Attorney Marc Zell
Attorney Marc ZellWomen in Green

At an event in Gush Etzion's Oz Vegaon, Co-chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel Marc Zell spoke about the steps US President Donald Trump is taking to change the US policy towards Israel, the Middle East, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. He also spoke about Trump's pre-election promises.

Zell opened his speech by speaking about the night of November 8, 2016, when Trump won an unexpected victory after all the polls showed he would lose to Hillary Clinton.

"It was a real miracle, a landslide victory," Zell said, describing how he was called in the middle of the night to speak to the media. He also said the Democrats seemed to be mourning Clinton's loss, and would remain angry and in denial "until they accept the reality. It takes time, and apparently for Democrats it takes even more time."

Returning to the issue at hand, Zell said, "Trump will not tell Israel whether or no to build or annex. He will respect the Israeli government's decisions regarding Israel's future. This is a revolutionary policy.

"For fifty years, since the Six Day War, no American government has agreed to adopt this policy. Instead, they have pushed various forms of a 'peace processes,' which all offered land in return for peace, two states for two nations, and so on. These were all Washington attempting to dictate what Israel should do. And we managed to work around it somehow.

"With G-d's help, we built - in Judea and Samaria, in Gaza, in Jerusalem, in the Golan Heights. The settlements blossomed and grew. And now we have a change in Washington's policy, a change we never dreamed of. This is what we prayed for, but we never dreamed it would actually happen.

"Since 1948, US policy has been that none of Jerusalem belongs to Israel. According to the Arabists [sic] in the US State Department, Jerusalem is an autonomous region which belongs to no one and needs to be under international supervision.

"This is legal and diplomatic fiction, and it was US policy. This is what caused the US Embassy to be placed in Tel Aviv - because it was not allowed to be placed in Jerusalem, since Jerusalem is not Israel's capital city. The US Consulate, which has been in Jerusalem since the middle of the 19th century, has become an embassy for the Palestinian Arabs.

"If Israel decides to expand the current settlements in Judea and Samaria, Washington would accept that. I'm not saying they'll love it. But yes, they will respect it. And that's a huge thing.

"Obama's supporters claim they gave Israel the most money of any US government. But they gave $600 million per year towards our missile defense shields - and that's nearly all of the $38 billion they gave. It's not an unprecedented amount of money, and Obama also limited the amount of money he was willing to give Israel, so Congress could not decide to give more.

"So for instance, if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons and we needed extra protection, we could not ask for it," Zell explained. "Trump, on the other hand, has left it open, and if we need more money we can ask and we might just get it.

"Obama paid no attention to the fact that Iran is threatening Israel. He didn't want to get into it. But Trump is willing to get into it.

"Without criticizing Israel's Prime Minister, the Israeli government is just not prepared for Trump's pace. Trump works like a racehorse, and was about to declare he was moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. But Israel was just not prepared for it.

"It's the same thing with the settlements. During the transition period, I got many phone calls from Trump officials in charge of foreign policy and the Middle East. They asked me where Israel stands, what Israel wants, if Israel is ready," Zell said. "But Israel was afraid of Obama's reaction until the last second. And we see what Obama did in the UN just before he left office. He caused irreversible damage in the short term.

"So I'm not criticizing what was or was not done before January 20. But after January 20, it's a different world.

"Trump's decision to respect Israel's decisions has a flip side: For the first time since the Six Day War, Israel needs to decide what its interests and strategy are in all of Israel: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the Golan - and even Gaza. What do we want, and what will we decide about our fate?

"It's in our hands now, and we need to decide. We are at an historic moment in time, a moment we never dreamed of. We have a golden opportunity to erase the damage caused over so many years and to strengthen our Zionist enterprise.

"I don't know if Washington supports sovereignty or not, but they will respect us and our decision. It's time our leaders decided Israel belongs to the Jews," he concluded.