Israel’s new Foreign Minister: Trump plan a historic opportunity

He said “the plan will be promoted responsibly, vis-à-vis our neighbors in the region and the United States.”

By World Israel News Staff

Israel’s new Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi took office in a transition ceremony carried out at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Monday.

Ashkenazi, who is replacing outgoing Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, took the opportunity to say that the Trump peace plan represents a historic opportunity to shape Israel’s borders, Kan news reports.

Sending the message that Israel won’t act unilaterally, Ashkenazi said “the plan will be promoted responsibly, vis-à-vis our neighbors in the region and the United States, while upholding the peace agreements and strategic interests of the State of Israel.”

The Trump peace plan provides for Israeli annexation of some 30 percent of Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people’s historic heartland. Controlled by Israel since 1967, the area has not been officially attached to the country due to international opposition, the presence of a large Arab population in the region and Palestinian claims to the territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to annex the territory during his election campaign.

Ashkenazi also said Israel would work to strengthen ties with Egypt and Jordan. “They are very important allies in addressing the challenges in the region,” he said. He said that he would work to promote ties with other countries in the region “for the betterment of Israel’s strategic position.”

Outgoing Minister Katz said Ashkenazi has a select group of people at the ministry that he can build on.

Ashkenazi will serve as foreign minister for the first half of the government’s term, after which Likud MK Miri Regev will take over. Ashkenazi will then move to become defense minister, taking over from his party’s head Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who will then become prime minister.

Ashkenazi is new to politics, having spent a life in the Israel Defense Forces. He served as IDF chief of staff from 2007 to 2011.