Dr. Martin Sherman: Temple Mount attack-the demise of the “1-state” theory
Last Friday, three non-Jewish terrorists gunned down two-non-Jewish policemen to express their hatred of the Jewish state.
And yet while many condemned the heinous deed, expressing shock, dismay, and opprobrium at the brutal desecration of the Temple Mount, no one really found it bewilderingly inexplicable or staggeringly aberrant. After all, Judeocidal Arab hatred has always defied rational explanation.
Extinguishing hopes for one-state formula
No less perverse was the fact that the alleged cause of the killers’ homicidal urge was purported to be the “Occupation”, despite the fact that none of the perpetrators were subject to any form of “Occupation”—as they were all Israeli citizens, with full civil rights.
But beyond the human tragedy, the hail of bullets that cut short the lives of the two Druze police officers from the Galilee, Hayil Satawi and Kamil Shanaan, inflicted an additional casualty.
For they conclusively cut down any residual credibility that the proposal for a one-state formula—especially as touted by “right wing” pundits—might still have had. Indeed, it totally extinguished any lingering hopes that some kind of coherent, cohesive society could be forged if Israel were to annex Judea-Samaria—and incorporate its Palestinian Arabs into Israel’s permanent population.
Arsen Ostrovsky: Temple Mount Crisis: It’s Not About the Metal Detectors
For its part, the international community has turned a blind eye to the pervasive anti-Israel incitement and the growing payments to terrorists. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority has increased spending to terrorist prisoners by thirteen percent and to families of terrorist “martyrs” by four percent in 2017.
The UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations that proclaim to champion human rights are silent as Palestinian children are exploited. European governments that are quick to decry the building of Jewish homes in Jerusalem, are silent as Jewish lives are threatened in Jerusalem. Not a single voice has emerged from the Arab world calling for a restoration of calm and an end to the violence.
Jerusalem is a tinderbox. The city’s Muslim leadership has called for the closure of all mosques on Friday and urged all Muslims to converge on the Temple Mount. Tens of thousands of worshipers are expected to visit the site, creating an extraordinarily volatile situation.
As Arab leaders fan the flames of discontent for selfish political gains, the international community, beginning with every Western head of state, must urge Palestinian and Arab leaders to act responsibly and call for calm. Anything less is to be complicit in the violence that is sure to follow.
Three Palestinians were reported killed in clashes that erupted between protesters and Israeli police on Friday in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as thousands demonstrated against the installation of metal detectors at the entrances to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. The upgraded Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount were introduced after three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers on duty there last Friday, using guns they had smuggled into the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Palestinian medical officials said all three of gunshot wounds.
The Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency said a 17-year-old was killed in Ras al-Amud outside the Old City after being shot by a “settler,” though no shooter was identified; the term is often used by Palestinians to refer to any Israeli out of uniform. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the teen as Muhammad Mahmoud Sharaf from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
A second person was reportedly shot in the A-Tur area of east Jerusalem and died of his wounds at Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. He was identified by Palestinian media as Muhammad Hassan Abu Ghanem. The Wafa agency did not give his age or his place of residence.
The third death reportedly occurred in Abu Dis in the West Bank, near Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The fatality was identified as Muhammad Lafi, 18, from Abu Dis, by Palestinian media.
The wording of the “Mi Shebeirach” prayer for members of Israeli security forces has officially been updated to include police officers, the Hebrew news site nrg reported this week.
Israel Police Rabbi Rahamim Berachyahu announced the change on Wednesday. The revision was approved by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau.
“In recent years, Israeli police officers have stood at the forefront of action and danger in the face of terrorist incidents taking place across the country,” Rabbi Berachyahu explained. “The men and women of the Israel Police protect the citizens of the State of Israel every day and, unfortunately, even pay with their lives to save innocent civilians.”
The prayer — originally penned by the late former IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren — was last updated during the Second Intifada to include all members of Israel’s security forces, rather than just soldiers.
Ruthie Blum: Holy terror, Turkish delight
Leave it to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to portray his latest grab for regional relevance and power as a diplomatic effort to resolve a political-religious crisis in Jerusalem, inflamed by last week’s shooting attack on the Temple Mount.
