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Latest Israel News – 2nd August

The Israeli people have so much to offer and finally it is being revealed to the world

Joseph Waks, a pro-Israel activist from Florida, expresses his love for Israel.

He explains how Israel – and Israelis – are different and special.

Joseph believes that by bringing the soul of Israel to the rest of the world, he can demonstrate just how much Israel has to offer.

Either way, his enthusiasm is contagious and should serve as an inspiration to other pro-Israel activists.   (Israel Video Network)

Beyond the Debate Over Metal Detectors – Amb. Dore Gold


Holy sites across the Middle East have lost their traditional immunity. The Taliban dynamited 2,000-year-old Buddhist statues in the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan. There were attacks in areas controlled by the Palestinians such as Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

This year, Saudi Arabia foiled a suicide attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca. A year ago there was an attack on the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina where four Saudi Arabian security officers were killed. ISIS recently destroyed the 800-year-old Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, Iraq. Given this wave of attacks, all governments around the Middle East feel the necessity to put in place security measures that will prevent jihadi organizations from carrying out their plans.

What has been motivating many young Palestinians who are protesting outside of the Temple Mount area has been the complete falsehood that Israel intends to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This myth was originally begun by the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini back in 1929. It has returned every four or five years with greater force.

Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel’s northern branch, has for the last decade been convening large rallies with huge posters asserting that Al-Aqsa is in danger. Beyond Israel, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, who sits in Qatar, who has been asserting that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is in greater danger than ever before. Young people hear these stories and are convinced that if they don’t take action, then their cherished mosque is at risk.

Even if you solve the problem of what kind of sensors you put in place at the Temple Mount, you’re going to be left with the incitement that is the principal cause of the violence. This is why, if the issue of religious incitement is not explicitly addressed, then the seeds will still be left in place for the next round of violence ahead.

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Jordan and Israel chasm over Amman embassy incident is not healing

The Foreign Ministry’s announcement on Friday that a probe has been opened into the fatal shootings of two Jordanians by a security officer at the Israeli Embassy in Amman on July 23 has done nothing to calm a wave of anger in the Hashemite Kingdom.

The security officer was stabbed and slightly wounded by a screwdriver-wielding worker who had entered the embassy compound for furniture replacement, the ministry said. The worker, Muhammad Jawawdah, 17, was shot dead by the guard, who was acting in self-defense, according to the ministry. The guard also fatally shot Bashar al-Hamarneh, a physician, who according to Jordan’s Petra news agency “happened to be there when the incident occurred as he is the owner of the building.”

On Monday, Jordan’s Al-Ghad website published the name of the guard, Ziv Moyal, 28, which had been censored in Israeli reports. Al-Ghad published a photo of Moyal’s embassy ID, which listed his name in Arabic, prompting his family to leave their home in a moshav in southern Israel and move in with relatives out of fear for their safety, JTA reported.

Jordan Times columnist Daoud Kuttab, speaking to The Jerusalem Post from Amman, said: “People want him to be tried for the crime he did. They don’t want to see him hanging out in Tel Aviv. They want some kind of justice.”

Kuttab said the way Moyal was welcomed and embraced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video posted by the Prime Minister’s Office had “raised the bar [of anger] a lot.”

In the video, Netanyahu tells Moyal. “I am happy to see you here and that things ended the way they did. You acted well, calmly and we also had an obligation to get you out [of Jordan].”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hugs the security guard from the Israeli embassy in Amman Jordan who was stabbed by a terrorist. (Chaim Tzach/ GPO)Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hugs the security guard from the Israeli embassy in Amman Jordan who was stabbed by a terrorist. (Chaim Tzach/ GPO)

Kuttab added: “The anger is mostly at Israel but also at the Jordanian government” for letting Moyal return to Israel after a tense standoff that was resolved by the dispatch of Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman to Amman, the intervention of the United States and a phone call between Netanyahu and King Abdullah. “People don’t understand how he would be able to get away with murder,” Kuttab said.

The view from Jerusalem, however, is that Moyal was defending himself against a terrorist attack and deserves praise for that, and that in any case he had diplomatic immunity.

Kuttab wrote an article in Al-Rai newspaper calling for an unambiguous apology by Netanyahu or President Reuven Rivlin, an admission of guilt, the payment of compensation to the families as was done for Turkish fatalities of the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident and a “genuine trial” of Moyal.

Asked if he thought Jordan would accept the return to Amman of Ambassador Einat Shlain, Kuttab responded: “I don’t think now is the right time for Jordan, that Jordan would allow her back if she’s interested. I think both Israel and Jordan are interested in letting things quiet down a little bit. But there is the issue of an apology, especially to the Hamarneh family.

Israel has not even issued a statement regretting the loss of life, which is the simplest thing people say in such circumstances, and this angers people.”

The driver of the furniture truck, in testimony widely publicized in Jordan, said Jawawdah stabbed Moyal with nails, not a screwdriver, after an argument erupted, according to Ynet.

The Post has learned that senior officials in the State Attorney’s Office who are investigating the incident have received materials on the matter from the Jordanians. Any expression of regret for loss of life will wait until the investigation is concluded. It is not clear how long that will take.

