What will Trump mean for Is­rael?

Ne­tanyahu hails new era.

The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto) - - Front Page - GAVIN RABINOWITZ JERUSALEM Times of Is­rael/ Time­sofis­rael.com

Is­rael wel­comed the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump af­ter eight, of­ten tense, years with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, vow­ing to make the al­liance be­tween Is­rael and the U.S. “greater than ever” and herald­ing the start of “a new era.”

Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu pre­empted the in­au­gu­ra­tion to of­fer his con­grat­u­la­tions to “Pres­i­dent Trump,” ap­par­ently be­cause the in­au­gu­ra­tion took place af­ter the Sab­bath had started in Is­rael.

He tweeted “Con­grats to my friend Pres­i­dent Trump. Look fwd to work­ing closely with you to make the al­liance be­tween Is­rael & USA stronger than ever.”

That was echoed al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion by Is­rael’s am­bas­sador to Washington Ron Der­mer, who tweeted: “Con­grat­u­la­tions Pres­i­dent Trump! Is­rael looks for­ward to work­ing with you to make the U.s.-is­rael al­liance greater than ever.”

Is­rael’s am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Danny Danon said this would her­ald a sea change, par­tic­u­larly at the United Na­tions, where in De­cem­ber Is­rael suf­fered one of its worst re­verses in re­cent years, when then-pres­i­dent Barack Obama re­fused to use the U.S. veto in a res­o­lu­tion that con­demned Is­raeli set­tle­ments.

“A true friend of Is­rael will en­ter the White House to­day,” said Danon in a state­ment. “Thank you Pres­i­dent Trump for your un­equiv­o­cal sup­port, we look for­ward to wel­com­ing you to our cap­i­tal of Jerusalem.

“Af­ter the shame­ful res­o­lu­tion that was adopted by the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, Is­rael looks for­ward to strength­en­ing our most im­por­tant al­liance and lead­ing to­gether towards a new era at the UN,” he said.

But while Is­rael’s lead­ers en­thused, an­a­lysts sug­gested a more cau­tious ap­proach, say­ing that de­spite all his pro-is­rael pro­nounce­ments, Trump was still an un­known quan­tity for Is­rael.

“We have to ask if such an iso­la­tion­ist pres­i­dent will be good for Is­rael; will he have the pa­tience for us,” said Chan­nel 2’s lead an­chor Yonit Levi af­ter Trump again promised in his in­au­gu­ral ad­dress to al­ways put Amer­ica’s in­ter­ests first.

Chan­nel 2 for­eign ed­i­tor Arad Nir high­lighted Trump’s use of the term “Amer­ica First” in his ad­dress, with its echoes of World War II era anti-semitic con­no­ta­tions and his sup­port from far-right groups.

And diplo­matic cor­re­spon­dent Udi Se­gal high­lighted sev­eral ar­eas that could be of con­cern for Is­rael.

“Will his close ties with [Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir] Putin end up lead­ing to a per­ma­nent Ira­nian role in Syria?” Se­gal asked. Rus­sia has very close ties with both Iran and Syria and Is­rael is adamant that arch-en­emy Iran not es­tab­lish a sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence in its war-torn north­ern neigh­bour.

Se­gal also high­lighted the dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will take re­gard­ing Is­raeli set­tlers. Trump’s new am­bas­sador is a strong sup­porter of the set­tle­ments and a del­e­ga­tion of set­tle­ment lead­ers at­tended the in­au­gu­ra­tion.

“I def­i­nitely agree that we are now get­ting the VIP treat­ment, which is some­thing that we have been work­ing on for many years,” said Oded Re­vivi, chief for­eign en­voy of the Ye­sha Coun­cil, an um­brella group rep­re­sent­ing Is­rael’s more than 120 West Bank set­tle­ments. “You could ba­si­cally ar­gue that it has taken 50 years, since 1967, to be rec­og­nized on such a level for such an event,” he told a news agency.

The third key area is Jerusalem. Trump promised to move his em­bassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Mem­bers of the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment have been vo­cally sup­port­ive of the plan to move the em­bassy, which Trump vowed to do while on the cam­paign trail and af­ter his vic­tory in Novem­ber.

The po­lit­i­cally charged move has, how­ever, caused out­rage among Pales­tini­ans who see part of Jerusalem as their fu­ture cap­i­tal, and it was in­di­rectly con­demned by for­eign min­is­ters from the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port Jan. 20 in Ha’aretz news­pa­per, of­fi­cials from the IDF, po­lice and Shin Bet ear­lier last week pre­sented Ne­tanyahu and se­nior mem­bers of the cab­i­net – among them De­fence Min­is­ter Avig­dor Liber­man and Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan – with sce­nar­ios that could re­sult from re­lo­cat­ing the em­bassy.

The prime min­is­ter in­structed the se­cu­rity of­fi­cials to pre­pare for such a pos­si­bil­ity from the mo­ment that the new pres­i­dent is sworn in.

Ha’aretz quoted two se­nior Is­raeli of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with topics raised at the meet­ing as say­ing that Ne­tanyahu and oth­ers present made it clear that Is­rael has no solid in­for­ma­tion on if and when Trump will is­sue a no­tice to trans­fer the em­bassy to Jerusalem.

One of the of­fi­cials said Ne­tanyahu has spo­ken with Trump by phone sev­eral times since the elec­tion, (they also spoke by phone on Jan. 22) but at the time of the meet­ing, had not re­ceived a clear an­swer from the new pres­i­dent about the tim­ing of an em­bassy re­lo­ca­tion

Ac­cord­ing to Ha’aretz, the two of­fi­cials said that the pur­pose of the meet­ing was to pre­pare for pos­si­ble reper­cus­sions from the re­lo­ca­tion of the em­bassy, par­tic­u­larly in light of a me­dia cam­paign be­ing waged against it by the Pales­tinian Author­ity. One of the of­fi­cials said there has even been ex­plicit in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence by Pales­tinian of­fi­cials in re­cent weeks re­gard­ing the mat­ter.

Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu

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