The attack, which killed two Israeli Druze policemen, was committed by three Israeli Arabs. Nevertheless, it served as yet another excuse for Palestinians to stage days of rage against Israel.
The ostensible reason for the violent uprising is the placement of metal detectors at the entrance to Judaism’s holiest site — where only Muslims are allowed to pray — as a way of preventing additional bloodshed. On Thursday, while the Israeli government scrambled to placate the Jordanian Waqf, the custodians of the site, and the leaders of Fatah and Hamas by mulling a removal of the scanners, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that he is concerned not only about the infiltration of Arab terrorists, but of Jewish ones seeking revenge, as well. Yeah, right.
Never mind that metal detectors are a way of life in Israel, forcing anyone who rides an intercity bus or enters a government building to have to go through them. What is par for the course for the rest of us simply does not fly with mobs on the ready to riot against any Israeli action, including one aimed at protecting innocent Muslims.
This is not the only truth that is being drowned out by the shouts of “Allahu akbar” wafting through the streets of east Jerusalem. Another is the response of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which criticized the terrorist attack by denouncing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for “exploiting the operation to escalate its vicious incitement against our Arab masses.”
Tens of thousands of faithful Muslims pack Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque every week. Things have been particularly tense in the holy site this week, after Palestinian terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers last Friday. Israel responded by putting up metal detectors, an act that led thousands of Palestinians to riot and assualt Israeli soldiers with rocks, bottles, and clubs.
What could make folks gathered for prayer so rowdy? Listen in on some of the mosque’s sermons, and the answer becomes painfully obvious.
“The Israelites,” roared Khaled al-Mughrabi, one of al-Aqsa’s top preachers, in the summer of 2015, “have a holiday, Passover. Every holiday, each group would look for a small child. They would kidnap the child, steal him, and put him inside a barrel, called ‘the barrel of nails.’ They would put the small child inside the barrel, and his body would be pierced by the nails. At the bottom of the barrel they would put a faucet, and that faucet would run with the boy’s blood. This is because Satan demanded of them, in return to doing everything they want, that they eat bread kneaded with the blood of children.”
When they’re not ritually slaughtering babes, Mughrabi said on other occasions, the Jews have a full agenda of evil: they’re the real culprits behind the 9/11 attacks, are planning to take over the world, and are actual blood-drinking vampires, which is why the industry they control, Hollywood, loves making so many movies about the Jew Dracula.
Not to be outdone, Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, is fond of using the mosque to talk about one of his favorite topics, the Holocaust. Which, to hear the renowned sheikh tell it, never happened. “Six million Jews dead? No way, they were much fewer,” he told an interviewer. “Let’s stop with this fairytale exploited by Israel to capture international solidarity. It is not my fault if Hitler hated Jews, indeed they were hated a little everywhere.”
The high-level security cabinet overnight Thursday-Friday authorized the Israel Police to decide whether to keep the metal detectors around the Temple Mount compound on Friday, ahead of anticipated violence by Muslim worshipers over the new security measures.
“Israel is committed to preserving the status quo at the Temple Mount and free access to the holy sites,” a late-night statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said, following hours of meetings between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ministers, and security chiefs in Tel Aviv. “Israel is committed to the security of all worshipers and visitors to the Temple Mount.”
“The cabinet has authorized the Israel Police to make any decision in order to ensure free access to the holy sites, while upholding security and public order,” the statement said, without elaborating.
Israel’s security authorities were set to flood the streets of Jerusalem on Friday with policemen and soldiers in an attempt to quell expected violence at protests over the stepped up security measures in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The Israel Police said Friday morning it would leave contentious metal detectors in place at the entrances to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount amid calls by Muslim leaders for mass protests against the new security arrangements at the holy site.
In a statement, police said the decision came “in light of the events of recent days, which included violent riots near the gates of the Temple Mount and at other sites in villages in East Jerusalem.”
It also cited intelligence information that said “extremist elements” intended “to cause violent disruptions to the public order, and thereby to threaten the public peace, including the [safety] of those coming to pray at the holy sites and other residents of the area.”
