Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has a wish-list for President-elect Donald Trump, and the top item is moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the holy city. Barkat thinks Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner will help him at long last tick off this item.
“My impression is, because I know some of the people and friends around Donald Trump, I believe that it will happen, sooner rather than later,” Barkat told The New York Times in an interview published on Sunday, identifying the famous couple as personal mates. “I do believe that both Jared and Ivanka will probably impact and give the right advice to President-elect Trump.”
The location of the American embassy in Israel has long been a sticking point in the bilateral relationship. Almost no other country maintains a diplomatic office focused on Israel in the city, which remains contested between the Jewish state and Palestinians, who would like to establish their future capital there. Instead, the U.S. locates its embassy in Tel Aviv, despite promises from two previous administrations to relocate the diplomatic mission to Jerusalem.
In his interview with The Times, Barkat also expressed hopes that the new administration would be tougher on Iran, echoing a line heard recently by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called for the cancellation of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear deal. In the Middle East, you have to maintain a very clear position that you support the good guys and fight the bad guys,” he said. “The point is that if all of a sudden you try to be nice to the Iranians and cut a favorable deal with them, then it sends a message in the Middle East that maybe it’s worthwhile being the bad guy.”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.