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Latest News in Israel – 21st December

Trump threatens to slash aid to countries backing UN Jerusalem vote

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday cautioned he could slash funding to countries that support a UN General Assembly resolution on Thursday that seeks to annul the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” Trump said at the White House, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, Nikki Haley, Washington’s UN envoy, warned that she would report back to Trump with the names of those countries that support the resolution rejecting the US recognition.

“The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us,” she wrote to UN envoys. “We will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”

The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency session on Thursday to vote on the proposed measure, after the US vetoed a similar resolution for the Security Council.

No country has veto power in the 193-nation General Assembly, contrary to the council, where the United States, along with Britain, China, France and Russia, can block any resolution. An overwhelming majority of UN member states are expected to back the resolution. While Security Council resolutions are binding, however, General Assembly measures are not.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki on Wednesday accused Washington of “threatening” member countries of the UN General Assembly over the vote.

Malki said American officials were “committing another mistake when they have distributed this famous letter trying to threaten countries, (and) threaten their sovereign decision to choose how to vote.”

He spoke at a press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Istanbul, shortly before both men left for New York.

“This is really a new definition of world order in politics and it seems that the American administration… are putting their stamp on a new political reality that many countries will reject,” Malki said.

Turkey and Yemen requested the urgent General Assembly meeting on behalf of the Arab group of countries and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The two countries circulated a draft resolution on Tuesday that mirrors the measure that the US vetoed in the Security Council on Monday, reaffirming that any decision on the status of Jerusalem has no legal effect and must be rescinded.

Malki said the UN session would show “how many countries will opt to vote with their conscience.”

“They will vote for justice and they will vote in favor of that resolution that was presented by both Yemen and Turkey on behalf of the Arab group and OIC,” he said.

In an address December 6 from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality. He also said the US embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but did not give a schedule for the relocation.

Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

The announcement was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. It was criticized by many countries, condemned by the Arab world, and infuriated Palestinians, who held violent demonstrations for several days in the West Bank and on the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel.

In a memo to its missions around the world Tuesday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry advised diplomats to encourage their host countries to oppose the resolution at the General Assembly. In the case of countries that are planning to back the resolution, diplomats were urged to encourage their local counterparts to at least refrain from expressing public support for the proposal.

Israeli diplomats were told to emphasize that the resolution is one-sided and will harm prospects for peace by undermining Trump, and may also lead to further violence in the region.

At the Security Council on Monday, the other 14 members of the council voted in favor of the text, condemning the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and calling on countries not to move diplomatic missions to the city.

Haley’s “no” vote was the first US veto in the Security Council since Trump took office nearly a year ago.

Monday’s text expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”

Sponsored by Egypt, it also affirmed that “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard, calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

Without naming any country, it also expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”

Explaining the US veto after the vote, Haley said that the US “will not be told, by any country, where we will put our embassy.”

Referring to the fact that the US once again stood alone in defending Israel, she said. “We do it with no joy, but we do it with no reluctance.”

By vetoing the draft resolution, the US defended “its sovereignty,” she argued.

“What happened today at the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten,” she said, slamming the council for its obsession with anti-Israel resolutions.

Haley accused some unnamed countries of “trying to distort the president’s decision to serve their own agendas,” and insisted the US position “is fully in line with previous Security Council resolutions.”

Haley noted that the US has given more than $5 billion to the Palestinians since 1994, more than any other country and she said: “The United States has never been more committed to peace in the Middle East.”

Haley said the vote marked “one more example of the United Nations doing more harm than good in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” (the Times of Israel)

Israel looks to fend off further PA moves in international arena

A day after 14 countries on the Security Council voted in favor of a resolution against Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israel was focused more on trying to stop further Palestinian moves in international forums than punishing the countries who voted for the measure.

As a result, foreign ambassadors were not summoned on Tuesday by the Foreign Ministry for a reprimand, nor were Israeli ambassadors recalled from any of the 14 countries who voted at the UN Security Council for the resolution.

Despite the support of 14 of the 15 Security Council countries, that resolution failed because the US cast its veto.