The high-level security cabinet voted early Friday to grant the Israel Police the authority to decide which security measures would be implemented at the holy site.
Several ministers and the mayor of Jerusalem on Friday praised the government’s decision to keep metal detectors installed at the entrances to the Temple Mount following last week’s terror attack, despite widespread Muslim opposition to the move.
“The decision of the Jerusalem district police commander, Yoram Halevi, to place the metal detectors on the Temple Mount is a courageous decision,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat posted on Facebook. “This time last week two policemen were killed at the site and he is taking responsibility to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.”
The attack at the Temple Mount saw three Arab Israeli gunmen shoot and kill two Israeli police officers using firearms they had smuggled into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Barkat said Israel must not give in to Palestinian threats of violence over the new security measures.
“We must not cave in to threats and allow terror to achieve its goal. Even if we face security challenges [due to the new measures], this is the right decision. We must support the police,” he said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke by phone late Thursday with Jared Kushner, senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, reportedly to ask that the White House pressure Israel to remove metal detectors installed at the Temple Mount following last Friday’s deadly terror attack.
According to Hebrew-language media, Abbas told Kushner that tensions over the holy site were a serious concern, and that they threatened to get out of control if Israel did not back down.
Abbas held emergency meetings with senior members of his Fatah party on Friday to discuss the escalating tensions. The meetings with the PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Committee were intended to decide on the Palestinian response to Israel’s decision early Friday to leave the metal detectors in place on the Temple Mount despite Palestinian protests.
Following last Friday’s terrorist attack at the Temple Mount in which two Israeli policemen were killed, Palestinian leaders have been seeking to “rile up” their public, the editor-in-chief of The Algemeiner said during an appearance on i24 News on Tuesday.
The demands being made that Israel remove the metal detectors it put in place at the entrances to the Temple Mount following the incident are “undermining the rights of people to be safe and secure,” Dovid Efune stated during a debate with Mai Abdul Rahman — the president of the American Palestinian Women’s Association — on the “Crossroads” program, which is hosted by David Shuster and Michelle Makori.
Efune called the increased security measures at the sensitive hilltop holy site “responsible governance” on Israel’s part.
Furthermore, he noted, the status quo that has prevailed on the Temple Mount since 1967 has not changed.
“Everything remains the same, except it’s a little bit more secure,” Efune said.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Thursday visited the families of two Israeli police officers killed last Friday by three Arab Israeli gunmen at the Temple Mount.
Haiel Sitawe, 30, and Kamil Shnaan, 22, of Israel’s Druze community were the victims of Friday’s deadly attack.
“Met today with families of Haiel Sitawe and Kamil Shnaan who were murdered last week defending the Temple Mount,” Friedman wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Heartbreaking. Praying for these two beautiful families.”
Sitawe joined the Israel Police in 2012 and had served in the unit responsible for securing the Temple Mount ever since. He left behind a wife, Irin, a three-week-old son, his parents and three brothers. Shnaan was the youngest son of a former Labor Party Knesset member, Shachiv Shnaan. His engagement party to his girlfriend was to be held this week. Shnaan was survived by his parents, one brother and three sisters.
Hundreds of people visited the Druze villages of Hurfeish and Maghar Wednesday to pay their condolences to the families of the two police officers murdered in last Friday’s terrorist attack on the Temple Mount.
Among the visitors were Israelis who lost loved ones to terrorism. The visits were arranged by the OneFamily organization, which assists bereaved families and victims of terrorism.
OneFamily said in a statement published on their Facebook page that the purpose of the visits was to “let their families feel that they are not alone.”
Dozens of Israelis, Jews and non-Jews alike, answered the organization’s call and bordered the buses to visit the families of Command Sergeant Major Hayil Satawi and Command Sergeant Major Kamil Shanaan.
Among the visitors who paid their condolences to the families was Hadas Mizrachi, the widow of Baruch Mizrahi, a resident of Modi’in who was killed in a shooting attack two years ago while traveling with his family to celebrate the Passover Seder.