Jordanian anger over Netanyahu meeting the guard has been noted in Jerusalem, but the view from the capital is that the guard defended himself during a terrorist attack in which he was stabbed, and that this is something that should be acknowledged and praised. The purpose of Netanyahu’s meeting the guard was to let him know that the public was behind him, and that the government worked hard to get him out of Jordan.

That the Jordanians are now putting out a different version of events, according to this position, does not mean that it is true.

MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), however, said on Monday that “it was really irresponsible to celebrate the coming back of the security officer. With Jordan we have to walk very carefully and be aware of the sensitivity of the relationship and the status of Jordan in the Arab world.”

“Jordan was ready to handle it under the radar, that nothing will happen and that things will continue, something that is in their interest and ours. But now after this public welcome and the video of the guard being welcomed by Netanyahu, it forced the king to go to the [Jawawdah] family and make statements declaring ‘He is my son, like yours.’” Shai said that the government should express regret over the death of Hamarneh, the doctor and owner of the apartment. “It doesn’t cost me anything and if it helps the king and the Jordanian government to restore tranquility, I would have done it.”

Abdullah last Thursday demanded that Israel put Moyal on trial and said Jordan would “dedicate all the efforts and resources of the Jordanian state to ensure that justice takes its course.”

Israel’s handling of the incident was “utterly rejected and provocative,” something that “angers us all, threatens regional security and fuels extremism,” he said.

Kuttab said “the king has set the bar high and it will be difficult for him to come down on this.”

Jordanian Attorney-General Akram Masaadeh has charged Moyal in absentia with two counts of murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm, Jordanian media reported Friday.

According to Jordan’s Khaberni website, the number of members of parliament signing on to a statement demanding closure of the Israeli Embassy in Amman and withdrawal of Jordan’s envoy to Israel reached 75 out of the 130 legislators on Sunday.

The statement blasted the government for letting Moyal go back to Israel. “Jordanian blood and honor are not cheap and it was incumbent on the government to stand up for this blood and maintain this honor with all force and decisiveness.”

It alleged that the deaths of the two Jordanians is “an extension of the Israeli crimes that continue with the violation of Jordanian custodianship of al-Aksa Mosque and the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.”

It also linked the deaths to the fatal shooting in 2014 at the Allenby Bridge of Raed Zeiter, a judge in the magistrate’s court in Amman. The army said that Zeiter was shot after he tried to seize a soldier’s gun and threatened two soldiers with a metal bar. Zeiter’s family and Palestinian witnesses said he was killed in cold blood during an argument with soldiers.

Netanyahu’s office issued a statement of regret and then-president Shimon Peres issued an apology to Abdullah. No one was placed on trial over the incident.  (Jerusalem Post)

‘With rock, knife, ax, we follow the martyrs’

The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Monday filed indictments against five east Jerusalem residents for incitement to terror and other offenses.

Three of the suspects are accused of inciting violence on Facebook following a July 14 terrorist attack at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, in which two border policemen were murdered and another was wounded.

The indictments were filed with the approval of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, as required by law, given the nature of the offenses, which touch on issues of freedom of speech.

Muhammad Mukhaimer, 19, is accused of calling for violence and acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians and security forces on Facebook on a number of occasions, praising terrorist organizations such as Hamas military wing Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Following the terrorist attack on the Temple Mount, Mukhaimer posted the following to his Facebook page under the hashtag “Shahid Friday”: “They thought our heroes had grown old, but they’re still alive, and they were taken down among the alleyways and at the entrance to the gates.”

Later that day, Mukhaimer posted a photo of a police officer standing next to medics treating a wounded victim at the scene of the attack. Mukhaimer captioned the photo: “To hell and to darkness.”

Another suspect, Seif Abu Jumaa, 21, expressed support for terrorist attack in several Facebook posts mere hours after the Temple Mount attack.

Referencing the three attackers — Israeli Arabs from the town of Umm al-Fahm — the suspect wrote, “With rock, knife, ax, Molotov cocktail and lighter, spontaneous and unplanned from At-Tur [Mount of Olives]. From Umm al-Fahm, three martyrs set out, a thousand condolences. You are before us and we follow you. We were raised on the path of martyrdom,” he wrote.

In another Facebook post the same day, Abu Jumaa wrote, “Today four martyrs from Jerusalem, one from Dheisheh and three from within. Today Palestine receives four martyrs. Our dead are in heaven, and their dead are in the fire. Jerusalem’s martyrs.”

A third, 17-year-old suspect, unnamed by police because he is a minor, posted a picture of two of the terrorists who carried out the attack on Facebook. In a separate post, he wrote. “The martyrs are similar. They are similar to the beauty of the Dome of the Rock, the beauty of the Old City. Four martyrs ascend on a blessed Friday to prove to everyone that the intifada continues.”

Suspects Sofyan Mahmoud, 26, and Muhammad Shamasneh, 23, called for acts of violence and terror against Israeli civilians and security forces on Facebook, where they also praised terrorist organizations.