This was a marked change from a year ago, when Jerusalem reacted furiously following the passage of Security Council Resolution 2334 that called on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”

That resolution also said the settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution.”

Following that vote, Israel recalled its ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand, which were among the sponsors of the measure, stopped aid projects to Angola, canceled a visit of the Ukrainian prime minister, and summoned for a reprimand the ambassadors of the 12 countries with which it has diplomatic relations that voted for the measure.

As on Monday, 14 of the 15 countries on the Security Council voted against Israel on that anti-settlement resolution. The difference this time was that the United States voted against and cast its veto, while last year then-US president Barack Obama allowed the measure to pass as the American representative abstained.

While Jerusalem waged a furious diplomatic campaign ahead of the 2016 vote to try and upend that resolution, this time there was little diplomatic effort to get countries to oppose the Jerusalem resolution, knowing that the US would block it.

“Since we knew the US would veto the resolution, we didn’t want to waste our ammunition,” one official said.

Likewise, Israel has not taken any punitive measures or protested those countries sitting on the Security Council that voted for the measure.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who frequently touts the diplomatic inroads Israel has made with numerous countries around the world, regularly says that he expects that Israel’s improved ties with various states will bring about a change in their voting patterns at the UN.

He also regularly says that this could take up to a decade.

Among the countries on the Security Council that voted against the resolution and which Israel harbors hopes of changing their overall voting patterns are Uruguay, Ethiopia, Japan and Ukraine. Nevertheless, they all raised their hands in favor of the Egyptian draft resolution.

Rather than focusing on Monday’s vote, the Foreign Ministry is bracing for – and instructing its delegations abroad to try to fend off – Palestinian efforts to take the measure that the US vetoed to the General Assembly, where it would be certain to pass.

The ministry is also planning to push back against Palestinian efforts to gain entrance into other international organizations, as the PLO successfully did with UNESCO in 2011 and Interpol earlier this year.

A resolution calling for a withdrawal of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may come to the General Assembly as early as this week.

After Washington cast the Security Council veto on Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians would immediately start efforts to gain entrance into all the world’s international organizations. (Jerusalem Post)

PA looks to Russia, China to upstage United States

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dispatched delegations to Moscow and Beijing on Tuesday, as part of efforts to find new sponsorship for the peace process, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

The move came as Ahmad Majdalani, a PLO executive committee member who is leading the delegation to China, ruled out any Palestinian officials meeting with US peace process envoy Jason Greenblatt during his upcoming visit to the region. “No one from the Palestinian side is going to meet with Jason Greenblatt, officially or unofficially,” Majdalani told The Jerusalem Post.

Majdalani told the Voice of Palestine radio station that the delegations would carry a message from Abbas to Russia and China about finding new sponsorship for the peace process within the framework of the UN to replace US sponsorship.

Abbas has said repeatedly that the US has forfeited its role as a mediator due to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “The US is with Israel and supports it and backs it,” Abbas told a Palestinian leadership meeting on Monday. The Palestinians say they will also boycott US Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region in January.

The Palestinian delegation to Russia, which will include veteran Abbas adviser Nabil Sha’ath, will likely get a sympathetic hearing. The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday criticized the US for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution aimed at overturning Trump’s move. “It is unfortunate that the US has chosen an approach that runs counter to the will of the international community and is diluting the international legal framework of the Middle East peace process,” the ministry tweeted.

Abbas is scheduled to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in Riyadh on Wednesday. On Thursday, he travels to France for a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, where he hopes to push forward the Palestinian position that the European Union should take an activist role in peacemaking.

Nathan Thrall, senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, does not believe the Palestinian efforts to find an alternative mediator to the US will succeed. “There is a desire among Palestinians to have a different mediator other than the US, but for any peace process to take place Israel would have to partake in it, and it prefers that the US remain mediator. The Palestinian desire is sincere but there isn’t much chance of success.”

In Thrall’s view, the Palestinian boycott of US officials will not be sustained for long. “I think resuming contacts with the US and discussing with the US peace process-related issues, developments in Area C [of the West Bank] and the possibility of talks resuming in one form or another will happen quite soon,” he said.

