News Roundup for July 25, 2017

July 25, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

After Cabinet Decision, Israel Begins Removing Metal Detectors From Temple Mount, Haaretz

Israel’s security cabinet decided during a meeting on Monday night to remove the metal detectors installed at the entrances to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The metal detectors have aroused a wave of protests among Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, which have echoed across the Arab world. Security forces were already seen removing at least some of the metal detectors late on Monday night. A senior Israeli official who attended the cabinet meeting, which lasted around four hours, noted that the metal detectors “will be replaced by advanced technological means” that will enable “smart inspection” throughout Jerusalem’s Old City to ensure the security of visitors to the Temple Mount compound.

Israel-Jordan Embassy Crisis Ends: Diplomats Evacuated, Cross Border Into Israel, Haaretz

After more than 24 hours, the crisis between Israel and Jordan surrounding the embassy in Amman concluded. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, shortly before 11:00 P.M., all Israeli diplomats from the embassy, headed by Ambassador Einat Schlain, arrived in Israel via the Allenby Crossing. Among the contingent includes the security guard wounded in Sunday night’s stabbing attack. A senior Israeli official noted that a solution was found during Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman’s visit to Amman that enabled the release of the security guard and the evacuation of the embassy’s Israeli staff.

When Netanyahu walked eyes wide open into disaster, Times of Israel

David Horovitz observes, “It has been widely reported that the Shin Bet security agency and the IDF were barely consulted ahead of the decision to install metal detector gates at the Temple Mount after the July 14 terror attack there. It has been widely reported that police chiefs and the public security minister did not believe the measure constituted a particularly significant step. It has been widely reported that Netanyahu failed to detail the metal detector plans when he spoke to Jordan’s King Abdullah and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the immediate aftermath of the attack, in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two police officers on duty just outside the compound with guns they had smuggled into the holy site. It has been widely reported that the Shin Bet and the IDF urged that the metal detector gates be removed ahead of July 21’s Friday mass Muslim prayers. Whatever the truth of these various damning reports, some of which have been denied, a more ‘responsible’ prime minister should surely have realized the inflammatory potential of the metal detector gates, particularly when installed in the way they were.”

Netanyahu Was Forced to Backtrack Once Again – but This Time It Was His Own Fault, Haaretz

Amos Harel observes, “The rapid escalation of the crisis over the Temple Mount has demonstrated not just the great volatility of any deviation from the status quo on the Temple Mount, but also the strengthening of the religious component of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Religion has always influenced the conflict, but today it plays an even more central role in the tensions than in the past. This is where the Israelis also made their own contribution. The right of Jews to go up on the Temple mount and pray there, an issue which was almost always considered completely taboo among the religious Zionist community after the Six-Day War, has now received widespread support among the same community.”

This piece of pro-Israel legislation is a serious threat to free speech, Washington Post

The ACLU’s David Cole writes, “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, legislation introduced in the Senate by Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and in the House by Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.), would make it a crime to support or even furnish information about a boycott directed at Israel or its businesses called by the United Nations, the European Union or any other “international governmental organization.” Violations would be punishable by civil and criminal penalties of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison….The bill’s chilling effect would be dramatic — and that is no doubt its very purpose. But individuals, not the government, should have the right to decide whether to support boycotts against practices they oppose. Neither individuals nor businesses should have to fear million-dollar penalties, years in prison and felony convictions for expressing their opinions through collective action. As an organization, we take no sides on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But regardless of the politics, we have and always will take a strong stand when government threatens our freedoms of speech and association. The First Amendment demands no less.”


Muslim worshippers stay away from Temple Mount despite removal of metal detectors, security cameras, JTA

The Muslim Waqf, the religious trust that administers the holy sites at the Temple Mount, on Tuesday announced that despite the removal of the metal detectors and security cameras that worshippers should continue to stay away from the Temple Mount, and rejected any security measures, including advanced technologies, calling for “completely” free worship for Muslims at the site. A committee representing the Waqf was scheduled to tour the site later Tuesday and  review the situation, Haaretz reported.

