Israel’s Ambassador set to return to New Zealand
Itzhak Gerberg had been recalled to Jerusalem after the resolution was passed in the UN stating that Israeli settlements o Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 including East Jerusalem have “no legal validity” and demanded a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities”.
A statement was issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘s media adviser saying that following discreet high-level bilateral discussions held over a period of several months by the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yuval Rotem, and MFA Deputy Director-General, Head of the Division for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Sofer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the telephone several days ago with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English.
Following the discussions, PM English dispatched a letter to PM Netanyahu, in which he stated: “First and most importantly, as I said in our conversation, I regret the damage done to relations between New Zealand and Israel as a result of New Zealand’s co-sponsorship of UNSC resolution 2334. We welcome the return of Israel’s ambassador to Wellington.”
The Israeli ambassador to New Zealand was recalled to Jerusalem for discussions in the wake of New Zealand’s co-sponsorship of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, together with Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela.
In light of the telephone conversation and letter, PM Netanyahu instructed Dir.-Gen. Rotem to notify the New Zealand authorities of his decision to end the diplomatic crisis and to return Ambassador Itzhak Gerberg to his post in Wellington.
Last Sunday (June 4 2017), after meeting with Senegal President Macky Sall at the ECOWAS Summit, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to return Israel’s ambassador to Dakar.
The New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman told J-Wire: “The New Zealand Jewish Council welcomes the restoration of diplomatic ties between New Zealand and Israel. Many members of New Zealand’s Jewish community and other supporters of Israel were very distressed by New Zealand’s sponsorship of the UNSC resolution, the detail of which denied the ancestral and ongoing Jewish connection to Jerusalem, contradicting earlier UN resolutions and consigning Israel to the indefensible 1949 Armistice Lines.
We are happy to put this behind us. New Zealand and Israel, two small liberal democracies, have much in common, and a special shared history, which will be honoured later this year in ANZAC commemorations of the battle of Beersheva. As we have seen with the recent and ongoing trade delegations to Israel, New Zealand can benefit greatly from a deep friendship with Israel, and we look forward to this prospering.”
Rob Berg, president of the Zionist Federation of New Zealand added: “The ZFNZ are pleased to hear of the re-instatement of Ambassador Gerberg and look forward to closer ties between New Zealand and Israel. The co-sponsorship of UNSC Resolution 2334 was a big stain on New Zealand’s reputation as a fair and honest broker and with a new Foreign Minister in position it is pleasing to see diplomatic relations moving forward.”
New Zealand Christian Pastor Nigel Woodley said: “Having been involved in leading protests and lobbying against the UN Resolution (UNSC Res. 2334) which led to the withdrawal of the Israeli Ambassador from NZ in December, the Flaxmere Christian Fellowship now welcomes the news of the return of the Israeli Ambassador, Dr. Itzhak Gerberg, back to New Zealand. We also congratulate both the New Zealand & Israeli diplomatic corps upon the reconciliation they have achieved and are grateful for the work of PM Bill English, and particularly that of Minister Gerry Brownlee who broke the diplomatic ice at the beginning of May. We are very pleased to see restored diplomatic relations between NZ and Israel.” (J Wire)
Ministers okay bill slashing PA funding over payments to terrorists
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted in favor of the legislation proposed by Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, giving the bill coalition backing.
The bill was expected be brought to a preliminary vote in the plenum on Wednesday.
The bill would see Israel cut around NIS 1 billion ($285 million) from the annual tax revenues it collects for the Palestinians and hands over to them — equivalent to the amount that Ramallah pays to terrorists and their families, a practice Israel and the international community have attempted to end.
Authored by Stern, the bill has been co-signed by Knesset members from both the coalition and opposition, including coalition chair David Bitan and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chair Avi Dichter, both of Likud.
Stern warned that the current “absurdity” prevents the sides from drawing closer in the pursuit of peace, the report said.
