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US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump postpones Israel trip

Presidential candidate Donald Trump has postponed his visit to Israel amid the controversy over his comments to ban Muslims from entering the US. The White House said 'most people are relieved.'

Trump said on Twitter that he would meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "at a later date after I become president of the US."

The White House endorsed the decision with spokesman Josh Earnest saying "The situation in Israel is particularly volatile, and so I think in this case his decision to reconsider that trip is a good outcome for all those involved."

Trump has been heavily criticized for his latest comments, proposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Israeli politicians called on Netanyahu to cancel the planned December 28 meeting. While Netanyahu rejected Trump's proposal on Muslims, he said he would still meet with him. Trump said on US television that he postponed his trip as he did not want to put pressure on the Israeli Prime Minister.

Global backlash

A petition on the UK government's website

to ban Trump entering the country had raised a record 482,493 signatures by Thursday night.

Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures

for a debate.

Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the United States, said "we are very proud of the Muslim community in the United Kingdom" adding that what extremist goups were doing had nothing to do with Islam.

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali issued a statement calling for people to "stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda."

India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar likened the explosive potential of Trump's comments to "a nuclear bomb."

A Dubai real estate firm building a $6 billion golf complex with Trump removed his name from the property and image following his comments.

Opinion poll

A Reuters/Ipsos online poll conducted between Sunday and Thursday this week showed Trump was supported by 35 percent of the 556 Republicans surveyed, which is well ahead of his challengers, including Ben Carson at 13 percent, and US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida at 11 percent.

An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll published on Thursday showed 57 percent opposing his proposal to bar Muslims from entering the US and 25 percent in favor.

jm/bw (Reuters, AFP)

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