Hardline Philippine Leader Lands in Israel

Monday, September 03, 2018 |  Israel Today Staff

Mixed reactions greeted visiting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as he landed in Israel on Sunday.

The hardline southeast Asian leader has come under international condemnation for waging a merciless war on drugs that has claimed over 5,000 lives in the Philippines, where drug use has become an epidemic and large parts of the country are controlled by cartels and criminal organizations.

Duterte also raised eyebrows for previously calling Barack Obama a "son of a whore" (a remark for which he apologized in his first speech in Jerusalem on Sunday), and for comparing himself to Adolf Hitler.

The Hitler comparison wasn't meant as a direct slight against the Jews or Israel (Duterte had said he'd happily slaughter 3 million drug dealers in the same way Hitler killed 6 million Jews), but has nevertheless made many Israeli officials uneasy about the Philippine leader's visit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for one, didn't seem deterred, and was scheduled to lunch with Duterte on Monday before visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

While in Israel, Duterte hopes to sign an important oil deal and procure Israeli-made weapons, having been boycotted to a degree by other Western nations.

PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte inspects an honor guard in Manila before departing for a 3-day visit to Israel. (EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO)

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