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Latest Israel News – 25th July

In Halamish, missed clues, lax security let terrorist in

With a simple disguise, a butcher’s knife and bottles of water to perform ablutions, 19-year-old Omar al-Abed climbed over the fence of the Halamish settlement on Friday night, tripping its sensor but avoiding detection.

Once inside the settlement, the Palestinian teenager performed some kind of purification ceremony. He was wearing a white shirt, the common choice for many Shabbat-observant Jews in Israel.

“He knew that Jews wear white shirts on Shabbat. So that even if someone saw him, they wouldn’t pay him any mind,” said Victor Vaknin, the settlement’s security coordinator.

A few minutes later, he knocked on the door of the Salomon family’s house, knife in hand. The 10 members of the Salomon family in the house had already eaten Shabbat dinner. They were getting ready to raise a toast to the birth of a new grandchild when Abed arrived.

Expecting well-wishers, they opened the door to him. “But instead of a guest wishing them a ‘mazal tov,’ there was a massacre,” Vaknin said.

Abed, who came from the nearby village of Kobar, stabbed to death three members of the family, its patriarch Yosef Salomon, 70, and two of the children, Chaya, 46, and Elad, 36. The bloody rampage was cut short when a neighbor who happened to serve in an elite IDF unit heard the screams, grabbed his gun and shot the Palestinian terrorist in the gut, wounding him.

According to initial assessments, the settlement’s security team — known in Hebrew as a kitat konenut — responded to the break-in according to protocol, Vaknin told The Times of Israel.

Like most settlements, Halamish is surrounded by a fence covered in touch sensors, allowing settlement security personnel to know if the barrier has been breached and where. If they detect an infiltration, the volunteers contact the army and bring in soldiers to search the area. That didn’t happen on Friday night.

When Abed climbed the fence into the settlement, he did set off the sensors. A patrol unit in a jeep drove to the area and a member of the security team checked for signs of an infiltration, Vaknin said.

The patrol did not see any obvious signs of a breach and so the kitat konenut did not pass along a message to the IDF, assuming that the sensor had been tripped by an animal, he said.

“He went by, looked, didn’t see anything and drove on,” Vaknin said.

Since the side of Halamish where al-Abed entered abuts a forest, that segment of fencing is often falsely triggered by passing animals.

However, according to Channel 2 news, the army’s initial assessment of the attack found that the response team was slow to check the fence after the sensor was triggered, which may have given Abed more time to sneak inside.

It is unclear how much faster the patrol unit would have had to be in order to spot Abed along the fence.

Vaknin said the settlement has long been aware that the southeastern side of Halamish is vulnerable and warned multiple defense officials about the threat.

“We spoke to the defense minister, to the chief of staff, to the head of the [Central] Command, to every defense official possible,” he said.

Indeed, the area where Abed climbed the fence into Halamish was the same area where in November three Palestinian men allegedly started a fire that destroyed 17 homes and damaged 25 others, according to the security coordinator.

Vaknin said the settlement wanted additional cameras to monitor the area and eventually to close the road down the hill, from which came both the alleged arsonists and Friday night’s terrorist.

“We’ve been asking for it for seven months,” he said. “They’re taking advantage of this weak point and are managing to carry out terror attacks.”

The military did not respond to a Times of Israel request for comment. (the Times of Israel)

Thousands attend funeral of family members slain in Halamish attack

Michal Salomon thanked her husband, Elad, for giving his life to save her and their five children from a terrorist with a knife.

The hot, late afternoon air hardly seemed to move as she stood in the cemetery in Modi’in to bid farewell to Elad, 36, his sister Chaya, 46, and her father-in-law, Yosef, 70.

The three members of her family were killed on Friday night when a Palestinian terrorist, dressed as a Sabbath-observant Jew, entered her in-laws’ home in the Halamish settlement.

Her in-laws, Yosef and his wife, Tovah, who was wounded in the attack, were just about to hold a communal Friday night party to celebrate the birth of a grandson.

Michal was able to flee to an upstairs room with her five children.

She described for the mourners the quiet but knowing look that passed between her and Elad in those last moments.

“On Friday night we signed onto an unwritten agreement. You saw me run upstairs with the children to protect them and you fought with the terrorist so he wouldn’t harm us.

