Jacob Nagel, who served as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser, stressed on Monday evening that Israel had never even hinted to the Americans that it was not interested in having the American Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Nagel’s comments in an interview with Arutz Sheva followed a report on Fox News which claimed that Netanyahu told U.S. President Donald Trump not to move the Embassy.
"Everyone I've spoken to in DC that has been briefed on #Jerusalem embassy move says #Netanyahu told #Trump not to move embassy at this time", tweeted Fox News foreign correspondent Conor Powell.
Nagel later told Arutz Sheva, “I remember a number of meetings in which this issue explicitly came up in talks with the Americans.”
"In one preparatory conversation we held, Ambassador Ron Dermer and I, we took part in meetings where one of the main issues was the Embassy move. We said in the most clear and unequivocal manner that the position of the State of Israel is that the Embassy should move to Jerusalem," he stressed.
"It's not that we said it because Trump was elected and did not say it before he was elected,” continued Nagel. “I heard the Prime Minister saying this in dozens of meetings with state leaders - and even jokingly adding that they should choose a place for the embassy, because there will soon be no vacancy in Jerusalem."
“The principle was that the State of Israel says that the State of Israel is like all other countries in the world - Jerusalem is its capital - and therefore the embassies must be in Jerusalem. Our position is clear, sharp and unchangeable. We told the Americans that it would be a message to the world that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and cannot be divided,” he reiterated.
Nagel further noted that the Israeli position was expressed in the clearest manner possible during Netanyahu’s recent meeting with Trump in Washington.
"In the meeting with Trump, this was not the main issue, but the subject did come up and a clear position was presented - that the American Embassy should be in Jerusalem. [Trump] asked if this could cause bloodshed and we told him that it would not, though there would probably be protests over it. But there was never a doubt about Israel's position. At no point was there a question on this issue. When someone tries to distort reality and put words in one’s mouth that were never said, it's simply annoying,” he said.
And yet, how do you explain the voices that claim on the American side that Israel is not interested in moving the Embassy?
"With regard to the American position, you have to ask the Americans," said Nagel.
Netanyahu earlier on Monday issued a statement in response to the Fox News report, in which he stressed that “the claims posted by a Fox News correspondent are false.”
In an unusual move, the Prime Minister’s Office published quotes from summaries of Netanyahu’s meetings with President Trump on February 17, in which Israel’s position in favor of moving the Embassy was made clear.
“This is the clear and consistent position of Prime Minister Netanyahu, which he reiterated today,” the statement concluded.