“Whether they’ll engage in a Trump-led peace process is another question. But I think the boycott of US officials is not going to last long at all.”

Talal Awkal, a Gaza-based columnist for Al-Ayyam newspaper, said the US is the only power that can press Israel to agree to a two-state solution, but instead it sides with Israel. He does not think there will be any peace negotiations. “We will find ourselves in front of the fact that the US and Israel have no place for Palestinian rights,” Awkal said.  (Jerusalem Post)

Defense minister: Israel willing to pay price for US recognition of Jerusalem

“Israel is willing to pay the price for the U.S.’s recognition of Jerusalem,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday during a visit the communities adjacent to the Israel-Gaza Strip border.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “puts an end to a virulent argument that has been going on for years,” he said.

“The president’s decision is historic and we must cement the issue inside and out. It was clear to us that the U.S. president’s announcement would come with a price and we are willing to pay that price. This statement is very important,” he said.

Speaking with the heads of the border-adjacent communities, Lieberman commented on the sporadic rocket fire that has been growing since Trump’s declaration, saying Israel will not tolerate the situation.

“We know how and what to do, and most importantly when to do it. Over the past year and a half, the IDF has been operating with determination and resolve, both in southern and northern Israel. We will not tolerate sporadic rocket fire,” he said.

The defense minister said that the defense establishment’s operations have had a significant effect on the lives of the residents of the border-adjacent communities.

“I think that our activities with regard to terrorism and the terror tunnels, the blows dealt to Hamas, send a clear and important message to everyone,” he said, adding that the situation on the ground is different from “panic and hysteria, especially in the Knesset, in the opposition and in the media.”

Commenting on a High Court of Justice ruling of last week saying Israel has no legal authority to hold the remains of terrorists killed by security forces, unless it revises existing legislation, Lieberman stated, “Terrorists’ bodies will not be returned.”

The court had given the government six months to revise current legislation or return nine bodies the defense establishment currently holds to their families for burial.

Lieberman called the ruling “outrageous” and said he backed the government’s decision to appeal it. “We have six months to exhaust all procedures,” he said.  (Israel Hayom)

New synagogue dedicated under Jerusalem’s Western Wall

Over 12 years of construction, preservation and archaeological efforts were invested in the new synagogue, which faces the Western Stone – the largest stone in the Western Wall, which is adjacent to the Holy of Holies.

A new synagogue has been inaugurated in the tunnels that run beneath the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Over 12 years of building and preservation work have gone into building the synagogue, shoring up the structure, and conducting an archaeological survey of the site. The new synagogue is situated facing the Western Stone, the largest stone in the wall, which is adjacent to the Holy of Holies.

The bimah and the seating are made of wood

The new synagogue features dozens of elegant benches, arranged in separate men’s and women’s sections. The round, wide bimah is made of wood. The synagogue features comfortable seats, decorative embellishments, an imitation marble floor, and lighting designed to grant the space a venerable feel.

The Torah ark is adorned with metalwork letters that incorporate the biblical verses of the “Shema Yisrael” prayer,  the Medieval liturgical poem “Ana Bekoach” and the biblical Song of Songs.

The Torah ark is embellished with metal work containing letters from Bible verses

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is scheduled to establish and publish regulations regarding prayer in the new synagogue in the next few days. Once established, the regulations will be published on the fund’s website.  (Israel Hayom)

 600 Israelis take on an American rock song

What happens when you bring together 600 strangers and one hit rock song? As it turns out, you get one powerful video clip.

To celebrate the end of 2017, the popular Army Radio music station Galgalatz decided to end the year with a bang. To that end, it partnered with Koolulam, a social music initiative and Shekel, an NGO for people with special needs, to create an unforgettable version of the Imagine Dragons hit “Believer.” The clip, which went online Monday afternoon, had already been viewed by more than 500,000 people by Tuesday morning.

