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Donald Trump postpones trip to Israel after Netanyahu criticism

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Donald Trump is delaying his trip to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until "after I become president" of the United States, the Republican presidential candidate announced in a tweet early Thursday morning.

I have decided to postpone my trip to Israel and to schedule my meeting with @Netanyahu at a later date after I become President of the U.S.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2015

When asked on Fox News about the reason for his shift in plans, the GOP hopeful cited his relationship with Netanyahu.

"He's a good man," Trump said of the Israeli leader on Thursday. "But I didn't want to put him under pressure. You know, he said we have a meeting, and he looks forward to the meeting and all of that but I didn't want to put him under pressure."

Adding that it was a "semi-scheduled" visit, the business tycoon said that his postponement was also "because I'm in the midst of a very powerful campaign that's going very well."

The shift in travel arrangements comes just a day after 37 members of the Israeli Knesset sent a letter to Netanyahu calling on the prime minister to denounce Trump's recent plan to temporarily bar Muslims from stepping foot on U.S. soil.

On Wednesday, a tweet from the prime minister's account said that he "rejects" the Republican's Muslim ban.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump's recent remarks about Muslims.

— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 9, 2015

In a longer statement, Netanyahu's office said that "the PM had previously established a consistent policy to grant requests for meeting American presidential candidates from both parties when they visit Israel." The policy, according to the prime minister's office, does not reflect "support for any candidate or for their policy."

The visit to Netanyahu, scheduled two weeks ago, would have been the first foreign trip of his campaign.

Several Republican presidential contenders, along with many GOP establishment figures, have also denounced Trump's proposal to block entry to the U.S. for all Muslims. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that the billionaire's plan was "not what this party stands for." And Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said in an interview with the Washington Examiner that "we need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values."

The lack of GOP support has prompted some reflection from Trump that he may reconsider a third-party presidential bid, which he had previously pledged he would not do.

"I have lots of options open," Trump said on Fox News. "My deal would be - [Republicans] treat me fairly and I'll treat them fairly."

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