News Roundup for July 26, 2017

July 26, 2017

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J Street in the News

J Street Welcomes Security Cabinet’s Move to De-escalate Temple Mount Crisis, J Street

“J Street welcomes the Israeli security cabinet’s vote to remove the metal detectors placed at the entrance to the Holy Esplanade/Temple Mount. As the crisis in Jerusalem has escalated, the metal detectors had become a flashpoint for protest and outrage over perceived changes to the status quo governing access to the site. The Israeli security establishment — including the IDF and the Shin Bet — had reportedly urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to remove the metal detectors. We were encouraged that the Israeli security cabinet has now heeded their advice, taking an important and constructive step to de-escalate the situation. We were also relieved to learn that the crisis surrounding the Israeli embassy in Amman has been resolved and Israeli diplomats have been allowed to return home. The agreement reached between Jordan and Israel was the result of intensive diplomacy over the last few days, which reportedly included involvement by the United States and which may have played a role in the decision to remove the metal detectors at the Temple Mount.”

Top News and Analysis

Muslim Worshipers Refuse to Return to Temple Mount, Even Without Metal Detectors, Haaretz

Despite Israel’s decision to remove metal detectors from entrances to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Muslim worshippers on Tuesday evening were not yet prepared to enter the site, Islam’s third holiest. A few dozen people prayed at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa compound from the direction of Lions Gate without entering, in keeping with the Waqf religious trust’s instructions earlier in the day. Meanwhile, Haaretz has learned that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with Muslim officials in order to make a decision on how to proceed. Israel’s security cabinet decided Monday night to remove the metal detectors that had led to a wave of protests amongst Palestinians and throughout the Arab world, but to leave the security cameras that had been installed. On Tuesday morning, the Waqf, trust responsible for the site’s administration, announced that it would send a committee to the site in order to review the situation before submitting a report on the matter, but its position in the interim remained “to reject outright any changes, including technological measures.”

BDS Activists Blocked From Flight To Israel, JTA

Five members of an interfaith delegation to Israel were prevented from boarding their flight from Washington DC due to their activism on behalf of the BDS movement. The Jewish Voice for Peace organization said in a statement  Monday that the delegation tried to check into its Lufthansa flight at Dulles International Airport, only to be told that Israeli government had ordered the airline not to let the five passengers board. Israel’s Knesset in March amended the Law of Entry to prevent leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement from being allowed into Israel. The amendment applies to organizations that take consistent and significant action against Israel through BDS, as well as the leadership and senior activists of those groups.

Jared Kushner Called Jordanian King at Height of Embassy Crisis With Israel and Asked Him to Help, Haaretz

Barak Ravid reports, “Dermer called U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and America’s special peace process envoy Jason Greenblatt and asked them for help. A senior Israeli official said that Kushner and Greenblatt updated Trump about the developing crisis in Jordan. According to the official, Trump instructed the two to intervene with the Jordanians and prevent the crisis from escalating. Kushner contacted high-level officials in the Jordanian government and during the night between Sunday and Monday (Israel time) managed to reach Abdullah and asked him to help find a solution that would prevent the Jordanian-Israeli tensions – already high because of the events on the Temple Mount – from getting worse. One of Kushner’s requests was that the Israeli diplomats be allowed to leave Jordan.”

3 Reasons Why Abbas Is Riding the Wave of Popular Palestinian Protest in Jerusalem, Haaretz

Jack Khoury writes, “The Palestinian Authority’s show of support Tuesday for Waqf (Muslim religious trust) officials in Jerusalem and the Palestinians praying outside the gates to the Al-Aqsa compound in the past two weeks are a watershed for the political leadership, and chiefly for PA President Mahmoud Abbas….Until recently, Abbas was still arguing with Washington about issues such as payments for Palestinian prisoners and their families, and the content of educational study materials, instead of listening to substantive reactions on the core issues, including Jerusalem. The wave of popular protest developing in the most important place – that of the future Palestinian capital – took them by surprise. One doesn’t need to be a political genius or strategist to ride this wave, exploit it the fullest, and drive home messages to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, to the Israeli public and to the entire world: this is Palestine, and the Al-Aqsa compound should be in our hands.”


U.S. Applauds Israel’s Decision to Remove Temple Mount Metal Detectors, Haaretz

The White House expressed strong support on Tuesday for Israel’s decision to remove the metal detectors and security cameras that were installed at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount complex last week, following an attack in which two Israeli policeman were killed. A statement released by the White House said that the US applauds Israel for its decision.

Abbas warns security coordination with Israel will remain frozen, Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday he will maintain a freeze on security coordination with Israel, despite the removal of metal detectors and security cameras from the entrances to the Temple Mount. Unless all measures go back to what they were before July 14, there will not be any changes,” Abbas said, referring to the date on which two Israeli police officers were shot dead just outside the compound.

Jordan ‘kept Palestinians in the dark’ over Temple Mt. pact — official, Times of Israel

Jordan did not consult with the Palestinian Authority about talks with Israel that led to the removal of metal detectors and cameras from the entrances to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a senior Palestinian official said Tuesday.

