Jerusalem (AFP) – Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday said Donald Trump’s aides were urging right-wing Israeli politicians to curb their public jubilation at his election as US president, Israeli media reported.
Trump is seen as likely leading to a far more favourable policy toward Israel, though many analysts have cautioned his thinking remains unclear and he has proven himself to be unpredictable.
“Israel has received messages from Trump transition team to ‘tone down’ their post-election enthusiasm & act with more humility,” the English-language Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon wrote on Twitter after Lieberman gave an off-camera briefing to Israeli diplomatic correspondents.
“I hope that we have enough sense to stop the jubilation and public enthusiasm,” Haaretz Daily quoted Lieberman, of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, as saying. “It is undoubtedly damaging.”
Local media said Lieberman proposed Israel should strike a deal with the US president-elect under which it would freeze building in the more isolated of its West Bank settlements while ramping up construction in the major settlement blocs.
“If the new administration agrees to that we should grab it with both hands,” Israeli army radio quoted him as saying.
“It’s maybe not electorally popular but it’s the right thing to do.”
It was certainly not popular with deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, which leans heavily on settler support.
“The defence minister’s statement harms the Israeli interest and is not acceptable to the government,” she said in comments broadcast on public radio.
“It is important to form the teams for a discreet dialogue between ourselves and the United States and not to make public statements such as that we have heard from the minister.”
Netanyahu himself had on Sunday called for ministers to refrain from comment on Trump’s presidency after some said his presidential election win put an end to a Palestinian aspirations for an independent state.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the religious nationalist Jewish Home party, said last week “the era of a Palestinian state is over”.
Israel is concerned that President Barack Obama may seek a UN resolution on its conflict with the Palestinians that the Jewish state opposes, before he leaves office on January 20.
Obama’s administration has intensified its criticism of Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank.