Netanyahu, Israelis congratulate President-elect Trump

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump meeting at the Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israeli politicians congratulated Donald Trump on his victory as America’s 45th president-elect and hailed him as a friend of Israel, some wholeheartedly and some more cautiously.

“We will work together to advance security, stability and peace in our region,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “The bond between the US and Israel is based on shared values, shared interests and a shared future. I am sure that president-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the special alliance between Israel and the US and we will bring them to new heights.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is on the rightwing of Israeli politics, seized the moment to bring up Trump’s stated opposition to a two-state solution.

“Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause,” Bennett said in a statement. “This is the position of the president-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple. The era of a Palestinian state is over. We are sure the special relationship between the United States and Israel will continue, and even grow stronger.”

During the election, Trump also railed against the American nuclear deal with Iran calling it “the stupidest deal of all time.”

He promised to tear up the deal because it allows Tehran to produce nuclear weapons and gives nothing to the US in return, another promise most Israelis are hoping he keeps.

While most Israelis preferred Hillary Clinton to be elected, calls went out today with hopes to heal what had become an acrimonious relationship between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.

Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Union, praised Trump’s unexpected victory as a win for the common people.

“The American democracy today chose to place at its forefront an American leader who taught the analysts and doubters that we are in a new era of change and a replacement of the old ruling elites! You did the unexpected against all the odds, the polls, and the research, and the prophets of the old era,” Herzog said. “I am sure that the defense and economic cooperation with our strongest and most important ally will continue even more so during your presidency.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat urged Trump to make good on his promise to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a promise that all candidates make but none implement.

“On behalf of the city of Jerusalem, I am writing to congratulate you on your victory,” he said. “I am confident that you will continue to empower our city by reaffirming its sovereignty by moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.”

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most divisive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both Palestinians and Israelis claim Jerusalem as their capital. Trump has pledged to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.

Despite Bennet’s assertion that the idea of a Palestinian state is “over,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ congratulated Trump and called on him to work toward a Palestinian state.

“We are ready to deal with the elected president on the basis of a two-state solution and to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

Saeb Erekat said he doesn’t expect US positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to change under Trump because both parties are committed to a two-state solution.

“I think this will not change with the coming administration,” he said.