Archive for the ‘Jerusalem’ category

Ancient Hebrew Seals From Judean Kingdom Unearthed in Jerusalem Excavations

September 7, 2017

Ancient Hebrew Seals From Judean Kingdom Unearthed in Jerusalem Excavations, Algemeiner, September 6, 2017

First Temple-period seals discovered during excavations in Jerusalem’s City of David. Photo: Eliyahu Yanai, City of David.

JNS.org – A collection of First Temple-period seals has been discovered during excavations in Jerusalem’s City of David.

Several of the seals are emblazoned with Hebrew inscriptions, and dozens of the ancient seals reference the names of officials from the Judean kingdom who lived before the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, including “Pinchas” and “Achiav ben Menachem.”

The seals, which are small pieces of clay used to close letters, were well-preserved due the raging fires ignited in the holy city by the invading armies of Babylon thousands of years ago.

The findings were discovered during excavations overseen by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the City of David National Park. The excavations were funded by the Ir David Foundation. The artifacts will be displayed at the City of David’s annual archaeology conference this week.

“Through these findings, we learn not only about the developed administrative systems in the city (Jerusalem), but also about the residents and those who served in the civil service,” said Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, excavation directors for the IAA.

More arrests as terror stalks Jerusalem again

August 16, 2017

More arrests as terror stalks Jerusalem again, DEBKAfile, August 16, 2017

Finding the UAE funding Hamas terror was somewhat of a shocker to Israel.  After all, the emirate formally joined the anti-terror coalition that US President Donald Trump created during his visit to Riyadh and later to Israel in early April.

Obviously, Israel’s sovereign presence on Temple Mount, which is holy to three monotheistic faiths and claimed by Muslims, is an abidingly explosive issue. Last month’s crisis centering on the shrine, appears to have abated – but only on the face of it. The embers of the conflagration continue to simmer under the surface of the site and the city.

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Three major Israeli counter-terror operations in a week (Aug.10-16) are a measure of the intensity of terrorist plots for the commission of mass-casualty strikes in Jerusalem.

On Aug. 10, a combined effort of the Shin Bet, the police and the IDF, led to five Palestinians from Hebron being intercepted in the Palestinian Jerusalem neighborhood of El Azaria on their way to an attack. No details of this plot were released. But it was obvious that the five terrorists, armed with guns and explosives, were only stopped at the last minute from reaching the center of Jerusalem, just 15 minutes drive from El Azaria, and conducting a major attack.

Then, on Saturday, Aug. 12, a Palestinian woman knifed a man on Suleiman Street in East Jerusalem, mistaking him for a Jew. He turned out to be a local Arab Christian and was not badly hurt, before a police patrol nabbed the woman.

On Sunday, Aug. 13, a suspect was shot in the foot while resisting arrest at Bet Tsafafa, in southern Jerusalem . The police later reported they acted on a Shin Bet tipoff that the suspect, a resident of the mixed Abu Tor neighborhood, was primed for a terror operation.

On Monday, Aug. 14, indictments were filed at the Jerusalem district court against three residents of East Jerusalem on charges of plotting a shooting attack, as well as targeting police forces and persistent rock attacks on traffic – all in Jerusalem. They were also accused of planning to loose gunfire and explosive devices on vehicles using the Nablus bypass. This group therefore harbored ambitions for a widespread terrorist offensive in and outside Jerusalem.

Although Israel’s security authorities are cagey with the information they release on the mostly covert war they wage on Palestinian and Israeli Arab terror, three geographical areas may be marked out as significant: They are metropolitan Jerusalem including Bethlehem; Hebron – the city and mountain district; and the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, northeast of Tel Aviv, which was the home town of the three gunmen who shot dead two policemen on Temple Mount on July 14.

Each location occupies a special place on the terror map.

The terrorist networks of Hebron and its environs are mostly tied ideologically and operationally to the extremist Palestinian Hamas. In the past fortnight, Hamas was found to be receiving large sums of money, most of it coming from sources in the United Arab Republic in the Persian Gulf. Some of the cash was funneled to Judea and Samaria and provided those networks with an extra incentive to go into action.

Finding the UAE funding Hamas terror was somewhat of a shocker to Israel.  After all, the emirate formally joined the anti-terror coalition that US President Donald Trump created during his visit to Riyadh and later to Israel in early April.