The band itself was moved by the rendition, as it reposted the clip on its Facebook page, with a note: “This 600 person choir singing Believer blew my mind this morning as I watched. So much passion.” “Believer” by Imagine Dragons performed produced by Israel radio with Koolulam (Facebook/גלגלצ)

The video and song were recorded earlier this month at the Bascula Arts Center in Tel Aviv. More than 50 people with special needs came from the Shekel organization to take part. The 600 people – of all ages and backgrounds – had just an hour to practice the song, which many of them had never heard, before they recorded it.

“The decision to include people with special needs in the clip moved us very much,” the Shekel organization posted on their Facebook page. “Now friends, share it, like it and comment explaining to everyone why it is so important to include people with disabilities in the community!”

The song “Believer” is one of the biggest hits of 2017, peaking at No. 4 on the US Billboard chart. The band’s lead vocalist, Dan Reynolds, said in an interview that the song was inspired by his struggle with a painful form of arthritis, and how it is about “finding a place of perspective where I could be appreciative of the pain in my life and make it my greatest strength.” (Jerusalem Post)

Watch the video:

Imagine Dragons – Believer || מיוחד למצעד השנתי של גלגלצ

600 אנשים, להיט אחד. (English below)ככה זה נשמע כשקראנו לכם, מאזיני גלגלצ, לבצע יחד איתנו את Believer של אימג'ן דראגונז לקראת המצעד הבינלאומי השנתי. יחד עם המיזם החברתי קולולם – Koolulam הזמנו מאות אנשים שלא נפגשו לפני למועדון הבסקולה לבצע את הלהיט. אחרי שעה של אימונים, וגם כמה זיופים – זו התוצאה!האירוע הופק בסיוע עמותת שק"ל, ש-50 מחבריה בעלי הצרכים המיוחדים הגיעו גם הם להשתתף באירוע.עוד לא הצבעתם למצעד? דרגו עכשיו: http://glglz.ynet.co.ilCan you Believe It? 600 people from all over Israel, got together to sing "Believer" by Imagine Dragons. This version was produced by Glglz radio,and Koolulam social project for the Year End Chart of 2017. and thanks to the help of Shekel organization.ynet | שק"ל – שירותים קהילתיים לאנשים עם צרכים מיוחדים ע"ר | Imagine Dragons | Bascula – בסקולה

Posted by ‎גלגלצ‎ on Monday, 18 December 2017

Is It Really about Jerusalem?

by Bassam Tawil                  The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11560/palestinians-jerusalem-israel

It is worth noting that the campaign against US institutions also states that the Palestinians’ real goal is to “liberate Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river.” In other words, this means that the true goal of the Palestinians is to destroy Israel.

Why do Mahmoud Abbas’s remarks come as a surprise? He is simply reiterating the official, long-standing policy of the Palestinian Authority. Where has the West been when Palestinian leaders have declared outright, decade after decade, that Israel has no right to exist and Jewish history is nothing more than lies?

Let us get things straight, finally. The Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims cannot stomach the fact that Israel exists, period. Their real problem is not with Trump’s recognition of the reality — that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Rather, they have a problem with Israel’s very existence.

The protests that have swept the West Bank, Gaza Strip and large parts of the Arab and Islamic world in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital show that most Arabs and Muslims still have not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist.

The protests also provide further evidence that many Arabs and Muslims, including, of course, the Palestinians, continue to view the US as an enemy and “big Satan” because of its support for Israel. Trump’s announcement is just another excuse for Arabs and Muslims to vent their long-standing hatred for Israel and the US.

For the Palestinians, Trump’s announcement simply provided the latest opportunity to step up their violent and rhetorical attacks and threats against Israel. As such, there is nothing new about the Palestinian protests that erupted after Trump’s announcement.

Palestinian terrorism against Israel is one of the oldest stories in the book. The many shapes it takes, from rock-throwing to stabbings to shootings to suicide bombings and rockets, began long before Trump’s announcement and will continue long after it. Hardly a day passes without an incident of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

However, because most of the violent attacks do not injure or kill Israelis, they are ignored by the media. Clashes between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli soldiers are as old as the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have even become part of the norm. Shootings and car-ramming attacks? Well, they have been taking place almost every week for the past few decades.

