Mexico's government on Saturday night rebuked Israel following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s tweet in which he appeared to praise U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to build a border wall with Mexico.
“President Donald J. Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel's southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea,” Netanyahu had tweeted.
The comment may have been a direct response to comments by Trump in an interview on Fox News on Thursday, in which he cited Israel’s use of border fences and other barriers to block terrorists and reduce illegal immigration from the Sinai desert as proof that the border wall with Mexico could work.
"The wall is necessary," Trump said. "That’s not just politics, and yet it is good for the heart of the nation because people want protection and a wall protects. All you’ve got to do is ask Israel."
Nevertheless, Netanyahu’s tweet on Saturday prompted angry responses from several prominent Mexicans of Jewish origin on Twitter, and an unusually blunt statement from the Mexican foreign ministry, according to the Reuters news agency.
"The Foreign Ministry expressed to the government of Israel, via its ambassador in Mexico, its profound astonishment, rejection and disappointment over Prime Minister Netanyahu's message on Twitter about the construction of a border wall,” it said.
"Mexico is a friend of Israel and should be treated as such by its Prime Minister," the Ministry added, noting Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray had only on Friday expressed his deep affection for Israel in an event marking International Holocaust Memorial Day.
Earlier on Saturday, Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon posted a clarification on Twitter with regard to Netanyahu’s comment.
“@IsraeliPM referred to our specific security experience which we are willing to share. We do not express a position on US- Mexico relations,” stressed Nahshon in his tweet.
According to Haaretz, Nahshon’s tweet came after senior officials in Mexico's Foreign Ministry called Israel's Embassy in Mexico City to voice strong protest over Netanyahu’s comments.
A senior official in Jerusalem said that Mexico was enraged by the statement and that was what prompted the Prime Minister's Office and Israel's Foreign Ministry to publish a clarification, hours after Netanyahu's original tweet.