Hotovely:
'Guatemala is just a precursor'

Deputy FM on post-Trump Declaration diplomacy: 'We are keepig secret names of other countries considering embassy transfer to Jerusalem.'

Mordechai Sones,

Hotovely
Hotovely
Flash 90

The President of Guatemala has announced his order to transfer his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The news was received with great joy in Israel and Arutz Sheva spoke about it to Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who calls it the first of many moves, saying that other countries are expected to join the initiative to relocate their embassies to the Holy City.

Hotovely says that the Foreign Ministry is involved in very serious staff work with other countries who are expected to follow Guatemala's lead, but when asked who is the next in line she says she "can't divulge their names. We keep everything under wraps because such countries are subject to heavy pressure from the Arab world and other European countries."

With that, Hotovely mentions the words of the Romanian parliament speaker who spoke recently about the time having arrived for their embassy's move to Jerusalem.

Regarding the remarks of Guatemala's President, Hotovely says that this is not a statement that surprised Israel, as it comes after the visit of President Jimmy Morales to Israel and his meeting with the Prime Minister. She also mentioned the existence of a large evangelical group in Guatemala and the activity of the lobby for friendship between the two countries, adding:. "All this is very influential and helpful."

In her remarks, Hotovely noted the decision in Guatemala does not involve transferring the embassy but the decision to return it since the embassy had already been in Jerusalem. "Guatemala is returning its embassy to Jerusalem. Until 1980 it maintained an embassy in Jerusalem and after the Jerusalem Law they left, unfortunately."

"It's important for me to say that this is an era of great political achievement for Israel," says the Deputy Minister, who said that when she entered the Foreign Ministry she spoke of the need to relocate embassies to Jerusalem. The answer she received at that time was that there was no chance of this happening because of Osloesque conceptions of dividing the city.

"Now a new US President who plays by different rules arrives and makes the move, and suddenly everything's possible. Posterity will remember the current term of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister as an historic era."

On the question "When will we hear about more significant countries joining the move"' the Deputy Minister responds that she disagrees with the distinction between significant and non-significant states.

"Every country has a voice at the UN. Our relations are important and span all continents, from Latin America to Africa, which are emerging and growing markets, and we have years of investment in Asia. This is a new and refreshing political concept and every state is important. Beyond that, the United States is our great friend and the one who initiated the issue, so it makes me laugh to hear that people want 'important countries' after it is the United States who led the move," Hotovely said.

Hotovely was asked to comment on the words of MK Ksenia Svetlova from the Zionist Union in the Knesset Absorption Committee, according to which the Diplomatic Hotel in Jerusalem has been purchased by the American administration for the embassy transfer: "I think the Americans have a lot of options in Jerusalem and they are examining them, and what is important is to speed up the process, not the location," says Hotovely.

Hotovely sees the recent moves as evidence of Netanyahu and his government's dramatic political success. "The Likud is leading the country and the last nine years since Netanyahu returned to the premiership have been good years in which great and significant things happened. We didn't give in to international dictates on the Iranian issue or the future of the region, and we see the fruitful reality of an Israeli Prime Minister who promotes a world of values and who says we can reach achievements without paying political prices."

As for the Israeli media that complained about Trump's declaration as leading to an anti-Israel vote, Hotovely responded, "It's good that the media doesn't represent the majority of people in Israel who know how much the achievement is a great achievement. The commentators who are preoccupied with threats about burning the region and the unrest that will come - when you look at Jerusalem it's being built and flourishing, not burning, and gaining more recognition."

The Deputy Minister was also asked to address police recommendations regarding Netanyahu that are expected to be made in the coming days. Hotovely was asked whether it was technically possible to serve as the most busy head of state in the world with investigations facing him on one side and demonstrations on another.

"We saw what happened on Saturday night at a leftist demonstration on Rothschild Boulevard, and the guillotine, which was a public show of bad taste that involved incitement, didn't do honor to any of the demonstrators and didn't hint at anything connected with the war against corruption and the rule of law - but the opposite. It recalls evil and dark times."

According to Hotovely one must understand and internalize who is behind the demonstrations and what their real goals are. "The political Left has lost the people, and the only way they can act is to put pressure on investigative bodies and the Attorney General," she said. "This is not about rule of law, which means interrogators interrogating and leaving decision-making in the hands of the Attorney General, without any pressure whatsoever. Since this is an attempt at a government coup, the right-wing only gets stronger when they don't conceal their political motives. There are BDS signs in these demonstrations; those who say they care about the State support organizations whose aim is to boycott the State."

And what about the right-wing demonstrations? "We're talking about a handful of people who have been misled by propaganda aimed at toppling the rightist government in Israel. They are naïve or innocent people who are making a big mistake. Not only are they betraying the right-wing camp since propriety must be preserved, but nowhere is it said that the way to act is to force legal authorities to issue indictments."

As for Yoaz Hendel, who led the right-wing demonstration in Jerusalem, Hotovely was asked if it was possible that his troubled relations with Netanyahu were what led him to do so. "I don't know the hidden motives of Yoaz Hendel, but the person giving him a platform and amplifying his modest move is Noni Moses, publisher of Yediot Ahronot, whose intentions are not to respect the rule of the people and the will of the Israeli voter, but to attack in every possible way the person chosen by the people to lead the country - and this is not democratic."

As for the Prime Minister's ability to run the country in such difficult and convoluted reality, MK Hotovely said: "If we saw that the Prime Minister changed his agenda and was subject to constraints because of those investigations we could ask that, but his agenda is full of positive action for the sake of the people of Israel. His blessed political work has been fruitful as Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister."

Netanyahu serves as Foreign Minister in addition to his role as Prime Minister.

"The law in Israel rightly says that there is neither judgement nor meting out of punishment before the facts are clarified. Not only is the Prime Minister not suspected of significant material corruption, but it's a public debate about taking presents from friends, yes or no. This is not the reality of Olmert and Sharon, who were suspected of taking large bribes. As long as the facts have not been clarified, I suggest treating it that way."

And what about the Likud's fear of electoral damage following suspicions and investigations? Would it not have been correct to replace the Prime Minister with another candidate for a Netanyahu rest period? "We are not complacent," said Hotovely, "and there is serious fear in the Likud that the media blitz against the party and the attempt to paint us all as corrupt could harm the party ... We are not complacent ... I said that I'm enlisting in the important battle for the party's integrity. The Likud needs all its forces to stand at the forefront, talk about the achievements of the government, and divert public discourse from the media's obsessive preoccupation with investigations when we have an important political agenda.

"Of course no one in the Likud believes the Prime Minister should be replaced. There's no doubt that the strength of the Likud is that we have considerable experience and political ability to lead the national camp and we are behind Netanyahu," says Hotovely, who believes that the right wing should be mobilized in face of attacks on it, attacks that are camouflaged in the guise of guarding and protecting the law.








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