Jordan’s King Abdullah to Netanyahu: Remove Metal Detectors From Temple Mount, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on both crises concerning the Temple Mount and the Israeli Embassy in Amman. During their telephone conversation, Abdullah told Netanyahu that the metal detectors placed near the Temple Mount entrances should be removed. ‘The king stressed that a quick solution should be found and to dismantle what caused the ongoing Temple Mount crisis, restoring the situation that existed before the crisis’ outbreak and to fully reopen the Al-Aqsa Mosque,’ according to a statement from the Jordanian royal family. ‘The king added that an agreement should be reached on arrangements that will prevent a recurrence of such escalations in the future while respecting the status quo of the Temple Mount.’”

Israeli Wounded in Stabbing Attack by Palestinian in Tel Aviv Suburb, Haaretz

An Israeli man, 32, was stabbed by a Palestinian in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva on Monday morning, and suffered moderate injuries to the torso. The stabber, 21, has been arrested and taken for questioning.

Jordan Concerned by anti-Israel Anger Following Embassy Shooting, Haaretz

Sunday’s incident in which an Israeli embassy guard killed two Jordanians after being stabbed in Amman has inflamed public sentiment in the Jordanian capital to an extent that is beginning to concern Jordan’s security apparatus.

After meetings in Israel, Greenblatt heads to Amman to resolve crisis, Times of Israel

After dashing to Israel to defuse tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, a top White House envoy jetted to Amman on Monday evening for “additional discussions” regarding an escalating diplomatic imbroglio. Special envoy Jason Greenblatt arrived in Israel in the afternoon, a senior administration official said, and then had meetings with US Ambassador to the United States David Friedman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After those meetings, “Mr. Greenblatt is traveling to Amman, Jordan for additional discussions,” the official said. There was no indication whether or not Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would be part of those talks.

N.Y. Senator Gillibrand: Netanyahu Does ‘Not Have A Plan For Peace’, Forward

Prime Minister Netanyahu does “not have a plan for peace,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. also calling for a US “call for action” to Israel. “I am concerned that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not have a plan for peace, and doesn’t have a vision for peace,” Gillibrand said Saturday at a town hall meeting in the Bronx in New York City. Her remarks were significant for their sharpness in tone and for the robust applause she received.

Western Wall heckling worse than ever for monthly service, Women of the Wall says, JTA

More than 100 women who assembled for the Women of the Wall’s monthly Rosh Chodesh service at the Western Wall faced more intense heckling than ever, the group said. The women, who smuggled in a small Torah scroll for the service, were attacked verbally and physically, the group said in a statement issued Monday, hours after the service in the women’s section of the Western Wall plaza.

Netanyahu vows to bring home embassy guard as crisis with Jordan deepens, Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that Israel was working to try to end a growing crisis with Jordan and to bring home an Israeli security guard who shot dead two Jordanians at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman after he was attacked by one of them with a screwdriver. Speaking in Jerusalem alongside Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Netanyahu said that he spoke twice with Israel’s Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein following Sunday’s incident, as well as with the security guard.

Palestinians continue protests as Israeli police entrench security measures at Al-Aqsa, Ma’an

Israeli forces continued to suppress Palestinian worshipers in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday, ten days into a civil disobedience movement in the city denouncing increased security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, as Israeli forces seemed to be entrenching the new procedures.

Israeli Defense Minister Blames Incitement by Arab Lawmakers for Temple Mount, Halamish Attacks, Haaretz

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday accused Arab lawmakers of incitement, after two deadly attacks in the space of a week left five Israelis dead. “The two attacks are the result of the ongoing incitement by the Palestinian leadership and by MKs from the Joint List and the Islamic Movement,” Lieberman said. The Joint List is a faction of mainly Arab parties in the Knesset.