The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office seeks to keep the suspects in custody until legal proceedings against them have concluded. (Israel Hayom)

Iran’s role in Temple Mount clashes revealed

The recent clashes in and around the Temple Mount were fueled in part by the Iranian government, Palestinian sources told Israel Hayom this week.

The clashes erupted after Israeli authorities installed metal detectors at entry points to the site in response to a deadly terrorist attack there on July 14. Many Muslims locally and around the world viewed the Israeli security measure as a bid to usurp control. Israel insisted the measure was meant only to prevent further attacks, and removed the devices less than two weeks later.

According to the Palestinian sources, tens of thousands of Muslim protesters received prepackaged meals along with notes in each one citing a famous quote attributed to 1979 Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: “With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.” The note also depicted the Dome of the Rock and the Palestinian flag.

According to reports in the Palestinian media, a nongovernmental organization run by Iranian youth movements was in charge of distributing the meals. Arabic news sites affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps also pointed to Iranian NGOs as being behind the “supply of food to the heroes fighting for the liberation of the besieged Al-Aqsa mosque until victory is achieved over the Zionist occupier.”

Despite those reports, a senior official in the Palestinian security forces told Israel Hayom that such a large logistical effort could not have been single-handedly managed and funded by a youth movement.

“It is plainly obvious that the government in Tehran, by way of its long tentacles, was behind these efforts,” the official said. “This involves millions of shekels, and it appears that the Iranians have found a way to cash in on this and to make it clear to the Palestinians that Iran is taking care of them.”

“The leaflet was included in every prepackaged meal and made it abundantly clear where it originated,” the official says.

Another Palestinian official told Israel Hayom that the Palestinian Authority knew in advance about the Iranian involvement, but chose to withhold the information from Israel when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided to freeze security ties with Israel. The decision, made in the wake of the Temple Mount crisis, has since been reversed.

“This would have not taken place in areas under Palestinian control. We would have never let Iran establish such a foothold because this would have hit us like a boomerang, by prompting action from Arab states,” the official said.

“Perhaps the Iranians understood they could undertake this effort without Israeli authorities asking too many questions. We obtained intelligence of their intention to spend heavily on the meal distribution, but we received orders to stop cooperating [with Israel] and we acted accordingly.”

The Iranian influence has been met with Palestinian concern, with senior Palestinian officials in Abbas’ inner circle saying he was outraged when he found out about the Iranian intervention.

“Nothing is past the Iranians. Their tentacles are everywhere and it would be a big mistake to let them make such inroads,” a senior official in Abbas’ office said.

Iran is not the only player fanning the flames in the conflict. Israel Hayom has previously reported on Turkish-led efforts to inflame the region and on ongoing incitement by Israeli Arab clerics. (Israel Hayom)

Western Wall must not become symbol of Jewish divisiveness, says Rivlin

The Western Wall, the only remnant of the holy sanctuary on the Temple Mount, cannot be permitted to become a symbol of Jewish divisiveness, President Reuven Rivlin declared on Monday.

Rivlin addressed an audience of Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and secular Jews at the President’s Residence who set aside their differences in search for common values at the third annual Tisha Be’av study session, held in conjunction with the Jewish People Policy Institute.

However, on the eve of the commemoration of the siege of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple and the forced centuries-long exile of the Jewish people – given the lessons of history – it seems in latter-day Israel, unconditional love is not as prevalent as might be hoped.

Most of larger events at the President’s Residence are overcrowded with hundreds of people and extra chairs have to be brought in to accommodate the overflow. This time, far fewer chairs were arranged and not all of them were filled. This would indicate a lack of interest on the part of some of the invitees.

Rivlin first spoke about the destruction of the First and Second Temples and how the Romans plowed the ground, as if to obliterate any vestige of anything Jewish. He then talked of how the Western Wall had for centuries been known as the Wailing Wall, and with the reunification of Jerusalem 50 years ago evolved from a religious to a national symbol.

That national spirit of unification is more important today than ever, Rivlin said. The violence taking place on and around the Temple Mount and the attempts to erase Jewish history and the connection of the Jews to the Temple Mount makes unity more imperative than ever, he said. “We cannot allow this sole remnant of the Temple to become a source of dispute amongst ourselves.”

At the same time, he wondered aloud how the generation that witnessed the freedom of Israel and the liberation of Jerusalem, could identify with the destruction of the Temple and all that it signified.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky recalled the first time he saw the Western Wall. It was on a picture postcard sent to Moscow at a time when the Wall was still referred to as the Wailing Wall. Like all things Jewish and Israeli that found their way behind the Iron Curtain, the postcard was passed around to people who became very excited and emotional without knowing exactly why. Their contact with their heritage had been minimal, if any at all. And yet, there was a sense of identification – a bond with ancestral history, a place in an ever-widening circle.

It was only when he was living in Israel and trying to find solutions to some of the difficulties involved in Jewish identity that Sharansky came to understand why the Wall had been called the Wailing Wall. There were many questions which remain unanswered even today, he said.

“Is Judaism a religion or a nationality?” asked Sharansky. “Is the Bible a history book or a code of Jewish law?” Whatever the answers might be, he said, he was certain “the Western Wall must not again become the Wailing Wall, but the Wall of Joy.”

