Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) voiced her disapproval Friday of a map of Israel recently circulated by the White House ahead of President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit which failed to include the West Bank and the Golan Heights. "I hope this is just ignorance and not policy," Shaked said.
Speaking at an event in Ramat Gan, Shaked reminded her audience that her party was given a mandate to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. "We were not elected to keep chairs warm, but rather to implement clear policy, ensure that no Palestinian state is established and to ensure that the embassy is moved," she added. "If the prime minister said he worked for the transfer of the embassy, I definitely believe him."
In regards to White House policy and the prime minister, Shaked said, "We were elected to express clear positions. When we need to express them, they won't put tape over our mouths. Not every position is a goad and things don't need to be made personal. These are ideological matters and they are our job."
Regarding the possibility that the US embassy will not be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Shaked said, "The president is a president who has until now kept his promises to the voters. He promised to cancel Obama's healthcare plan and taxes and immediately acted.
"The issue of the embassy is a promise he gave to his political base there, not for us. His voters expected him to listen and I want to believe that he will fulfill the promise he made to his voters."
Shaked went on to emphasize that she did not believe the American administration has yet solidified a clear plan on the matter. "I wouldn't want Trump's visit to end with bombastic statements, but rather to be a positive courtesy visit aimed at unifying the three religions and a visit that deepens the ties between the two countries."
Asked about Trump himself, Shaked said, "This president is different and not from the classic Washington milieu. He comes from the outside with an open mind and great love for Israel and the connection between his people and the Israeli right."
Regarding the possibility of normalizing relations between Israel and moderate countries in the Gulf, Shaked said she believed the prospect must be seized. "In my humble opinion, this opportunity must be taken advantage of. There are connections between Israel and moderate countries in the Gulf, and we must put them on the table and develop them," she said. "This is an opportunity to create a new Middle Eastern economy; more public communication and economic ties with Arab countries rather than focusing on the conflict."