+61 3 9272 5644

27th October – Latest News in Israel

Soldier and her Saviour

Dikla was injured and in a critical condition after being stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist. Her friend and fellow soldier Lihi acted quickly to neutralise the terrorist. Yesterday Lihi visited Dikla, who is doing much better.

Terror attack against IDF soldiers thwarted in Hebron

Soldiers killed a young Palestinian assailant with a knife in Hebron on Monday after he tried to stab them while they stood down the street from the Cave of the Patriarchs, where a similar incident occurred just one day earlier.

Photos of the young Palestinian man lying wounded on Shuhada Street, with its closed shop shutters, were later published social media.

The incident took place near where Shlomo Shapira was killed by a terrorist in 2002 in what was once an active Palestinian market.

On Sunday, a 17-year old Palestinian tried to stab Border Police officers at the entrance to the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is located in the Cave of the Patriarchs Compound.

Border police thought she looked suspicious and asked her for identification. In response, she took out a knife and walked toward them screaming.

The officers shot and killed her before she could injure anyone.

Outside of Hebron on Monday morning, a young Palestinian man stabbed a 19-year old IDF soldier in the neck near the Beit Einun junction by the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba. Security forces shot and killed the terrorist.

The young man was seriously injured in the upper part of his body. Magen David Adom evacuated him to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

A MDA paramedic said that when they arrived at the scene the victim had multiple stab wounds and was conscious. “We gave him life saving treatment so he could be moved quickly into surgery upon arrival at the hospital. On the way [to the hospital], we worked to stop his bleeding.”

Paramedic Aharon Adler said that they were in touch with Shaare Zedek’s trauma unit from the ambulance and that upon arrival the victim was wheeled immediately into surgery.

According to the hospital he survived the surgery and is in stable, but serious condition.

On Sunday, Palestinian assailants injured two Israelis in two separate attacks, one in the Gush Etzion Region of the West Bank and the other near the city of Ariel in the Samaria Region.                                                         (the Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu: Video cameras on Temple Mount serve Israel’s interests

Israel has an interest in placing surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount to debunk the claim it is changing the status quo there, to show the real source of the provocations and stop them in real time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu spoke about the steps US Secretary of State John Kerry announced over the weekend in an effort to restore calm. These steps included an announcement by Netanyahu that Israel will continue to enforce its “longstanding policy” at the site, whereby only Muslims can worship there, while non-Muslims can visit.

Netanyahu told ministers that he made clear to Kerry that there will be no change in the status quo, and that the site will continue to be administered as it has been.

“The visiting arrangements for Jews on the Temple Mount are preserved, and there will be no change,” he said, adding that the same is true of prayer arrangements for Muslims.

Netanyahu said he was encouraged by the “positive response” of the Jordanians to his clarifications the night before on the matter. “I hope this will help calm down the situation, at least regarding the Temple Mount,” he said.

On Sunday Jordan’s King Abdullah welcomed Netanyahu’s assurances regarding the preservation of the status quo.

Jordan’s official Petra News Agency quoted Abdullah as saying at a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka that, ”I followed up on the Israeli prime minister’s remarks last night and his assurances to commit to the status quo arrangements, and not to change it. This commitment is a welcome matter, pending its implementation on the ground.”

Abdullah, according to Petra, said Netanyahu’s statement would help end violence and ease tensions. The king also said he hoped it would lead to the quick launch of efforts needed to address core issues through negotiations.

The initial Palestinian response, however, was less sanguine, with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki telling the Voice of Palestine that Netanyahu could not be trusted when saying the status quo will be preserved, and that the cameras were a “trap” Israel would use to arrest Palestinians for incitement.

An Israeli government official responded by saying the deal was between Israel and the Jordanians.

“If the Palestinians have a problem with it, might that be because it promises transparency and points a finger at those instigating provocations?” the official said. “Might they in fact be worried that the truth will be exposed, and it will show that their incitement about Israel’s intentions is without any factual base?” In another matter, Netanyahu said that Israel would work to revoke the citizenship of the 23-year-old Israeli Arab man who paraglided into Syria Saturday from the Golan Heights, in order to join a Syrian rebel group.

“We are fighting against Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations all the time,” Netanyahu said. “Those who join the ranks of the enemy to fight Israel will not have Israeli citizenship.”

The cabinet, meanwhile, declared Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which operate in Lebanon and Syria, as terrorist organizations.

This means anyone assisting or funding any of the organizations will have violated the law.