Mizrachi was joined by Deborah Gonen, the mother of Danny Gonen of Lod, who was murdered in a shooting attack in the Binyamin region two years ago.
This Ongoing War: The Al-Aqsa factor: Rats, snakes and chickens
It’s not hard for an observant bystander to detect just how calculated the whipping up of the current violence actually is. The larger challenge is in seeing how this is part of a much longer narrative – an effort over generations to depict the Arabs, then later the Palestinian Arabs, and the Islamic world in general, as being under attack by Israel and the Jews.
We tweeted earlier today about the importance of looking at history and understanding the deep old roots of this week’s violence. It may have been triggered by three similarly-named, murder-minded clansmen – all Mohammeds from the Jabarin clan – traveling up to Jerusalem on Friday to have themselves a shooting attack. But it started a lot earlier:
The “Al-Aksa Is in Danger” Libel The History of a Lie
Making that point more concisely is one specific caricature – this one:
A constant refrain on the Israeli left for decades has been the claim that the key to peace lies in greater dialogue between Arabs and Jews.
Now, a pro-Israel activist group has taken up the challenge, launching a new Arabic division dedicated to conducting dialog with Israeli Arabs – in Arabic.
Boomerang, which produces viral videos and other social media content challenging the anti-Israel narratives pushed by much of the mainstream media, debuted the pilot of a new series of Arabic (with English and Hebrew subtitles) videos.
In the first video, Yitzhar resident and Boomerang activist Tzvi Succot heads to the Old City of Jerusalem in the wake of last Friday’s deadly terror attack near the Temple Mount, to present in Arabic the question raised by many Israeli Jews after last week’s attack: where are the condemnations?
Boomerang: Israeli ‘settler’ to Arabs in Arabic – “why don’t you condemn terror”?
Members of the Joint (Arab) List tried to make their way to the Temple Mount Friday amid tensions between police and protesters over increased security arrangements at the holy site.
The Knesset members met early Friday morning with leaders of the Islamic Waqf, the Jordanian body that administers the Temple Mount, before marching with protesters through East Jerusalem towards the Old City.
At the Salah Al-Din Street street outside the Old City, the MKs were met with a temporary police checkpoint allowing only women and men over 50 to proceed towards the Temple Mount. Police said “an uproar was caused by the arrival of the public figures, who riled up those waiting there.”
Protesters tried to break through the barrier and several threw bottles and stones at officers, police said, adding that they responded with non-lethal riot disposal methods.
Israel and Jordan are planning to form a joint committee to devise security arrangements on the Temple Mount that would be acceptable to all sides, Israel Hayom learned Thursday.
The decision comes amid rising tensions over Israel’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrance to the compound in response to the deadly terrorist attack near one of the gates to the Temple Mount last Friday. Muslim worshippers view the security measure as an attempt by Israel to expand its control over the site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, while Israel insists the measure is meant only to prevent attacks.
Although the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the religious body charged with administering Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, will be represented in the committee, the Palestinian Authority will not, sparking outrage in Ramallah.
Senior Jordanian officials confirmed the reports. An official declaration announcing the establishment of the committee was expected on Friday, they said, but it depends on how events unfold on the Temple Mount.
The committee will deal with a wide range of issues beyond the metal detectors installed at the entrances to the compound. Among these is the implementation of an arrangement Jordan and Israel agreed upon previously to install a closed circuit security camera system in sections of the Temple Mount complex. The arrangement has not yet been implemented because the Waqf has yet to begin the installation stipulated in the arrangement.
As tensions ratchet up in Jerusalem’s Old City following Israel’s installation of metal detectors at gates to the Temple Mount in response to a terror attack there, attention has turned to the byzantine warren of authorities that control and manage the ultra-sensitive holy site.
While Israel controls access to the compound, inside its nine gates the Jerusalem Awqaf Department — sometimes called the Islamic Religious Endowments Authority, or simply the Waqf — exerts near total control.
The Waqf is entirely controlled and funded by the Jordanian government. It administers daily life on the Temple Mount, which includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock, archaeological sites, museums and schools.
