Middle East

Jerusalem mayor blasts Obama, welcomes Trump in video

Nir Barkat responds to Secretary of State Kerry's remarks regarding Israel

 

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat slammed outgoing President Barack Obama and praised President-elect Donald Trump in an official video released Thursday.

In the video, Barkat urges Israelis to sign a letter urging Trump to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a move that Obama suggested Wednesday could be “explosive.”

“My fellow citizens, during the last eight years, the Obama administration has pushed for a settlement-building freeze, has surrendered to the Iranians and radical Islam and abandoned Israel to a hostile U.N. resolution,” Barkat said.

The mayor also urges Israelis to accept Trump as their friend. The video cuts away to Trump addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and vowing to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

Relations between the White House and Israel have grown contentious over the tail end of Obama’s presidency, culminating in an abstention of a U.N. vote that cleared the way for condemnation of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Some of Trump’s incoming administration has been split on whether to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. The Washington Post noted that most of the world doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. East Jerusalem is also considered “occupied territory,” which Palestinians hope to call their capital if a two-state solution is ever reached.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump’s U.N. ambassador, said Wednesday that she would back the embassy move, while Trump’s Defense Secretary nominee retired Marine Gen. James Mattis said he would “stick to U.S. policy” regarding Jerusalem.

Trump’s next ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, supports Israeli settlements and other changes to U.S. policies in the region.

Friedman said he looked forward to carrying out his duties from "the U.S. embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem," even though the embassy is in Tel Aviv.  Trump advisers have said that the president-elect will follow through on his call for moving the embassy.

The letter Barkat plans to send to Trump has gathered more than 10,000 signatures. Barkat’s spokesman Ari Lerner told The Post that Barkat paid for the video himself and it wasn’t intended to be an attack on Obama.