Israeli policemen run in front of the Dome of the Rock during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinians after Friday prayers on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, Feb. 7, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Assessments of the situation as well as in-depth intelligence reviews by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) regarding mounting tensions in the territories do not, for the time being, include warnings about a possible violent conflagration between the Palestinians and Israelis. For now, a third intifada is not featured among the working papers, forecasts or charts of plausible scenarios and expectations for the coming year. To extricate itself from its serious diplomatic and operational isolation and to improve its standing among the Palestinian public, Hamas is trying to set the territories on fire. As a result, the number of terrorist attacks has risen steadily as has the number of disturbances.
=The above notwithstanding, we are not talking about the orchestrated activity of organized cells, but more about what Israelis call “mood-based attacks.”
According to IDF and Shin Bet assessments, there is still no pent-up, popular energy just waiting for a volatile incident to turn it into a wave of violence. The Palestinian public has yet to forget the horrors of the previous intifada, which left some 4,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis dead. Israel’s greatest fear is a “diplomatic intifada” — called here the “South African intifada” — which will be inflicted on it in UN institutions and accompanied by a series of international boycotts and anti-Israeli measures.
On the other hand, a well-known adage in the Israeli air force goes, “The one that will shoot you down is the one you can’t see.” With or without intelligence assessments, tension in the territories is growing.Clashes on the Temple Mount — pitting Palestinian youths, Hamas militants and Salafist activists against thousands of Jews, mostly right-wingers attempting day after day to get to the Temple Mount to exercise their freedom of religion — have reached a new peak during this year’s Passover holiday in April.
Until about two years ago, events surrounding the Temple Mount were the exclusive domain of a few dozen, lone right-wing Israeli militants considered to be from the surreal, messianic margins of society. Following intensive daily activity, broad public campaigns and a number of Knesset members and politicians jumping on their bandwagon, thousands of right-wing Jewish activists, including key Knesset members, have beenflocking to the Temple Mount in recent years. Going the extra mile in recent days is Miri Regev, chairman of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee and a retired brigadier general who served as IDF spokeswoman. On April 20 she declared that if the Temple Mount is closed off to Jews, she will demand that it be closed off to Muslims as well. Although from a moral standpoint this appears to make sense, her statement is appalling at the practical level. The last thing Israel wants is to turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious war.
Of late, the number of Israeli politicians not embarrassed to call the conflict a “war of religion” has been growing. By doing so, they cooperate with those on the Palestinian side who want to turn it into a religious conflict rather than a territorial-national dispute. The issue of the Temple Mount, which to date has not taken center stage in the conflict’s agenda, is paving its way into becoming a main topic on both the Israeli and Palestinian agendas. Dozens of organizations advocating the application of Israeli sovereignty on the mount as well as freedom of religion for Jews inside the compound have united under one umbrella. Daily issuing several reports to the media, they also bring dozens (and at times hundreds) of Israelis each day to the complex, where they are met by organized and ever-growing Palestinian violence on the one hand and conspicuous police incompetence on the other. The Temple Mount, the holiest site for Judaism, is also one of the holiest places for Islam. It’s a powder keg waiting for a match. This is taking place as the talks between the Israelis and Palestinians are, at least for now, stymied.
It is into this mix that two weeks ago Naftali Bennett, chairman of the HaBayit HaYehudi Party and minister of economy and trade, introduced his Stability Initiative, which is what he calls his old diplomatic plan for partial annexation of the territories to Israel. Stability is the last thing that Bennett’s plan will introduce to the region. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current government was formed, Bennett declared that he would not be opposed to negotiations with the Palestinians, although he had no faith in the talks and despite being opposed to a Palestinian state. I will leave the government, he said, only when the negotiations come to the practical stage of evicting settlements. Bennett, however, is breaking his promise these days. Having threatened to blow up the coalition against the backdrop of the possible release of prisoners, he is now exploiting the dead-end and the breakdown in negotiations to promote his own diplomatic objectives.
Despite being a fledgling politician, Bennett has nonetheless accumulated a good deal of experience and confidence. Identifying a vacuum, he launched his plan accompanied by a catchy, captivating and sassyvideo clip in a typically high-tech fashion. Contending that there is no chance of obtaining a permanent status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, the video also claims that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River would pose an existential threat to Israel. In light of this, Bennett proposes the annexation of lands to Israel.