Materials prepared for the ministers explained that these organizations operate primarily abroad, and the decision to outlaw them was recommended by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) as part of the international efforts to fight terrorism and financing of terrorist organizations.                                             (the Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian baby girl named ‘Knife of Jerusalem’

Amid the spate of recent stabbing attacks against Israelis a baby in the Gaza Strip a newborn girl in the Gaza Strip was given the name Knife of Jerusalem, the Israeli research institute Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported on Monday.

The announcement was made along with a photo of Knife of Jerusalem and her birth certificate on Palestinian political movement Fatah’s official Facebook page.


“A [Palestinian] civilian from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip named his daughter ‘Knife of Jerusalem,’ read the Facebook page post last Friday, PMW reported.

At the beginning of the month, a Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) representative said that senior PA and Fatah officials are involved in the incitement that is fanning the violence behind the current terror wave.                      (the Jerusalem Post)

Labor MPs in spat over Palestinian coverage

Labor veteran Michael Danby has accused his colleague Melissa Parke and the ABC of misrepresenting the unrest in Israel and Palestinian territories, claiming they gave favourable treatment to the plight of Palestinians.

Mr Danby slapped down Ms Parke yesterday after she told parliament this month that eight Israelis and at least 37 Palestinians had been killed in the conflict so far and the “disproportionate” number reflected a “power imbalance”.

Ms Parke represents the West Australian seat of Fremantle and has been outspoken in her criticism of Israel and support for a Palestinian state.

“The member for Fremantle doesn’t necessarily represent the Labor Party,” Mr Danby said on Ten’s The Bolt Report.

“But she also gets wrong the basic metric that’s happening over there. More than 110 Israelis have been stabbed in shopping malls, in bus stations … and it’s very wrong to compare people with knives in their hands to people with knives in their chests.

“It’s understandable that people who are actually attacking school buses, and people standing at bus stops and in shopping malls, are put out of action if they’re in the violent act that they’re caught in.”

Mr Danby, who is Jewish and has a large number of Jewish constituents in his Melbourne Ports electorate, also lashed out at the national broadcaster for running a story on 7.30 last week that he said did not give “any humanity” to Israeli victims.

He has written to the show’s host Leigh Sales to express his “disappointment”. “The perpetrators are humanised, with stories about one of the 16-year-old fanaticised jihadi girls who tried to stab someone at a checkpoint, but none of the victims,” Mr Danby said.

An ABC News spokeswoman said the national broadcaster’s editorial policies “recognise that impartiality does not require that every perspective receives equal time, nor that every facet of every argument is presented, in every story”.

“A complex and contested story such as this must be fully explored from multiple angles over multiple stories,” she said. “We believe ABC News achieves this.”

Ms Parke said she and Mr Danby “agree to disagree” on the conflict and said she did not excuse violence against civilians.

“Israel is far from the innocent party here,” she said. “Israel has brutally occupied Palestinian territory for 48 years and controls almost every aspect of Palestinian life. Meanwhile it is busy expanding its illegal settlements, thereby making a Palestinian state impossible to achieve.”

Mr Danby said there were similarities between the violence in Israel and the shooting of a NSW police employee in Parramatta and the Martin Place Lindt cafe siege.

“If Australian police shot dead someone with a machete trying to get on a school bus, trying to kill Australian children, the Australian people would overwhelmingly support them,” he said.                                                         (The Australian)

Ya’alon: There is no West Bank settlement freeze

Israel plans to continue to build responsibly in Judea and Samaria, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Sunday, attempting to dispel rumors that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised the Americans he would stop Jewish building in the West Bank.

“We haven’t frozen construction,” Ya’alon told Israel Radio. “No decision was taken to do so.”

The only freeze Netanyahu has ever imposed was a moratorium on settlement starts for ten months from November 2009 to September 2010. That moratorium was the result of American pressure, but in the end, it didn’t lead to anything, Ya’alon noted.

“Since then we have been building,” he said.

One of the Palestinians’ criteria for the resumption of talks with Israel is a freeze on settlement construction and Jewish building in Judea and Samaria. It has also turned to the International Criminal Court, which has yet to make a decision on the issue.

The US has termed such construction as harmful to the peace process, but Ya’alon said he didn’t believe that halting building over the pre- 1967 lines would move the peace process forward. “The Palestinians didn’t come to the [negotiating] table even when we froze construction,” Ya’alon said.

Israel, he said, has continued to build responsibly in Judea and Samaria with an understanding that such activity is under “unjust” intense international scrutiny, both legally with regard to the ICC and from the UN Security Council.

On Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also issued a tweet in which he said, “Israel has not made any commitments not to authorize new building in Judea and Samaria.”

