Minister Yariv Levin
Minister Yariv Levin Hadas Parush / Flash 90

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) addressed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech and its implications as well as the future prospects with the new administration.

Regarding Kerry’s recent speech, Levin said that in light of the imminent conclusion to Obama’s administration, Kerry’s speech has very limited meaning. However, he said “This speech has two problematic components. First of all, presenting this stance of a senior authority in the US administration does not help our diplomatic efforts. Secondly, it raises concerns about additional actions that might be taken against us at the UN and in other international forums between now and January 20th.”

It’s possible, said Levin, that "these moves on the part of the US administration could end up having a positive result. It might be that if this administration tries to impose its stance and create irreversible facts on the ground, it may be appropriate for us to move more quickly on the measures that we feel are important, but it’s still too early to tell.”

Regarding Kerry’s expressions of concern about the continued existence of Israel as a democratic Jewish state, Levin noted that “this approach reflects a lot of patronization and arrogance. Saying I know better that you what is good for you and trying to force you to believe that is outrageous. Furthermore, the Secretary of State needs to be a little more modest after a long series of failures in numerous international arenas. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect us to reverse our policies and endanger our security at the whim of an American foreign minister or president.”

When asked if Kerry’s remarks point to fundamental diplomatic failure on Israel’s part. Minister Levin said, “Certainly, we need to need to work harder at explaining ourselves better. But the reason is very simple. The Palestinians are lying all the time to the point that even some of us believe them. We have in Israel an opposition that openly and irresponsibly congratulates Kerry and the Americans on their anti-Israel decisions. This is bizarre and would not be acceptable in any other country.”

In response to the question of whether the conduct of the last few days is just exposing the true face of the challenge Israel has faced for the last 8 years, which has been kept until now under the veil of polite diplomacy, Levin commented “What we are seeing now is an expression of a world view that the US government has held for the last 8 years. Recall that this government began with Obama’s visit to Egypt, speaking to the Muslim world and skipping over and ignoring Israel. There were moments of crisis, as with the Iranian nuclear issue, but the bottom line is that despite the stance of the US administration and the Secretary of State’s obsessive preoccupation with these issues, we have stood firm in our position on the Land of Israel.”

Regarding the current situation, Levin said that “You cannot ask us, when the United States has decided not to veto such a hypocritical and outrageous proposal introduced by a country like Venezuela to simply let the matter pass. For years we have tried to maintain a dignified dialogue despite our differences, but we cannot remain silent in the face of what has happened in the last few days. We have to be very clear and take measures against the countries that supported this measure. If we are persistent and if we have a responsible opposition that makes it possible to unify around our vital interests, I have no doubt that we will be successful.”

“The new administration has a lot of people who see eye-to-eye with us. If we can reach understandings with them and do things in concert with them, then we can accomplish some of the measures that we know are appropriate and just. With a little patience, the picture will become clearer. We will soon be dealing with a different sort of challenge, the challenge of getting their support, now in the fiftieth year since the liberation of Judea and Samaria and the Golan and Jerusalem, that all of the Land of Israel be settled under Israeli sovereignty.”

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