US President Donald Trump made clear at his poorly attended inauguration that despite his tough law-and-order message some forms of law-breaking will be rewarded during his administration.
Among those invited to watch the reality TV star take the oath of office in Washington on Friday were Oded Revivi, chair of the Yesha Council – the body that represents Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank – and Benny Kasriel, mayor of the mega-settlement Maaleh Adumim.
Also reportedly joining the delegation was Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council. Yehuda Glick, a lawmaker from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, who is part of the movement to build a Jewish temple in place of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, attended inauguration events through a separate invitation.
Revivi told VICE News that his invitation came from “close circles around the president-elect.”
On landing in the Washington, DC, area, Revivi tweeted an unexpected meeting with Representative Trent Franks, a member of Congress from Arizona.
He also thrilled to the fact that Israeli settler groups are now getting “the VIP treatment.”
“You could basically argue that it has taken 50 years, since 1967, to be recognized on such a level for such an event,” Revivi enthused.
The invitations normalize settlement activity from day one of the Trump administration.
Settlements are illegal according to international law, a fact reaffirmed last month in UN Security Council resolution 2334, to the dismay of most members of the US Congress.
Republicans overwhelmingly rejected the resolution as did most Democrats – the Trump-Netanyahu wing of the “resistance” party.
Seated immediately behind Trump during his inauguration speech was Miriam Adelson. She and her husband, Sheldon, also present on the dais, are billionaire funders of the Republican Party.
Sheldon Adelson is among a number of individuals and entities currently being sued by a group of Palestinians and Palestinian Americans for financing settlements, and other alleged violations of US and international law ranging from money laundering to ethnic cleansing and genocide.
The Adelsons were among a handful of billionaire Trump donors rewarded with VIP seating at the inauguration.
“King of United States”
According to VICE News, Likud lawmaker and West Bank settler Yehuda Glick was part of a group whose trip was financed by HaYovel, a Missouri-based Christian evangelical organization that purportedly helps Christian volunteers travel to Israel to assist farmers.
In fact, many of the projects the group touts are based in settlements in the occupied West Bank – referred to by HaYovel as “Judea and Samaria.”
Tommy Waller, who heads HaYovel, claimed to VICE News that Trump’s transition team was aware of the settler presence and “they’re very happy about it.”
One character in the film, conflating God with modern-day Israel and its human rights abuses, asserts: “If you really want to boycott Israel, then getting rid of your Bible and rejecting God would be a great place to start.”
These relationships highlight the close ties between the settler movement and far-right Christian Zionists in the US.
Speaking at a Washington church along with fellow Israeli lawmaker Sharren Haskel, on Thursday, Glick proclaimed Trump “king of the United States of America.”
While in the US, Glick promoted his activities to gain a foothold at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, which Jews call the Temple Mount.
An assassination attempt against Glick in 2014 is thought to have been tied to his efforts to build a Jewish temple where the Muslim holy places, including the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, now stand.
On Thursday, the pair was hosted at a US Congressional office building by a pro-Israel group funded by the Adelsons.
“The appearance of Israeli parliamentarian Yehuda Glick, one of the most prominent leaders of the messianic, fundamentalist Jewish movement to replace the Dome of the Rock with a Jewish temple, at a recent Capitol Hill briefing is deeply disturbing,” Josh Ruebner, policy director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told The Electronic Intifada.
Ruebner noted that the briefing could only have taken place with approval from at least one member of Congress. “It is shocking to realize that his extremist positions have the support of any of our elected representatives,” Ruebner said.
Glick is also a supporter of ethnically cleansing Palestinians.
According to the Forward, he supports paying Palestinians to emigrate permanently from their homeland.
Glick believes that Israel should formally annex the West Bank – a prospect more plausible today thanks to decades of unconditional support for Israel as it colonized the occupied territory, from both Democratic and Republican administrations.
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