But settlers have argued for months that there is a de-facto freeze, because Netanyahu has failed to advance plans that would allow construction to continue in the future.

(The Jerusalem Post)

Jerusalem mufti: Temple Mount never housed Jewish Temple

The grand mufti of Jerusalem, the Muslim cleric in charge of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, said Sunday that there has never been a Jewish temple atop the Temple Mount, and that the site has been home to a mosque “since the creation of the world.”

Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein said in an Arabic interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that the site, considered the third holiest in Islam and the holiest to Jews, was a mosque “3,000 years ago, and 30,000 years ago” and has been “since the creation of the world.”

“This is the Al-Aqsa Mosque that Adam, peace be upon him, or during his time, the angels built,” the mufti said of the 8th-century structure commissioned by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.

Hussein has held the post of mufti since 2006; he was appointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He has previously endorsed suicide bombings against Israelis.

He vehemently denied that there has ever been a Jewish shrine atop the Temple Mount, despite rich archaeological and textual evidence to the contrary, including from Muslim sources. The 10th-century Muslim historian Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Shams al-Din al-Muqaddasi wrote in his description of Syria and Palestine that “in Jerusalem is the oratory of David and his gate; here are the wonders of Solomon and his cities,” and that the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque “were laid by David.”

A guide to the Haram al-Sharif, as the Temple Mount is known in Arabic, published by the Muslim Waqf in 1924 also mentioned the presence of two Jewish temples atop the Jerusalem compound in antiquity.

At least four inscriptions from Herod’s Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, attest to the presence of a Jewish temple atop the 37-acre platform he had engineered over 2,000 years ago.

One of Hussein’s predecessors as chief custodian of the Jerusalem holy site, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, made headlines recently after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged in a speech that the Palestinian Muslim leader inspired Adolf Hitler’s Final Solution of exterminating the Jews. Netanyahu took flak from Holocaust scholars, politicians, and even the German government, who pointed out that the extermination of Europe’s Jews was already in full swing when Husseini met Hitler in 1941, and that there was no concrete evidence to support that charge.


First century BCE Greek inscription from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount forbidding the entry of Gentiles to the Temple precinct, reading “..no foreigner shall enter…”

The Jerusalem holy site has been the focus of recent violent clashes between Israeli security officers and Palestinian rioters, and ostensible plans by Israel to change its status, repeatedly denied by the government, have been a catalyst for a wave of Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis.

While Jewish visitors are allowed to enter the site, Jewish worship is banned under arrangements instituted by Israel when it captured the area from Jordan in the 1967 war.

Israel and Jordan agreed Saturday to placing CCTV cameras on the Temple Mount in a bid to calm tensions and monitor possible violations of the status quo, a move rejected by Palestinian leaders.                                                              (The Times of Israel)

Police to deploy anti-riot dogs

Israel Police plans to deploy specially-trained dogs to thwart rioting at several locations around Israel, the police said in a statement on Sunday.

Acting police commissioner Assistant Chief Bentzi Sau said the measure is part of an attempt to increase the non-lethal means at the disposal of officers in order to reduce the collateral damage often caused when law enforcement personnel use firearms in public.

Police said there are currently six dogs undergoing training as part of the initiative. They are to be deployed in Jerusalem and along major traffic thoroughfares, where they can be used against rock-throwers and people throwing firebombs at motorists.

Police said the dogs will only be used “in instances where there is a clear and present danger to human life or a threat of bodily injury such as from firebombs or rock-throwers.”

They said the dogs will be muzzled at all times and are not trained to bite, rather, they are trained to pursue and overpower suspects, cornering them until police can arrive to arrest them.                                           (The Jerusalem Post)

Storm kills man, leaves hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the dark

Inclement weather along Israel’s Mediterranean coast on Sunday killed a construction worker and left hundreds of thousands in central Israel without electricity, with the Israel Electric Corporation saying power may only be restored come Monday morning.

Repairs to downed lines and severed connections were expected to take hours, the IEC said, with residents of Tel Aviv and its suburbs — as well as cities as far afield as Hadera and Beersheba — left without power.

The management of the Israel Electric Corporation appealed to the National Labor Court Sunday evening, urging it to order the IEC employees to work on an emergency footing to get power running again after the corporation’s union refused to do so. Management called on the court to bar the union from “managing conflicts on the backs of tens of thousands of customers.”

The stormy weather killed one person, briefly shuttered an airport, brought highways to a standstill, and caused other havoc and damage in multiple cities Sunday. The Tel Aviv area was soaked with nearly an inch of rain by 4 p.m., and places farther south, such as Mitzpe Ramon and Kibbutz Yotvata, received just as much. Jerusalem and towns in the hilly hinterland received a mere sprinkling, just a quarter of an inch in the capital.

