Q: Mr. Ambassador, as you know, the United States relocated its embassy to Jerusalem yesterday. The opening ceremony took place. First of all, how do you feel about it?
A: Jerusalem has been the capital of Jewish states since 1080 BC. Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish state during the monarchy period, our first and second temples were built there. Since the last Jewish state was conquered by the Roman Empire in 135 AD and most the Jews were expelled from their ancestral land, they always kept praying “next year in Jerusalem”. Jerusalem is the capital of the modern State of Israel and will remain so. The decision of US president Trump means that the USA has recognized a historical fact and by that made a history. For decades many were reluctant to accept this basic historical fact. Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. The reluctance to accept this very basic fact was done mostly due to expediency in a false hope that ignoring history will bring peace. But this has proven, time and again, as a grave misconception for two major reasons:
First, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “Peace that is built on lies will crash on the rocks of Middle-East reality. You can only build peace on truth, and the truth is that Jerusalem has been and will always be the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state”.
Second, the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the reluctance of any Palestinian leadership in the last 70 years to accept another historical fact that there is a Jewish nation, there has been a Jewish nation from time immoral and there will be a Jewish nation. Peace will not be attainable as long as the Palestinians refuse to recognize the Jewish people as a nation and hence their entitlement to have their own Jewish national home on their ancestral land. The Palestinian extreme policy is the root cause of this enduring conflict.
Q: There were clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians due to the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. About 60 Palestinians died and thousands more were wounded. What do you think about it? What could be done to avoid these situations? What can be done to prevent these confrontations from happening again?
A: I disagree with the statement that appears at the beginning of your question for two reasons: first, it is totally incorrect to state that clashes between Jews and Palestinians took place. The truth is that the Hamas and his allies in Gaza, that ruthlessly de facto rules the hapless Palestinian population, have orchestrated a large scale aggression against the State of Israel. The Hamas uses the civilian population as a human shield behind which Hamas operatives and terrorist have tried to attack Israel and sabotage the security measures along the border.
Second, the Hamas pre-planned aggression is a cynical move to divert the attention of the population from the Hamas mismanagement of Gaza strip. Hamas splurges funds on rockets and constructions of tunnels to attack Israeli villages across the border rather than diverting these funds for the development of the economy of Gaza. Hamas led and guided mob even sabotaged the natural gas pipeline leading gas to Gaza in order to worsen the situation in Gaza, trying to blame Israel for the Suffering of the Gazan population. It is important to stress that the Israeli army was responding to aggression orchestrated by the Hamas terrorist organization, utilizing Israel’s inherent right for self-defense.
Q: The international community has condemned this decision of the United States, stressing that this decision will increase the tension between Palestine and Israel and will interfere with the effort to restore peace? What would you say about it? What are the possible outcomes?
A: Those within the international community that state that President Trump's decision about moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem will increase the tension between Israel and the Palestinians and prevent peace are inadvertently contributing to the escalation of the tension: such statements only embolden the Palestinians to pursue their intransigent policies regarding Israel and ongoing terrorist campaign and violence against Israel. As I have already mentioned the root cause of the conflict is the reluctance of the Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish State that is the manifestation of the right of the Jewish nation to a state of its own on its ancestral lands. Arab/Palestinian terrorism against Jews and Israelis has been in existence more than 100 years, thus it has nothing to do with president Trump's decision. Terrorism against Israelis was a tool in the Palestinian arsenal when the peace process was allegedly in full swing – over one thousand Israelis were slaughtered by Palestinian terrorists during the nineties – and also at time when the peace process was almost moribund. I wish to state it clearly: The Palestinian reluctance to accept Israel as a Jewish state and the Palestinian refusal to abjure terrorism are the root causes for the sad status of the peace process. Israel, on the other hand, since it gained its independence has always strived for peace: when our efforts met courageous and visionary Arab leaders such as president of Egypt Anwar Sadat and Hussein the King of Jordan peace accords were signed and peace prevailed. Successive Israeli prime ministers, including allegedly hard liners accepted the two-state solution. A number of Israeli prime ministers were ready for far reaching concession to the Palestinians, however the Palestinians have always failed to take the opportunity and put an end to violence, conflict and bloodshed.
Q: What is the Israeli government going to do to prevent this situation from worsening?
A: While striving for peace, Israel has the right and the duty to protect its citizens from the Hamas terrorist attempts to breach the border fence, intending to attack targets within Israel. Israel made relentless efforts to prevent the masses from violently breaching the border. These included early warning to the population (by leaflets, direct phone calls, on radio and social media as well as the use of non-lethal means (including water cannons, tear gas and smoke grenades). Israel will continue to do whatever possible to avoid loss of innocent human life. One should remember that Israeli civilians are living very close to the border with Gaza and cultivate their land bordering Gaza. They have the right to live in peace and security. On May 14th despite facing 40,000 Palestinian rioters along its border with Gaza, Israeli forces primarily employs non-lethal means to avoid loss of life. However, when faced with armed attack by terrorists and attempts by thousands of Hamas led mob to breach the border, the Israeli forces exercised their right to defend themselves and forestalled the violent efforts to storm the border in 13 different locations. The so called "Return march" orchestrated by the Hamas - a terrorist organization that its outspoken aim is to annihilate Israel – is not a peaceful demonstration of civilians. Hamas is responsible for Gaza, but instead of providing welfare to its citizens, Hamas brainwashes the Gazan population, uses them as pawns against Israel and exploits them as human shields for its terrorist squads. Hamas practices are criminal acts, they deserve clear-cut and cross the board condemnation by the international community. Hamas is only interested in escalating the situation even at the cost of harming the welfare of the Gazan population: on May 11th Hamas led mob set fire to and destroyed the Kerem Shalom crossing terminal, which provide humanitarian aid, fuel, gas and goods from Israel and foreign donor countries to the people of Gaza.