NEW YORK (JTA) – A parade of Israeli cabinet ministers praised U.S. President Donald Trump and lambasted the Palestinian Authority, and promised to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state at the Jerusalem Post’s annual conference.
Five ministers from Israel’s right-wing governing coalition, as well as its consul general, spoke at the conference, held Sunday in New York City. They presented variations on the same message: The Trump administration is pro-Israel, and peace with the Palestinians is close to impossible.
“The United States of America, after a few years in which the situation was completely different, sees eye-to-eye [with Israel] the danger posed by Iran,” said Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York. “The United States of America and Israel have a common view, and almost an exact view, of the situation.”
Trump has recently vowed to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, but even ministers opposed to Palestinian statehood expressed confidence that Trump is in Israel’s corner. Several thanked him for his impending visit to Israel this month.
“I was personally encouraged that the Trump administration did not automatically adopt the two-state solution narrative,” said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the pro-settler Jewish Home Party. “I think the Trump Administration will continue to positively surprise us.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Jewish Home’s chair, also reiterated his opposition to a Palestinian state, instead calling for a “Trump Plan” to invest in the Palestinian economy, modeled on the Marshall Plan that gave aid to Europe following World War II. Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis likewise promised to prevent a Palestinian state.
“The settlements in Judea and Samaria are not the obstacle to peace,” Akunis said to cheers, using the Biblical term for the West Bank favoured by Israel’s right. “So long as I am elected to serve my country, I will ensure that a Palestinian state will not be created.”I
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called the Palestinian Authority anti-Semitic, and echoed a frequent Israeli government claim in saying peace with the Palestinians would be impossible until Palestinian schools stop inciting against Israel.
“Can the extremist, corrupt, split, dysfunctional, totalitarian, anti-Semitic Palestinian Authority become a genuine partner for genuine peace in the Middle East?” he asked, calling the question “rhetorical.” He was answered with cheers and cries of “no.”
Transportation Minister Israel Katz called for increased settlement in West Bank settlement blocs around Jerusalem, and called on Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israeli Labor Party Chair Isaac Herzog also praised Trump, but unlike the other speakers, expressed confidence in his effort to reach a deal.
“I commend President Trump’s effort to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians,” he said in an interview with Yaakov Katz, the Jerusalem Post’s editor in chief. “I believe he’s adamantly committed to this cause. So far, the way he’s handled this mission is impeccable. I think there is a spirit of change that needs to be seized.”