The terrorist cells operating in Jerusalem mostly belong to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, or its militia, the Tanzim. Most are fringe groups that are not directly associated with their leaders. But the fact that they are free to perform acts of violence against Israelis is worrying Israeli security authorities.

The networks of Umm al-Fahm and its rural villages appear to be ideologically inspired by the outlawed Northern Branch of the Israeli Arab Muslim Movement (which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood), or directly tied to the Islamic State command center in Syria.

At least 20 Israeli Arabs are known to have crossed into Syria to fight in ISIS ranks, some of them from Umm Al-Fahm.

Last Friday, Aug. 11, an indictment was filed against two residents of the town, who were preparing to leave for Syria and join the Islamic State. They were being helped by a former resident who had already reached Syria and was fighting with ISIS. One of the accused belonged to the same Jabarin clan as the murderers of police officers on Temple Mount.

Then, on Tuesday, Aug. 15, police arrived at the Umm Al-Fahm home of Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the banned Northern Branch of the Israeli Muslim Movement, with a warrant for his arrest. He was accused of publicly inciting to violence and terror and membership of an illegal organization.

Salah has been in and out of Israeli prisons for years over his fiery hate-filled sermons, which regularly call on his followers to “fight for the liberation” of Al Aqsa. Last year, he was locked up for calling on Israeli Arabs to join a Palestinian uprising against the state of Israel.

However, this time, the wide publicity given to his arrest so soon after the Temple Mount clashes – in an attempt to press charges serious enough to keep him behind lock and key for the long term – has brought the firebrand sheikh solid sympathy among sections of the Israeli Arab populace.

Obviously, Israel’s sovereign presence on Temple Mount, which is holy to three monotheistic faiths and claimed by Muslims, is an abidingly explosive issue. Last month’s crisis centering on the shrine, appears to have abated – but only on the face of it. The embers of the conflagration continue to simmer under the surface of the site and the city.

Abdullah’s friendly reminder to Abbas

August 13, 2017

Abdullah’s friendly reminder to Abbas, Israel Hayom, Dr. Ronen Yitzhak, August 13, 2017

Abdullah’s visit was in fact aimed at reining in Abbas following his handling of the crisis in Jerusalem. Abbas has been outspoken as of late in his criticism of the understandings between Israel and Jordan, and has effectively been edging Jordan out of the Temple Mount by allowing radical Islamist elements to gain a foothold there.

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According to senior Palestinian official Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Jordanian king’s visit to Ramallah last week is proof that “the Palestinians and the Jordanians speak with one voice.”

Indeed, King Abdullah’s visit appears to have been aimed at bolstering the position of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in light of recent tensions with Israel over the Temple Mount. Arab media outlets reported that the two leaders discussed increasing cooperation between Jordan and the PA, as well as the need to advance peace talks between the PA and Israel.

Despite this public show of solidarity, it seems Abdullah’s visit was in fact aimed at reining in Abbas following his handling of the crisis in Jerusalem. Abbas has been outspoken as of late in his criticism of the understandings between Israel and Jordan, and has effectively been edging Jordan out of the Temple Mount by allowing radical Islamist elements to gain a foothold there.

Abdullah also demanded stability in the West Bank. He knows violence in the Palestinian territories could spill over into the Hashemite Kingdom, and is therefore constantly working to ensure the PA’s continued rule over the West Bank.

The timing of the visit is no coincidence. Jordanians are currently furious at Israel and at Abdullah, who is seen as working in cahoots with the Israeli government in the recent shooting incident at the Israeli Embassy compound. (He allowed Israeli Embassy guard Ziv Moyal, who shot and killed two Jordanians after being attacked with a screwdriver, and the embassy staff to leave Jordan without being investigated for the shooting, which sparked a diplomatic crisis [LINK: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=44183%5D.) Abdullah’s visit to Ramallah, therefore, was also aimed at demonstrating to his people that he is not a collaborator.

According to Jordan’s official news agency, Petra, Abdullah made it abundantly clear to Abbas that Jordan would continue to fulfill its historic role as guardian of Jerusalem’s holy sites. Although this message was outwardly directed at Israel, it was also a reminder to the PA that it is the Jordanians, and not the Palestinians or the Arabs or any other group, who determine the policy in Jerusalem.

And so the king made the politically wise decision to come to Ramallah. Abdullah’s visit allowed him to demonstrate his solidarity with Palestinians, while simultaneously reminding Abbas that when it comes to Jerusalem, he is in charge.