I stood by my part of the bargain and so did you and you paid with your life,” she said.

“Thirteen years ago we met in Neveh Tzuf [Halamish], the place where we were parted in a cruel way that we never anticipated,” she said.

Michal described how she and Elad built a home with five children in the city of Elad in the center of the country.

“You were the most perfect father. You were delighted by every birth,” said Michal.

She described a father who could both be a teacher to his children and at the same time play with them as if he himself were still a boy.

“We had a good partnership and a true love. We made joint decisions even when we didn’t speak. You were always there for me,” said Michal.

“Now you are not here and that frightens me.

“You were happy and you loved life. You loved your family and the Sabbath time we spent together. I thank you for all the good years I did not expect it would all be over in an instant.”

She was calm as she spoke, but Yosef’s daughter Orit broke into tears as she described a father who always told her he wanted to make everyone happy and ensure that everything came out right in the end.

“Now nothing is fine,” she said.

Of her sister Chaya, she said she had always been a good friend to their mother and promised she would now care for her in her stead.

Orit’s husband, Ron, spoke of how much he loved his father-in-law. “You made me feel as if I was your son.

From the moment we met 20 years ago, you always made sure we would not want for anything.

“You didn’t just worry about us, you worried about everyone. You so loved and waited for happy occasions. You were always in the center of the circle.

Everyone knew that Yosef Salomon was always filled with happiness.”

Of his sister-in-law Chaya, “You did not have a husband or children of your own. But you taught so many girls over the years, they were your daughters and you were like a mother to them. This year you received an award as a teacher of excellence. But you could also have been given an award for being such a great aunt.”

He also described her courage in making it out the door of the home to scream for assistance during the attack.

“You were brave when after you were stabbed you used your last ounce of strength to go outside and call for help,” he said.  (Jerusalem Post)

Greenblatt to arrive in region over Temple Mount crisis

A senior Trump administration official is traveling to the region Sunday night in an effort to diffuse an escalating crisis over the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, will “support efforts to reduce tensions” in consultation with White House national security officials, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser tasked with leading a Mideast peace effort.

“President Trump and his administration are closely following unfolding events in the region,” a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post. “The United States utterly condemns the recent terrorist violence including the horrific attack Friday night that killed three people at their Shabbat dinner table in Halamish and sends condolences to the families of the innocent victims.  We are engaged in discussions with the relevant parties and are committed to finding a resolution to the ongoing security issues.”

White House officials have kept quiet publicly as events on the ground have gone from bad to worse: A shooting attack on the holy plateau, ground zero for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, led Israeli officials last week to introduce metal detectors at the site’s entrances. Protests ensued around the Arab world over the security measure, and in Jerusalem and the West Bank, riots led to several Palestinian deaths.

And as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to security cooperation with Israel on Friday night, one Palestinian murdered three Jewish civilians in their kitchen on Shabbat— an act the perpetrator attributed to recent events on social media. Israel is demolishing the attacker’s home.

The US said it was “very concerned” over the situation last Wednesday, before blood began to spill. The State Department has called on both sides to refrain from taking any “escalatory steps” or from changing the status quo on the Temple Mount.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli guard stabbed in Amman, embassy staff return to Israel

The Israeli guard stabbed in an attack at the embassy in Jordan on Sunday returned to Israel some 30 hours later with the rest of the embassy staff after a tense day of negotiations between Jerusalem and Amman  aimed at defusing a diplomatic crisis.

The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying that the embassy staffers crossed over to Israel via the Allenby Bridge, and their return was made possible due to the close cooperation between Israel and Jordan.

Israel worked throughout the day on various different channels to ensure that the stabbing attack of the Israeli security guard at the embassy in Amman that left him lightly injured and the the assailant and another man dead would not spiral out of control and poison relations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a meeting with visiting Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili that he spoke twice overnight with Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, Einat Schlein, and the security guard.

“I assured the security guard that we will see to bringing him back to Israel; we have experience in this,” he said. “I told both of them that we are holding ongoing contacts with security and government officials in Amman, on all levels, in order to bring the incident to a close as quickly as possible.”