The territories are divided into Areas A, B and C. The Palestinian Authority has security and civilian control in Area A. In Area B, it has civilian control but Israel is in charge of security. Area C is under full Israeli control. Bennett proposes that Israel apply its sovereignty in Area C, or in other words, annex it. According to Bennett in the video, Area C would incorporate all Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria, about 350,000 people, and only 48,000 Palestinians. The remaining Palestinians would live in Areas A and B. Again, according to Bennett’s proposal, in the highly Palestinian-saturated Areas A and B, Palestinians would have full autonomy as well as transportation contiguity. They would be able to run their own affairs without Israeli external intervention. This will bring calm on the ground, allaying tensions and reducing friction between Israelis and Palestinians. All’s well that ends well.
As Bennett came out with his plan, the hectic talks between the Israeli team, headed by Tzipi Livni, and the Palestinian team, headed by Saeb Erekat, and brokered intensively by the Americans, continued. (Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel and special US envoy, receives logistical, mental and creative support from the current US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.) The chances for a breakthrough to extend the negotiations until 2015 remained unclear. On April 10, Bennett gave Netanyahu an ultimatum to the effect that if Arab-Israeli prisoners were released within the framework of the deal with the Palestinians, he would leave the government. Without Bennett, Netanyahu has no coalition, but without the release of those prisoners, there is no deal with the Palestinians.
One of the creative ideas that has emerged proposes revoking these prisoners’ Israeli citizenship as soon as they are released, thus allowing Bennett to get off his high horse. Either way, the deadline for the deal is April 29. On this date, the nine-month period initially allotted for the negotiations will come to an end, at which point the parties will be in limbo. According to one account, unless a solution is reached by that date, the Americans will publicly announce that they are pulling the plug on their mediation efforts, leaving Israel and the Palestinians to wallow in their mutual pool of blood.
As far as Bennett is concerned, this is a once-in-a-lifetime, historic opportunity that must not be missed. The fact that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas turned to the United Nations and signed petitions to join 15 treaties just hours before Israel was poised to approve the extension of the negotiations made Bennett jump out of his skin. This is our chance, he told Netanyahu and the other Cabinet ministers. We can win the blame game. The Palestinians are proving that they are not a partner. It’s high time this farce ended. To complete the victory lap, Bennett immediately launched his diplomatic plan. Playing right into Bennett’s hands were Palestinian Authority members, who (as they invariably do) leaked to the media their intention to “return the keys,” abolish the Palestinian Authority and have Israel take charge of the Palestinian population in the territories. Bennett could not have expected a better reception than such a leak, which repeats itself with every new round of negotiations.
So what’s next? Everything hinges on next week. If the contacts produce an agreement, we all must hope that Netanyahu’s government survives it. An agreement to extend the negotiations could drag Netanyahu into calling an early election. If the talks blow up, the area might follow suit. The last time talks broke down, after Camp David in 2000, the then chairman of the opposition, Ariel Sharon, visited the Temple Mount in October. It was that visit that blew up the region, subsequently taking the sky apart and raining the second intifada on us.
This time around, as well, the ingredients are securely packed inside the powder keg — bogged-down talks, clouds hovering over the “diplomatic horizon” and growing tensions on Temple Mount. On April 20, two Israeli policemen and a few dozen Palestinians were wounded in the rioting that breaks out on the mount almost on a daily basis. Despite being ready and taut down to the last officer, the police are forced to bow their heads and allow hundreds of Muslim rioters, some of whom are Hamas militants, to close off the Temple Mount to Jewish worshipers. The parties are bickering over sovereignty, freedom of religion, status quo and what have you. When it blows up, if it does, we will all have forgotten the exact reason for it. Instead, we will start counting body bags.
By ALAN ROSENBAUM
“We are a government agency with a start-up soul,” says Hagai Dror, managing director of HealthCare Israel, one of the three winners of the 2019 InnoDip Award for innovative diplomacy. The award, established by the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the IDC Herzliya, will be presented at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Thursday, November 21 in Jerusalem.
Healthcare Israel was created by Israel’s Ministry of Health in 2016 to deliver life-saving and cost-saving healthcare innovation, technology and expertise to the world, and promotes cooperation and Israeli health system exports through collaborations between government, the health system and the healthcare industry. It has leveraged Israel’s existing diplomatic ecosystem to reach out and create new kinds of international cooperation projects and business deals specifically in the healthcare space.