“The Palestinian Authority not only rewards murder but encourages it, and encourages murder over [just] causing injury, and encourages many victims rather than just a few… That is something that must stop, not only because it isn’t moral but because it is a barrier to peace… for how can you make peace with those who encourage murder?”
Israel transfers about NIS 460 million ($125 million) a month, or NIS 5.4 billion ($1.5 billion) a year, to the Palestinian Authority in tax and customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports. The transfers are a key revenue source for the cash-strapped Palestinian government. Israel has withheld payment in the past over political disputes.
The proposed legislation says that in 2016, the Palestinian Authority paid out some NIS 1.1 billion ($303 million) in stipends and other benefits to the families of so-called “martyrs” who lost their lives during attacks against Israelis and to Palestinian prisoners serving time in Israeli jails for security offenses.
According to PA law, Palestinian security prisoners serving time in Israeli jails and families of assailants killed while carrying attacks against Israelis are eligible to receive stipends and other benefits.
The Middle East Media Research Institute estimates that the allowances range from $364 (NIS 1,500) a month for a term of up to three years, to $3,120 (NIS 13,000) for a term of 30 years and more. There is also a monthly $78 supplement for terrorists from Jerusalem and a $130 supplement for Arab Israeli terrorists.
Stern’s bill represents the first time the issue has been tackled through Israeli legislation, and follows similar efforts to limit US funding to the PA.
The Yesh Atid party hailed the passage of the bill in the committee on Sunday, saying in a statement that “the State of Israel must lead and initiate in the fight against terrorism.”
Earlier on Sunday, families of those killed or injured in terror attacks made an impassioned plea for ministers to approve the measure, saying that the salaries were a factor behind terrorist recidivism.
“Will we continue to help the Palestinian Authority to fund terror and harm us again? How can the government, which warns about incitement to terror in Palestinian schools, in educational material, in mosques and on social media, continue to routinely approve transferring funds to terrorists,” read the letter, signed by 180 people impacted by terror and sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, according to a report in the Ynet news site.
Israel has long argued that the PA’s payments glorify terrorism, part of what it sees as a broader trend of “incitement” blamed for fueling a surge of violence last year.
The issue of PA payments to terrorists received heightened media coverage during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel last month, during which he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
In an apparent public upbraiding of Abbas over the payments, Trump told him at their joint press conference in Bethlehem that “peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded.”
Behind closed doors, Trump fumed at Abbas for lying to him, Israel’s Channel 2 reported shortly after the trip. “You tricked me in DC! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement [against Israel],” Trump was said to have shouted at a shocked Abbas.
On May 3 in Washington, at the first meeting between the two, Trump urged Abbas to stop incitement, crack down on terrorism, and “resolve” his government’s policy of paying stipends to terrorists and their families.
Abbas, for his part, told Trump in their joint White House press conference that “we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.”
In the wake of that claim, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Abbas, saying that the statement was “far from the truth.”
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham reintroduced legislation in March that would cut US funding if it continues to provide monetary support to the families of those who commit acts of terror against Israelis and others.
The bill, known as the Taylor Force Act, is named after former US army officer Taylor Force, who was stabbed to death in March 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Tel Aviv. (The Times of Israel)
David Grossman wins Man Booker Prize
Israeli author David Grossman was awarded the prestigious Man Booker International Prize award in London on Wednesday night.
Booker and his translator, Jessica Cohen, will receive a £50,000 prize to split between them.
Grossman beat out fellow Israeli writer Amos Oz as well as four others shortlisted for the award. Grossman won for his recent work A Horse Walks Into a Bar. The book revolves around Dovaleh Greenstein, who wanders into a dive bar one night to perform a stand-up routine, and reveals the traumatic moment in his childhood that changed him forever.
While accepting the award, Grossman expressed his delight that not one but two Israeli writers made the shortlist.
“It’s a great sign of honor to our language, which is a very insular language, he said. “And yet, since it was a dormant language for something like 1,800 years, it is such a phenomenon that in the last 120 years the Hebrew language has been revitalized, awakened from its long sleep and became a language of every day.”
