Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel Tzipi Hotovely stated Thursday that the Jewish State need not apologize to the world for its policies, nor for its presence on every inch of its own land.
Speaking at a ceremony marking her first official day in office, and streamed live to 106 Israel missions worldwide, the deputy minister declared, “We need to return to the basic truth of our rights to this country. This land is ours. All of it is ours. We didn’t come here to apologize for that.”
“Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasizing the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically,” the religiously observant Hotovely said. “But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right.”
According to Ynet, Hotovely quoted Biblical and Rabbinic sources to support her position. Citing medieval sage Rashi, she said, “…the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world so that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of world and when he wanted to, he took from them and gave to us,” she quoted from the commentary.
She also quoted from Rabbi Yehuda Ashkenazi as saying, “If the Jews are convinced of the justice of their path vis-a-vis the world, they will already manage.”
Hotovely’s hard-line position seems to be at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s earlier commitments to a two-state solution. Netanyahu is also serving as Israel’s Foreign Minister. Hotovely, however, told Ynet in an earlier interview that her opinions would not get in the way of doing her job.
Addressing international media representatives later in English, Hotovely signalled she would work towards international recognition of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, the Biblical heartland of ancient Israel. “We expect as a matter of principle for the international community to recognize Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere,” she said.
Earlier that week, Hotovely met with visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, something she referenced in her later speech. As reported by The Jerusalem Post, she urged him not to support unilateral Palestinian steps in the international arena, but rather to encourage the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
A government has been formed in Israel which “represents a will for dialogue and is opposed to Palestinian unilateral moves,” she told Brende.
Moreover, Norway needs to recognize that there is consensus in Israel regarding Jerusalem as the country’s capital. “This week the Knesset marked Jerusalem Day and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu declared that Jerusalem will remain united,” Hotovely said. “The head of the opposition, [Isaac] Herzog, also agreed to that,” she said.