News Roundup for July 21, 2017

July 21, 2017

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J Street in the News

J Street, A Reliable Foe of BDS, Urges Congress to Oppose Israel Anti-Boycott Act for Now, The Intercept

“J Street, founded in late 2007 to promote a two-state solution, opposes the Israeli occupation and general treatment of the Palestinians, but also has refused to endorse the Palestinian-led nonviolent boycott movement. Its activists regularly find themselves at odds with left-wing groups such as Jewish Voices for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine who view BDS as the best way to end the occupation of the Palestinians. Thus J Street often lobbies in favor of anti-BDS legislation. However, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is a step too far for even these reliable opponents of BDS. On Tuesday, J Street Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan J. Williams sent an email to foreign policy staffers on Capitol Hill urging them to oppose the legislation as it is currently written primarily because of its impact on free speech….In the full analysis, J Street also warned that in addition to threatening free speech, the legislation blurs the line between Israel and the settlements enterprise. They note that the legislation makes no real distinction between boycotting the entire state of Israel, and boycotting the settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. ‘This bill could give Attorney General Jeff Sessions the power to prosecute any American who chooses not to buy settlement products for a felony offense,’ Williams warned. ‘That kind of authority should not be given to any administration, let alone one that has engaged in extreme rhetoric against political opponents, including threats to ‘lock [them] up.’’”

Tensions on the Temple Mount, J Street

Questions and answers about the new crisis that has broken out over questions of control, access and security at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Top News and Analysis

Temple Mount Crisis: Police Brace for Violence as Cabinet Decides to Keep Metal Detectors in Place, Haaretz

The security cabinet decided early on Friday morning that the metal detectors installed at the entries to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount following a deadly attack there last week will not be removed. But a senior Israeli official said that while the cabinet decided to keep the controversial metal detectors in place, they will be used selectively. Only suspicious individuals or people in certain age groups would searched, at the discretion of police commanders, the official said. After a four-hour long meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that “Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and the freedom of access to the holy sites. The cabinet has authorized Israel Police to ensure free access to the holy sites while maintaining public security and order.”

Arab MKs try to reach Temple Mount amid clashes between protesters, police, Times of Israel

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. Israeli security officials were quoted saying that any bloodshed around the Temple Mount Friday would be the responsibility of the Arab MKs and other religious leaders who participated in the day’s protests. The unnamed officials, quoted by Walla News, accused the MKs of “stirring up” the crowds and escalating tensions.

On Temple Mount, will reason trump politics?, Times of Israel

Avi Issacharoff writes, “Israel insists it is not seeking to change the status quo or to create new facts on the ground on the Temple Mount – only to prevent further attacks. Three Arab-Israelis shot dead two Israel Police officers just outside the compound on Friday, using guns that had been smuggled into the religious site. Hence the upgraded security measures….The Muslim insistence on removing the detectors is perceived in Israel as absurd, but Israelis naturally do not tend to see the Muslim point of view. In the Palestinian and Arab spheres, the installation of the metal detector gates at the entrance to the Temple Mount is seen as flagrant overreach by Israel — a blatant attempt to change the existing state of affairs and even, in the minds of some Muslims, a precursor to a takeover of the compound. Still, a solution may be at hand. Numerous sources, both Israeli and Palestinian, have indicated that intensive talks between the Israeli and Jordanian leaderships, with American support, have produced a scheme that may be acceptable to all sides….But in Israel as well, it is difficult to separate security considerations from politics: Just like Muslims, Jews are extremely sensitive in matters relating to the Temple Mount. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that many on the right would be all too happy to skewer him for seemingly folding when it comes to the spot most sacred to the Jewish people. It is thus not at all certain that his decision will be purely professional.”


Rivlin Discusses Temple Mount Crisis With Turkey’s Erdogan, Despite Israeli Foreign Ministry Opposition, Haaretz

President Reuven Rivlin spoke on the phone on Thursday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the Temple Mount crisis. The President’s Residence said that the call took place at Erdogan’s request. A senior Israeli official said that the Foreign Ministry opposed to the call taking place, and even passed on a negative assessment of it earlier in the day. The President’s Residence said that during their conversation, Rivlin clarified to his Turkish counterpart that “the terror attack that occurred last Friday at the Temple Mount, a sacred site for all of us, is an unacceptable crossing of a red line that jeopardizes our ability to live together.”