A Palestinian young man prepares to throw a firebomb at Israeli soldiers near Ramallah, December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

It is disingenuous, then, to claim that Trump’s announcement triggered the latest spate of Palestinian violence. At most, the announcement catalyzed the Palestinians to amplify their ongoing terror attacks against Israel. The announcement has also contributed to exposing the Palestinians’ long-standing vicious hatred of the US, regardless of who is sitting in the White House — a Republican or Democratic president.

The Palestinians are on record as failing to distinguish meaningfully between Republicans and Democrats, because the US is, in any event, supposedly “controlled by the Zionist lobby.” Consider what political analyst Qais Qadri said during the last US presidential race:

“There is no difference between the Republicans and Democrats with regards to their hostility towards the Palestinian cause. We are weaker than the Jewish lobby to cause any changes in American policy.”

Thus, the Palestinian hostility towards the US has nothing to do with Trump himself, but rather concerns general American policies, especially US support for Israel. True, many of the Palestinians who took to the streets in the past week did burn effigies of Trump, but they also torched US flags and chanted slogans accusing the US as being an enemy of the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.

This uproar is more about hating the US and Americans than protesting a purported change in the status of Jerusalem. Otherwise, why would a Palestinian shop owner hang a sign at the entrance to his business that reads: “Dogs and Americans Not Allowed to Enter”?

Or why would Palestinians launch a campaign to demand the closure of all American institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in helping the Palestinians build a viable future Palestinian state? That is just another example of how the Palestinians are shooting themselves in the foot to satisfy their craving to demonize the US. It is worth noting that the campaign against US institutions also states that the Palestinians’ real goal is to “liberate Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river.” In other words, this means that the true goal of the Palestinians is to destroy Israel.

This brings us to the issue of anti-Israel incitement, which has long been an integral part of the Palestinian campaign to delegitimize and demonize Israel and Jews. This campaign, especially through the Palestinian media, began long before Trump’s announcement; it gained momentum after that. It is hardly the case that Palestinians were teaching their children to accept Israel’s right to exist and live with it in peace before Trump’s announcement. On the contrary: for many years now, the Palestinians have been doing their utmost to indoctrinate their children and deny any Jewish attachment or history to the land.

This incitement reached its peak last week, when Palestinian Authority (PA) President delivered a speech before the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Turkey. Abbas claimed that the Jewish history of Jerusalem is false and declared that there will be “no peace in the region and in the world” without a Palestinian state and Jerusalem as its capital. Even the left-wing lobbying Jewish group, J Street, condemned Abbas’s “divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.”

Yet, why do Abbas’s remarks come as a surprise? He is simply reiterating the official, long-standing policy of the Palestinian Authority. Where has the West been when Palestinian leaders have declared outright, decade after decade, that Israel has no right to exist and Jewish history is nothing more than lies?

This week, we received yet another reminder of how Palestinians deny Jewish history. The PA’s Ministry of Information released a statement in which it dismissed the existence of the Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site. Referring to the Western Wall by its Islamic name, the ministry said: “Al-Buraq was, still is and shall be a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic site.”

This Palestinian denial of Jewish history did not start after Trump’s announcement. In fact, it has nothing to do with the announcement and has always been the public position of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and all Palestinian groups and leaders.

Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims are furious not because of any purported change in the status of Jerusalem. They know full well that Trump’s announcement will not change anything on the ground and is mostly symbolic. They are not angry because the US embassy is about to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They are well aware that such a move is unlikely to happen any time in the near future. Besides, why would the PA, which claims it wants East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, oppose moving the US embassy to West Jerusalem?

The answer is simple. It is because the Palestinians and Arabs view all of Jerusalem as an “occupied” city, just as they view all of Israel as an “occupying” power. The protesters on the streets of Arab capitals and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip appear to be more honest than their leaders when they chant: “Palestine is 100% Arab and both parts of Jerusalem, east and west, will be the eternal capital of Palestine!”

Let us get things straight, finally. The Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims cannot stomach the fact that Israel exists, period. Their real problem is not with Trump’s recognition of the reality — that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Rather, they have a problem with Israel’s very existence. They see no difference between East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem. For them, the entire city is “occupied,” the same way that Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramle, Acre, Nazareth and Tiberias are “occupied” cities.

