U.S. Demands that Abbas Stop Incitement over Temple Mount - Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
Senior U.S. officials have demanded that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stop incitement regarding the Temple Mount and end calls for protests.
U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt has been holding talks with senior Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian officials in an attempt to alleviate the tensions.
Murderous Palestinian Math - Liel Leibovitz (Tablet)
Omar al-Abed murdered three Jews last Friday night. This means he will almost certainly be sentenced to more than 30 years in prison.
According to the Palestinian Authority compensation law, this entitles him to $3,364 each month, four times what the average Palestinian earns.
That's $40,368 a year, or $1,211,040 for 30 years.
Imagine there was a government-sponsored program here in America that paid you a million bucks every time you murdered members of another ethnic group.
In 2016, 11% of the PA's budget - $500 million - came from the U.S.
A Manufactured Crisis on the Temple Mount - Martin Kramer (Sandbox)
The Temple Mount "crisis" is wholly manufactured, the latest chapter in a 50-year Israeli-Palestinian struggle over sovereign authority.
The Palestinian aim has been to expand the autonomous administration of the Temple Mount and turn it into an extra-territorial enclave by leveraging Israeli and international fears of a wider conflagration.
The primary threat to the security of Islamic holy shrines arises from Muslims themselves - notably, extremists bent on using them as launching pads for violent acts.
Across the Muslim world, governments have taken measures to secure holy sites, including the use of metal detectors.
26 Venezuelan Jews Immigrate to Israel - Tamara Zieve (Jerusalem Post)
26 Jews from Venezuela immigrated to Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday on two flights organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
An estimated 5-9,000 Jews remain in Venezuela.
Israeli Company Helps Increase Indian Dairy Yields - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
India has more than 100 million cows but relatively low milk yields, Saar Yavin, CEO and chief scientist at Israel's Maxximilk Ltd., said Thursday.
Scientists at Maxximilk have produced "genetically superior" embryos to impregnate Indian heifers, which will result in cows that are genetically predisposed to withstand hot weather conditions and produce greater quantities of top-quality milk.
Maxximilk opened a production facility in the Indian state of Maharashtra last August in partnership with the Godrej Agrovet Ltd. animal feed company.
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- House OKs New Sanctions Against Iran - Mehdi Jedinia
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 419-3 on Tuesday to impose new sanctions on Iran.
U.S. officials said further sanctions were warranted as a result of Tehran's destabilizing influence in the Middle East and support for terrorist groups, as well as the Iranian government's continuing missile development program.
- State Department Report Whitewashes Palestinian Incitement - Rafael Medoff
The U.S. State Department, in its annual assessment of global terrorism for 2016, is whitewashing the Palestinian Authority's incitement to violence, former Israeli diplomats have said. "The PA has taken significant steps during President Abbas' tenure to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence," the State Department report said.
Amb. Alan Baker, who served as deputy director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said not only has the PA failed to take "significant steps" against incitement, but "the opposite is the case - their own actions, statements and publications, naming streets and squares after terrorists, formally paying fees to terrorist families, all point to a distinctive step backwards in violation of Palestinian commitments pursuant to the Oslo Accords." (JNS-Algemeiner)
See also Conference of Presidents Calls on State Department to Amend Flawed Report
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Wednesday wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to express "deep concern" about a report that seems to shift responsibility for terrorism from the Palestinians to Israel.
"We hope that Secretary Tillerson will rescind this report and see to an amended version that properly puts the responsibility for the terrorism and incitement that has taken such a heavy toll where it belongs, on President Abbas and the PA. This report cannot be allowed to stand because other countries and terrorist groups may use it to justify their anti-Israel actions." (JTA)
- Russia and Iran Have Different Visions of Syria's Future
According to Vladimir Sazhin, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, differences have emerged between Russia and Iran over Syria's future. Russia wants Syria to be a secular state in which minorities and religious groups have equal rights. Iran wants a government in Damascus that would expand Tehran's influence in the region and maintain a logistics corridor for pro-Iran forces including Hizbullah.
