(May 18, 2020 / JNS) Top American diplomats took to social media on Sunday evening to congratulate Israel on the swearing-in of its 35th government.
Following the televised swearing-in ceremony, which was preceded by five-minute speeches from each party leader, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman offered words of praise on Twitter.
“We warmly welcome the announcement of the formation of a new Government of Israel,” Pompeo tweeted. “We are extremely fortunate to have such strong and experienced partners in Jerusalem, and we will work together to advance the security and prosperity of our peoples.”
Friedman, who is Jewish and speaks Hebrew, tweeted: “Congratulations and Mazal Tov to PM [Benjamin] Netanyahu, APM [alternate prime minister] & MOD [minister of defense Benny] Gantz, the State of Israel and the People of Israel on the formation of a new government. The United States looks forward to working with you to enhance our already incredibly strong relationship & unbreakable bond.”
The establishment of the new government brought an end to more than a year of political stalemate and prevented a fourth round of elections.
According to the terms of the coalition deal reached last month, Netanyahu will continue to serve as premier for 18 months. Blue and White head Benny Gantz will serve as defense minister and vice premier during that time, after which he will take over as prime minister for the next 18 months, while Netanyahu becomes vice premier.
The new government is the largest in Israeli history, with 35 ministers and a 36th to be added when the COVID-19 crisis is over. It plans to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, and Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria starting in July, under the aegis of the U.S. “Peace to Prosperity” plan, otherwise known as U.S. President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century.”
During his whirlwind, six-hour visit to Jerusalem last Wednesday, Pompeo met with Netanyahu, Gantz and other officials to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the peace plan and Iranian aggression. At a joint press conference with Netanyahu, he said, “There remains work yet to do, and we need to make progress on that. I am looking forward to it.”
As part of the Trump administration’s plan, Washington is prepared to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, on the condition that the Jewish state remains ready to negotiate with the Palestinians on a permanent peace deal. While there have been reports that the U.S. may urge Israel to delay its sovereignty plans, Friedman has said that Washington is “ready” to do so immediately, and that the decision lies with Israel.
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