A whole new ballgame

July 7, 2017

A whole new ballgame, Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum, July 7, 2017

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman delivered a speech this week that made the ‎unbearably hot and humid weather feel like a breath of fresh air. At the annual Fourth of July ‎celebration, held Monday evening at his official residence in Herzliya, Friedman not only ‎reiterated his personal faith in Judaism and the Jewish people, but stressed America’s ‎‎”unbreakable bond” with the Jewish state.‎

The bond Friedman was referring to had become so fragile during former U.S. President Barack ‎Obama’s two terms in office that it became the punchline of a joke made in 2014 by comedian ‎Jay Leno. Obama, Leno quipped, knows just how unbreakable the U.S.-Israel bond is, “since ‎he’s been trying to break it for years.”‎

It was not only Friedman’s address that was crafted to convey the loud and clear message that ‎the new administration in Washington is going to behave differently — that it is and will continue ‎to be unequivocally and unflinchingly on Israel’s side. The fact that he was the first U.S. ‎ambassador to invite settler leaders to the event, and proudly pose for photographs with them, ‎already spoke volumes.‎

Friedman began by recounting that the first time he hosted a party in Israel was at the Western ‎Wall in Jerusalem, when he was 13. “As the son of a rabbi of modest means, I can assure you that ‎my bar mitzvah party bore absolutely no resemblance to the party that we are attending here ‎tonight,” he said. “But the spirit … is exactly the same. It is the spirit of patriotic Americans ‎committed to increasing the ties and enhancing the relationship between the United States and ‎the State of Israel. That’s what my family stood for 45 years ago, and that’s still who we are ‎today.” ‎

That right off the bat he boasted of his Jewish connection to the Western Wall in the context of ‎U.S.-Israel relations was highly significant. It signaled to those supporters of President Donald ‎Trump who became disillusioned by what appeared to be a backtracking of his vow to move the ‎U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem that this is not a case of yet another administration ‎reneging on its promises in an attempt to appease the Palestinians and impose a peace deal on ‎Israel. It also indicated to Israel’s enemies that America recognizes Israeli sovereignty over its ‎capital city. ‎

Friedman went on to say, “It was just two months ago that I had the honor … to be the master of ‎ceremonies at the very first party ever hosted by the White House to commemorate Israel’s ‎Independence Day, [where] I had the privilege to proclaim, ‘yom haatzmaut sameach l’medinat ‎yisrael’ — ‘Happy Independence Day to the State of Israel.’ Today, it is my great pleasure to return ‎the favor from 6,000 miles away. And so let me proclaim, ‘yom haatzmaut sameach l’artzot ‎habrit,’ ‘Happy Independence Day to the United States.'” ‎

And then he quoted, in Hebrew, a line from Psalm 118 — “This is a day that the Lord has made; ‎let us [be glad and] rejoice in it” — to make a point about Israel’s being “the source of many of the ‎Judeo-Christian values that spawned the American enterprise.” He invoked the famous Puritan Pilgrim John Winthrop, who in 1630 “implored his followers to be faithful to the teachings of ‎the Jewish prophet, Micah, to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with thy God,'” and told ‎new immigrants to America that if they did so, they would “find that the God of Israel is among ‎us.” ‎

He said that when Winthrop “referred to New England as a ‘city upon a hill with the eyes of all ‎people upon us,” he was also referring to Jerusalem. Indeed, Friedman added, “So much of who ‎we are derives from the teachings of ancient Israel. And, perhaps for that reason, it is no surprise ‎that the United States and Israel have the most special of special relationships.”‎

Here, again, Friedman purposely spoke of Jerusalem, emphasizing that the success and mutual ‎admiration that America and the Jewish state enjoy emanate from “ancient Israel.”‎

‎”We have, of course, common enemies that unite us,” he said — as well as military, trade, culture ‎and cybersecurity cooperation. “But our collective core, what fundamentally unites us, is that we ‎are the two shining cities on a hill, drawn together by a shared history, shared values and … a ‎shared destiny of continued greatness.”‎

This declaration was nothing short of momentous, particularly as it came on the heels of senior ‎Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s June 21 meeting in Ramallah with PA President ‎Mahmoud Abbas, whose henchmen described the encounter as “tense.” Apparently, being told ‎by a prominent member of the White House staff that the paying of terrorists’ salaries has got to ‎stop is not what Abbas had expected to hear — despite being yelled at by Trump himself in May ‎for having lied about the rampant incitement in the PA against Jews and Israelis.‎