Palestinians and their fellow Arabs and Muslims hated Israel and the US before Trump’s announcement and they will continue to do so after it. For them, Israel has no right to exist, pure and simple. Yet, events do provide cover: Before the announcement, they used Jewish visits to the Temple Mount as an excuse for their rejectionism and terror. This time, they are using the Trump announcement.

Palestinian behavior has made their message as clear as water: the conflict is not about an embassy or a settlement or a fence or a checkpoint, but about the very presence of Jews in this part of the world.

Abbas and Jerusalem

by Elliott Abrams               Council on Foreign Relations

https://www.cfr.org/blog/abbas-and-jerusalem-1

The reaction to President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem has varied widely in the Arab world. For example, the Saudi reaction has been moderate. It is well described by Rob Satloff in a report on his recent visit to Riyadh, which is entitled “Mohammed bin Salman Doesn’t Want to Talk About Jerusalem.”

The reaction from Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has been poisonous. In a speech at the special meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, he made numerous false and inflammatory statements about Israel, Jews, and Jerusalem. Here’s just one example:

It is no longer possible to remain silent as Israel continues to violate the identity and character of the city of Jerusalem, the continuation of excavations and settlements and, most importantly, its violations of Islamic and Christian holy places, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque. Therefore, the situation requires decisive guarantees to stop Israeli violations in Jerusalem and to preserve the historic status quo at Al Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli archaeologists have been exceptionally careful in their excavations of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy places, a stark contrast to what happened in the years when Jerusalem was under Jordanian control and the Jewish Quarter and its synagogues were largely destroyed and Jews were not permitted to visit there. What Abbas is objecting to is that archaeologists keep finding more and more aspects of the Jewish past in Jerusalem, in the Biblical period. Like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, Abbas is now denying any Jewish history in Jerusalem at all–a flagrantly false and insulting claim.

His comment about this in his speech was not so much anti-Israel as anti-Semitic. As reported in Tablet, he said

I don’t want to discuss religion or history because they are really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history and religion. But if we read the Torah it says that the Canaanites were there before the time of our prophet Abraham and their existence continued since that time—this is in the Torah itself. But if they would like to fake this history, they are really masters in this and it is mentioned in the holy Qur’an they fabricate truth and they try to do that and they believe in that but we have been there in this location for thousands of years.

I’ve known Abbas for about 15 years and it is painful to see this man, generally viewed as a “moderate voice,” descend to these depths. He has done it before, and then pulled back when called on it: see his speech to the European Parliament in 2016, when he said Israeli rabbis were calling for the poisoning of water wells in the West Bank and then issued a statement saying he’d been misinformed.

Abbas is now presenting Jerusalem as a Christian/Muslim city whose only connection to the Jews is that they are lying about it and defiling it. It has never been clear to me what he expected to gain from such vile statements, because he will never out-Hamas Hamas, never compete with them successfully in hatred of Jews.

President Trump’s statement on Jerusalem was criticized in many quarters as threatening the “peace process.” Reading Abbas’s speech one cannot avoid thinking “what peace process?” If Abbas is the only, indeed best possible, Palestinian partner for peace and these are his views, what chance is there for a successful negotiation? None, I would think. And this conclusion may be widely shared, even in the Arab world. Many have noted the relatively moderate official Arab reaction, and perhaps Mr. Abbas’s speech is his emotional reaction to being abandoned–to his conclusion that Arab leaders have written him off.

That’s speculation. What seems to me less speculative is that the “peace process” is damaged not by decisions like the President’s, which was so carefully worded and explained, but by the kind of language Abbas used. It was inflammatory, false, and anti-Semitic. I do note that the official Palestinian News Agency version of his speech, linked above, omits the worst anti-Semitic passage. But he said it. The omission only proves that even among Palestinians, there is some understanding that you cannot say those things and then hold yourself out as a leader committed to peace and harmonious coexistence.

The Conflict over Jerusalem Is ALL Obama’s Fault

by Alan M. Dershowitz                 The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11574/jerusalem-conflict-obama

First, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the UN to tell a sovereign nation what it can and cannot recognize.