Grossman thanked his family, friends and of course Cohen, and paid tribute to Oz as well.
“Amos is my friend and my teacher and it’s very meaningful to be on the same list as him,” he said. Grossman said that with the revitalization of Hebrew, writers worked “so hard to bring this language to life and to start to tell stories in Hebrew. Today we have such a flourishing and really wonderful literature,” he added. “There are so many wonderful wonderful writers in Israel that deserve to be translated and to be read.”
Oz, who was shortlisted in 2007 but lost then too, was nominated for his book Judas.
Nick Barley, chairman of the 2017 judging panel, said they were “bowled over by Grossman’s willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer’s craft.”
The prestigious Man Booker Award has been presented since the 1960s, and the International Prize since 2005. The International Prize is awarded for an English translation of a book by a living author of any nationality.
Last year, The Jerusalem Post reviewed the translation of A Horse Walks into a Bar saying: “In little more than 200 pages, Grossman brings us to the nerve center of his psyche.”
The other finalists for the prize this year were Mathias Enard of France for Compass, Roy Jacobsen of Norway for The Unseen, Dorthe Nors of Denmark for Mirror, Shoulder, Signal and Samanta Schweblin of Argentina for Fever Dream.
Oz and Grossman are two of Israel’s most famed and acclaimed authors.
Grossman has won the Sapir, Bialik and Emet prizes. His 2008 novel To The End of the Land was translated into many languages and his 2000 work Someone to Run With was the basis for an Israeli thriller movie. (Jerusalem Post)
Arab justices make history
For the first time at a swearing-in ceremony at the President’s Residence of Supreme Court justices, Arabs were in the majority. Admittedly there were only three judges, one of who was already on the court but who was promoted to the rank of deputy president, succeeding Elyakim Rubinstein, but the two others, who had chalked up admirable records in the lower courts, were newcomers to the Supreme Court. One was an Orthodox Jew and the other was an Arab.
The two Arabs were born in Israel – Salim Joubran in Acre and George Kara in Jaffa, while the Jewish judge, David Mintz, was born in Britain and came on aliya when he was 11.
Both Joubran and Kara are Christians, though Muslims do serve as judges in the lower courts.
Judges must retire at age 70, although they can continue to serve on cases that they begin before they reached that milestone. Supreme Court President Miriam Naor who will turn 70 in October said that this year signifies the end of an era in the court, because the judges who are retiring are the last to have had Palestine birth certificates.
Referring to Joubran as her soul mate, she said that no one was more deserving of the role of deputy president than he. She was also pleased that for the first time there will be two Arab judges on the Supreme Court, “albeit only for a short time.” Joubran will turn 70 on August 4.
Naor underscored Joubran’s integrity, saying that he had opted to forgo the increase in salary to which he was entitled, and likewise the additional pension rights.
Joubran said that it was more important to him that his appointment had opened a door for other Arab judges.
Naor also mentioned that Joubran was the first Arab to serve as chairman of the Central Elections Committee.
Joubran said that Arabs are still fighting a battle for equality. “We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” he said.
With regard to Rubinstein, Joubran praised his wisdom, his phenomenal range of knowledge and his exemplary judgment, but what he singled out for special mention were the witty notes that Rubinstein passed to him in perfect Arabic in either prose or poetry and related to any situation of the moment.
President Reuven Rivlin referred to the controversy over whether seniority should determine who the next Supreme Court president should be. The law does not specify under what conditions the president of the Supreme Court should be appointed, he said.
The Knesset did not determine whether seniority is a good thing, nor did it determine that it was a bad thing. “It decided not to decide.” Up till now, seniority has been a matter of tradition, said Rivlin, and some excellent judges have held the position.
He regretted the latter-day disputes between the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and said that these squabbles were eroding public confidence.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said she was opposed to the Supreme Court dealing with political issues that she said were the prerogative of the Knesset.
“I want the court to do what it’s supposed to do,” Shaked said. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel’s natural gas capacity boosted 30%
In preparation for the development of the country’s Leviathan reservoir, Israel’s natural gas transmission system has received a 30% boost in capacity.