The casualty of the storm, a 20-year-old construction worker, was killed in Pardes Hanna when a wall in a construction site was toppled by strong winds that buffeted the area, along with heavy rains. A 20-year-old woman in Hadera was seriously injured when a tree fell on the bus in which she was traveling.

The small Sde Dov Airport in northern Tel Aviv was closed for a few hours due to dangerous weather conditions, but had been reopened by evening. Israel’s main international airport, Ben Gurion Airport, saw no disruptions in service, officials said.

Strong winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour (55 miles per hour) were felt in Tel Aviv and in the Sharon region to the north of the metropolis, according to Israel’s weather service.

The strongest gusts were felt in the seaside town of Herzliya, where residents were briefly pelted with hail amid the downpour. Rains were so heavy in the southern coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon that it made driving difficult.

A construction crane toppled over on Tel Aviv’s Menachem Begin Boulevard, while several streets in Tel Aviv and the nearby suburb of Givatayim were blocked due to fallen trees.

In Haifa, the nation’s second-largest seaport ceased operations. Work at the port was set to be renewed by evening.

Most communities in the Hula Valley, in the north, suffered a blackout after a major power line near Kibbutz Sde Eliezer broke down. IEC employees were at the scene trying to restore power.

A fallen tree on the Ayalon Highway, which cuts through central Tel Aviv, stopped traffic at the Kibbutz Galuyot Junction. The exit to Kibbutz Galuyot was closed at 9:40 a.m. for at least an hour.

One man was wounded on Safed Street in Netanya when an electricity pole fell onto a road. The pole burst into flames and sparked a fire adjacent to a school.

The weather also caused minor blackouts in several wind-swept towns and cities, including Netanya, Ramat Hasharon, Petah Tikva and Givat Shmuel, leading to disruptions in train services in those places. Dozens of people were trapped in elevators in city centers due to the blackouts, and emergency crews worked to extract them.

By noon, the stormy weather had moved into the Jerusalem area.

Temperatures were nevertheless unseasonably warm, ranging from 17°-28° Celsius (63°-82° Fahrenheit) in Jerusalem, 21°-29°C (70°-84°F) in Tel Aviv and 20°-29°C (68°-84°F) in Haifa.

However, temperatures were expected to drop dramatically Monday, with occasional rains and concern over flooding in desert valleys in the east and south.

The rains are expected to continue throughout the week, according to forecasters.                                                (The Times of Israel)

Is Jerusalem Divided?

By Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

BESA Centers Perspectives Paper No. 316


Conflicts and clashes are not unique to Jerusalem. In Paris, too, there are neighborhoods one would do well to avoid, but no-one is claiming that Paris needs to be divided as a result. Indeed, Jerusalem is the DNA that holds the key to the future of Israel. Those incapable of dividing Jerusalem are also incapable of dividing the land into two states. Israel needs to know why Jerusalem should be a priority; because it is seeking the return to Zion in all regions of the homeland! And if Israel does not insist on this, it will steadily withdraw inward, toward the coastal plain, and edge towards decline.

A significant portion of the media has told us in recent days that the time has come to realize that Jerusalem has been divided for quite a while already. Some of the newspaper headlines were: “The capital is becoming a ghost town,” (Ben Caspit, Maariv), and “Netanyahu is dividing Jerusalem”

(Sima Kadmon, Yediot Ahronot).

In my view, however, even if Jerusalem appears, at the present time in light of recent events, to be splintering into different parts for Arabs and Jews, this does not necessarily reflect the overall picture and certainly does not indicate future trends. In short: What is happening now is not what will necessarily be, and it is hard to precisely foresee how matters will unfold in Jerusalem.

During a meeting of American and Vietnamese generals after the Vietnam War, both sides agreed that even though the U.S. military had won all the battles, America had lost the war. This is the fundamental distinction between war as a complex phenomenon and say, sports – where the final score and final result always coincide. In sports there is no option of losing the game while still winning the championship title. War and national struggles are something different. They have a “day after,” which is open to developing in a number of ways.

Indeed, the situation has changed. In Jerusalem roadblocks have been erected and checkpoints have been placed at the entrance to some of the neighborhoods. But does this qualify as an irreversible process?

A city the size of a metropolis is characterized by a dynamic of ongoing change. During processes of urban transformation, which develops with no conflict to speak of, poor neighborhoods suddenly become in demand as their appearance changes along with their population; sometimes the opposite takes place. A city as a fluctuating entity can tolerate space-altering struggles, which are inherently susceptible to counter processes.

