Centrist politicians back Jerusalem declaration despite violent response

“Jerusalem is our eternal capital and President Trump did the right thing in recognizing that,” said Yair Lapid.

December 19, 2017 11:02
2 minute read.
A Palestinian hurls stones toward Israeli troops in response to US recognition of Jerusalem

A Palestinian protester hurls stones towards Israeli troops during clashes as Palestinians respond to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)


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Leading politicians who consider themselves to be in the center of the Israeli political map told The Jerusalem Post this week that they do not regret their endorsements of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the nation’s capital and start the process of moving America’s embassy there.

The main oppositions to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay – said Trump made the correct decision despite the ensuing Palestinian violence.

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US President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announces embassy to relocate

“Jerusalem is our eternal capital and President Trump did the right thing in recognizing that,” Lapid said. “Israel and the United States cannot make policy based on threats and intimidation by extremists. We should deal with any terror attacks, including rocket fire from Gaza, with a firm hand.”

Answering a question from the Post at the Zionist Union faction meeting, Gabbay said that while he had no regrets about backing the move – which he called “70 years overdue” – Netanyahu could do better at handling the resulting rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

“It was good to take a positive step...,” Gabbay said. “I’m sorry it hasn’t moved the diplomatic process forward, but there is no justification for firing on Israeli citizens, and when there is firing on Israeli citizens, we must respond. The response that there has been clearly has not stopped the firing.”

Gabbay accused Netanyahu of being soft on terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and indifferent to residents living near the border.

“No one on our side has been hurt yet, but that can change,” Gabbay said. “Netanyahu is weak against Hamas. Three weeks of firing and we don’t hear him. We asked him in the Knesset about the rocket fire, and he said ‘Next [question].’ He shows no empathy to the residents, and Hamas notices it. After the prime minister says to hundreds of thousands under fire ‘Next [question],’ the people of Israel will tell him ‘Next [prime minister].’” Gabbay also lashed out at Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman: “Israel has a commentator as defense minister. We have enough commentators. We need a new defense minister.”

Liberman responded to the comments made by Gabbay, saying, “When I hear nonsense from irrelevant people, I can only have mercy on them.”

Asked on Army Radio about whether he regrets Trump’s announcements on Jerusalem, Liberman said: “We took into account that there would be a violent reaction and endorsed the historic decision anyway.”

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