Friedman’s next allusion to Jerusalem involved noting that he is the “first [U.S.] ambassador to ‎accompany [Trump] in visiting the kotel hamaaravi, the Western Wall.” From here, he segued ‎into his conclusion by talking about how, earlier in the day, he and Israeli Prime Minister ‎Benjamin Netanyahu had toured the aircraft carrier the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of ‎Haifa. ‎

Peace through strength, he announced (quoting King David’s words in Psalm 29, which he said ‎his father used to recite every Shabbat morning) is “a foundational cornerstone of the Trump ‎administration” and a “guiding principle of the State of Israel.” ‎

Finally, Friedman said that American men and women in uniform, like their Israeli counterparts ‎in the IDF, “hope never to fire a shot,” preferring to keep the world safe through a demonstration ‎of strength and courage. However — he implied — they willingly sacrifice their lives in this ‎mission if left no other choice.‎

While the new U.S. ambassador to Israel wound down his remarks by wishing the United State a ‎happy 241st birthday, the audience revved up its cheering for the start of what Americans call “a ‎whole new ballgame.”‎

Turkish takeover in Jerusalem

June 2, 2017

Turkish takeover in Jerusalem, Israel Hayom, David M. Weinberg, June 2, 2017

(Please see also, Report: Turkey Eclipsing Jordan in Old City, Temple Mount. — DM)

In short, the disintegration of Palestinian secular nationalist organizations and institutions in east Jerusalem, alongside Israeli torpor, has facilitated the rise of Islamist factions and hostile foreign actors.

The enlarged foreign presence in the heart of Israel’s capital touches the deepest chords of the issue of Israeli sovereignty in the eastern part of the city. Koren and Avrahami warn that this presence cannot be easily eliminated. While significant security action and determined diplomatic maneuver are clearly mandated, Israel will have to do more to “recapture” east Jerusalem. It will have to assume full responsibility for the services that east Jerusalem Arab residents need, with major budgetary repercussions.

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The fireworks and fanfare of the Jerusalem liberation jubilee have shoved under the radar a blockbuster expose about the unruly situation in east Jerusalem. Alarm bells should be ringing about the nefarious intensifying involvement of Erdogan’s Turkey and other radical Islamist groups in Jerusalem political and social affairs.

Dr. David Koren and Ben Avrahami are the advisors on east Jerusalem affairs for the Jerusalem Municipality. They lead the municipal team that oversees all of Jerusalem City Hall’s interactions with the Muslim and Christian populations of the city. They are intimately familiar with the thicket of contradictory interests, tensions, and disagreements that inform daily life in earthly Jerusalem.

The two experts have just published a rare, breathtaking and shocking description of political trends in east Jerusalem. Their article, “East Jerusalem Arabs Between Erdogan and Israel,” published in the new, important Hebrew intellectual journal Hashiloach (Vol. 4, May 2017), offers a brief account of the fruits of normalization and Arab east Jerusalemites’ increasing integration into the Israeli scene, But mainly it serves as a wake-up call regarding countervailing toxic trends.

According to Koren and Avrahami there has been very significant erosion in the status of the veteran east Jerusalem mukhtars and the influence of Fatah political infrastructures and Palestinian Authority leaders. Into the vacuum have stepped elements identified with Hamas, with the northern faction of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and with the Muslim Brotherhood in its wider context.

Through a series of civic associations, nonprofits, and grassroots organizations, sometimes at the neighborhood level and sometimes more extensive, they are investing tens of millions of dollars per year in dawa (missionary) activities, mainly charitable enterprises and educational programs to attract the young to Islamic values.

There is a direct line, say the article authors, from civic dawa to radicalization and active enlistment in the armed struggle against Israel. This includes active social networking which glorifies terrorists, martyrs, and prisoners, and explicitly calls for violent resistance to Israel. These networks were also the source for the libel that Al-Aqsa mosque is endangered by the Jews/Zionists, and for dissemination of an incredible volume of disinformation related to Israeli actions on the Temple Mount.

The authors ask for particular attention to the mounting involvement of Erdogan’s Turkey, which is the worldwide Brotherhood’s main patron. Turkey now enjoys unprecedented popularity among the Arab residents of east Jerusalem, the authors write. The Turks’ public support of the Palestinian cause and adoption of the Al-Aqsa issue, and their decision to inject millions of dollars into east Jerusalem, have won them great sympathy and support.

