JERUSALEM, Israel -- Three leaders of Jewish settlement communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are preparing to head to Washington to attend Friday's inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. Oded Revivi, Benny Kashriel and Yossi Dagan were invited through contacts in Congress.
Although media reports suggest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not attend the inauguration (an Israeli government spokesman would not confirm or deny that for CBN News), the invitation to leading representatives of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is a clear signal that the incoming Trump administration is likely to pursue different policies from the Obama administration.
The recently-passed U.N. Security Resolution 2334, which was adopted because the U.S. abstained during the vote (LINK to our story), labeled Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria "illegal" and a major obstacle to Middle East peace. This week's Paris conference reaffirmed that idea over Israel's objections.
Supporters of the establishment of Jewish communities in biblical Israel point out that many Jewish residents live in thriving cities, not in outposts with a few tents. Benny Kashriel is mayor of Ma'ale Adummim just outside Jerusalem, the third largest Jewish city in the West Bank.
"We're opening a new page with the Americans," Kashriel said.
Dagan, who heads the Samaria Regional Council in north-central Israel, told YNet News, "We decided to bring Trump a gift from the agricultural produce of Samaria." He added, "While the Paris conference is trying to do things without us, it's important to us to emphasize the importance that Judea and Samaria has for the state of Israel."
During the eight years of the Obama administration, the Jewish communities were a continuing source of friction between Israel and the United States. The Obama White House frequently paid far more public attention to construction in the Jewish communities and the neighborhoods in Jerusalem than it did to war-torn Syria and other Middle East flashpoints.
The community leaders in Judea and Samaria leave for Washington with high hopes that the U.S. government and the world will look on them in a different light.
"The U.S. administration has today direct influence on the lives of residents of Judea and Samaria," Dagan explained. "And we hope to see change in this regard."