Despite the special attention it receives, conflicts and clashes are not unique to Jerusalem. In Paris, too, there are neighborhoods one would do well to avoid, where the Paris police department also fails to administer full sovereignty. Is anyone claiming that Paris needs to be divided as a result? Only in recent years did the New York police department manage to gain complete control of the entire city, but does that mean that when Harlem was deemed unsafe for some people, others were arguing that the city must be divided?

It is interesting to point to the nature of the debate surrounding Jerusalem. I have not found even a single person who has changed his opinion about the future of Jerusalem because of recent events. Both sides are in conflict over the city’s future, and regarding the questions over its division, each side has found support for its beliefs in recent weeks.

There are those who wish to be rid of the problematic neighborhoods. They ask me: “What is Jerusalem for you? Is the village of Akeb also Jerusalem?” My answer is clear: In my view of Jerusalem as a metropolis, Jericho is also Jerusalem, and what will determine Jerusalem’s status is not just what happens within its municipal boundaries but what happens and will happen in the future in its environs.

What will determine its future is also Jerusalem’s bond with the fabric of the communities encircling it, near and far. This is the essence of the strength of a city that has never been defined by its trends, rather by how it defines itself. It exists amid a reality which changes inside the city and outside it on a daily basis.

The fate of Jerusalem as a capital will be determined, therefore, by the comprehensive system of bonds it maintains with the city’s satellite communities, Jewish and Arab. Strengthening the fabric of the metropolitan area outside the city proper could also influence conflict flashpoints in neighborhoods inside the city.

The fundamental question at the moment is what we want to see happen. Indeed, Jerusalem is the DNA that holds the key to the future of the entire country. Those incapable of dividing Jerusalem are also incapable of dividing the land into two states.

Here is where the debate begins about any course of action on the table. Israel is at a fork in the road, and anything is still possible. We need to know what we are really focusing on by making Jerusalem our priority. We are seeking the return to Zion in all regions of our homeland! And if Israel does not insist on this, it will steadily withdraw inward, toward the coastal plain, and edge towards decline.

Murder as politics

Understanding the ‘Third Intifada’


By Louis Rene Beres              The Washington Times

Even as growing numbers of Palestinian terrorists stab madly at Israeli men, women, and children, much of the world still endorses creation of “Palestine.” Such mindless support continues, moreover, despite the fact that the Palestinians themselves reject any sort of two-state solution. Indeed, the latest such poll (September 2015), conducted by Palestinian research organizations, concluded that almost half the resident Arabs strongly favor the use of armed force and generalized violence against Israeli non combatants.

For the most part, western news reports notwithstanding, knife wielding attackers are not “lone wolves.” Rather, they have been conspicuously spurred on by vitriolic PA incitements, and by carefully synchronized calls from the mosques to murder “The Jews.”

The Palestinian Authority shares with Hamas the irredentist vision of a one-state solution. There is nothing hidden or ambiguous about this true plan for Israel’s disappearance. It is plainly codified on the official maps of both factions, where Israel is identified only as “Occupied Palestine.”

For virtually all Arab forces in the Middle East, the conflict with Israel is never about land. It is about God, and about always-related promises of personal immortality. It is about power over death.

For the Palestinians, their carefully sanitized public rhetoric notwithstanding, the enemy is not the Israelis (that term is just subterfuge, for the media), but “The Jews.” The screaming young Palestinian, who strikes indiscriminately with his serrated blade, fully expects to become a “martyr.” He only risks “death” in order not to die.

There is more. A Palestinian state — any Palestinian state — would rapidly be taken over by ISIS, or by related jihadi adversaries. Already, ISIS is operating in parts of Syria that could bring it to the critical borders of Israel’s Golan Heights. Significantly, it has also set recognizable operational sights on Jordan and West Bank (Judea/Samaria).

Over the next several months, and even while the Palestinian Authority continues to orchestrate more “Third Intifada” attacks on Israelis, ISIS will commence its fated march westward, across Jordan, ending up at the eastern boundaries of West Bank. These boundaries, of course, would represent the territorial margins of what PA/Fatah both already affirm as the geographic heart of “Palestine.”

Palestinian forces, primarily Fatah, would then yield to ISIS, and to its local proxies. Fatah would then have to choose between pleading with the Jewish State to become an ally against a now-common foe, or abandoning all its residual military operations to the Israel Defense Forces directly. Arguably, without IDF assistance in such desperate circumstances, “Palestine” wouldn’t stand a chance.