Energy officials launched the country’s largest gas pipeline on Tuesday – the “Eastern Line” – which will serve as a two-way artery for the transportation of gas from Ramle to the northern community of Elyakim. The pipeline will enable the connection of new customers along the pipeline to gas, as well as facilitate the flow of gas from the Leviathan reservoir to the local market in the future, officials said.
The 613-billion cubic meter Leviathan basin, located about 130 km. west of Haifa, is expected to begin supplying gas to Israel by the end of 2019.
Israeli natural gas field in the Mediterranean.
Up until the inauguration of the Eastern Line, another pipeline called “Sea Line” had served as the single artery for gas flow from Ashdod to the North and the Haifa Bay region.
“We are interconnecting the State of Israel lengthwise and widthwise, improving and expanding natural gas transmission throughout the country,” National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz said. “This way, we will reach more consumers and connect more factories, so that costs will be reduced and will breathe cleaner air. We are in the midst of a natural gas revolution in Israel, and we will all benefit from it.” (Jerusalem Post)
Israel to test fire anti-missile system…. in Alaska
Israel is set to carry out a joint test of its Arrow 3 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) defense system in the United States next year, the first time such a test will occur outside of Israeli territory.
The exercise, which will be carried out in cooperation with the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), is set to take place on the Alaskan island of Kodiak where the system will be tested against targets simulating advanced ballistic missiles being developed by Iran.
Israel and the United States are concerned that Iran has continued to work on both its nuclear program as well as its ballistic missile program despite international criticism. In light of the perceived missile threat, the two allies have worked together to develop several missile defense systems, including the Arrow 3, which was co-managed by the US Missile Defense Agency and IMDO, a division of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
Considered one of the world’s best interceptors due to its breakthrough technological capabilities, the Arrow 3 is a highly maneuverable system designed to provide ultimate air defense by intercepting ballistic missiles when they are still outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
MDA Director US Navy Vice Admiral James Syring was quoted by Alaskan media as telling a congressional meeting last week that the “[Arrow 3] has significant range constraints within the Mediterranean. One of the better places to test is in Alaska, from Kodiak, and we intend to do that next year.” But according to Craig Campbell, the CEO of Alaska Aerospace Corp, the deal to carry out the test has not yet been finalized.
“The Missile Defense Agency, MDA, has approached us about doing the Israeli program out of Kodiak, and we are in the process of negotiating that contract today,” Campbell is quoted by Alaska’s KTOO news as saying.
According to KTOO news, the test would be part of the $80 million contract between MDA and the Alaska Aerospace Corp. The Israel Air Force officially received Arrow-3 interceptors from the Israel Missile Defense Organization in January and according to IMDO Director Moshe Patel, further trials of the system were expected as Israel will continue to work with the United States in developing additional capabilities for the system.
In addition to the Arrow system, Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets, and the David’s Sling missile defense system designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 to 300km. The advanced systems provide Israel with a comprehensive protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short and mid-range missiles used by terror groups in Gaza and Hezbollah as well as the threat posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles. The first use of the Arrow system occurred in April when the system was launched to intercept a Syrian regime air defense fired three surface-to-air missiles towards IAF jets. (Jerusalem Post)
Untying the Gordian Knot of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
By Dore Gold The Jerusalem Post
Last July, the Middle East Quartet was groping to find an explanation for why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had not yet been resolved.
Israel, which had gone through an escalation of knifing attacks on its citizens rightfully stressed in its briefings the twin problems of continuing Palestinian violence and the state-sponsored incitement that promoted it. The Palestinians and their allies focused on their favorite topic – Israeli settlements – even though the original Oslo Agreements, in 1993 and 1995, did not require a freeze on settlements, and reserved them for final-status negotiations instead.
However, there was a critical factor in elongating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was not touched by the Quartet. This past Sunday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for dismantling UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency). He charged that the very existence of UNRWA “perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem rather than solves it.”
