Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, followed by a large security detail, strode through the Lion’s Gate into the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday.“The soldiers walked into this place after 2,000 years of expulsion,” she said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “I come from the generation where a united Jerusalem is a fact.”Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel and the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, Hotovely said Trump should abstain from efforts, even if “practically possible,” to allow a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem.“First of all, move the [US] Embassy,” Hotovely told the Post while touring the Old City. “Then, of course, we are expecting that moving the embassy is a symbol of the fact that Jerusalem should be recognized as the united capital of Israel.”Hotovely was accompanied by 50 international students studying in Israel and the three Israeli paratroopers who were captured in the iconic photo taken by David Rubinger following the capture of the Western Wall in 1967.
Trump faces an expiring presidential waiver on June 1 that overrides a 1995 law mandating the US Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The waiver has been extended since the Clinton administration, citing US national security concerns.Hotovely stated that dividing Jerusalem “is definitely not a good idea, even if it was practically possibly,” and argued that Israeli control of the city “is the only way to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe.”Hisham, 38, a shopkeeper near Lion’s Gate, watched Hotovely’s procession go by. “This is a normal city and people should be able to walk through freely,” he said. “But she is not normal, she is extreme.”The Palestinian Authority holds that east Jerusalem will be the capital of a Palestinian state, and most countries say that Jerusalem’s status should be determined in a final-status agreement for a two-state solution.Hotovely, however, believes that the entire city of Jerusalem and its approximately 350,000 Palestinian residents should remain under Israeli sovereignty. “When you go and actually look at the communities, Jewish and Arab communities are right next to each. Everything is so tight and close, you can’t divide Jerusalem,” she said.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued similar statements on Thursday. “It’s fitting that all the embassies – first and foremost that of our friend the United States – will be relocated to Jerusalem, which is their natural place,” he said.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
Pence: Trump seriously considering moving US embassy to Jerusalem (credit: REUTERS)