Defiant Israeli culture minister: ‘Obama is history, we have Trump’
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Defiant Israeli culture minister: ‘Obama is history, we have Trump’

Miri Regev tells ceremony no country has as solid a link to its land as Israel, including those that supported the UN Security Council's anti-settlement resolution

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev during a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on December 21, 2016. (Ohad Zweigenberg)
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev during a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on December 21, 2016. (Ohad Zweigenberg)

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev on Tuesday launched a double-barreled attack on US President Barack Obama, first calling on him to take note of Jerusalem’s ancient Jewish history and then dismissing him as being no longer relevant due to the upcoming end to his term in office.

Speaking to Channel 2 television, Regev (Likud) backed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s furious diplomatic response to Friday’s United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and the failure of the US to veto the vote. Obama, she said, has never supported Israel.

“Who is Obama?” Regev asked rhetorically. “Obama is history. We have Trump.”

Regev and other Israeli leaders have made clear since the UN passed the resolution that they are looking forward to the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has indicated he will take an approach to Israel more in line with the policies of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government.

US President Barack Obama speaks on counterterrorism at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida on December 6, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN)
US President Barack Obama speaks on counterterrorism at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida on December 6, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN)

The US abstained in the UN vote Friday, and the 14 other members of the Security Council supported the resolution. This prompted Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, to summon ambassadors from most of the countries for a dressing down in Jerusalem and to order a series of punitive measures including a reduction to the minimum of Israeli working relations with the 12 of the 14 yes-voters that have ties with Israel. US Ambassador Dan Shapiro was called in for “clarifications” by Netanyahu.

“No organization in the world can point to a failing in the connection between the land and the Jewish people,” Regev said. She denounced the UN as having always been anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian.

Earlier Regev attended the unveiling of a plaque on the “Pilgrims Way,” an ancient street uncovered at the site believed to be the location of King David’s Jerusalem, outside the southern walls of the Old City in the capital. During the ceremony, Regev directed comments at Obama and the four countries that brought forward the UN resolution.

Visitors walk at the City of David in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on August 31, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Visitors walk at the City of David in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on August 31, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“No resolution in any international forum is as strong as the steadfast stones on this street. No other people in the world has such a connection and link to its land, neither in Senegal, New Zealand, Ukraine nor Malaysia,” she said.

The ceremony was held to mark the beginning of events celebrating the 50th anniversary next year of the unification of Jerusalem after Israel gained control of the Old City and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Days War. It was held on a 2,000-year-old street that the Israel Antiquities Authority believes served as a major thoroughfare in the late Second Temple Period, around the time of Jesus.

“Fifty years ago, we turned hope into reality: Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was once again united, and we will never agree to its being divided a second time,” Regev declared.

The minister also attacked two UNESCO resolutions passed in October at the UN cultural body’s headquarters in Paris that condemned Israel’s control of East Jerusalem and that used only Islamic names for holy sites while failing to mention any Jewish connection to the city.

“Several weeks ago UNESCO declared that there is no such link,” Regev said. “The ridiculous vote in Paris cannot cancel thousands of years of history. Today we respond to this distortion of history and say in a loud and clear voice: Jews lived in Jerusalem and will continue to live in Jerusalem. Jews built Jerusalem and will continue to build Jerusalem. Thus it was 2,000 years ago, thus it is today and thus it will remain forever.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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