For years, Israeli officials have noted that UNRWA has provided a breeding ground for the growth of terrorist activity against Israel; indeed some of the greatest Hamas masterminds, like Ibrahim Maqadma and Salah Shehada, were graduates of UNWRA schools. In 2014, UNRWA used its schools for storing rockets. UNRWA building supplies were found to have been used by Hamas for tunnel construction. This month, a Hamas tunnel was discovered under two UNRWA schools.
UNWRA’s role in perpetuating the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is less well known, despite the fact that its origins date back to UNWRA’s founding in 1949. Unlike the millions of refugees after the Second World War, who were resettled in the countries in which they now resided and became citizens, the Palestinian-Arab refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war maintained their refugee status.
The refugee problem eventually melted away in Europe and on the Indian Subcontinent, but the Palestinian refugee problem only got worse. UNRWA’s own data puts the number of Palestinian refugees in 1948 at 750,000; today, according to UNRWA, the number of refugees has mushroomed to roughly five million. Successful refugee programs, like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have led to a diminution of the refugee problem in different parts of the world. UNRWA had the exact opposite effect.
The heart of UNWRA’s problem is definitional.
UNRWA established official eligibility criteria for its services; they included those who lost their home and livelihood in the 1948 war. Unlike other UN refugee agencies, however, UNRWA added “the descendants of Palestine refugee males.” UNHCR carried no such provision for passing on refugee status to the next generation, but with UNRWA, there was no cutoff. UNRWA has now reached the fourth generation of refugees.
Refugee status has continued from generation to generation in perpetuity.
This helps explain several odd features of the Palestinian refugee problem.
There are 58 Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East. With the implementation of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, 26 of these camps fell under Palestinian control. Yet there was no any indication that a single Palestinian camp was about to be closed. It was clear that the Palestinian Authority wanted these camps to be retained despite the advent of Palestinian self-government. Even the new Palestinian city in the West Bank, Rawabi, was built not for refugees, but rather for upper middle class Palestinians who could afford it.
The only explanation for this behavior was that the Palestinian leadership wanted to keep their grievance with Israel alive. In other words, they wanted to perpetuate the conflict.
The problem of UNRWA is well known among experts on the Arab-Israel conflict.
Nevertheless, the effect of letting this issue fester for generations deserves greater consideration. More than any other issue, leaving the refugee problem intact for the future undermines any possibility of reaching reconciliation between the parties. You cannot resolve a conflict and perpetuate it at the same time.
Until now, international diplomats have overlooked the Palestinian refugee issue, preferring to deal first with other dimensions of the conflict. But the Palestinians’ preparedness to finally resolve this issue is probably the best litmus test of their intentions – of whether they are ready to end the conflict once and for all. If a new peace initiative is to start, it should include at the outset a program to dismantle the refugee camps and promote a massive international effort for the construction of new housing. This initiative should begin in the West Bank but also should include Jordan, which hosts the largest Palestinian refugee population in the world.
Dismantling UNRWA is critical in this effort. It is the international caretaker of the problematic definition of refugee status for the Palestinians, which has allowed this problem to expand continually.
No international convention contains so expansive a definition of refugees. It is astounding that the international community keeps demanding concessions from Israel yet to date has not done anything about the deleterious effects of allowing UNRWA’s definition of Palestinian refugees to persist.
The author is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He served as ambassador to the United Nations and as director general of the Foreign Ministry.
How to Send the Wrong Message to Palestinians
by Bassam Tawil The Gatestone Institute
- In the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims, Trump is no longer the strong leader they feared a few months ago. Rather, he has proven to them that he too is susceptible to blackmail and intimidation. And when Trump caves, US credibility suffers. Had Trump gone ahead and fulfilled his promise to move the embassy, he would have earned the respect of many Arabs and Muslims, who would have looked to him as a proper leader.
