Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with Dr. Joe Frager of the Nation Council of Young Israel during his trip to Israel .
(photo credit: NATION COUNCIL OF YOUNG ISRAEL)
Israel does not need to accede to possible requests from President Donald Trump to make concessions for peace with the Palestinians, regardless of Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, according Scott Walker, former Republican governor of Wisconsin.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post last week, Walker described Trump’s decision to move the embassy as “extraordinary,” but that he and others have long considered such a move “a given.”
Trump himself said in August last year after the embassy move that “Israel will have to pay a higher price, because they won a very big thing,” and that the Palestinians would get something in return.
Walker rejected this idea, however, asserting that it was a country’s right to determine its capital city.
“To me the idea that a country that has a seat of government in one city has to be thankful that someone put their embassy where their seat of government is at – it’s extraordinary that this president did it, it’s not extraordinary to me in any other circumstance,” said Walker. “It is extraordinary that he did so, I compliment him – yes, it is a big deal in the larger political sense, but myself and others have thought for a long time that’s just a given.”
An evangelical Christian, Walker served as governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019 in a frequently tempestuous term of office. He notably signed an executive order in 2017 prohibiting state agencies from conducting business with companies that boycott Israel, and also signed into law an anti-BDS bill passed by the state legislature in 2018.
Walker also briefly ran for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2016 election but dropped out early. He is currently heading Trump’s reelection campaign in Wisconsin, and could join Trump’s administration in the future.
During his four-day visit to Israel organized by Dr. Joe Frager of the Nation Council of Young Israel, Walker met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visited numerous sites across the country including the Golan Heights, several Christian sites in the Galilee, the Western Wall, the City of David archaeological site outside of the Old City of Jerusalem, and Yad Vashem.
He also visited several places in the West Bank including the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Bethlehem, the Barkan Industrial Park, and the Gush Etzion region.
Walker in particular lauded the Barkan Industrial Park, located in the Samaria district close to the settlement of Ariel, as a model for increasing Palestinian prosperity and, he asserted, the chances for peace.
He noted the equal number Israeli and Palestinian employees in the businesses in Barkan he visited, and said the salary for the Arab workers is higher than in nearby Palestinian towns and cities.
“It’s a prime example that if you have a good paying job and can put food on the table and take care of your family, you’re probably more vested in peace than those that may not be,” said Walker. “One of the best foundations for lasting peace is having Arab and Israeli people working together, respecting each other, being engaged in good paying jobs that support themselves and their families.”
Walker said that the BDS movement is “not only hurting Israeli people but hurting the very Arabs and their families who are benefiting from those jobs.”
He also asserted the need for “respect for other individuals” as a prerequisite for peace, and the need for such respect “to go both ways” in order to reach a “lasting peace.”
Walker declined to say whether he supported the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as part of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Any discussion about that doesn’t go very far unless Israel has safe and defensible borders,” Walker asserted, adding that without such arrangements, “any discussion beyond that is a moot issue.”
The former governor would not be drawn on what kind of arrangement for the Palestinians might be formed once safe and defensible borders for Israel are obtained.
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