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Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Wayne McLean
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Wayne McLean
The city of Jerusalem

A Bayside-based rabbi and one Queens Congressman are both looking at President Trump’s move on Dec. 6 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital with some hope.

Rabbi Yossi Blesofsky of Chabad Lubavitch of northeast Queens recently returned from a nine-day trip to Israel with his family. He called the president’s move, officially announced on Dec. 6, “a very positive one,” speaking from a spiritual standpoint.

“I feel it’s the right thing to do. It’s long in coming,” Blesofsky said. “Real peace can’t be predicated on an illusion … It is the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”

With his family, Blesofsky visited the city’s holy sites, “thousands of years old and deeply part of Jewish history.” The rabbi spoke of the city’s “incredible connection” to the Jewish people.

“[Israel] is the most tolerant country,” the rabbi said. “I’ve toured the streets — everyone is respected. The truth needs to be told.”

Blesofsky said he felt the move would be received positively by the local Jewish community. The political implications of the move, the rabbi continued, he won’t discuss.

“I will leave that to the politicians,” he said.

In a statement, Congressman Tom Suozzi, who represents areas of eastern Queens, also expressed his support for the decision. The representative made a trip to Israel earlier this year and sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

“Jerusalem has been the focal point of Jewish religious devotion and has already been reaffirmed by Congress as the Israeli capital,” Suozzi said. “It remains a beacon of religious freedom and safeguards the rights of Jews, Muslims and Christians to visit and pray at their respective holy sites.”

“We must continue to work toward a durable and sustainable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians resulting in two states: a Jewish, democratic state living side by side next to a demilitarized Palestinian state, in peace and security,” he added.

In his remarks on Wednesday, Trump said the announcement “marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians” and is “in the best interests of the United States of America.”

Trump directed the State Department to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv (the current seat of Israel’s government) to Jerusalem, a process that could take years. The U.S. does have a consulate in Jerusalem.

Czechia is the only other country in the world to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Both the Israelis and Palestinians have claims to Jerusalem, which Israel secured full control of during the Six-Day War of 1967.

Some observers believe Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital changes the United States’ role as an independent arbiter in the Middle East peace process — and might inflame tensions in the region.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in a televised speech called Trump’s announcement “a declaration of withdrawal from the role (the U.S.) has played in the peace process,” according to reports. The Hamas terrorist organization has also called for a “day of rage” in protest of Trump’s declaration, according to the NY Daily News.

Despite this, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin welcomed news of the Trump’s announcement on Twitter.

“There is no more fitting or beautiful gift, as we approach 70 years of the State of Israel’s independence,” Rivlin said. “Jerusalem is not, and never will be, an obstacle to peace for those who want peace.”


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