JPPI president Avinoam Bar-Yosef, in referring to the section of Torah that congregations began reading last Shabbat, said the Book of Deuteronomy contains the basic principles for the manner in which humans beings should act toward each other. He then quoted Talmudic variations on “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” saying it was an intrinsic part of Jewish tradition that must be disseminated within Israel and to Jews in the Diaspora.

“If we loved our neighbors as ourselves, we wouldn’t have a Western Wall crisis,” he said.”

Four speakers affiliated with different streams within Judaism spoke on the lesson of Tisha Be’av: Rabbi Yoav Ende, executive director of the Hannaton Educational Center; Dr. Shlomo Vaknin, director of the BINA Secular Yeshiva; Rabbi Naama Kelman, dean of the Hebrew Union College; and Rabbanit Esti Rosenberg, head of the Migdal Oz Beit Midrash for Women.

Ende queried how a generation – which in Temple times was known for its learning and its charity – could at the same time be filled with such baseless hatred. It was because they were removed from reality and forgot the world outside, which is one of the reasons Torah is not studied on Tisha Be’Av, he explained.

Vaknin emphasized the importance of listening to different voices in order to learn not only Jewish but universal lessons, and to be open to new ideas.

Kelman, whose father, Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, was a prominent leader of Conservative Judaism in America, said she was delighted to be sharing a platform with Esti Rosenberg, whose grandfather Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was a close friend of her father’s. In America, Kelman said, Rabbis from different streams of Judaism find it much easier than their Israeli counterparts to focus on their commonalities rather than their differences.

“Unity, empathy and mutual respect are vital to our future existence,” she said. And while she advocated the importance of listening to the other, she admitted finding it difficult to speak to people with racist and xenophobic attitudes.

Rosenberg had hoped to get away from the traditional Kamsa and Bar Kamsa story of the hard-hearted and humiliating episode to which many attribute the destruction of the Temple. But she found it difficult to do so, especially in the face of certain similarities in today’s society. (Jerusalem Post)

Israelis gather in Jerusalem’s Old City after weeks of tensions over Temple Mount

Thousands of Jews attended prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to observe the start of the Tisha B’Av fasting day on Monday night, days after violence shook the city.

Prayer leaders read aloud from the Book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah’s biblical account of the destruction of the First Jewish Temple by invading Babylonians in 586 BC.

The Western Wall is a remnant of the Second Jewish Temple, built on the site of the first and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The wall is at the foot of the Temple Mount compound, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock in the heart of the Old City, the third-holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

It is the most sacred site for Jews, who revere it as the location of the two destroyed temples.

Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of both temples, as well several other disasters in Jewish history.

The event comes after relative calm returned to Jerusalem following nearly two weeks of Palestinian protests over security measures at the Temple Mount, installed after a July 14 terror attack in which three Israeli Arabs shot dead two Israeli Druze policemen with weapons they had smuggled onto the compound.

Muslim worshipers had refused to enter the site until the security installations at entrances to the compound were removed and Palestinian protesters staged near-daily riots in and around East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The protests left six Palestinians dead. A week after the Temple Mount terror attack, a Palestinian terrorist broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and stabbed four Israelis to death while they were having Shabbat dinner, killing three. The terrorist cited the events surrounding the Temple Mount as a main motivator, in a Facebook post hours before his murderous spree.

The crisis ended last week when Israeli authorities removed the newly installed measures, including metal detectors, following heavy pressure from Jordan, the custodian of the Temple Mount, and the Palestinians.

The site has frequently been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tisha B’Av at the Wall

Under a decades-old agreement, only Muslims are allowed to pray inside the compound, although non-Muslims are allowed access.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that extra units were being deployed in Jerusalem throughout the 24-hour period for Tisha B’Av.

While many of the thousands of worshipers at the Western Wall on Monday evening were religious, recognizable by the men’s skullcaps and women’s long dresses, secular Jews also attended the ceremonies.

“I’m not really religious but it’s important for me to come here for this commemoration, this day of mourning,” said 25-year-old Leora Kaufman.

“Tisha B’Av is also a reminder of the need to stay united,” she said.  (the Times of Israel)

Record numbers of Jews visit the Temple Mount Tisha Be’av morning

With the Jewish people commemorating the destruction of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem on the fast of Tisha Be’av on Tuesday, more than 1,200 Jewish visitors went to the Temple Mount on Tuesday morning, activist groups said.

According to the Yeraeh organization, which promotes Jewish visitation and prayer rights at the Temple Mount and which desires to rebuild the Jewish Temple at the site, 1,263 Jews visited from 7:30 till 11 this morning, and between 13:30 and 14:30 in the afternoon.

The previous record was 995 Jewish visitors this past Jerusalem Day. Last year, just 400 Jews visited the site on Tisha Be’av.

According to Yeraeh, the recent tensions over the Temple Mount and the about-face performed by the government over metal detectors at the site has generated massive interest in visiting the site.

