President Reuven Rivlin on Monday called on countries worldwide to tear off the “mask of hypocrisy” and follow the US in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Speaking to Israeli diplomats at his Jerusalem residence, Rivlin addressed a number of geopolitical developments that have affected Israel, first and foremost, Donald Trump’s presidency.
Calling the US president a “true friend of Israel,” Rivlin said he was impressed by Trump’s “intentions to bring about a breakthrough in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and his strategic commitment to America’s return to the Middle East.”
Rivlin thanked Trump for helping to “rectify historic injustices” suffered by Israel on the international level, singling out for praise Trump’s December 6 declaration on Jerusalem.
“This decision tore the mask of hypocrisy that characterized and still characterizes the attitude of the international community to the capital of Israel. An hypocrisy expressed in a boycott of the location of embassies, a de facto boycott of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he said.
Owing to Trump’s decision, Rivlin said Israel “must move from being on the defensive to taking the initiative, and clearly call on the nations of the world to stop boycotting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
“Seventy years have passed, this boycott has no justification, and our allies must join the United States,” he said.
Turning to the Palestinians, Rivlin criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ “shocking and disappointing” reaction to Trump’s decision. Abbas, who said the US is no longer an honest broker in peace talks following the move, cursed Trump in a speech earlier this month and called the peace deal he is developing the “slap of the century.”
Rivlin’s comments on the American recognition of Jerusalem came as US Vice President Mike Pence kicked off the first full day of his trip to Israel, in the first visit by a senior White House official since Trump’s declaration.
Speaking at the Knesset earlier, Pence stressed that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and said the US would move its embassy to the city by the end of 2019.
Rivlin is set to host Pence for a meeting at the president’s residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
In his remarks, Rivlin addressed a number of other regional issues, including Gaza’s crumbling economy, Iran’s military entrenchment in Iran and Syria, and the rollback of the Islamic State terror group.
He also discussed the rise of far-right parties in Europe, which he said are winning at the ballot box, “while using and spreading anti-Semitic slogans.”
“The State of Israel must be clear in its approach. Whoever is in alliance with anti-Semites and anti-Semitism has no part in the family of nations. Let us not be mistaken — there is no such thing as loving Israelis and hating Jews,” he said.
The president voiced support for the Foreign Ministry’s decision to bar contact with ministers from Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, calling it “the bare minimum for a nation that remembers and will remember its victims.”
The Freedom Party, which came third in last year’s legislative elections, is the junior partner in a coalition government with the conservative Austrian People’s Party.