By YAAKOV KATZ
U.S. Ambassador Friedman to ‘Post’: New policy advances the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace • PM: Policy rights a historical wrong
In a historic reversal of US policy, the Trump administration announced on Monday that it does not view Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. The policy change was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with president Reagan,” Pompeo said in reference to Ronald Reagan’s position that settlements were not inherently illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”
Leftist students verbally abused and ransacked tables belong to conservative students
Binghamton University’s downtown campus in New York.
A New York State assemblyman has slammed Binghamton University for the way it has handled a group of leftist students who verbally abused and ransacked tables belonging to the campus College Republicans group.
The conservative students were handing out flyers for an upcoming talk by well-known economist Dr. Arthur Laffer when the incident occurred on Thursday.
A view of the Yehudit Bridge and the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, Feb. 17, 2019. Photo
CTech – Tel Aviv will officially launch its free weekend transportation service this Friday, the city announced Tuesday. In collaboration with neighboring towns Givatayim, Ramat Hasharon, and Kiryat Ono, Tel Aviv will operate six routes covering over 300 kilometers. Minivans will pick up and drop off passengers at over 500 stops across the metropolitan area at a frequency of once every 30 minutes between 6 pm on Friday and 2 am on Saturday, and between 9 am and 5 pm on Saturday.
Tel Aviv has long awaited a solution for transportation during Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. The principle of the “status quo”—a guideline which dictates maintaining the common practice when it comes to the fundamentals of Jewish Orthodoxy, especially Shabbat observance—effectively prevents the state from offering public transportation services on Shabbat, but since Tel Aviv’s service is free, it does not currently fall under the legal definition of public transportation.
A police car in the German capital of
An elderly man has been viciously beaten up in broad daylight on a Berlin street by a youth who showered him with antisemitic abuse.
According to the BZ online news outlet, the 76-year-old pensioner was walking along the Berliner Strasse in the Pankow district of the German capital at 9 a.m. on Monday when his passage was blocked by a 16-year-old youth and four of his friends.
Oct 25, 2019 0People arrive at a polling station to vote in the federal election in Beauce, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mathieu Belanger. A top Jewish advocacy group said on Friday it...
Sep 30, 2019 0
Sep 25, 2019 0
What good is the flourishing of a nation if it is constantly at political, partisan war?
‘WITHOUT PEACE, life becomes unlivable. We’re all unnaturally nervous because there is hardly any downtime.’
When I first arrived to serve as rabbi at Oxford in late 1988, I had no office help. Therefore, in addition to my rabbinical and organizational responsibilities, I had to do all the office work myself. I wrote the checks, copied the fliers, typed the letters and licked the envelopes. In terms of communications, in those days I had to deal only with the telephone and snail mail.
Israel’s control over Judea and Samaria is not “occupation,” at least not according to international law.
The American tourist was staring at me with “deer in the headlights” eyes. She did not comprehend what I had just said to her. I had said that Palestinians are not Israelis.
A minute earlier she had revealed to us – a group of about 15 of her peers, plus me, all gathered in my Efrat living room – the root cause of Palestinian terrorism. It was due, she announced, to Israel “treating Palestinians like second-class citizens and denying them the right to come to Jerusalem.” By this she was inferring that Palestinians are citizens of the State of Israel who are discriminated against and denied numerous right
Mass emigration of Israel’s most tech-savvy individuals starves start-ups of talented hires and puts a ceiling on their growth.
A ROBOT tries to make a heart. Who is behind those online profiles?
The Start-Up Nation is suffering from a brain drain that threatens its growth.
For every Israeli citizen with a university degree who returned from abroad in 2017, a corresponding 4.5 Israelis with degrees left the country that same year, a newly released report by the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research found. The trend has been under way for years and shows no signs of slowing down.
Supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah ride in a vehicle decorated with Hezbollah and Lebanese flags and a picture of him, as part of a convoy in the southern village of Kfar Kila, Lebanon October 25, 2019
Could uprisings in Iraq and Lebanon, coupled with US sanctions, permanently impair Iran’s influence in the region?
In the past few weeks, frustrated and fed-up demonstrators have taken to the streets of Lebanon and Iraq to voice grievances against their governments. The perception of Iranian infiltration and influence certainly continues to impact this political shake-up in both regions.
Hamas is aware of the deep crisis but still sticks to its guns, literally, by insisting on holding and upgrading its arsenal instead of helping its own people
The recent clash in the Gaza Strip was not like earlier ones there because it was only between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Hamas was not really involved. This could be a model for the future in which Israel might strike the PIJ while Hamas again stays out of the fight.