A Jewish worshipper prays in front of an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, on Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting and lament, in Jerusalem’s Old City August 1, 2017. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)A Jewish worshipper prays in front of an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, on Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting and lament, in Jerusalem’s Old City August 1, 2017. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post this week, Asaf Fried, a spokesman for an association of organizations dedicated to Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, said that the activist groups had been receiving numerous calls since the crisis was ended, asking how to practically prepare, religiously, for visiting the Temple Mount.

“People are very angry, the government’s behavior last week was humiliating and degrading,” said Fried

“If Moshe Dayan gave the Wakf the keys to the Temple Mount in 1967, then last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave over sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the Wakf.”

Along with the new record for Jewish visitation in a single day, records have also been broken for Jewish visitation during this Hebrew calendar year, with 18,000 Jews having visited the Temple Mount in the framework of organized tour groups this year, easily beating last year’s figure of 14,908, and with six weeks of the year still remaining.

According to the police, six Jewish visitors were removed from the Temple Mount on Tuesday morning for not abiding by regulations at the site, most likely meaning that they attempted to pray or bow down.

Jewish and any non-Muslim prayer is strictly forbidden on the Temple Mount by the Islamic Wakf which administers the site. (Jerusalem Post)

PA payments to prisoners, ‘martyr’ families now equal half its foreign aid

The Palestinian Authority’s 2017 budget for payments to inmates in Israeli prisons and so-called “families of martyrs” is equal in sum to about half of the foreign aid Ramallah expects to receive this year, a recently published Israeli report shows.

According to the PA Finance Ministry’s 2017 budget, published on its website earlier in July, salaries to incarcerated and released Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are convicted terrorists, will amount in 2017 to NIS 552 million ($153.4 million).

That is an increase of 13 percent over the 2016 budget, according to a report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank on July 24.

The new budget also allocates $190,869,166 for payments to so-called “families of martyrs,” up from $174,630,296 allocated in 2016.

The families are defined as those with members who were “killed or wounded in the struggle against Zionism,” including those killed while committing attacks against Israelis, or in any other context by an Israeli.

The total allocation to Palestinian prisoners and ex-prisoners, as well as martyrs’ families, in the 2017 budget is NIS 1,239,528,424 ($344,313,451).

This sum is equal to 49.6 percent of the foreign aid Ramallah expects to receive over the year.

The author of the report, Brig.-Gen. (res) Yossi Kuperwasser, a formerly director general of the Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence, told The Times of Israel the rising budget allocation for the payments is not due to any new policy, but rather reflects natural growth under PA laws already in place.

According to the 2017 budget, the total number of “martyrs’ families” and families with injured members to receive payments is 21,500. In 2016 that number was 19,000.

Kuperwasser also pointed out that in accordance with PA law, the payments are updated according to the price of living index.

The budget for the payments has remained steady at around seven percent of the PA’s entire budget since at least 2013. However, its share in relation to foreign aid has grown due to a decline in donations to Ramallah in recent years.

Western donors, including the United States and some European countries, have measures in place to ensure their aid money is used for other purposes, such as paying off PA debts, teachers’ salaries and medical bills.

Some note, however — among them Kuperwasser — that aid from Western countries frees up Palestinian money to be allocated for payments to prisoners and “martyrs’ families,” and so the measures are a technicality that changes nothing.

“At the end of the day, money is fungible,” Kuperwasser said.

Both Israel and the US are weighing legislation that would strip the Palestinian Authority of hundreds of millions of dollars if it does not cease the payments, arguing that they encourage terrorism.

Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham reintroduced legislation in March that would cut US funding if the PA 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 a former US army officer who was stabbed to death in March 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv.

US President Donald Trump has also personally urged PA President Mahmoud Abbas to “resolve” the divisive payments issue.

In June, the Knesset approved the first reading of a bill that views all money paid over to Palestinian prisoners and the so-called “martyr families” as illegitimate.

The bill, if its passes, will cut around NIS 1 billion ($285 million) from the annual tax revenues Israel collects for the Palestinians and hands over to them — equivalent to the amount that Ramallah paid the so-called “martyr families” and prisoners in 2016.

The bill is under review by the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

In June, Abbas, in a speech read by his foreign affairs adviser Nabil Shaath, argued that “payments to support the families are a social responsibility to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones.”

“It’s quite frankly racist rhetoric to call all our political prisoners terrorists. They are, in effect, the victims of the occupation, not the creators of the occupation,” Abbas said.

He also argued that Israel was using the issue as a pretext to avoid renewing peace talks.

Kuperwasser pointed out in his report that the PA’s 2017 budget includes a NIS 762 million ($211.6 million) welfare allocation, which is “much smaller” than the sum devoted to prisoners and “martyrs’ families.”

Shaath, in an interview with The Times of Israel in May, was asked if the PLO could cease payments in “clear-cut” cases of murder or attempted murder. He said that was something that could only be resolved in negotiations.