Since June 2016, Hizbullah has been increasingly against ceasefire agreements in Syria. Moscow has repeatedly proposed to integrate numerous Shiite armed groups into the Syrian military under united command, but each time the offer was rejected.
Israel regards Tehran's activities in Syria as a direct threat to its security, and political analyst Anton Mardasov says Israel's concerns over pro-Iranian forces in Syria are reasonable. Moreover, Russia is not happy with Iran's attempt to impose its will on Damascus and establish the basis for further expansion of Shiite influence in the region. (Sputnik-Russia)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Jerusalem Mufti, Abbas End Confrontation over Temple Mount - Dov Lieber and Raoul Wootliff
The mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, declared on Thursday that the Muslim boycott of the Temple Mount due to new Israeli security measures has ended, after police removed all infrastructure placed recently at entrances to the site. "Things have returned to what they were, so we will pray in Al-Aqsa," he told Al Arabiya. PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement calling for prayer services to be held in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
(Times of Israel)
- Muslims Celebrate as Israel Removes Security Scaffolding at Temple Mount Entrances - Yael Friedson and Elior Levy
Muslims in east Jerusalem began celebrating Wednesday night as Israeli security forces dismantled all security infrastructure installed at the Temple Mount entrances following a terror attack at the site that claimed the lives of two Israeli police officers. Israel removed metal detectors and cameras on Tuesday, and has now removed the scaffolding for the security cameras. (Ynet News)
- Muslim Demonstrators: "The Army of Mohammad Will Return" - Dov Lieber
Tuesday night saw the largest Muslim crowd since the start of the Temple Mount crisis gather in the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem and outside the Lions Gate. Preachers took up microphones, railing against "Jewish" measures at Al-Aqsa, and led chants proclaiming, "The army of Mohammad will return." (Times of Israel)
- German Media Turning Palestinian Terrorists into Victims - Benjamin Weinthal
In a column entitled "Middle East Coverage in the German Media: Perpetrators Turned into Victims," Julian Reichelt wrote in Bild on Sunday, "No other country, which suffers under permanent terror, is reported on in Germany in the cynical, ice-cold and heartless manner like Israel is."
"Metal detectors at the entry to the Temple Mount are described as injuring religious feelings. And the German media briskly spreads this fairy tale as an Israeli attack on religious freedom."
"When terrorists attack soldiers, [the headline] reads: 'Two Palestinians killed by Israeli military action.' That is as if one would write about the terrorist from Nice: 'Truck driver shot by police.'"
"Israel is on the front line in the battle against a murderous ideology that envisions annihilation of us....We Germans should back the Israelis in this battle instead of expecting that they nicely allow themselves to be destroyed." (Jerusalem Post)
- The Limited Influence of Moderate Arab States on the Palestinians - Jonathan S. Tobin
The standoff at the Temple Mount can serve as a tutorial in the complexity and irrationality of the conflict for the U.S. It illustrates that the president's ambition to leverage Saudi and Jordanian influence over the Palestinians into brokering the "ultimate deal" is a hopeless quest.
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not a real estate transaction in which compromise and smart negotiating can achieve a result. The willingness of Palestinians to take to the streets and even murder Jews over the metal detectors is proof that the core issues are not territory, settlements or security measures, but existential and religious concerns that are not currently susceptible to compromise.
The conflict is rooted in a Palestinian political culture in which intolerance for the Jewish presence in the country is decisive. Any measure, even one as reasonable as putting up metal detectors at a holy site where guns were just smuggled in to carry out a double murder, was going to be interpreted by Palestinians as an intolerable offense to their national pride and faith. President Trump may think he can split the difference on real estate, but surely not even he thinks he can do the same with respect to religion. (Israel Hayom)
Video: Beyond the Debate over Metal Detectors - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- 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.
The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center, served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and director general of the Foreign Ministry.
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