By Gil Hoffman
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first reaction to Trump decision may take place at The Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu purposely did not react to US President Donald Trump’s plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and start the process of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem Tuesday, and his ministers said the Prime Minister’s Office instructed them to stay silent as well.
But Netanyahu made a point of adding an appearance at The Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference Wednesday morning, where he is expected to react for the first time to Trump’s decisions. A formal response from Netanyahu will follow Trump’s long-awaited speech about the Middle East hours later.
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, who will also speak at the conference, returned from Washington where he participated in a number of events and meetings with senior US government officials and Jewish leaders, with the 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 Post that he welcomed Trump’s apparent decision and said he believes the threats of violence from Arab and Muslim countries would not impact the 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 will also speak at the 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 US President Donald Trump that moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could enflame 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 brig about an unnecessary explosion.”
Ayman Odeh, Chairman of the Joint List, 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 Ahmed Tibi called Trump’s decision a “political attack.”
“This is a decision whose voice goes against international law,” Tibi said. “It is unthinkable that President Trump’s election promise would become a ‘political attack’ that would seriously damage the two-state vision. The American administration proves this time that they are part of the problem and not part of the solution.”