“If there are people who are involved in civilian killings, and it was really criminal, that could be an exception that could be looked into in a court accepted by the two peoples. All those imprisoned today are [a product] of the occupation. Ending that must be the fruit of peace,” he said.              (the Times of Israel )

It takes two sides to create lasting peace

by Michal Biran                 Sydney Morning Herald


Last month I went on a mission to Australia to develop and deepen the ongoing dialogue between the Israeli Labor Party and its sister Social Democratic Party, the Australian Labor Party. I travelled for a week between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, and during the trip I met Labor and other lawmakers, party officials and trade unionists, with whom I held in-depth discussions about our shared values and common struggles. My visit to Australia concluded on a personal note, with a visit to the grave of my great-grandfather, Harry Kurzki, at the Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney.

The friendship between the two Labor parties is longstanding. Australian Labor expresses strong support for Israel and maintains close ties with it. However, as in other sister parties around the world, there are voices in the Australian Labor Party criticising Israeli policy and expressing support for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. I came, among other things, to present the position of the Israeli Labor Party, which views unilateral recognition as a serious mistake, and to argue for a negotiated two-state solution.

I can understand why many of our friends have come to the mistaken conclusion that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will help advance the faltering peace process in the Middle East. The failure of the previous rounds of negotiations, the prolonged political stalemate, and the ostentatious steps of the Netanyahu government – including declarations of continued construction in the settlements and the passing of legislation that expropriates private land from Palestinians (now under challenge in the Israeli Supreme Court) – are likely to bring despair to our progressive allies about the possibility of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will not help promote the desired just solution of two independent nation-states, but will do the exact opposite. Unilateral recognition means that only one side, the Israeli side, is held to blame for the political stalemate, a view that is far from true. Since the Oslo Accords, almost 25 years ago, Israel has consistently expressed its willingness to accept territorial compromise and the division of the land. The Palestinian leadership repeatedly rejected Israel’s proposals – including Barak and Olmert’s unprecedentedly compromising ones – as a basis for negotiations. Israel has even proved its sincere intentions by withdrawing from the Gaza strip, at the price of evacuating thousands of settlers from their homes. The people of Gaza reacted by electing Hamas, an extremist Islamic terror organisation openly devoted to the destruction of Israel.

Even in practical terms, unilateral measures will not promote a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Even an apartment cannot be rented without two parties signing an agreement, each of its own free will. The argument that it is possible for one side only to resolve an international conflict such as that between Israel and the Palestinians is naive and unfounded at best, and dishonest at worst.

Anyone interested in achieving a just peace must urge both sides to reach an agreement, not just one side. Australian recognition of a Palestinian state would mean relinquishing the demand that the Palestinians stop the ongoing incitement against Israel, in which, for example, Palestinian schools are named after Shaheeds (suicide bombers who indiscriminately murder innocent civilians, including children).

This legitimisation of the current state of affairs would perpetuate the absurdity in which Australian aid money that is transferred to the Palestinians will continue unwittingly to finance payments that the Palestinian leadership transfers to families of Shaheeds in correlation to the number of people murdered by each Shaheed.

The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be achieved only on the basis of two independent nation-states, each of which will have territorial contiguity within defensible borders. Earlier this month, the Israeli Labor Party elected a new and promising leader, Avi Gabbay. Gabbay has proven himself to be a successful and capable leader in both the private and public sector. After years of anticipation, at last, it seems we have a real alternative to Netanyahu.

We, members of the Israeli Labor Party, will never give up our vision of peace. But we need our friends in social democratic movements around the world not to give up either. We need our friends in the world, of whom the Australian people are among the best, to back us up and support our efforts to advance a political settlement based on mutual willingness to compromise, and not to make it difficult for us to invalidate Netanyahu’s false claim that the entire world is against us.

Rather than demonise one side in the conflict and turn a blind eye to the obvious faults on the other, fair-minded people all over the word should be supporting and encouraging those on both sides who are working for a just and lasting peace.

Michal Biran is a Member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, for the Israeli Labor Party (now called Zionist Union).

The Guardian and John Lyons Accuse Australian Jews of ‘Targeting’ Journalists

by Adam Levick                The Algemeiner

The Guardian and John Lyons Accuse Australian Jews of ‘Targeting’ Journalists

Australian journalist John Lyons was among those in the media who, in 2014, leveled entirely false accusations that Israel sadistically tortured Palestinian children. This abuse was purported to include whippings, beatings while tied to a cross and the practice of “caging Palestinian children outdoors.”

As CAMERA noted at the time, Lyons’ report for Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) “Four Corners” was based entirely on uncorroborated Palestinian claims, and — in contravention of basic journalistic ethics — Israeli officials were never given the opportunity to respond to the charges.

Senior IDF officials later said that Lyons’ claims were “completely fictitious.”

Greg Sheridan, a colleague of Lyons at the Australian, referred to the “Four Corners” hit job on Israel as “a crude piece of anti-Israel propaganda that revived some of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes.”

These false charges resulted in a row between Lyons and Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) — a group that advocates for the interests of Australia’s Jewish community. Echoing narratives that those who follow our work would recognize, Lyons claimed in his 2014 op-ed that AIJAC stifles criticism of Israel by bullying journalists, a narrative that he developed further in a book published this year. That book was the focus of a July 28th Guardian article by Amanda Mead.

