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Israel Katz: Israel needs to stay out of U.S. internal politics

The Israeli government remained silent on Thursday regarding US President Donald Trump‘s claim that Jews who vote Democratic are disloyal to Israel, with Foreign Minister Israel Katz saying that Jerusalem did not want to involve itself in a US domestic political argument.

Framing Trump’s comments as taking place within the framework of the US election campaign, Katz said in an Army Radio interview that he, as foreign minister, and “certainly the government of Israel, must not interfere in a national debate.” Israel, he added, must “not get into the [US] political campaign.”

Katz was referring to Trump’s comment on Tuesday that “Jewish people that vote for a Democrat – I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

“Any Israeli statement about this would fan the flames,” Katz said. “It is an internal American political argument.”

Katz said that the “last thing that Jewish Democrats want is for the government of Israel to make a statement about this,” and that it is a “political argument” that has to do with “political tactics.”

He did say, however, that he “salutes” Trump’s foreign policy, “without getting into internal issues.” He mentioned the president’s recognition of Jerusalem and moving the embassy there, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, withdrawing from the Iran deal and reimposing sanctions, and America’ unstinting support for Israel in the UN, which he termed a “strategic asset.”

Not everybody, however, believes that Israel should stay silent.

Former ambassador to the US Michael Oren said that Israel “should express profound thanks to this administration for everything that it has done for us and is doing for us, and at the same time say we place tremendous value on continued bi-partisan support for Israel, and recognize – and never question – the loyalty of American Jews, irrespective of which party they belong to. That should be Israel’s position. That’s what we should say.”

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