The United States often stands alone with Israel against the world, and the US and Israel have been right. The bias of the international community against the nation state of the Jewish people has been long standing and evident, especially at the UN.

Recall the infamous General Assembly Resolution declaring Zionism to be a form of racism. It received overwhelming support from the tyrannical nations of the world, which constitute a permanent majority of the UN, and was rescinded only after the US issued threats if it were to remain on the books.

The US acted properly in vetoing a misguided UN Security Council resolution designed to undo President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

First, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the United Nations to tell a sovereign nation what it can and cannot recognize. If Turkey, for example, were to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of “Palestine,” there is nothing the UN could or would do. (Of course, most UN members would applaud such a move.)

Second, the resolution fails to recognize that it was the December 2016 Security Council Resolution — the one engineered by lame duck President Barack Obama — that changed the status of Jerusalem and complicated the efforts to achieve a compromise peace. Before that benighted resolution, Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital were widely recognized as part of Israel — or at worst, as disputed territory. Everyone knew that any peace agreement would inevitably recognize that these historically Jewish areas were an indigenous part of Israel. They were certainly not illegally occupied by Israel, any more than Bethlehem was illegally occupied by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Both Jerusalem and Bethlehem had originally been deemed part of an international zone by the United Nations when it divided the British mandate into two states for two people — a decision accepted by Israel and rejected by all the Arab nations and the Palestinian Arabs in the area. Jordan then attacked Israel and illegally occupied the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, prohibiting any Jewish access to these holy areas, as well as to the University and hospital. Jordan also illegally occupied Bethlehem.

In 1967, Jordan illegally attacked Israel. Jordan shelled civilian areas of Jerusalem. Israel responded and liberated the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, thereby opening these sites to everyone.

That has been the status quo for the last half century, until Obama engineered the notorious December 2016 Security Council Resolution that declared the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to be illegally occupied by Israel, thus changing the status quo. This unwarranted change — long opposed by United States administrations — made a negotiated peace more difficult, because it handed the Jewish holy places over to the Palestinians without getting any concessions in return, thus requiring that Israel “buy” them back in any negotiation. As the former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority once told me, “If we have the Wall, we will demand much to return it to Israel, because we know Israel will give much to get it.”

By declaring this disputed territory illegally occupied by Israel, the Security Council enabled the Palestinian Authority to hold the sites hostage during any negotiation. That vote changed the status quo more than the declaration by President Trump. The Trump declaration restored some balance that was taken away by the Obama-inspired Security Council Resolution of a year ago.

Why did Obama change the status quo to the disadvantage of Israel? Congress did not want the change. The American people did not support the change. Many in the Obama administration opposed it. Even some members of the Security Council who voted for the resolution did not want the change. Obama did it as lame duck revenge against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he hated. His motive was personal, not patriotic. His decision was bad for America, for peace and for America’s ally, Israel. He never would have done it except as a lame duck with no political accountability and no checks and balances.

Therefore that Security Council resolution changed the status quo, I did not support a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem by an American president, outside the context of a peace process. But once that resolution was passed and the status quo changed, I strongly supported President Trump’s decision to restore balance.

President Trump has been criticized for vetoing a resolution that has the support of every other Security Council member. That has been true of many anti-Israel Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. The United States often stands alone with Israel against the world, and the United States and Israel have been right. The bias of the international community against the nation state of the Jewish people has been long-standing and evident, especially at the United Nations. Abba Eban made the point years ago when he quipped that if Algeria presented a resolution that the earth was flat and Israel flattened it, the vote would be 128 in favor, 3 opposed and 62 abstentions. Recall the infamous UN General Assembly Resolution declaring Zionism to be a form of racism. It received overwhelming support from the tyrannical nations of the world, which constitute a permanent majority of the United Nations, and was rescinded only after the United States issued threats if it were to remain on the books.

This entire brouhaha about Jerusalem — including the staged tactical violence by Palestinians — is entirely the fault of a single vengeful individual who put personal pique over American policy: Barack Obama.