The first sign that Lyons is going to receive sympathetic coverage from the Guardian is the article’s headline:


It becomes clear in the article that the highly evocative term “targeting” refers to the evidently insidious practice of attempting to hold Australian journalists accountable for accurate reporting about Israel. Here are some of the ‘shocking revelations’:

Pro-Israel advocacy groups in Australia targeted the Middle East correspondent of the Australian newspaper and two ABC reporters, a new book claims. John Lyons says he was subjected to consistent pressure from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) while based in Jerusalem for the Australian for six years, as were the ABC’s Sophie McNeill and the veteran ABC correspondent Peter Cave.

In his Middle East memoir Balcony Over Jerusalem, Lyons says Cave told him another group prepared dossiers on Cave and other ABC reporters “and sent them to like-minded journalists and members of parliament”.

Of course, “dossiers” in this context all but certainly refers simply to publicly available information, such as past examples of reports that were biased or inaccurate.

It gets better:

Lyons says pressure also came from inside his own paper. He says the former editor of the Weekend Australian Nick Cater refused to publish his work and the pro-Israel lobby bombarded editors with criticism of his reports.

Whilst we don’t know why Cater refused to publish Lyons’ work, note how Lyons attempts to frame mere criticism of his reports by pro-Israel groups as something sinister.

Another putative example of intimidation cited in Lyon’s book was a 2015 file sent by AIJAC to Jewish members of the ABC board with information on ABC Middle East reporter Sophie McNeill — a file that evidently included examples of her egregious anti-Israel bias. Lyons contextualized AIJAC’s criticism of McNeill as a line of attack “employed by lobby groups internationally.”

The “conspiracy” by AIJAC to influence media coverage of Israel then gets even deeper:

Lyons writes that AIJAC director Colin Rubenstein had unprecedented access to the Australian, speaking regularly to editors and even suggesting articles the paper should run.

However, “speaking regularly to editors” and “suggesting articles” are what lobbying and pressure groups in a democracy — off all ideological persuasions — do, and it’s hard to understand why Lyons would contextualize it as something improper or even sinister.

A final quote from Lyon’s book is telling:

“For more than 20 years, Australians have read and heard pro-Israel positions from journalists, editors, politicians, trade union leaders, academics and students who have returned from the all-expenses-paid Israel lobby trips. In my opinion, no editors, journalist or others should take those trips: they grotesquely distort the reality and are dangerous in the sense that they allow people with a very small amount of knowledge to pollute Australian public opinion.”

It’s remarkable that Lyons, who was so easily manipulated by Palestinian propagandists to believe entirely false charges that Israel tortures children, can criticize pro-Israel advocates for “grotesquely distorting the reality.” But, that’s not the worst part.

Lyons doesn’t simply state his passionate, reasoned disagreement with Australian Jews — but instead, he evokes toxic canards of Jewish control by suggesting that such journalists couldn’t possibly come to their pro-Israel conclusions independently, and that only through the nefarious workings of the Israel lobby can Australian public opinion become so “polluted” with pro-Israel positions.

The fact that the Guardian found Lyon’s conspiracy theory for pro-Israel attitudes in Australia credible would not come as a surprise to anyone even vaguely familiar with the media group’s record on issues pertaining to Israel and antisemitism

In the aftermath of the Temple Mount Crisis

by Ron Weiser

Fifty years ago, after recapturing the Temple Mount which also houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque, Israel established the so called “status quo” which has remained more or less unchanged since 1967.

Effectively, Israel claimed sovereignty over the Temple Mount but handed day to day control to the Muslim Waqf.

As well, despite Arabs being allowed to both enter and pray on the Temple Mount, Jews were allowed to enter but not pray. In part at the time, based on convenient halachic prohibitions forbidding Jews to go on the Temple Mount lest they inadvertently enter the Holy of Holies.

Whether in hindsight that decision was wise or not, every Israeli Prime Minister including Netanyahu, has worked to ensure that the status quo is maintained and that everyone understands Israel has no desire to change it.

Primarily the motivation has been to try and stop a territorial/political dispute from turning into a religious one. Notwithstanding everyone knows that in principle the problem remains that the Palestinians et al have yet to come to terms with the basic concept that a Jewish State of any size in the Middle East can be acceptable to them.

A point by the way that increasing elements in the Australian Labor Party either do not understand or very deliberately choose to ignore.

In any case, on Friday the 14th of July, three Israeli Arab terrorists from Um al-Fahm entered the Temple Mount and emerged with weapons, shooting dead two Israeli Druze policemen – Haiel Sitawe (30 years old) and Kamil Shnaan (22).

In an effort to restore security and to attempt to ensure that weapons could not be smuggled onto the Temple Mount in future and upon the advice of the police, the Israeli government installed metal detectors.

Whilst this step was completely justified and understandable, there was internal discussion as to whether this was the best way to achieve these aims.

The head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, opposed this measure on two grounds – that it would not be a practical way to ensure security and that it would inflame the situation.

On Friday night the 21st of July, in a despicable outrage, a Palestinian terrorist entered the village of Halamish and during a family celebration on shabbat, stabbed to death Yosef Salamon (70), his daughter Chaya (46), son Elad (36) and injured his wife Tova (68).