- A further point ought to be of extreme interest to the US: When the Palestinians and Arabs talk about the possibility that such a move would “harm” US interests in the region and “trigger violence and bloodshed,” they are actually threatening to launch terror attacks against American nationals and interests. That is why Trump’s recent decision not to move the embassy to Jerusalem is being understood in the Arab world as surrender to terrorism.
- Consider what happened when Trump recently ordered a missile attack on Syria. Many Arabs and Muslims took to social media to heap praise on Trump for displaying courage. If and when Trump honors his promises, he will earn even more respect in the Arab and Islamic countries.
US President Donald J. Trump’s waiver delaying the relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem accomplishes two things.
First, it disappoints many Israelis for failing to fulfill his pre-election promise. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it has sent precisely the wrong message to the Palestinians. What the Palestinians and other Arabs heard in this message is that the US president folds under pressure and threats.
This message of weakness and retreat harms not only Trump’s credibility, but also that of the US by making it appear a country that caves under threats of violence.
In general, it is Trump’s presentation of power that garners respect among many Palestinians and Arabs. The Arabs admire and respect such figures because they have been ruled for decades by ruthless tyrants and dictators such as Saddam Hussein. But the Arabs also respect leaders who keep their promises, even if they disagree with and oppose those promises.
Trump’s decision to delay the relocation of the US embassy came after repeated threats by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and some Arabs that such a move would “plunge the entire region into violence and bloodshed.” These threats began during Trump’s election campaign and escalated after he entered the White House.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his cohorts in Ramallah spearheaded the campaign of threats and intimidation. They even went as far as threatening to revoke their recognition of Israel’s right to exist if Trump dared to fulfill his promise.
Last January, Abbas was quoted as saying that the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem would prompt the Palestinians to withdraw their recognition of Israel.
“I wrote a letter to President Trump urging him to refrain from such a move. I made it clear to him that such a move would not only deprive the US of playing any legitimate role in solving the conflict, but would also destroy the two-state solution.”
Abbas’s mufti, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, warned Trump that transferring the embassy to Jerusalem would be seen as an “aggression not only against the Palestinians, but against all Arabs and Muslims as well.” PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat joined the chorus of threats by warning Trump that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would “plunge the Middle East into violence and chaos.”
The Palestinian threats were accompanied by threats from some Arab governments and Islamic clerics. They too warned Trump that the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem would trigger a wave of violence and jeopardize US interests in the Middle East. The former mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Jum’ah, said that moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would “constitute a grave escalation and threaten US interests in the region.” Another leading Egyptian Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ibahim Reda, warned that such a move would “trigger a wave of tensions in the region and constitute an aggression against Arabs and Muslims.”
Such threats on the part of Palestinians are nothing new. In fact, Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues issue similar “warnings” whenever they do not get what they want. This is one of their favored tactics against Israel.
For example, the Palestinians used to warn that Israel’s construction of the security barrier in the West Bank would result in violence and anarchy. In reality, however, the security barrier has led to exactly opposite; it has halted suicide bombings against Israel, and saved the lives not only of Jews, but also Arabs who were killed in the wave of terrorism waged by the Palestinians during the Second Intifada.
“Palestinians warn” is one of the most popular results on Google Search.
More recently, for example, the Palestinians “warned” Israel against introducing a new curriculum for Arab schools in Jerusalem by claiming this would lead to the “Judaization” and “Israelization” of Jerusalem.
Last month, the Palestinians came out with another “warning” — this time, that if Israel does not comply with the demands of Palestinian prisoners who went on hunger strike, there would be a “new intifada.”
After 40 days of the hunger strike, the prisoners backtracked and ended their fast — although most of their demands were not met by Israel.
All this is added to the daily threats Abbas and many Palestinians have been making for the past two years regarding visits by Jews to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Hardly a day passes without another threat being issued by the Palestinians about these visits.
The Palestinians work hard to convince the world that routine and peaceful tours of Jewish groups and individuals to the Temple Mount are part of an Israeli “conspiracy” to destroy the Aqsa Mosque and “defile” Islamic religious sites. They have also been warning that the visits would trigger a “religious war” between Jews and Muslims and lead to a “big explosion” and an “earthquake” in the Middle East.
