Kafe Knesset for May 23
Calling out Palestinian terror payments: On Day Two of Trump’s trip, POTUS said something that a lot of Israelis were waiting to hear: He condemned the Palestinian Authority for inciting terrorism against Israelis. The PA pays a salary to terrorists and their families and the pay increases for every Israeli they killed. Trump said “peace can never take root where terror is tolerated, funded and even rewarded. We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single, unified voice.”
Focus was drawn away from Day Two of Trump’s trip to Israel by the massive terror attack in Manchester, but leave it to Israeli politicians to bring a local angle to the world’s problems. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during Trump’s blink-and-you’d-miss-it stop at Yad Vashem that terrorism in Manchester, Israel or San Bernadino are one and the same. “Terror is terror is terror. We must all unite to defeat it,” Netanyahu said, echoing earlier comments by Trump. Education Minister Naftali Bennett brought up the terrorist payments on Twitter: “A terrorist killed over 20 people in Manchester. Imagine his family receiving a lifetime monthly salary. That is what happens in the PA.” MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) commented on Trump calling the terrorists losers: “I like the phrase that @realDonaldTrump used – calling terrorists ‘losers’. Both fundamentally true and smart tactically. He’s right.”
Others in Israel took note of the fact that Trump did not mention the two-state solution at all. Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis called it “a massive achievement on a historic level and a great victory for all the opponents of the mistaken and dangerous idea of establishing a Palestinian terror state in the heart of our land.”
#Awkward: Last night, Trump had dinner with the Netanyahus, and the Prime Minister and his wife Sarah were the talk of the town after they made some awkward comments. “Thanks to you, we had a budget to paint the walls,” Bibi said as the Trumps signed the guest book at the Prime Minister’s residence. “The whole house was painted for you!” Sarah said, beaming. Soon after, Yair Netanyahu was introduced to the First Couple. Netanyahu pointed out that Yair looks like Sarah, but their other son, Avner, who was not present, looks more like him. (They say Yair’s personality is more like Sarah’s too.) Yair told the Trumps that he feels for Barron, because he was about the same age when his father first became prime minister. Dinner that night was prepared by celebrity chef Moshe Segev, who made sliders – perhaps to remind Trump of his favorite food, meatloaf – among other dishes. Entertainment was provided by singer-actress Shiri Maimon, most recently the star of “Evita” in Israel’s national theater, Habima. Maimon chose to belt out “New York, New York,” because she heard that Trump likes Sinatra. On the radio this morning, Maimon said both couples were very warm, and since she is visibly pregnant, Trump asked her what month she is in (seventh, by the way).
Return of the redhead: Sheldon Adelson was among those waiting at the Israel Museum ahead of Trump’s speech on Tuesday. Of course, right-wing politicians paid tribute to Adelson, with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked chatting with him, as did Likud MK Anat Berko. Boaz Bismuth, the new editor-in-chief of Adelson’s Israeli newspaper Yisrael Hayom, was also there. Bismuth is the only Israeli to interview Trump since he launched his presidential campaign. Also in attendance were Malcolm Hoenlein and Marc Zell. Hoenlein is the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Zell is the chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel and is a Vice President of Republicans Overseas.