Since Israel captured the site in 1967, an uneasy relationship between authorities and the Waqf has been maintained, with both saying they are committed to keeping the delicate status quo that allows non-Muslims to visit, but not worship, on the Mount.
For many non-Muslims, both the Waqf and the status quo remain a mystery, and questions abound as to how the body has come to wield such power in a city that is ostensibly completely under the control of the state of Israel.
The head of the Wakf Muslim religious trust in Jerusalem, Abdul Azim Salhab, saying he was speaking in the name of all Muslims worldwide, on Friday rejected the security cabinet’s decision not to remove metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount (al-Aksa mosque) compound.
Speaking at a press conference in East Jerusalem, Salhab said: “We are one. We all reject the measures to put in metal detectors. We reject the entrance of settlers to the mosque compound. We in Jerusalem represent 1.7 billion Muslims who say in one voice no to the metal detectors. We say no to the arrangements taken by the Israelis against the Wakf.”
Israeli police installed the metal detectors after an attack last Friday by three Israeli Arab gunmen at an entrance to the Temple Mount left two policemen dead. The assailants were shot dead by police. While Israeli authorities say the detectors are necessary for security, Palestinian leaders say they are a violation of the status quo and are indicative of an Israeli intention to take over the mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
A number of anti-Israel protests were held in capitals across the Middle East and Asia on Friday, amid protests in Jerusalem over security measures implemented at entrances to the Temple Mount following last week’s deadly terror attack at the holy site where three terrorists emerged from the compound and killed two Israeli police officers.
Thousands gathered in Amman, Beirut, Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur Friday afternoon in solidarity with Palestinian worshipers who have been protesting the new arrangements, including metal detectors and cameras, since last Friday’s shooting.
In the Jordanian capital, thousands protested against Israel and hailed the attack that killed the two officers last week, according to media reports. A makeshift cardboard “missile” with the words “Al-Aqsa is a red line” was reported to have been carried by the crowd.
“With our soul, with our blood, we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Al-Aqsa,” they chanted.
“We will go to Al-Aqsa in our millions as martyrs,” vowed the crowd, whose country is the official custodian of the Temple Mount, as protesters set ablaze and trampled an Israeli flag.
The leading center for religious learning and jurisprudence among the world’s Sunni Muslims, Egypt’s al-Azhar, has called for urgent Muslim, Arab and international intervention to “save” al-Aksa mosque from Israel.
A statement reported on news sites in the Arab world, including the Palestinian Maan news agency, issued late Thursday by al-Azhar in Cairo said the institute was following with “deep concern the escalation of the Israeli occupation forces against blessed al-Aksa mosque.” It warned against the “continuation of the violations” against it. It said these alleged violations were provoking the feelings of Muslims all over the world and threatening the stability of the entire region.
Issuing of the statement pointed up the potential for wider reverberations of the al-Aksa crisis in the Arab world. The security cabinet decided late Thursday to leave metal detectors installed at the entrance to the Temple Mount/al-Aksa mosque compound in place to search worshipers. Palestinian religious figures have termed that a violation of the status quo at the site and an indication of Israeli designs against the mosque.
A group of Turkish ultra-nationalists on Thursday protested outside one of the most significant synagogues in Istanbul to denounce Israel’s security measures at the Temple Mount following a deadly attack last Friday that left two Israeli police officers dead, the Dogan news agency said.
The group from the Alperen Hearths, a far-right ultranationalist and Islamist youth group, said in a statement read outside the Neve Salom synagogue in central Istanbul that Israel was a “terror state” seeking to block freedom for worship to Muslims.
“If you prevent our freedom of worship there then we will prevent your freedom of worship here,” said the statement.
It was read by the group’s local chairman Kursat Mican.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday urged his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin to swiftly remove metal detectors erected at the entrances Temple Mount following a deadly terrorist attack at the holy site last week.
Muslims have been refusing to enter the Temple Mount since Sunday, when Israel began installing metal detectors at entrances to the site following the murder of two police officers.
“Within the framework of freedom of religion and worship there can be no impediment for Muslims” entering the holy site, the Anadolu news agency quoted Erdogan as telling Rivlin.