Erdogan: Under Guise of Fighting Terror, Israel Trying to Take Al-Aqsa Mosque From Muslims, Haaretz

Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan said in an Ankara speech at an AKP party meeting in parliament that Israel is trying to take the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Muslims under the guise of efforts to fight terrorism. “Everyone who knows Israel is aware that restrictions on Al-Aqsa mosque are not due to safety concerns,” Erdogan said in his strongest statement since the crisis began on the Temple Mount.

Mother of Palestinian who killed three members of Israeli family arrested for incitement, JTA

The mother of the Palestinian terrorist who killed three Israelis as they sat at their Shabbat table was arrested for incitement. Israeli troops arrested Ibtisam al-Abed on Monday night, the Israel Defense Forces said. She is accused of “aggravated incitement” against Jews. Following the attack Friday night by her son Omar, 19, in the West Bank settlement of Halamish, al-Abed said in a statement captured on video and widely distributed on social media, “Praise Allah, I am proud of my son. May Allah be pleased with him.”

Netanyahu to Launch Debate on Nation-state Bill, Haaretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected Wednesday to launch the discussions of the new committee established to debate the nation-state law. The debate, however, will be merely symbolic for now, since Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon has said no bill can be voted on before the Knesset session ends this weekend. Yinon said that such a broad law must be discussed in depth so it will withstand challenges in the High Court of Justice. This means the bill cannot advance for at least three months. MK Tzipi Livni, who is expected to represent Zionist Union on the panel along with opposition chairman Isaac Herzog, was critical of the controversial bill, which is essentially the version of the bill sponsored by Avi Dichter, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

15 Jewish Settler Families Move Into Disputed Hebron Building, Forward

At least 15 Jewish families moved into a three-story West Bank building whose ownership is in dispute. The ownership of the Hebron building, which is next to the Cave of the Patriarchs and known as the Machpelah House, is under appeal. The Israeli army’s Civil Administration, which had given the settlers permission to purchase the building, ruled earlier this month that copies of the ownership documents are as good as the originals. The issue has been sent back to the military’s Registration Committee.

Opinions and Analysis

Netanyahu’s rash decision on Temple Mount sparks speculation, Al-Monitor

Ben Caspit observes, “In all matters pertaining to the Temple Mount, Netanyahu has deferred to advice from the police, ignoring the security establishment. The problem is that the police lack a broad perspective. They are less involved in what is taking place in the West Bank, less interested in the geopolitical situation. Netanyahu now finds himself pitted against the IDF and Shin Bet.”

The Row at the Late-night Cabinet Meeting: To Remove Security Cameras Too?, Haaretz

Barak Ravid reports, “Bennett, Shaked and Elkin said that if Israel insisted, the Palestinians would agree to return to prayers on the Mount despite their objections to the cameras, and the three ministers tried to reach a consensus among the security cabinet for their proposal. But Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan accepted the view that at this stage the cameras should be removed along with the metal detectors.  At the same the security forces on the Old City will be reinforced until the new “smart security checks” plan is implemented for those entering the Temple Mount. The new plan is expected to take at least six months to implement.”

Temple Mount Crisis Shows That Right-wing Bluster Is Ultimately Followed by Capitulation, Haaretz

Ravit Hecht writes, “As the famous metal detectors that Israel installed at entrances to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount now make their way back into their cartons, a cautious assessment can be made of the storm that installing them, following the killing of two Israeli policemen there, caused. The crisis of leadership – with the effort to shift responsibility from the security cabinet to the police and vice versa – has already been aired and will continue to be debated a lot. No less important, however, is the failure of the right wing and the fact that the Temple Mount crisis has (again) proven that it has nothing to offer other than empty slogans that evaporate into thin air on their way from the social media to the test of reality….Demonstrative visits by Jews to the Temple Mount that became a hallmark defining increasing number of right-wing circles is a burning torch that can be expected to ignite other crises. Such an aggressive stance, whose purpose is mainly not religious but an expression of sovereignty, can reasonably be expected to bring about the perfect Middle East apocalypse.”

Netanyahu’s dangerous delusion, Al-Monitor

Akiva Eldar writes, “The Israeli right no longer bothers to conceal its abhorrence of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would provide the Palestinians with an independent state alongside Israel. It also rejects a one man, one vote solution, the fundamental principle of democratic rule, for one binational state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Instead, the right boasts of its ability to manage the conflict with reasonable or negligible cost to Israel’s diplomacy, security or economy. It argues that Israel can manage quite well without resolving the conflict and by accelerating development of its settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. The crisis that unfolded after the July 14 terror attack on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif that left two Israeli police officers dead has so far cost the lives of five Israelis and four Palestinians (excluding the attackers). It proves that even in managing the conflict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been conducting itself like a bull in a china shop.”

These Four Things Will Get You Barred From Entering Israel Under Its New BDS Travel Ban, Haaretz

Judy Maltz reports, “In March, the Knesset passed a law that bars from Israel any foreigners who have publicly expressed support for boycotting Israel. In their statement, Dery and Erdan said the BDS supporters were barred from the plane because of this new law. Separately, Erdan said ‘the rules of the game have changed,’ and that organizations seeking to harm Israel’s ‘national security’ through boycotts would be denied entry to the country. The interior minister is responsible for enforcing the new law. A spokeswoman said decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, usually in compliance with recommendations from the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which monitors the international boycott movement.”

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