Netanyahu orders ministers to stay mum on Trump

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On warned Trump that moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could inflame the entire region.

December 6, 2017 05:36
2 minute read.
MERETZ HEAD Zehava Gal-On addresses staff at ‘Post’ headquarters in the capital.

MERETZ HEAD Zehava Gal-On addresses staff at ‘Post’ headquarters in the capital.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu purposely did not react on Tuesday to US President Donald Trump’s reported plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and start the process of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and his ministers said the Prime Minister’s Office instructed them to stay silent as well, at Trump’s request.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday returned from Washington, where he participated in a number of meetings with senior US government officials and Jewish leaders, with the stated goal of strengthening Jerusalem.

“On behalf of the city of Jerusalem, the beating heart and soul of the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment and intention to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Barkat said. “This historic step will send a very clear message to the world that the United States stands with the Jewish people and the State of Israel. In Jerusalem, we don’t cave to pressure and we don’t let threats or violence stop us from doing what is right. President Trump, I encourage you to do the right thing: Recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and bring the US Embassy home to Jerusalem.”

Netanyahu’s former number-two in Likud, Gideon Sa’ar, told The Jerusalem Post he welcomed Trump’s apparent decision and said he believed the threats of violence from Arab and Muslim countries would not impact the US president.

“These are historic steps to strengthen the international recognition of Israel’s eternal capital,” Sa’ar said. “I hope this will be the first step toward the US Embassy moving.”

Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud), who is scheduled to speak at Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, said the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was even more important than moving the embassy.

But Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On warned Trump that moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could inflame the entire region. She warned that such a unilateral move could distance peace.

“Jerusalem is the Israeli capital and will continue to be with or without the US Embassy,” Gal-On said. “Moving the embassy could serve Netanyahu but could bring about an unnecessary explosion.”

Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh said: “Trump is a pyromaniac who could set the entire region on fire with his madness. The last few days prove decisively that the United States cannot remain the sponsor or arbitrator in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. If the Israeli government wants the world to recognize west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, all it has to do is recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.”

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi called Trump’s decision a “political attack.”

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