“Given the importance that Haram al-Sharif carries for the whole Islamic world, the metal detectors put in place by Israel should be removed in the shortest possible time and an end put to the tension,” Erdogan added.
The Turkish leader had earlier held telephone talks with Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, telling him the measures imposed by Israel were “unacceptable”.
President Reuven Rivlin asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to condemn last Friday’s terrorist attack near the Temple Mount, when the two leaders spoke by phone on Thursday evening.
“The president reminded Erdogan that after the terrorist attacks in Turkey, the State of Israel was quick to condemn those criminal acts. He said Israel expected to hear similar condemnation from Turkey, with the understanding that terrorism was terrorism wherever it took place; in Jerusalem, in Istanbul, or in Paris,” Rivlin’s office said.
The Temple Mount is a site that is “holy for all,” Rivlin told Erdogan as he explained that the attack in which two Israeli policemen were killed, was “intolerable.” It “crossed a red line which endangered the ability of all of us to live together,” he said.
He assured Erdogan that Israel had maintained and would continue to maintain the status quo at the Temple Mount, in which only Muslims can pray there but Jews and Christians can visit.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh lashed out at the wider Muslim world on Friday in a speech in Gaza City for its inaction over the past week, following the implementation of new Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The upgraded security, including metal detectors and cameras at the entrances to the holy site, were put in place last week following a deadly terror attack in which three terrorists emerged from the compound and shot dead two Israeli police officers, having earlier stashed their weapons at the site.
Palestinians have been protesting the security measures introduced by Israel after the attack by clashing with Israeli police on a near-daily basis since the July 14 attack, near the Temple Mount and around East Jerusalem.
Muslim leaders have instructed those wishing to pray not to agree to pass through the metal detector gates posted at the Temple Mount. Only a few Palestinians agreed to security checks and entered the site on Friday, with thousands more praying or protesting at various sites around the city.
It should not be difficult to arrive at a simple understanding of the status in international law of the territories Israel took in the 1967 war. All one needs to do is apply the proper overriding principles, and thereby determine whether those territories are disputed, as Israel claims, or occupied, as most others do. I am happy to inform you that I and my myriad colleagues have examined the legal literature and precedent, and found the one overarching principle that clearly demonstrates the territories are under occupation: once an area is ethnically cleansed of Jews, as the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem were in 1948, Jews lose their claim to the land, and can never reclaim sovereignty. The same does not apply to anyone else.
This principle helps explain the dominant international approach to the Occupied Territories. Jordanian legionnaires and local Arab irregulars expelled all the Jews from the areas they conquered, or forced their evacuation before the imminent arrival of enemy fighters: the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood to its northwest, the Etzion Bloc to Jerusalem’s south, Jenin, Kfar Darom, and multiple other sites that had held Jewish communities. Then, once the armistice was concluded in 1949, Jews must never be allowed back.
Contrast that, appropriately, with the approach to dispossessed Arabs, the refugees and their descendants. Who in their right mind would contend that once removed from their lands, they have no further claim? Only someone who seeks to undermine the cause of millions of Palestine Refugees, and we know who you are. Know this: Palestinians are not Jews, who can be dispossessed and left to the dogs. See: the Hebron Jewish community before and after 1929.
President Trump has completed six months in office without managing to get Israel and the PLO to resume their negotiations – stalled since April 2014.
Trump’s failure has not been for lack of trying.
The President has turned on his political charm offensive – inviting both Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the White House – whilst making personal visits to Jerusalem and Bethlehem – all apparently to no avail.
Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman have been actively engaged on the ground in both Jerusalem and Ramallah in talks with Israel and the PLO – yet nothing of significance has emerged to indicate the PLO is ready to meet Israel without preconditions face to face across the negotiating table.
Even if these two adversaries resumed negotiations – there appears little chance of the PLO modifying demands that:
1. it be granted sovereignty over every square metre of Judea and Samaria (“the disputed territories”) and
2. Jerusalem be divided.
Offers by Israel in 2000/2001 and 2008 to cede its claims in more than 90% of the disputed territories have already been rejected by the PLO.
