Israeli Ambassador: “We should calm down in the Middle East”

Israeli Ambassador: “We should calm down in the Middle East”

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Donald Trump’s statement about Jerusalem causes unrest in the world. In Berlin they are burning Israeli flags. The Israeli ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, condemns the events in an interview.

DW Interview with Israelischem Botschafter Jeremy Issacharoff in Berlin (DW / J. Röhl)

Q: A lot has happened since, last week, Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. How does it feel to hear about the burning of Israeli flags in front of the Brandenburg Gate?

Jeremy Issacharoff: I am very sad to see an Israeli flag burned in Berlin, especially in Berlin. And especially after the warm welcome that I have had from all the governmental bodies in Germany. I think that whoever burns a flag does not disagree with your opinion or your position, is at odds with the fact that Israel can have a position. And in this sense, burning a flag is like burning your own integrity and your own tolerance. And that must be judged in general.

The German position is very different from what Israel could have expected. It does not consider it wise to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Are you disappointed with the German reaction?

I want to see a German reaction that promotes the possibility that both parties can define the situation by themselves, without making a preliminary judgment. I would hope that here Israel’s strong connection with Jerusalem would be recognized. It has been our capital for 70 years and I believe that if that were recognized first, there would be many possibilities. It is the main starting point.

The city of Jerusalem, undivided, as an Israeli capital?

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The prime minister has said that we will continue to try to achieve peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.

Demonstrators burning the Star of David in Berlin.Demonstrators burning the Star of David in Berlin.

But at the moment there is no sign of peace in this conflict. Would Israel accept a peaceful solution in which East Jerusalem was the capital of Palestine?

I am from Jerusalem. I have lived there for many years and it is my hometown. My family has lived there for many generations. I know the city in many times, in which Jews and Arabs lived in peace. We should recognize that there is much more potential for coexistence. And I still believe that Jerusalem is a spiritual city, with serenity, tranquility and faith and that, in the end, people will find the way to negotiate. But it will not be achieved by burning flags or by not tolerating the other’s position.

You say that Jerusalem is a spiritual city, also for Muslims. Can you understand your frustration at the decision to recognize Jerusalem as an Israeli capital?

I believe that all religions, Christianity and Islam, are very sensitive about Jerusalem. That is why, for decades, Israel has protected free access to all sacred places and freedom to religious worship. What we expect from others, we also expect from ourselves. In this sense, we recognize from the basis of everyday life how all the inhabitants of the city feel. During Ramadan, thousands of people come to pray at the mosque unimpeded and even with the support of the Israeli authorities. We do everything possible to protect the freedom of religious worship. When it comes to politics, people must come together and recognize that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish population and, on the other hand, the homeland of the Palestinians.

Do you think that Donald Trump’s decision is counterproductive?

President Trump’s statement is a signal of US policy on a certain aspect of peace negotiations, it is certainly important and I will not downplay it. What he in no way tries, in his own words, is to influence a definitive negotiation between the parties. We should calm down in the Middle East. We will not achieve anything through confrontation. We have already confronted for decades. We have to do what we did with the Egyptians, the Jordanians and even the Palestinians. Sit down to negotiate and try to find a solution.

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