tillerson Israel

Israel News for May 15, 2017

Embassy Diplomacy
In anticipation of US President Trump’s visit to Israel on May 22, the Egyptian and Jordanian Foreign Ministers joined with the Secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee Saeb Erekat to declare that East Jerusalem should be the capital of the Palestinian state. They stressed the two-state solution as the only way to arrive at peace in the region.

The question of whether Trump would fulfill his promise to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was posed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday on the Meet the Press news show. Tillerson replied, “The president I think rightly has taken a very deliberative approach in understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region in understanding what such a move, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have. The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

When pressed on the issue Tillerson said, “Well, I think it would be informed, again, by the parties that are involved in those talks, and most certainly from Israel’s view, on whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction. It think the president is being very measured as to how he goes about this, and appropriately so.”

In other words, Tillerson said that Israel might be the one who is holding back the transfer of the embassy because it doesn’t view the move as helpful to advancing the peace process.

Reacting to the implication, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying, “Israel’s position has been expressed many times to the American administration and to the world … The transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem not only will not harm the peace process, but will promote it by correcting a historic injustice and by smashing the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on Netanyahu to “make it clear that we expect the US administration to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.”

There are no indications that Israel is pressuring or lobbying Trump to keep his promise regarding the embassy. Is it because it understands that Trump has already made up his mind that moving the embassy would not help the peace process at this time, or is it because Netanyahu himself realizes that very same thing?

From Tillerson’s words, it seems like it might be a combination of the two.

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Terror in Jerusalem
On Shabbat, a 57 year old Jordanian citizen attacked a policeman in Jerualem’s Old City. The terrorist charged at the officer with two knives and stabbed him in the neck and head. The policeman managed to shoot and kill the terrorist.

In response to the attack, the Jordanian government issued a statement in which it, “condemns as heinous the crime committed against the Jordanian citizen and demanded Israel to reveal the full details of the crime.” The statement also said, “The Israeli government, as the occupying power, bears responsibility for the shooting of a Jordanian citizen in the occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday, which led to his martyrdom.”

The Prime Minister’s Office responded, “It is outrageous to hear the support that the Jordanian government spokesman gave to the terror attack. It’s about time that Jordan stops this double game. Just as Israel denounces terror attacks in Jordan, so must Jordan denounce terror attacks in Israel. Terrorism is terrorism, no matter where it is.”

To watch a video of the attack click here.

Party Cancelled
Israel’s new ambassador to Nigeria, Guy Feldman, decided to cancel the embassy’s official Independence Day reception and instead, use the money to help Refugee children in the country.

The ambassador created a soccer league for children in refugee camps as a result of being displaced by the terror group Boko Haram. The embassy bought uniforms and balls and arranged coaches and judges. Ambassador Feldman said, “Our intention was to bring a message of hope to the children, which is also the Zionist message.” He named the league, “Israel cares—Kids’ Football League.”

For further reading click here.