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Nadav Argaman traveled to Amman early Monday to hold talks with the Jordanians, and returned in the afternoon to brief Netanyahu on the discussions. In addition, Jordan’s ambassador Walid Obeidat met with Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem who asked for his assistance in ending the crisis.

The drama began Sunday evening when the guard was stabbed in the stomach with a screwdriver by a worker moving furniture in one of the residences in the embassy compound, in what appeared as a spillover to Jordan of the tensions over the Temple Mount.

According to a Foreign Ministry statement, the guard shot the assailant – identified as Mohammed Zakaria al-Jawawdeh, 17– in self defense. Al-Jawawdeh was killed, and another man at the scene – the owner of the compound – was injured and later succumbed to his wounds.

The Israeli guard suffered light injuries.

After hours of negotiations, during which the story was under a censorship in Israel, the Jordanians refused to let the guard be transferred back to Israel.

The Foreign Ministry said that according to the Vienna Convention that covers diplomatic relations, the guard has immunity from investigation and arrest. He, and the rest of the delegation, are currently locked down in the compound, and Israel is not letting the Jordanians investigate the guard.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Army Radio that “according to international law he has complete immunity and needs to be transferred to Israel by the Jordanians, and it is forbidden for them to even investigate him.”

The Jordanian police said that the two Jordanian workers from a furniture firm entered the embassy compound, and the owner of the residence was there at the time.

The online edition of Jordanian daily Al Ghad reported that the security guard fired two bullets. The paper said Jordanian security forces arrived at the area and put it on temporary lockdown.

Jordanian police kept an angry crowd that gathered at the embassy after the incident from approaching.

In their statement, the Jordanian police said that after the attack they had sealed the heavily protected embassy in an affluent part of the capital and deployed dozens of anti-terrorism gendarmerie forces.

The attack at the embassy came just two days after thousands of demonstrators in Amman protested against Israel, chanting slogans such as “How beautiful it is to kill soldiers from Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said that contacts are also being conducted on other tracks in order to bring the whole delegation home. He did not elaborate.

“We are doing this responsibly and with determination,” said Netanyahu. “This is also the way we are acting in order to ensure security and quiet on the Temple Mount, in the Old City and in Jerusalem as a whole.”

Eran Lerman, a former deputy head of the National Security Council and currently associated with the Shalem Academic Center in Jerusalem and the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said that both Israel and Jordan have an interest in overcoming the current crisis, and that he did not believe this incident would be a negative turning point in the relationship.

“The basic interests of both countries are very clear,” he said in a conference call put together by The Israel Project. “We are in a very dangerous region —  Israel backing for Jordan and Jordan’s cooperation with Israel are vital.”

Lerman said a solution needs to be found whereby the Jordanians will receive the results of an impartial investigation of the guard, but that the Vienna Convention is not violated and the guard will be returned to Israel.

“It is not beyond human capacity to design such a solution,” he said. “Looking at the dramatic situation in Syria, with Islamic State on its last legs and the Iranians trying to declare victory, Israel and Jordan have too much common interest in the balance of the region for this to overshadow that commonality.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Over 10% of recruits in IDF’s summer draft born outside Israel

The July draft for IDF field units is set to begin this Sunday, with hundreds of new recruits expected to join on each day of the two-week draft.

The annual large summer draft for all IDF units began on July 9 and will end on Aug. 17.

IDF figures for this year’s summer draft show that 58% of new recruits are men and 42% are women. About 8% are over the age of 20. The oldest new recruit is 28.

More than 10% of the new recruits in the current draft were born outside Israel. A total of 379 recruits are enlisting as lone soldiers, which means they have no immediate family in Israel and are entitled to special benefits. A further 325 recruits are new immigrants who arrived in Israel after age 16.

Among new immigrant recruits in the current draft, the largest numbers hail from France (93), Ukraine (62), Russia (52), the U.S. (41), and Ethiopia (38).

The most common first name among female recruits this summer is Eden, followed by Yuval, Noa, Shir, Adi, Tal, Amit, Maya, Shachar, and May. The most common first name for male recruits is Daniel, followed by Yuval, Amit, Omer, Roi, Tomer, Itai, Matan, David, and Or.