One additional irony ought to be noted. In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long made acceptance of any Palestinian state contingent upon prior Palestinian “demilitarization.” Should the Palestinian Authority and Hamas somehow accede to this problematic expectation, it could make ISIS’ predictable destructions in the area much easier to carry out. Paradoxically, a “Palestine” that had properly stood by its pre-state legal concessions to Israel, could effectively increase the overall danger posed to both Palestinians and Israelis.

What about Jordan? Under pertinent international law, the Hashemite Kingdom has incurred certain binding obligations regarding joint cooperation with Israel against terrorism. These obligations, as reinforcing complements to more generally binding legal rules, are expressly codified at the 1994 Treaty of Peace Between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Could this treaty still have any palpable effect upon Jordan’s capacity to militarily block anticipated ISIS advances?

Not at all. The more generic problem of enforcing treaties had already been identified back in the 17th century, by Thomas Hobbes. Said the English philosopher, in his “Leviathan,” a work well known to America’s founding fathers: “Covenants, without the Sword, are but words …”

From the 17th century onward, the world political system has been anarchic, or, in Hobbesian terms, a “state of nature.” In the anarchic Middle East, especially, considerations of raw power routinely trump international law. Here, too, truth here may be counter-intuitive. On those endlessly perplexing matters concerning Palestinian statehood, for example, it is finally time to understand that “Palestine’s” true enemy in the region is not Israel, but rather a hideously sordid amalgam of Islamist Arab forces. Going forward, any further Palestinian advances toward statehood would likely be solely to the longer-term tactical advantage of ISIS.

Is this the sort of statehood cause that should be enthusiastically supported in Washington, and in most European capitals? It is, but only if we should first want to see an expansion of “Third Intifada” terror to the homeland. Not likely.

If you like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, you’ll love “Palestine.”

Louis Rene Beres is emeritus professor of international law at Purdue University. His 10th book, “Israel’s Nuclear Strategy: Surviving amid Chaos” (Rowman and Littlefield) will be published later this year.

Looking to Abdullah, because Abbas won’t douse the flames

While it is not certain any one party can douse the tensions, it is certain that Jordan – at least – wants to.


by Herb Keinon                       The Jerusalem Post

Unlike the US, Jordan is not a “mediator or observer” in the Middle East diplomatic process, but a “stakeholder,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said Saturday night in Amman, alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“When it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli peace, all of the final status issues between the Palestinians and the Israelis touch the very heart of Jordan’s national security and national interests,” he said.

Jordan, Judeh continued, “has a special role in Jerusalem, and His Majesty King Abdullah II is the custodian of Christian and Muslim holy sites in the holy city. When it comes to the other final status issues such as borders, security, water – no arrangement can be reached, no final arrangement can be arrived at, without the input and active participation of Jordan. We’ve made that clear from the beginning.

So from the perspective of final status negotiations, from the perspective of the complexity of the issues that we see in Jerusalem, Jordan has not just an interest, but a very key and active role.”

To those words, both Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could easily answer “amen,” and add the hope that Jordan will play a more active role.

As the Mideast strategic thinkers in the State Department are continuing with their reassessment of how to proceed with the diplomatic process – following last year’s breakdown of the Kerry-led negotiations between Israel and the PA – one thing should be clear: it’s going to be impossible to get Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to work together.

Forget about it; it’s not going to happen.

The enmity, the distrust, is too deep. And Abbas, with his words of praise for every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem, his rant about Jewish feet defiling the Temple Mount, and his blatant lie about the Israeli execution of a 13-year-old Palestinian youth who went on a stabbing spree in Jerusalem, has also further alienated the Israeli center.

Kerry and leading diplomats in the EU may still view him as a large part of a future solution, but Netanyahu – and wider and wider swaths of the Israeli public – increasingly see him as a large part of the problem.

Kerry, too, seems to understand this reality. In efforts to tamp down the violence, he looked as much during the current crisis toward Amman, as toward Ramallah.

Wise move. Abbas has shown through his comments and speeches over the last three weeks that he has little interest in dousing the flames – in fact, maintaining the flames serves his purpose.

More terrorism means more Israeli reactions, which means more crisis and more pressure from the international community to step in and stop the “cycle of violence.” Abbas wants more international involvement, and one way to ensure it is by ensuring there is a crisis.

As a result, it was clear that Abbas was not going to pull the burning coals out of the currently raging fire. Not only does he not want to, but the US leverage on him has proven scarce. And even if he did want to put a lid on the violence, it is not exactly clear how many people would heed his call.