Trump needs to identify a new Arab partner to replace the PLO and join Israel in allocating sovereignty of the disputed territories between Jews and Arabs.
Tough conditions on American funding for both the UN and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have been approved by the congressional committee overseeing the US Foreign Operations Bill for 2018.
The bill — passed by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday — places strict restrictions on how the $47.4 billion budget for overseas operations will be disbursed.
A statement from the committee confirmed that there will be “no funding for the (UN) Human Rights Council unless the Secretary of State determines that it is in the national security interest and the Council stops its anti-Israel agenda and increases transparency in the elections of its members.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned back in March that US funding of the council would be terminated if it continued with “its biased agenda against Israel.”
“The bill also prohibits funds for UN organizations headed by countries that support terrorism, and withholds a portion of funds for the UN and international organizations until transparency and accountability measures are met,” the statement added.
Senate Democrats Describe Palestinian Authority As Sponsor of Terror
The State Department is facing harsh criticism for claiming in an official report that Israel is to blame for terrorism attacks committed by Palestinians and accusing the Jewish state of being largely responsible for an impasse in peace negotiations, according to a leading member of Congress who is calling on the State Department to correct its “inaccurate and harmful” characterization of Israel.
The State Department, in its latest annual report on the global terrorism situation, blames Israeli security policies for stalling the peace process and claims that Palestinians rarely incite terror attacks.
The claims are coming under fierce criticism from pro-Israel advocates and have prompted one leading member of Congress to formally call on the Trump administration to amend the report to more accurately reflect the situation.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R. Ill.), co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, criticized the latest report in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and called on the administration to immediately amend it to portray Palestinian terror attacks as a primary reason for the impasse in peace talks.
The State Department’s current characterization, Roskam claims, is harmful to Israel and likely to impede efforts by the Trump administration to renew peace talks.
A Jordanian member of parliament has praised soldier Ahmed Daqamseh, who in 1997 shot dead seven Israeli schoolgirls, as a hero, i24news reported Thursday.
Dima Tahboub, a spokeswoman for the Islamic Action Front which is the political wing of Jordan’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, said Daqamseh was a hero because he was retaliating against Israel and the teenage girls were “enemies.”
Tahboub’s comments were made in an interview with British journalist Tim Sebastian, according to i24news.
Daqamseh was a soldier in the Jordanian army when he opened fire on a group of students who were visiting the “peace island” of Naharayim on March 13, 1997, as part of a class trip.
Naharayim is located right near the Jordanian border, and Daqamseh opened fire on the girls from the Jordanian side. He killed seven of the students, and wounded six others.
Israelis holidaying on the Greek island of Kos were shaken by a massive earthquake Friday which killed two tourists, left over 300 hurt across the region and sparked fears of a tsunami.
“People left the hotels and began looking for open areas to get away from the beach,” Margalit Keren, who was staying on a yacht in Kos with her husband, told Channel 2 news on Friday.
“We were fast asleep when we felt the sea rise up and hit hard on the side of the yacht,” she said. “Along the wharf all the boats collided with each other and a yacht moored next to us snapped its ropes and started to float away. The water fell by half a meter in height.”
“People came running out of the hotels and searched for open spaces away from the shore,” she added. “There were dozens of aftershocks.”
Israel has stopped pumping water groundwater out of two sites in the Negev, after raw sewage dumped from the Gaza Strip into a river which flows into Israel seeped into aquifers inside of Israel.
The Israeli Health Ministry ordered the National Water Carrier (Mekorot) to shut off pumping stations near the town of Netiv Haasara in the western Negev after ministry officials found the Gaza sewage had seeped into the soil around the pumping stations, Yediot Ahronot reported.
Because of funding disputes between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the PLO-governed Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, the supply of electricity to Gaza has been reduced over the past month, leading Hamas officials to shut down a waste treatment plant built with some $100 million in foreign aid.
Over the past two weeks, cities in the northern Gaza Strip have let their sewage flow untreated into the Nahal Hanun stream.
