Among the guests at Friday’s inauguration ceremony in Washington will be the mayors of Efrat and Maale Adumim, both of whom were invited by the staff of President-elect Donald J. Trump for the occasion.
This is the first time since the 1980s that officials from Yehudah and Shomron have been invited to a presidential inauguration, said Yigal Dalmoni, deputy director of the Yehudah and Shomron Council. “We were surprised by the invitations, and at first we weren’t sure whether to accept them. But we decided to do so, as we represent a large number of Israelis, both those who live in Yehudah and Shomron, and those who support them.” Actually, he said, “when you get an invitation like this, you don’t turn it down.”
While the invitations to Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi and Maale Adumim Mayor Benny Kasriel were mostly “symbolic,” Dalmoni said that it could be an indication of what is in store regarding Israel’s presence in Yehudah and Shomron. “We obviously have nothing to do with these matters — our presence there will be strictly symbolic. But we believe that it represents a new spirit within the White House, and that the destructive policies of Barack Obama will disappear. In recent years, settlement in Yehudah and Shomron has become something Israelis have come to accept, and it seems that other countries now appreciate that importance as well.”
Speaking last week, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that the era of building freezes in Yehudah and Shomron had come to an end. Speaking on a tour of Chevron, she said that with Trump in the White House, “there will be no more excuses. I have chosen to come here at the exact time that the world is condemning Israeli construction in Yehudah and Shomron. I want to strengthen Jewish settlement in general, and especially here in Chevron.”
In an interview on the day after the election, David Friedman, Trump’s choice for American ambassador to Israel, told Army Radio that “Israel will have an extraordinarily good friend in the White House, one who will treat Israel with love and respect, and one who appreciates the miracle of Israel. It will be a very welcome change from the past eight years.”