So, instead, the hopeful eyes of Kerry and others are cast toward Jordan, as the custodian of the Muslim sites in Jerusalem.

Jordan does have an interest in tamping down the violence.

Abdullah is currently faced with strains on his government caused by an influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in the north, concern about Islamic State from the east, and an ever-present agitation from the Muslim Brotherhood inside his kingdom. The last thing he needs right now is a conflagration in the West Bank that could conceivably lead to a Hamas overthrow of Abbas, which would send very destabilizing ripple waves into Jordan.

While the current crisis serves Abbas’s efforts to provoke the world to impose a solution on Israel, it does not serve Jordan’s interest of trying to maintain stability inside the kingdom during very tough times.

Second, the US – which provides Jordan with a billion dollars in military and economic aid a year and has some 2,200 military personnel stationed there – has a degree of leverage in Amman that it does not have in Ramallah.

It was natural, therefore, that Kerry’s efforts to deescalate the situation would focus on Abdullah rather than Abbas.

And, indeed, it was Abdullah who suggested the idea – swiftly approved by Israel – of placing 24-hour surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount.

If the impetus to the current wave of terrorism is the claim that Israel is endangering, threatening or planning to divide the Temple Mount, what better way to debunk that claim than have cameras constantly scanning that site? The surveillance cameras – a telltale sign that Jordan is interested in dousing the flames – were an idea that Kerry characterized as a potential game-changer, and that Amman also welcomed as a “step in the right direction,” as were Netanyahu’s comments about Israel’s commitment to the status quo.

The initial Palestinian reaction was equally telling. PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called the idea an Israeli trap.

“We are falling into the same trap once again,” he told a Palestinian radio station. “Netanyahu cannot be trusted.

Who will monitor the screens of these cameras? Who will record the movements of those worshipers wishing to enter? How will these cameras be employed, and will the recordings later be used to arrest young men and worshipers under the pretext of incitement?” And therein lies the reason why the thrust of the efforts to quell the tensions is currently focused more on Jordan than on the Palestinian Authority. While it is not certain any one party can douse the tensions, it is certain that Jordan – at least – wants to.

Remembering Yitzhak Rabin, 20 years since his murder

Whatever the truth may be, what remains from that terrible night in 1995 is the feeling that a line had been crossed – and the people of Israel must work together to find their way back.

by Greer Faye Cashman      The Jerusalem Post


If you randomly ask Israelis the significance of the Hebrew date of 12 Heshvan, it’s fairly safe to say many will not know. But ask the same people about November 4, most people over the age of 30 will say without hesitation that it was the date that prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

The shock was so great that the date was etched into the national consciousness.

Certainly there had been threats against Rabin, as well as against the lives of his predecessors, but no one ever expected that a prime minister of Israel would be killed by a Jew. It was anticipated that he might perhaps be the victim of a Palestinian terrorist or of some misguided element from a neighboring country, who may have mistakenly thought that killing Israel’s leader would eventually eliminate Israel itself – but no one expected him to be killed by an Israeli citizen, least of all an Israeli Jew.

Not everyone is conscious of the fact that the assassination, perpetrated by Yigal Amir, had far deeper repercussions than an attempt to prevent the implementation of the Oslo Accords. It also put an end to the public’s access to any future prime minister.

Security surrounding Shimon Peres, who became acting prime minister after it was announced that Rabin had been murdered, immediately tightened, and has become progressively tighter with every successive prime minister – in the fear that if it happened once, it could happen again.

Unfortunately, the general public has had other major concerns since Rabin’s death. There was the horrendous second intifada; sporadic terrorist activities before and after; a dearth of tourism that severely affected the economy; corruption among religious and political leaders – with a president (Moshe Katsav) in prison, a prime minister (Ehud Olmert) possibly destined for prison, a chief rabbi (Yona Metzger) going in the same direction, additional prominent rabbis charged with sexual abuse, former government ministers charged with corruption and imprisoned or about to be imprisoned, mayors charged with corruption and incarcerated… and the list goes on.

The public has been confronted with so many scandals of major proportions that the assassination of the prime minister is losing significance as the years go by.

In fact, if it weren’t for the print and electronic media to remind people of the heroic soldier – who as a civilian fought for peace between Israel and its neighbors – not too many Israelis outside of Rabin’s military, political and social circles would pay much attention.

For the period that he was prime minister – actually for both periods, though far apart in time – Yitzhak Rabin was my neighbor. His official residence was at 9 Smolenskin Street in Jerusalem, on the corner of Balfour. The apartment block in which I live is at 3 Smolenskin Street.