Opinions and Analysis

Temple Mount Crisis: Fears of Political Rivals Led Netanyahu to Make a Grave Error, Haaretz

Barak Ravid writes, “Netanyahu’s mistake was not just in installing the detectors, but mainly in the decision-making process that preceded it. Even though he knows very well that the Temple Mount was the most volatile point in the Middle East, if not in the entire world, he elected that evening to deal with a complex, strategic topic based on tactical security considerations. All complexities were set aside, and the issue boiled down to metal detectors….With his own hands and through his own fears, Netanyahu has created a work environment in the cabinet — set up to ensure his political survival — that does not allow him to make judicious decisions on national security matters. Absurdly, the defense minister even voted against the recommendations of the defense establishment. Intellectually, Netanyahu knew what the right move was regarding the Temple Mount, but the decisions made were the exact opposite. In Sunday’s cabinet meeting Netanyahu could make amends. Let’s hope it’s not too late for that.”

With embassy attack, Jordan’s ties with Israel go from rancid to toxic, Times of Israel

Avi Issacharoff writes, “With tensions already boiling over the unrest surrounding the Temple Mount, Sunday’s incident at the Israeli embassy compound in Amman could mark a critical juncture in ties between Israel and Jordan….The anger over the Temple Mount and the violent clashes in Jerusalem and the West Bank are reverberating throughout the Middle East, and especially in Jordan, which, along with its Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa administrative role, also has a majority Palestinian population. Attitudes to Israel among the Jordanian public have long been highly negative. But things have gotten markedly worse since the July 14 Temple Mount attack….Abdullah has allowed the tightly muzzled press in his country to attack Israel at every opportunity and has given the green light to politicians like the parliament speaker to praise terrorists. All this, even as Jordan enjoys the fruits of its security cooperation with Israel, which has helped to prevent a number of terror attacks by Islamist groups against Jordanian targets. Now, the dispute over the Temple Mount has further poisoned the atmosphere. Despite all this, Abdullah is the only figure who can help bring an end to the Temple Mount crisis, and end the standoff over the attack at the embassy compound.”

PA, Israel security coordination out as Temple Mount crisis continues, Al-Monitor

Shlomi Eldar reports, “Palestinian sources told Al-Monitor July 23 that they have received explicit instructions from Abbas to cease all ties with Israel, including security coordination. At the same time, however, Abbas approved contacts between lower levels of the Palestinian security apparatus and their Israeli counterparts “in extreme cases.” What exactly constitutes an “extreme case” remains unclear….In a conversation with Al-Monitor….a Palestinian security source utterly rejected claims that growing religious extremism is the primary motivator to the rage felt by young people. Nevertheless, he did admit that he does not remember seeing anything like the current pressure placed on the PA or the tense mood throughout the West Bank as a result of the recent events at Al-Aqsa Mosque since the second intifada (2000-2005)….The source made it clear that the situation had reached the point that if Abbas had not taken what he considers to be dramatic steps (suspending ties with Israel), he would have been putting various key officials throughout the PA at risk, including himself. Israel knows that the members of the Palestinian security forces have come under intense pressure over the past few years, leaving them caught between a rock and a hard place.”

How Israel’s Temple Mount Crisis Became A Showdown — Between Government And Generals, Forward

JJ Goldberg writes, “It should be recalled that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem hasn’t been recognized by a single nation in the world. In everyday dealings, Israelis have grown so accustomed to seeing Jerusalem as united under Israeli sovereignty that they continue to be surprised and distressed — over and over — when other nations treat the eastern sector as occupied territory. Here’s where the roles of the military and the government differ. The government is elected to execute Israeli policy and defend it, however unsuccessfully, in the international arena. The military being apolitical by law, is charged with observing and enforcing the government’s laws, but not necessarily making the case for them. Being apolitical by law, the army is required in the nature of things to understand what it’s up against, including the attitudes of the other side.”

The Former Gatekeeper’s Curious New Caucus, Haaretz

Uri Misgav argues, “ In the Israeli democratic camp, there are currently useful idiots of one kind: Those who support people like Lapid and Perry, and refuse to understand that every vote for Yesh Atid is a vote lost to a right-wing party. Lapid has already declared that his first phone call after the next Knesset election will be to Likud, and he raced to the illegal outpost in order to renew his brotherhood with Bennett. Perry heads a Knesset caucus that promotes the ideology of Smotrich and fellow right-winger Hazan. If they receive enough votes, they will form the next Likud-Habayit Hayehudi government – just as they took pride in doing after the 2013 election.”

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