JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended a warm welcome to controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday at the start of an official visit.
The two leaders oversaw the signing of three agreements in trade, science and care-giving. Netanyahu highlighted the countries’ long friendship, how the Philippines took in Jewish refugees after World War II and was the only Asian nation to vote for Israel’s establishment.
“We remember our friends and that friendship has blossomed over the years and especially over the last few years,” Netanyahu told Duterte.
Duterte said “Israel can expect any help that the Philippines can extend.”
Duterte has been accused of condoning human rights abuses in his deadly drug crackdown and has made controversial comments about the Holocaust. He drew outrage in 2016 when he compared his anti-drug campaign to the Nazi genocide of Jews in World War II and said he would be “happy to slaughter” 3 million addicts. He later apologized.
Official Philippine police tallies place the number of suspects killed in police-led anti-drug raids at more than 4,500 since Duterte took office in June 2016. International human rights watchdogs have cited far higher death tolls.
Duterte, a 73-year-old former government prosecutor, denies condoning extrajudicial killings but has openly threatened drug dealers with death.