The leaders of the largest opposition parties, Yesh Atid and Zionist Union, both announced firm support ahead of Trump’s expected recognition of Jerusalem.
By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News
The two major opposition parties both lined up in support of Wednesday night’s expected announcement by the US President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The left-wing Meretz party and the Arab Joint list are strongly opposed.
Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party called on the world to follow Trump’s lead and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. Speaking Wednesday at the Jerusalem Post‘s Diplomatic Conference at Jerusalem’s Waldorf Astoria, Lapid also called for recognition of Israel’s full sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He expressed the hope that Trump would use the expression “United Jerusalem,” as he has in the past, so that there will be no talk of dividing the Israeli capital.
Lapid: ‘Recognize United Jerusalem as capital of Israel’
Concerning possible violence that may follow Trump’s announcement, Lapid said, “This is the time for the entire world to recognize united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Policies should not be dictated by threats and intimidation. If violence is the only argument against moving the embassy to Jerusalem, then it only proves it is the right thing to do. Now is the time to do what is right.”
Avi Gabbay, leader of the center-left Zionist Union, lavished praise ahead of Trump’s expected Jerusalem announcement, telling Israel Radio, “Jerusalem will remain undivided under Israeli sovereignty in any future peace agreement.” He added his hope that Trump will include trust-building remarks in order to “resuscitate” prospects for peace.
A top political pundit told World Israel News that the positive tone from the two main opposition leaders is electioneering.
“They know that they would be branded ‘traitor’ were they to oppose a declaration that Jerusalem is the Israeli capital,” said Mitchell Barak of Keevoon Strategies. “Lapid and Gabbay are both hoping to expand their base and attract center and center-right voters. How can anyone expect to do well in an Israeli election without being in favor of a united Jerusalem?
Left-wing Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On cautioned that moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could enflame the entire region and 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 also bring about an unnecessary explosion.”
Arab-Israeli political leader: ‘Trump is a pyromaniac’
Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, an alliance of four Arab-dominated parties, said that the announcement will destroy any chance of renewing the peace process. “Trump is a pyromaniac who could set the entire region on fire with his madness,” Odeh stated. “The last few days prove decisively that the United States cannot remain the sponsor or arbitrator in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Odeh also had some advice for Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying, “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 Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi called Trump’s decision a “political attack” and “a decision whose voice goes against international law.”
“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,” he said.