The Turks fund a great part of the dawa activities in the city, with Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri as the lead Turkish agent. (He is a former grand mufti of Jerusalem appointed by the PA and today the most prominent representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in the city.) The Turkish consulate in Jerusalem, the Turkish government assistance agency, and a string of Turkish organizations that have local branches in Israel or the West Bank, are directly implicated in this subversive activity too. As a result, Turkish flags today fly everywhere in east Jerusalem and prominently on the Temple Mount as well.

The Turks also have injected significant sums to those who do their bidding on the Temple Mount, for various activities such as Quran-recitation groups, transportation of worshipers to and from the mosque, iftar feasts in Ramadan, renovation and cleaning campaigns, and the like. In general, the Islamist forces on the Temple Mount operate, intentionally or not, to Turkey’s benefit and the detriment of Jordan. They may believe that the replacement of the Jordanian presence by a Turkish presence would be a positive and welcome development.

The main loser here is Jordan, which long enjoyed the status of Guardian of the Holy Places and protector of the Arabs of Jerusalem. This also is the context of the PA’s intensive activity in the international arena, and especially at UNESCO, ostensibly intended to protect the Islamic holy places against an Israeli takeover. This tactic allows the PA to convey to its critics that it is the true defender of Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem against the threat of “Judaization,” while at the same time gnawing at Jordan’s historic role as guardian of the Mount and seeking to counteract the emerging Turkish dominance in Temple Mount affairs.

Attention should be devoted also to another mounting force in Jerusalem, the Islamic Liberation Party, or Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has several thousand supporters in the city. This Salafist group, like ISIS, seeks to proclaim a global Islamic caliphate from Al-Aqsa. It has acquired growing influence on college campuses throughout the West Bank, including al-Quds University near Jerusalem. Sheikh Issam Amira of the al-Rahman Mosque in Beit Safafa is the group’s most conspicuous preacher, and he enjoys freedom of activity and speech on the Temple Mount.

While the Liberation Party does not advocate violent jihad, some party members could “advance” from a Salafi mindset to a Salafi-jihadist outlook and join the ranks of ISIS. This may explain, say Koren and Avrahami, the presence of ISIS cells and ISIS operatives in Jerusalem, such as Fadi al-Qunbar, who carried out the terrorist truck-ramming attack in East Talpiot in early 2017, and the ISIS cell that was apprehended in the Shuafat refugee camp several months earlier.

In short, the disintegration of Palestinian secular nationalist organizations and institutions in east Jerusalem, alongside Israeli torpor, has facilitated the rise of Islamist factions and hostile foreign actors.

The enlarged foreign presence in the heart of Israel’s capital touches the deepest chords of the issue of Israeli sovereignty in the eastern part of the city. Koren and Avrahami warn that this presence cannot be easily eliminated. While significant security action and determined diplomatic maneuver are clearly mandated, Israel will have to do more to “recapture” east Jerusalem. It will have to assume full responsibility for the services that east Jerusalem Arab residents need, with major budgetary repercussions.

In a future article, we will look at the remedies for this situation being implemented by Mayor Nir Barkat of Jerusalem (and more still required) in order to increase east Jerusalem Arabs’ sense of belonging to a united Jerusalem. Also to be considered are the complicated proposals coming from the political Left for redistricting of the city into independent boroughs or divesting some Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinian Authority.

Report: Turkey Eclipsing Jordan in Old City, Temple Mount

May 30, 2017

Report: Turkey Eclipsing Jordan in Old City, Temple Mount, The Jewish Press, May 30, 2017

Turkish Flag over the Temple Mount

The Jerusalem municipality’s eastern Jerusalem experts have revealed in recent days that Turkey has been competing with Jordan over influence among Arab residents as well as over control of the Temple Mount, Hashiloach—an Israeli journal for thought and policy, created by the Tikvah Fund—reported last week.

The city’s experts, David Koren and Ben Avrahami, also revealed that Turkey has begun pouring millions of dollars into NGO in eastern Jerusalem, in order to strengthen Ankara’s status among the Arab residents, at the expense of Jordan and Israel. Which explains why more and more Turkish flags are hanging in windows in the eastern part of the city.