The IDF said in a statement that “the upcoming drafts prove that the IDF is a people’s army in which boys and girls from all sectors of Israeli society enlist. They are headed for combat field units, combat support roles, and other branches. Every recruit has an opportunity to serve in an important role that makes a contribution.”  (Israel Hayom)

Temple Mount Crisis: It’s Not About the Metal Detectors

by Arsen Ostrovsky and Aviva Klompas       The Tower


Tensions in and around Jerusalem have soared since Arab Israeli terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers and injured a third in the sacred Temple Mount complex in the Old City last Friday.

Israel responded with new security measures, including installing metal detectors that have been met with unjustified outrage. It’s of little consequence to the enraged that security is common at holy sites throughout the world and the new measures will protect all worshippers visiting the Temple Mount. But then, reason can’t compete with a good narrative, and the narrative that Jews are threatening the al-Aqsa Mosque is a surefire way to win the hearts and minds of the Palestinian public.

The Palestinian leadership has long been quick to jump at any chance to distract from its own internal dysfunction by stoking the flames of popular discontent and channeling outrage at Israel. As with the Gaza electricity crisis playing out this summer, the Palestinian people are pawns in an ongoing game of political dominance between Fatah and Hamas.

Following last Friday’s attack, Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately assured both Palestinian President Abbas and the international community that Israel would preserve the sensitive status quo, but add security measures to prevent further attacks. The holy site was temporarily closed as security forces investigated the murders and searched the compound for weapons.

Cue the contrived Palestinian outrage.

Abbas’s Fatah party called on Muslim worshipers to defy the closure of the Temple Mount, posting on its official Facebook page, “Set out for the al-Aqsa Mosque.” Palestinians have since taken to the streets, clashing daily with Israeli security forces.

Abba Eban, Israel’s first ambassador to the United Nations, famously said, “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” At a time when the situation in the Old City resembles a powder keg, and calm, responsible leadership is called far, Palestinian leaders have rushed to pour kerosene on a highly flammable situation. Sensing a chance to score points with the masses, Fatah declared Wednesday a “day of rage.”

The Arab world, meantime, has responded in a predictably irresponsible manner. The Arab League issued a statement reprimanding Israel for “banning Palestinians from praying.” It of course made no mention of the terrorists who desecrated the Temple Mount or the murder of two Israelis. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation similarly castigated Israel and called the closing “a serious crime and a dangerous precedent.” True to vile form, Hamas praised the terrorists and declared that the attack “was a natural response to Israeli terrorism and their defilement of the al-Aqsa mosque.”

Arab and Palestinian leaders are well aware of the impact of their words. In 2014, Abbas called on Palestinians to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount using, “all means” necessary. The following year, he went on Palestinian television and said, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.”

These words heralded a flood of incitement that triggered the 2015-16 wave of stabbing, shooting, and car ramming attacks aimed at Israelis. The adulation of violence is so entrenched in Palestinian society that schools, squares, and sports tournaments are named after terrorists. Cartoons and music videos circulate virally through social media, with hashtags such as “Poison the Knife before You Stab” and “Slaughtering the Jews.” A generation raised in a culture that venerates terrorists and dehumanizes Israelis and Jews needs little encouragement to take to the streets.

For its part, the international community has turned a blind eye to the pervasive anti-Israel incitement and the growing payments to terrorists. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority has increased spending to terrorist prisoners by thirteen percent and to families of terrorist “martyrs” by four percent in 2017.

The UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations that proclaim to champion human rights are silent as Palestinian children are exploited. European governments that are quick to decry the building of Jewish homes in Jerusalem, are silent as Jewish lives are threatened in Jerusalem. Not a single voice has emerged from the Arab world calling for a restoration of calm and an end to the violence.

Jerusalem is a tinderbox. The city’s Muslim leadership has called for the closure of all mosques on Friday and urged all Muslims to converge on the Temple Mount. Tens of thousands of worshipers are expected to visit the site, creating an extraordinarily volatile situation.

As Arab leaders fan the flames of discontent for selfish political gains, the international community, beginning with every Western head of state, must urge Palestinian and Arab leaders to act responsibly and call for calm. Anything less is to be complicit in the violence that is sure to follow.

Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer and Executive Director of The Israeli-Jewish Congress. Aviva Klompas is the Associate Vice President of Strategic Israel Engagement at Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

Cause and effect

Jerusalem Post Editorial


The three Arabs with Israeli citizenship who smuggled guns into the Temple Mount exploited the atmosphere of trust and reverence that enabled lax security arrangements.

Is there a cause and effect relationship between the new security arrangements instituted by Israel on the Temple Mount and the horrific murder of Yosef Salomon, 70, and his children Chaya, 46, and Elad, 36? There is according to 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, who massacred the three and seriously wounded Yosef’s wife, Tova, 69. Before leaving his home in Kobar on Friday night to carry out his attack in the neighboring settlement Halamish (Neveh Tzuf) in Samaria, he posted a message on his Facebook page: “They are desecrating the Aksa Mosque and we are sleeping, it is an embarrassment that we sit and do nothing…all I have is a sharpened knife, and it will answer the call of al-Aksa.” He signed off with emojis including hearts.

But there is no connection. What Abed did is what people have been doing to Jews for millennia, refusing to recognize Jewish nationality, rights, statehood and connection to this land. This has nothing to do with metal detectors. It is about hatred and radical ideology, fueled by lies and incitement.

Connecting between the two like Abed did is a convenient way of thinking. It absolves him of responsibility for his actions and shifts the blame to the victim.

In Abed’s case, the despicable act of murdering an elderly man, seriously wounding his wife and killing two of his children can be transformed into a heroic act that is part of the Islamist struggle for control over al-Aksa, or as retribution for perceived grievances said to have been perpetrated by Jews who have no right to political autonomy in this land, let alone on the Temple Mount.

If a cause-and-effect relationship exists at all in this story it is the connection between the cold-blooded murder of two Israeli Druse police officers adjacent to the Temple Mount and the decision by Israel to place metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount to prevent similar attacks in the future.

In a world governed by reason, ensuring the Temple Mount remains safe and gun-free would be seen first and foremost as a Muslim interest, since Muslims make up the vast majority of people who pray at the site and do not want to see it desecrated by acts of murder. The three Arabs with Israeli citizenship who smuggled guns into the Temple Mount exploited the atmosphere of trust and reverence that enabled lax security arrangements. Perhaps it was naive to think that this sort of attack could not take place. But our government does not want to repeat its mistake.

Now, Netanyahu is being asked to cave in to the demands of the Islamists. A campaign in Israel is being led by Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement, and by Hamas, and is receiving the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jordan and North Africa. The governments of Turkey and Qatar are also supporting the struggle.

More “moderate” Arab leaders such as Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are gradually being forced to fall in line with the Islamists. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who initially denounced the murder of the Druse officers, has since changed course, suspending ties with Israel in protest against the metal detectors. The “Arab Spring” proved the power of the masses to bring about regime change. And its memory is still fresh in the minds of men like Sisi and Abdullah.

In retrospect, Netanyahu should have foreseen all this.

He has extensive experience with the explosive potential of the Temple Mount. The decision to place metal detectors on the Temple Mount seems not to have taken into consideration all the potential ramifications. Did Netanyahu ask himself whether the security benefits gained by introducing the metal detectors outweighs the price paid in the form of unrest, rioting and a renewed wave of terrorism? Sometimes it is better to be smart than right.

At the same time, no amount of concessions will satisfy people like Abed, Sheikh Salah or the Muslim Brotherhood.

Removing the metal detectors will not be the end of it. There will be new grievances, new “causes” for Muslim violence. Extracting concessions under threat of violence is one of the objectives of terrorism. The question is where do we draw the line. Perhaps we should have been “smart” when it comes to metal detectors.

Ultimately, however, appeasing Islamists does not lead to real peace. When violence is rewarded it tends to become an incentive for more violence.

Israeli Sovereignty Over the Temple Mount Is Crucial for Peace

By Prof. Hillel Frisch           BESA  (Begin  Sadat Center for Strategic  Studies)

Israeli Sovereignty Over the Temple Mount Is Crucial for Peace

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Regardless of its direct security merits, Israel’s decision to place metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount has been transformed by adversaries and Israel alike into an issue of sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Power-sharing there has always constituted a slippery slope to disaster. The murder of two Israeli policemen at the Temple Mount is an appropriate moment to rectify the situation by reasserting Israeli sovereignty over the holy site.