The Nahal Hanun stream runs across the Gaza Strip and into pre-1967 Israel, passing by Netiv Haasara and seeping into the nearby aquifers.
A power-sharing deal between two former archfoes is slowly taking shape in the Gaza Strip and could lead to major changes in the Hamas-ruled territory, including an easing of the decade-long border blockade.
In the latest sign that the Egypt-backed understandings are moving forward, Hamas permitted more than 2,000 supporters of its exiled former nemesis, Mohammed Dahlan, to stage a rally in Gaza City on Thursday. They held up banners with large photos of him and signs reading, “Thank you, Dahlan.”
Dahlan backers also opened an office in Gaza last month as a springboard for political activity and began disbursing $2 million in Dahlan-procured aid from the United Arab Emirates to Gaza’s poor.
All involved appear to benefit from the new deal for Gaza: Egypt, which is battling Islamic extremist insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula, hopes to contain Hamas through new security arrangements; Dahlan, forced into exile after falling out with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010, is poised to launch a comeback and advance his Palestinian leadership bid; and Hamas gets a chance to prolong its rule with a promised easing of Gaza’s stifling border blockade.
Can Hamas be undermined to the point that its existence is threatened? I believe the answer is yes.
To do so, Israel would need to seize large parts of the populated areas in Gaza; destroy miles and miles of terror tunnels; locate and eliminate Hamas commanders; and locate and destroy headquarters and weapon production sites, even if most of them are hidden in densely populated neighborhoods.
The results of such an operation would be hard to swallow in Israel, and even more so overseas: The IDF would surely sustain multiple casualties; Gaza would pay a heavy price in terms of fatalities — terrorists and civilians alike — which would undoubtedly number in the thousands; bombing large areas would cause massive infrastructural damage that would leave the enclave in utter ruins; and while there is no telling what damage bombing the tunnel grid would cause, it would surely be massive.
Once the dust settles on such an operation, a familiar question would arise: Now what? Does the IDF leave Gaza to the hell of warring terrorist groups left unchecked by a strong ruler, or does it stay? Will Israel be responsible for Gaza’s rehabilitation, shouldering the economic burden that implies as well as the burden any occupying power bears under international law? These are difficult questions that underscore the fact that the everyday dilemmas with respect to what should be done about Gaza are, for now at least, better than the alternative.
Syrian rebels said on Thursday a US decision to halt a covert CIA program of military aid would mark a big blow to the Syrian opposition and risked allowing jihadists to tighten their grip over the insurgency.
Rebels who have received aid under the CIA program said they had yet to be informed of the US decision first reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday and confirmed by two US officials to Reuters.
A Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander said the US decision risked triggering the collapse of the moderate opposition, which would benefit President Bashar al-Assad and jihadists linked to al Qaeda that have long sought to extinguish more moderate groups.
Other rebel sources said much would depend on whether US-allied regional states Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey kept up their support to groups fighting under the FSA banner, which had been the focus of the CIA program.
“We heard nothing about this,” said an opposition official familiar with the program, describing the decision as a complete surprise.
The US decision compounds an already bleak outlook for the Syrian opposition that has been battling since 2011 to unseat Assad, who appears militarily unassailable thanks in large part to staunch Russian and Iranian backing.
The CIA program which began in 2013 funneled weapons, training and cash to vetted FSA groups via Jordan and Turkey.
The Lebanese group Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched an offensive on Friday to clear militants from an area of the Syrian-Lebanese frontier, a commander in the military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar Assad told Reuters.
The operation is targeting insurgents from the Nusra Front group in the Juroud Arsal area on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal, and in areas of the western Qalamoun mountains in Syria, the commander said.
The barren Juroud Arsal area between Syria and Lebanon has also been a base of operations for Islamic State militants. Several thousand Syrian refugees are living in camps in Juroud Arsal.
Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV said Nusra militants were being targeting in Juroud Arsal and in areas near the Syrian town of Fleita.
The Lebanese army has deployed reinforcements on the outskirts of Arsal town in anticipation of the operation, aiming to prevent militants from fleeing into Lebanon, a Lebanese security source said this week.
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