"The Palestinian leadership must decide whether it chooses to be part of the axis of evil or to join the axis of friendship," wrote Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz on Monday in a statement regarding reports of the U.S. initiative to close the Palestinian diplomatic delegation in Washington.
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The Trump administration threatened to shut down the Palestinian mission in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, unless the Palestinian Authority enters into peace negotiations with Israel. The Palestinian leadership responded to the threat calling it a "dangerous step" that diminishes the U.S. government's ability to act as a fair mediator.
In his speech at a conference of Arutz 7 Minister Katz said: "Less than a year ago the United States decided not to cast a veto in the United Nations on an anti-Israel decision against settlement in Judea and Samaria. Only a year has passed, and two days ago the U.S. administration, headed by President Trump, warned the Palestinians that it would close their embassy if they continue to act against Israel. The Palestinian smiles of a year ago have been erased."
Katz further added that "it's no coincidence, that Trump sees and divides the world clearly into two main axes: the axes of evil, headed by Iran and North Korea, and the axis of friendship, led by the United States, which includes its pragmatic Sunni allies and of course Israel. The Palestinian leadership must decide whether it wants to be part of the axis of evil or to join the axis of friendship."
Katz continued, saying that Trump is calling on the Palestinians to recognize Israel and commit to nonviolence by disarming terror organizations.
Katz added his expectations of Trump to "repair the historical distortion" regarding Jerusalem, and to transfer the U.S. embassy to the city, which he called "the spiritual center and eternal capital of the Jewish people."
Katz explained that Israel must strengthen its status in Jerusalem, by annexing West Bank settlements including Ma'ale Adumin, Givat Ze'ev, Beitar Illit and Gush Etzion, into "a Greater Jerusalem metropolis," adding that while doing this, Israel should grant "a dual right to vote" for Palestinians living in the Jerusalem area.
Katz' comments follow a decision to postpone a vote on the so-called Greater Jerusalem Bill three weeks ago, which would create a "municipal" annexation of Israeli settlements near Jerusalem, as opposed to a political annexation.
This, in turn, would give residents of these settlements a vote in mayoral and city council elections seen as a move to counteract Palestinian East Jerusalem voters, who in any case have low rates of voter participation. The bill in its current form was submitted by MK Yoav Kish of Likud, and is a follow-up project to the proposal by Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin to exclude Palestinian neighborhoods located behind the West Bank separation barrier from the Jerusalem municipality.