Why is Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount so important? Because international “partnership” arrangements in political hotspots not only rarely (if ever) work, but make matters much more volatile and dangerous. At the Temple Mount, only exclusive Israeli sovereignty can work.

Many partnerships over contested areas have been attempted, and they have led to only one outcome: failure.  In 1949, for example, the UN tried to broker deals between Israel and Syria over demilitarized zones delimited in the Armistice Agreement. The three areas were perennial hotspots over which much blood was shed. They were only resolved (as are most Middle Eastern political conflicts) by a decisive victory and the establishment of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Before that, it was bedlam. Since then, there have been 40 years of quiet.

In Jordan, after the 1967 Six Day War, Arab states tried to broker power-sharing arrangements over Jordanian territory between the beleaguered Hashemite monarchy and the Palestinian terrorist organizations. During three years of bargaining and meddling, massive firefights took place between the two sides in which hundreds if not thousands of civilians were killed.

This was but a prelude to the final showdown when the monarchy said enough is enough: sovereignty now. That period, dubbed Black September (1970), was in fact the beginning of a full year of bloodletting. It ended only when the Jordanian monarchy won a decisive victory.

The Jordanian victory was so decisively won that hundreds of Palestinian terrorists fled westward into Israeli hands to avert the fate that awaited them. Only then did the Jordanian state achieve the Biblical “40 years of peace.” Ironically, Amman is now demanding that Israel share sovereignty, a prescription that proved disastrous in its own political history.

The same goes for Lebanon. Arab attempts to induce a partnership over sovereignty between the Lebanese state and the Palestinians after the Six Day War ended in unprecedented violence. Unfortunately, the Lebanese state, unlike Jordan, has never been able to reassert sovereignty. The result is that Lebanon suffers from perennial internal political violence only a powder keg away from reverting back to the fifteen-year civil war that more or less ended in 1989.

In Cyprus, attempts by foreign powers to establish power-sharing between the Greek and Turkish populations resulted in violence and have never succeeded. Peace came when the Turkish invasion of 1974 achieved a decisive victory resulting in the partition of the island.

Fast-forward to the Oslo “peace” process. There, too, the paradigm was built on shared power. Informally, in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled east Jerusalem through Orient House, Faisal Husseini’s political headquarters.

Husseini, dubbed a peace advocate, in fact headed the Fatah militia, the Tanzim, in Jerusalem. The PA police frequently kidnapped east Jerusalemites suspected of being informants or who were accused of selling land to Jews, as well as journalists (on rarer occasions) who took a critical view of the PA.

Advocates of the “peace” process often pointed to that “partnership” as a success. In September 1996, however, riots over the tunnel built along the Western Wall – riots that cost the lives of 25 Israeli security personnel who were killed by heavily armed members of the Palestinian security forces – dispelled that illusion. Never before had tens of Israeli security force personnel been killed in firefights with Palestinians in an Israeli-controlled area.

Alas, bowing to international pressure, Israel did not close down Orient House, and paid the price tenfold during the “al-Aqsa Intifada.” Ultimately, Israeli “cohabitation” with the PA in east Jerusalem came to an end – at least on the purely political level – with the closing of Orient House in August 2001 and the Defensive Shield offensive nine months later. Once again, decisive victory and the imposition of exclusive Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem brought about a relatively durable peace.

Many in Israel, as well as foreign actors such as the PA and Jordan, are now calling on Israel to repeat the costly mistake of persevering in the illusion of power-sharing over the Temple Mount. They want not only Israeli cooperation with the Waqf but also considerable augmentation of Waqf personnel.

There is no doubt that Israel will make a decisive move to reassert the sovereignty it has lost over the past three decades on the Temple Mount, just as it rid Jerusalem of Orient House and destroyed terrorist sanctuaries in major PA towns in 2002.  The question is, why wait until more Israelis and Palestinians have been killed or maimed before acting to ensure decisive victory and the reassertion of Israeli sovereignty?

Israel is a light unto the nations that surround it. Their populations widely acknowledged this when Israel sent a former prime minister and president to jail – a move unthinkable in a region plagued by violence and dictatorship.

Now is the time for Israeli sovereignty to shine on the Temple Mount, for the benefit of Muslims and Jews alike.

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