Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended a warm welcome to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday at the start of an official visit, despite being criticised for embracing a leader accused of human rights abuses in his deadly drug crackdown.
All visiting leaders pay their respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, usually without much fanfare. I have forgiven them all. "I shall seek to reaffirm the ties between our peoples made more significant by a meaningful shared history", Duterte said in a departure speech at Manila's global airport.
Duterte has already apologized for his remarks, which threatened to damage six decades of diplomatic ties between the two nations.
Responding to his visit, Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an editorial headlined "A Hitler admirer at Yad Vashem", while left-wing politicians questioned why Netanyahu would welcome Duterte with open arms.
"Never again. May the world learn the lesson from this horrific and benighted period of human history", he wrote in the guestbook. "And I have heard that they have been treated as human beings, unlike in other places, which I am not going to mention now".
Meanwhile, Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the President has brought a sizeable delegation to his four-day official visit to Israel, including 46 government officials and workers and 150 businessmen.
He is also scheduled to meet the Filipino communities both in Israel and Jordan, home to about 28,000 and 48,000 Filipinos, respectively.
"I said, 'Son of a bitch, Obama you can go to hell".More news: Legionella bacteria detected in Sands Resort water system, Order issued
"It would have been more comfortable to receive a president here who had not made the kinds of comments we have heard, and it might be that we have to take a pill against nausea to receive him", Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter said on Kan Bet radio.
Despite the comparison, i24NEWS reported in July that an Israeli weapons manufacturer sold hundreds of assault rifles and other weapons to anti-drug police in the Philippines at the height of the anti-drugs crackdown.
Netanyahu took a lot of heat for striking a deal with the Polish president over his country's controversial Holocaust speech law, which would have criminalized blaming the Polish nation for crimes committed against Jews during World War II.
On Monday, the two countries signed agreements related to Filipino caregivers, scientific cooperation and bilateral investments.
He also apologized during that speech for once cursing former USA president Barack Obama, saying, "I am sorry for uttering those words". In contrast, the Philippine president said President Donald Trump is a "good friend".
Duterte also interjected a personal note into the visit, introducing his daughter to Netanyahu, and noting that she was a descendant of Jews who fled Nazi Germany and found refuge in his country.
On Tuesday the President is set to meet Israel President Reuven Rivlin.
Duterte's visit has sparked criticism over his so-called war on drugs which has seen thousands of alleged drug offence suspects killed extrajudicially.