When Rabin was prime minister, the stone fence surrounding the house was low, and the double front door was made of glass framed in wood. There was a low metal gate through which Rabin would stroll, coming and going, casually carrying his suit jacket over his shoulder when the weather was warm. In contrast to the current situation, there were no high fences with spiked tops and a camera in every spike, no permanent security barriers or guard boxes on either Balfour Road or Smolenskin Street. The whole area was just another nice, quiet neighborhood on the seam of Rehavia-Talbiyeh. Today, it looks like Fort Knox.

In the pre-assassination days, demonstrators actually stood opposite the front gate, and not around the corner in the next street. When Rabin held important meetings at his residence, reporters congregated directly outside, and could tell by the shadows on the door when the meeting was nearing its conclusion. Today, the closest they can stand is somewhere near the corner of Balfour and Azza Street, but it’s pointless – because they have no way of getting a hint of what’s happening inside, other than the possible revving of motors by the drivers of ministers’ cars.

The privilege of a bird’s-eye view belongs only to those neighbors living on upper floors in high-rise buildings on Balfour.

When Rabin was in the street, or for that matter at any event, it was relatively easy to approach him and exchange a few words without having one’s path blocked by a security official.

Even after his assassination, there was no immediate change with regard to the residence. I remember when King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan came to offer their condolences to his wife Leah Rabin. I was standing on the street when they arrived, and had no problem following them into the house. King Hussein – who, like Rabin, was a heavy smoker – asked Leah Rabin if she minded if he had a cigarette. She readily assented.

But I’m ahead of myself. As most people know, on the night of the assassination, there was a huge peace rally in Tel Aviv, with busloads of people from numerous leftwing organizations coming in from all over the country.

Most wore white T-shirts with prints of the logos of the organizations to which they belonged. The huge square – now known as Rabin Square, but then known as Malchei Yisrael – was packed with peace enthusiasts and activists of all ages. Young parents had toddlers on their shoulders.

Veterans of the War of Independence and subsequent wars almost had tears in their eyes in anticipation of the new era of peace that they erroneously believed was being ushered in.

In Israel, it’s the norm to accompany both happy and sad events with song, and the most appropriate song for the rally was “Shir Lashalom” (A Song for Peace), which was written by Yaakov Rotblit, with music by Yair Rosenblum and initially performed in 1969 during the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt. The original singers were the Israel Infantry Entertainment Troupe with Miri Aloni as the soloist. She sang it with so much feeling that it more or less became her signature song, and when it was chosen as the key song for the rally, Aloni was asked to sing it.

Rabin, Peres and other political figures standing on stage with Aloni joined in. It didn’t matter that some of them, Rabin included, couldn’t carry a tune. What was important was the message, which expressed both a yearning for peace and a tribute to fallen soldiers.

The atmosphere was euphoric. Once the rally was over, people scrambled to return to their buses. There were some steps at the back of the stage leading to where Rabin’s car was parked. I was on those steps only two or three minutes before him, intent on finding the bus that would transport me back to Jerusalem. There was a lot of good-natured pushing and shoving, people moving every which way, but the crowd didn’t seem to thin out. It was truly a miracle that the buses were able to get out of the area.

It was the pre-cell phone era, and it was par for the course that every bus driver would turn on the radio for the hourly newscast. But this had been an exciting night with live broadcasts, so the radio was already on before the hour. Suddenly, we heard the announcement that the prime minister had been shot. There was an audible spontaneous gasp – a chorus of intake of breath.

Then came the announcement that it was believed that the bullets were blanks. And after, a series of dramatic but uncertain bulletins came the fateful announcement from Rabin’s right-hand man Eitan Haber, who from the gates of Sourasky Medical Center’s Ichilov Hospital, where Rabin had been taken, told the nation the shocking news that the prime minister had been assassinated. People in the bus yelled, cried loudly and then in an effort to contain themselves, reduced their sobbing to a whimper so that everyone could still hear the radio updates.

It was as if we had all lost a father, but needed desperately to hear the circumstances of his death.

Before the funeral, which was attended by numerous heads of state and members of government, Rabin’s body lay in state in the grounds of the Knesset, with tens of thousands of people filing past to pay their last respects and youngsters remaining in the vicinity in clusters around the numerous memorial candles, which they lit and around which they discussed their feelings.

There were a lot of conspiracy theories associated with Rabin’s death, and there are still many unanswered questions.

Yet whatever the truth may be, what remains from that terrible night in 1995 is the feeling that a line had been crossed – and the people of Israel must work together to find their way back.

This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW