Mayor Nir Barkat at the Jerusalem Marathon press conference this past March.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The US Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem despite warnings that such a move would spark violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said on Wednesday.
“For violence to occur there could be any reason or no reason and if we – God forbid – because of fear of violence wouldn’t do the right things there would never be Israel, there would never be a reunited city,” Barkat said at a meeting with journalists at Jerusalem City Hall.
“So I don’t think any one of us should be concerned about the potential threat of violence,” Barkat continued.
“If somebody wants to create violence in this region we will fight them and win.”
The mayor’s statements come as US President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Jerusalem during his visit to Israel on May 22-23. Palestinian and Jordanian leaders have warned the US that moving the embassy could spark violence in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and the greater Middle East.
Trump administration assessing whether to move US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, says Mike Pence on Feb. 25, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)
Israel annexed eastern Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinian Authority holds that east Jerusalem will be the capital of an independent Palestinian state, and most countries say that Jerusalem’s status should be determined in a final-status agreement for a two-state solution.
Barkat also said that he believes Trump will follow through with his promise to move the US Embassy, but acknowledged that it is hard to know for sure if this will happen.
“It is a little bit challenging to predict, but I can say though that speaking to the people that he appointed [to senior posts] that there is no change in the vision,” Barkat said, adding, “It is legitimate for him to hear everyone before he makes a final decision.”
Trump faces a presidential waiver expiring on June 1 that overrides a 1995 US law mandating the US Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Every president since Bill Clinton has exercised the waiver every six months, citing US national security concerns.
“If you’re asking me, I do believe that he will move the embassy or not sign the waiver,” said Barkat, later adding, “If there is a road for peace it goes through recognition of Jerusalem as the capital.”