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The right sees it as carte blanche for its political activities while the left sees it as potentially leading to less U.S. support for the occupation, says political economist Shir Hever

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SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. This morning I’m being joined by Shir Hever to get the reaction of the state of Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu to the election of Donald Trump here in the United States. Thanks for joining me Shir. SHIR HEVER, TRNN: Thanks for having me Sharmini. PERIES: So Shir, give us a sense of how the Israeli state is responding to the election of Donald Trump. I understand that Netanyahu had sent congratulations letter to Trump already and give us a sense of what that reaction is all about. HEVER: Of course, reactions vary a lot. In social media or around the population, people have very different kinds of responses. What is interesting is the different response on the level of the government and the political sphere which is very very different from what we see in Europe now. The interesting thing is that the Israeli radical right and the Israeli radical left are in complete agreement that the election of Trump is a good thing which is maybe a surprising kind of reaction. Well the extreme right in Europe is already celebrating Trump’s victory and in Israel the extreme right is in government. So maybe that’s not surprising. But the one point that both sides agree on is that Trump is probably not going to be very interested in Israeli politics and Israeli policies towards Palestinians. That is interpreted by the right wing as a [cart blanche]. Now they can do whatever they want and already the extreme right party, the Jewish home are calling the government to urgently build more colonies, expand Israeli colonies in Palestinian territory is what they call a window of opportunity. While at the same time, left groups are saying actually Israel would never have been able to expand this occupation so much and maintain it for so long without very intensive US intervention and US support and that’s why they see a Trump presidency as a possibility that maybe US intervention will reduce. It will be more than the European Union as a major player and the European Union is more critical towards Israel policies than the US. PERIES: Now I’ve heard some reports that Netanyahu has already called Donald Trump to congratulate him and that Donald Trump has invited the Prime Minister to come to the United States and come to the White House. In fact, he might be one of the very first guests that Trump will have at the White House. What do you know about that? HEVER: This is very widely covered in Israel because Trump as a candidate like every US candidate in recent history has promised to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That would be a big political statement which no US president has been willing to make. No one wants to have only the US embassy in Jerusalem and all the other embassies in the world in Tel Aviv. No one wants to recognize the Israel Occupation Annexation. And Clinton also made the same pledge. But now that Trump is elected, there’s the question whether he’s going to live up to that promise unlike his predecessors. So the fact that he immediately invited Netanyahu to the White House is interpreted in Israel as a possibility that maybe he’s actually going to be the first elected president to make the move of the embassy, thereby giving a stamp of approval by the United States to the Israel occupation in complete violation of US policy so far. And in an interview Jason Greenblatt whose Trump’s chief legal advisor has already given an interview to the Israeli media and said Trump is a man of his word and he is going to move the embassy. So, that’s of course something that creates a lot of stir in Israel. Were’ going to have to see if he’s actually going to do that. PERIES: And finally Shir, what do you think a Trump presidency will mean in terms of a solution of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis? HEVER: Well that’s very difficult to say. IF we look at the role of the United States in the Israeli policies and the Israeli occupation, so far it has been a very destructive role. United States gave Israel a political and economic umbrella that made it possible for Israel to do what no other country in the world is allowed to do. This has to do with the arms industry. The fact that Israel receives a lot of US weaponry and tests it on Palestinians; thereby becoming some sort of laboratory for Israeli weaponry. Now Trump is supported by right wing corporations in the US and these corporations would still want Israel to keep testing those weapons. And that of course bodes ill and maybe it means that the United States is not going to change its policies. But at the same time, it’s clear that Trump’s foreign policy positions are very different than those of other presidents before him. For example, his relations with Russia and the fact that he has already received his first congratulation for being elected from a leader of an Arab country rather than from a European country or from Canada. So, that’s something that might actually change the importance of Israel to the overall US policy in the Middle East and that could actually be a good sign for Palestinians because without US support, Palestinians have a slightly better chance of fighting for their freedom. PERIES: Alright Shir, I thank you so much for joining us today and I think we’ll stay on this topic for a while to come. So I thank you. HEVER: Thank you Sharmini. PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.


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Dr. Shir Hever grew up in Israel and now lives in Germany. He has been reporting on Israel/Palestine stories for 16 years, and for the Real News specifically since 2016. He’s the author of two books and many articles, and is a committed member of several Palestine solidarity groups.