Israeli lawmakers and settlement leaders race to Trump's inauguration

Israeli lawmakers and settlement leaders race to Trump's inauguration
A procession of senior Israeli figures are heading to Washington this week to attend the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump on 20 January.
3 min read
17 January, 2017
The election of pro-Israel Trump was warmly welcomed by many in Israel [Anadolu]
A number of Israeli lawmakers and settlement leaders left for Washington this week to attend the inauguration of controversial US President-elect Donald Trump on Friday.

The procession of senior figures - particularly from the right-wing of Israel's political spectrum - to Trump's inauguration will be seen as major confirmation of the president-elect's overtly pro-Israel policies.

The members of his future cabinet selected over the past weeks have also shown strong pro-Israel bias leading to expectations of a new foreign police strongly favouring the Jewish state.

Included among the entourage are Knesset members Yehudah Glick and Sharren Haskel, both from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party. 

Glick lives in one of the many settlements built in the occupied West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law.

He is also known for advocating Jewish prayers at the Muslim holy sites al-Aqsa mosque and dome of the Rock in Jerusalem - known by Jews as Temple Mount - which has seen a number of incursions by far-right Israelis.

He is considered a threat to the fragile status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem by Israeli security agencies.

Glick considered it a "privilege" to attend Trump's inauguration in an interview with Forward.

Accompanying Glick is fellow party-member Haskel, a one-time peace activist who took a sharp turn to the right following a stint with the Israeli police in the occupied West Bank.

Yehudah Glick considers it a 'privilege' to attend Trump's inauguration [AFP]

Also joining the convoy is Israeli rabbi and former MK Jeremy Gimpel, who enjoys particularly close ties to the American evangelical pro-Israel movement and who was involved in major controversy in 2013 when a video surfaced showing him advocating the blowing up the Muslim holy site the Dome of Rock in Jerusalem.

For Gimpel joining the inauguration will be more than the conveying of simple congratulations. 

He told the Land of Israel Network during an interview that he is "sent from god with a message from Zion" to the inauguration. 

Meanwhile. a separate delegation of Israeli settler leaders said last week that they too had will be heading to Trump's inauguration.

Oded Revivi, chief foreign envoy of the YESHA council, the official umbrella organisation representing more than 400,000 Israeli settlers in the Palestinian West Bank, said his organisation received an invite to the Washington event.

According to the UK daily, The Independent, the YESHA council raised $90 million in private donations for the event.

Revivi will also be joined by settler leaders Yossi Dagan and Benny Kashriel - mayor to the third largest Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. 

Kashriel said he believes that Trump will not follow the alleged "anti-settlement" policies of current US President Barack Obama.

"We're opening a new page with the Americans," Kashriel said.

In the wake of a UN Security Council resolution condemning illegal settlements, Trump had been outspoken in his opposition to the move urging Israel to "stay strong" until his inauguration. 

"[We] cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect," Trump tweeted soon after the security council resolution was passed.

The promised pro-Israeli policies of Trump were well-received by politicians from Israel's right, with current Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu taking to social media to thank the president-elect for his support.

While Trump's proposed cabinet has already been filled with figures advocating increased US support for Israel, a major statement of Trump's policies was also reaffirmed on Sunday, when the the Republican confirmed his son-in-law Jared Kushner as his Middle East envoy.

Kushner is widely recognised as being especially favourable to the Israeli settler movement.