And then on Sunday the 23rd of July, in an apartment adjacent to the Israeli Embassy in Jordan, an Arab worker stabbed an Israeli security guard with a screwdriver. The Israeli, so far only known as “Ziv” managed to kill the terrorist. A second Jordanian man was killed by a stray bullet in the melee.

Jordanian authorities initially refused to allow Ziv to leave Jordan and wanted an investigation into the incident.

The Jordanian King, Abdullah II, was travelling in the USA at the time and despite numerous attempts, in what was almost certainly a deliberate snub, Prime Minister Netanyahu was unable to contact him.

Many in the Israeli press were recalling two other matters that bore some lesser or greater degree of resemblance to the current crisis in Jordan:

the attempted assassination of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan in 1997 – when Netanyahu was Israeli Prime Minister

and the rescue by Egyptian commandos in 2011, after the intervention by President Obama, of six Israelis trapped in the Cairo Embassy by wild mobs who had broken through Egyptian and Israeli security.

What was obvious by its omission and both lamentable and unusual was that during the entire two weeks of turmoil the President of the United States was publicly silent, with no condemnation in regards either to the Temple Mount or Halamish murders.

Eventually, despite ongoing public silence, Trump dispatched Kushner and Greenblatt to assist in negotiations.

Monday the 24th of July saw Argaman travel to Jordan where a compromise was worked out.

Ziv and Ambassador Einat Schlein quickly left Jordan and returned to Israel and Israel announced that the metal detectors on the Temple Mount would be taken down and the cameras removed – which they immediately were.

Abdullah issued instructions to the Waqf to calm the situation.

On Ziv’s return to Israel he was welcomed at Netanyahu’s office, embraced and praised.

This both embarrassed and further angered Abdullah who then demanded an official inquiry into Ziv’s actions, which Israel has now agreed to as well.

Of course, this current crisis has nothing to do with the metal detectors per se, but very much to do with control and access and the perception of Arabs going to prayer through Israeli manned detectors.

Unusually it appears as if the Arab reaction was less politically led this time, but rather religiously motivated, with incitement from the Waqf and others.

Despite the clear and undisputed terrorist action, despite the weapons used having been smuggled onto the Temple Mount by Arabs, all Arab leaders and media condemned Israel and all continually incited further violence against Israel.

This unusually included Jordan who also largely fund and dominate the Muslim Waqf.

Abbas, who had sunk somewhat into insignificance in the Palestinian street, came late to the party but tried to outdo Jordan in his incitement and led to some extreme threats and measures from the Palestinian Authority and Abbas himself.

Turkey once again stuck to their usual script of ugly condemnation of Israel and proved to be one of the most poisonous critics of Israel.

Eventually on Friday, after two weeks of turmoil, Trump personally entered the arena, but it was by way of a call to King Abdullah.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the following about the call:

“Both leaders said they were encouraged by the efforts taken to de-escalate tensions and by the progress that has been made. They pledged to continue to stay in close communication. President Trump also emphasized Jordan’s important role in regional security.”

To date, whilst Netanyahu publicly thanked the US for Kushner and Greenblatt’s participation, there has been no call between Trump and Netanyahu. The optics are poor for Israel.

The big winner from the affair was King Abdullah and Jordan’s position in the Arab world and regarding the USA.

Abdullah was seen to have forced Israel to maintain the status quo despite this being something Israel has strenuously and repeatedly stated it desires in any case.

Abdullah also demonstrated that he is in control of the Temple Mount and is it’s “protector”.

The King showed that the Waqf listen to Jordan in terms of when to incite and when to calm and in that way, that he controls the Palestinian street.

And by not even bothering to consult with Abbas during the entire 2 weeks, Abdullah stepped back into a Palestinian leadership role that Jordan had publicly ceded some decades ago – perhaps a positive for an Israel looking to gain something/anything out of this crisis.

Most potently, Abdullah entrenched the perception that started almost from the beginning of the Trump presidency, when his meetings with Trump were instrumental in the US not moving the embassy, in calling some settlement expansion “unhelpful” and in bringing the Palestinian question back to centre stage, in that he has the ear of the US President more than any other Mid East leader, Arab or Jew.

Rabbi Michael Melchior, a previous Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister and today active in the Religious Peace Initiative fostering Jewish/Arab dialogue, and as part of the group that negotiated this latest deal with the Waqf, managed to put some positives forward.

In regards to the perceived damage Israel took materially and to her pride, Melchior said:

“Despite all the talk about capitulation, it was in our supreme interest in the end, and I am glad the police also saw it that way. What happened in the last two weeks is that all the extremists began to celebrate here freely. All the moderate voices, usually strong and central, just had their heads down.

The Waqf understands the Temple Mount is a holy place, and they are obligated to keep the peace and quiet. Under no circumstances do they want the place to be used by people to hide arms, cause riots or launch incitement.

Of course, this doesn’t mean they accept Israeli sovereignty, but they definitely don’t want the site to be used for incitement and violence. That in itself is a significant message.”

Let’s hope that this “significant message” is real rather than illusionary.