True, the Palestinian incitement over the Temple Mount visits has resulted in a wave of knife and car ramming attacks against Israelis, but no “religious war” has erupted and the Arab and Islamic countries do not seem overly concerned about Jewish visits to the Temple Mount.
These visits, by the way, have been taking place since 1967. The visits were suspended temporarily during the Second Intifada for security reasons, and were resumed about two years ago. It is also worth noting that Christian tourists also continue to tour the holy site — something that does not seem to bother Abbas and his PA friends.
Israel, for its part, has learned to live with the incessant Palestinian threats and warnings. But the international community continues to take these threats seriously, ignoring the fact that by doing so they are constantly sending the wrong message to the Palestinians. Surrendering to threats of violence only emboldens the extremists and paves the way for more violence and bloodshed.
How moving the US embassy to Jerusalem “destroys” the so-called two-state solution is rather a mystery.
If and when the US embassy is moved from Tel Aviv, it will be set up in the western part of the city and not in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians are demanding as their future capital. Only one thing can be inferred from this — that the Palestinians also see the western part of Jerusalem too as part of their future capital.
The Palestinian and Arab threats of violence and chaos in the region sound laughable given the current state of affairs in many Arab countries, including Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Libya, where Muslims have been slaughtering each other — and Christians — for the past six years.
The turmoil in the Arab world — including the recent tensions surrounding Qatar — is completely unrelated to US policies in particular, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general. Despite the myopia of Arab leaders and Islamic clerics, blood is already spilled at a rather alarming rate in the Arab countries.
The killings in Syria, Iraq and Libya will continue, regardless of whether Trump moves the US embassy to Jerusalem or not.
A further point ought to be of extreme interest to the US: When the Palestinians and Arabs talk about the possibility that such a move would “harm” US interests in the region and “trigger violence and bloodshed,” they are actually threatening to launch terror attacks against American nationals and interests.
That is why Trump’s recent decision not to move the embassy to Jerusalem is being understood in the Arab world as a surrender to terrorism.
From the Arab world’s point of view, it shows the US as cowing under the threat of violence.
Does anyone seriously believe that the leaders of the Arab and Islamic countries really care whether the embassy is located in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv? Don’t these leaders have enough to worry about, such as the Iranian threat to undermine the stability of their regimes and the threat of Islamic terrorism?
Does anyone seriously believe that the Arab and Muslim masses, who have to deal with massive unemployment, dictatorships and terrorism, really care whether the US embassy moves from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?
The Palestinians were hoping that the Arab and Muslim masses would erupt over the Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, but most Arabs and Muslims remain indifferent. In fact, the Arabs and Muslims do not really care about the Palestinians; they have long turned their backs on their Palestinian brothers, who are today almost entirely dependent on American and European funding.
Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem will not lead to more anarchy. Christians in Egypt and Iraq are not being killed because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Syrians are not being systematically slaughtered because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Islamic State terror group is not butchering innocent civilians in the Arab world and some Western countries because it is upset with Jewish visits to the Temple Mount or settlement construction.
Palestinians and Arabs heaved a sigh of relief upon learning of Trump’s decision to delay the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem. They are now rubbing their hands in satisfaction and saying to themselves that threats of violence work because even someone like Trump will succumb.
In the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims, Trump is no longer the strong leader they feared a few months ago. Rather, he has proven to them that he too is susceptible to blackmail and intimidation. And when Trump caves, US credibility suffers. Had Trump gone ahead and fulfilled his promise to move the embassy, he would have earned the respect of many Arabs and Muslims, who would have looked to him as a proper leader.
Consider what happened when Trump recently ordered a missile attack on Syria, in response to the regime’s continued killing of innocent civilians, including the use of poison gas. Many Arabs and Muslims took to social media to heap praise on Trump for displaying courage. If and when Trump honors his promises, he will earn even more respect in the Arab and Islamic countries.
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