Avi Gabbay speaks at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay told ambassadors at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference conference on Wednesday that he is very happy about US President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. But Gabbay cautioned that the step must be accompanied by confidence-building measures to reignite diplomatic processes.
Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay at the Jerusalem Post's 2017 Diplomatic Conference, December 6, 2017
“Jerusalem should be united under our sovereignty, and that unites us all,” Gabbay said. “I hope that along with the recognition, the American administration will take steps in the Middle East to restart the peace process. It can happen. We should see it as something that can inspire negotiations.”
In an earlier interview with Israel Radio, Gabbay said Israel’s corruption overshadowed American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In his speech at the conference, Gabbay spoke about his parents, who moved to Israel from Morocco. He said that when they dreamed of Jerusalem, they did not wait for American recognition of the Jewish connection to the city.
Gabbay criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies on the issue the prime minister cares about most – stopping the nuclearization of Iran.
“I’m not scared of Iran,” Gabbay said. “They should be scared of us. Instead of frightening our people, we should be frightening their people. It’s a threat, but it’s a threat we can handle.”
Regarding the Palestinians, Gabbay said: “I believe in separation. Such a separation will ensure our security and that of our grandchildren. I don’t believe in saying in advance what we will give. We should have no preconditions, but we have to build trust. If we don’t build trust, there is almost no probability for successful negotiations afterwards.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called on the world to recognize a united Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for recognition of Israel’s full sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in an address at the conference.
“This is the time for the world to recognize full Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Lapid said. “This is also the time for the entire world to recognize united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Policies should not be dictated by threats and intimidation. If violence is the only argument against moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, then it only proves it is the right thing to do. Now is the time to do what is right.”
Lapid said that the new reality in Syria is that “Iran is going from boots on the ground to roots in the ground.” He said this is why there is no scenario in which Israel can or should ever be expected to return the Golan Heights.
“Had we returned them to Syria, as the world demanded, we would have had Iranian soldiers staring down at the Galilee, and Iranian artillery aimed directly at our cities,” Lapid said.