Dozens wounded in fresh clashes over Temple Mount security, Times of Israel

At least 42 Palestinians were injured as fresh clashes erupted Thursday between protesters and police in Jerusalem’s Old City after thousands of Muslim worshipers gathered around the contested Temple Mount holy site for evening prayers. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Palestinians threw rocks and glass bottles at the officers outside the Old City’s Lion Gate following evening prayers. Police responded with tear gas and riot dispersal methods. Samri said 5 officers were hurt. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that 36 of the protesters were taken to the hospital for treatment. Two of them were in serious condition after being hit by rubber bullets.

Abbas asks Jared Kushner to force Israel to remove metal detectors, Times of Israel

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 threatened to get out of control if Israel did not back down.

Jewish Ohio Senate candidate condemns ADL, backs figures on ‘alt-lite’ list, JTA

Josh Mandel, the Ohio treasurer who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator, expressed solidarity with figures listed by the Anti-Defamation League as having a “hateful impact” on the political scene. Attached to his tweet was a tweet by Mike Cernovich, a blogger who was on the ADL list, with a link to an article by Cernovich claiming the ADL wanted him killed, although it cited no evidence.

Thousands Rally In Israel Backing Adoption Rights For Same-Sex Couples, Forward

Thousands rallied in Tel Aviv to show their support for same-sex couples who want to adopt children. The demonstrators held signs reading “We are not second class citizens” and “Bibi go home” at the rally Wednesday evening. Television anchor Nadav Borenstein and singer Harel Skaat, who are both gay, hosted the rally near the Kiriya military headquarters. Clashes between protesters and police led to the arrest of five demonstrators., Ynet reported.

Police, army plan mass deployment ahead of Friday Temple Mount protests, Times of Israel

Israel’s security authorities are planning to flood the streets of Jerusalem on Friday with policeman and soldiers in an attempt quell expected violence at protests over increased security measures at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. Over 3,000 police officers will be deployed “in and around the area of the Old City, Temple Mount and nearby neighborhoods,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Police are also said to be planning to limit the number of Muslim worshipers allowed to enter the Temple Mount and blocking entry to the capital from other areas of the country ahead of Friday prayers.

Hungarian Jews Criticize Netanyahu’s Backing of anti-Soros Campaign, Haaretz

Hungarian Jews on Wednesday sharply criticized Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s billboard campaign using the image of U.S. financier George Soros and said the Israeli government’s backing of it came as a disappointment to the local Jewish community. In the campaign, Soros is singled out as an enemy of Hungary. “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh” say billboards next to a picture of the 86-year-old Jewish investor, a campaign that Jewish groups say foments anti-Semitism.

Opinions and Analysis

Jordan, Israel trade barbs as tension over Al-Aqsa continues, Al-Monitor

Osama al Sharif observes, “Anyone following Jordanian reaction to Israeli measures imposed at the Haram al-Sharif (which Israel calls The Temple Mount) in the Old City of Jerusalem following the deadly July 14 attack could be forgiven for thinking that Jordan and Israel were still at war.”

Temple Mount Crisis Shows Who’s Really Calling the Shots at the Site, Haaretz

Nir Hasson observes, “Jerusalemite Palestinian society is usually characterized by its weaknesses: the poverty, the lack of leadership, the hardships of the occupation, house demolitions and land confiscations. But over the past several days, Jerusalem’s Palestinians have achieved something unprecedented. Through a nonviolent protest that included an exceptional boycott on entering the Al-Aqsa compound, they have forced Israel into a corner from which the government is seriously considering giving in and removing the metal detectors it installed at the Mount’s entrances….The potential for a violent clash on Friday is perhaps the greatest it’s been since Ariel Sharon went up to the Temple Mount in 2000, two days before the second intifada broke out. Even if the grave scenarios don’t play out and the prayers go off more or less peacefully, the next wave of violence is almost inevitable. However this crisis ends, it revealed a serious problem with the way decisions are made on the Israeli side. You didn’t have to be an expert on the history of the Temple Mount to foresee the result.”

For a two-state solution, Israel must say bye-bye to Bibi, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar reports, “‘Forget about the Trump peace initiative,’ a senior Israeli political figure well versed in the details of the latest diplomatic moves told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity. ‘The problem is not about bridging gaps between us and the Palestinians,’ he said. ‘The solution is well known and familiar to the Trump administration.’ To push it forward, however, the real sticking point must be overcome. ‘That problem is called the Netanyahu government,’ he remarked. ‘Sadly, there are no indications for now that the American president is willing to deal with it.’”

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