to Israel sometime after formally receiving the nomination at the Republican convention in July, and before general elections in November.
His confirmation came after the Trump campaign on Monday denied an Ma'ariv report last Friday, according to which he will visit Israel, Russia and Germany after the convention. A close adviser to Trump was cited in the report as saying the trip was meant to improve his image and to keep him more abreast of foreign affairs.
But the real estate mogul's spokesperson Hope Hicks denied the report as "not true."
However, in an interview with Israel Hayom published on Wednesday ahead of Israeli Independence Day, Trump confirmed the report.
When asked by journalist Boaz Bismuth, "I heard you are going to visit us soon, before the election," Trump responded, "yes. I will be coming (to Israel) soon." The Republican candidate did not elaborate further.
Trump had scheduled a visit to Israel for late last December, but postponed it a few days before it was to take place following an uproar over his proposal to temporarily bar all Muslims from entering the US until better security measures were in place.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in response rejected Trump's remarks in an official statement, and in response Trump said on Twitter that he was rescheduling his meeting with Netanyahu for "a later date after I become president of the US."
Trump last month told Jewish Insider that he postponed the trip because Netanyahu "said something that wasn’t as positive as I would have liked, and I cancelled it. I did not particularly like his statement."
In the Israel Hayom interview published Wednesday, Trump said, "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."
He also criticized US President Barack Obama's controversial nuclear deal with Iran last July, saying, "the current threat against Israel is more important than ever" because of "President Obama's policy towards Iran and the nuclear deal."
"I think the people of Israel have suffered a lot because of Obama."
Trump has recently made numerous expressions of support for the Jewish state. One of his advisers last Wednesday said he will not pressure Israel into concessions as Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton would likely do.
Earlier last week Trump supported Israel's right to build in Judea and Samaria, and last Wednesday he told a haredi magazine that "violence towards Israel is also violence towards us."