The Arab population of Jerusalem numbers approximately 320,000, with another 50,000 residents of Judea and Samaria who are staying in the city illegally or through family reunification. Jerusalem Arabs constitute about 37% of the city’s population and about 20% of the Arab population in Israel. In fact, Jerusalem is the city with the highest Arab population density between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (excluding Gaza). Ramallah has 280,000 residents, and Nazareth, the largest Arab city in Israel, has only 75,000.

The vast majority of Jerusalem’s Arabs are Muslim – the Christian population is estimated at between 10 and 15 thousand.

“The growing involvement of the Erdogan regime, which is now the main patron of the Muslim Brotherhood worldwide, shows that the Turkish actions in Jerusalem are part of a wider process of creating regional Turkish hegemony at the expense of other players,” wrote the Jerusalem mayor’s advisers on the eastern part of the city, noting that “the biggest loser from the increased Turkish presence is Jordan, which for many years had enjoyed the status of Custodian of the Holy Places and the protector of the residents of eastern Jerusalem. The greatest threat to the Hashemite Kingdom on the Temple Mount comes from Turkey.”

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Israel for “massacring the Palestinians,” calling on the Turks to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque and dubbing Israel’s control of Jerusalem “an insult.” He also attacked President Donald Trump’s plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, and declared that “all Muslims must defend Jerusalem.”

The experts added that in May 2015, Muslim worshipers expelled the chief Jordanian Kadi from the Temple Mount, while at the same time receiving with great honor the Turkish minister of religious affairs. “In recent years, the Turks have poured considerable sums of money into the Temple Mount for a number of activities: Koran reading groups, transporting worshipers to and from the mosque, Ramadan meals, renovations, and cleaning. As a rule, whether deliberately or not, Muslim groups on the Temple Mount are acting in favor of Turkey and to the detriment of Jordan.

“In their view, replacing the Jordanian presence with Turkish presence would be a positive and welcome step,” Koren and Avrahami wrote.

“Erdogan’s Turkey now enjoys unprecedented popularity among the residents of eastern Jerusalem,” wrote the two wrote. “Turkish flags are often seen hanging from rooftops in the eastern part of the city and even on the Temple Mount, and Turkish culture is being revived, which is reflected in Turkish language courses, Turkish music and Turkish cuisine.”

One hundred years after the last Turkish soldier was chased out of Jerusalem by the invading British Empire, “Turkey’s public support for the Palestinian cause and the Al-Aqsa conflict, and their channeling of millions of dollars into eastern Jerusalem, bear many fruits in the form of sympathy and support,” the experts concluded, adding that the Turks’ “involvement is made possible by their cooperation with Muslim Brotherhood elements in the city, who are often being used as their allies and collaborators.”

The Palestinian Authority is the obstacle to peace

May 16, 2017

The Palestinian Authority is the obstacle to peace, Israel National News, Minister Ofir Akunis, May 16, 2017

(Please see also, White House Clarifies Western Wall Position with JewishPress.com and associated comments. — DM)

President Trump has shown himself to be a true friend of Israel, we continue to see eye-to-eye on many of the current issues I mentioned, as well as the similar values we share.

I believe the President will keep his promise to recognize a united Jerusalem as the only capital of Israel, not just because it is the current reality, but more so because it is RIGHT historically.

I am also looking forward to meeting the new U.S ambassador to Israel, Ambassador Friedman, IN HIS NEW EMBASSY IN JERUSALEM.

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Please allow me to share a small part of my day with you, something that actually took place recently.

As I was going through my daily tasks in my Jerusalem office, I noticed something of concern and I will even say, disturbing. As I was browsing through some international news sources, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of coverage or attempts to link and explain the connection and history of the Jewish people and Jerusalem. It even went to the extreme of completely denying this connection, such as the UNESCO vote, just to name one example.

My friends, I turn to you from Jerusalem with great conviction and say JERUSALEM WAS, JERUSALEM IS, AND WILL FOREVER BE, THE UNDIVIDED CAPITAL OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE, just as it was for the past 3000 years, and just as it is the capital of Israel today. Anything else would be equivalent to erasing our identity, erasing who and what we are as the Jewish people.

My friends, Israel is a country of great beauty, amazing people, a place of bright minds and a positive contribution to the world, not to mention a great breeding ground for the advancement of science, technology and innovation.

Sadly, the situation is quite different in the rest of the Middle East today. I often ask myself, can this be real? Is this the world we live in today? Can this really be happening in our backyard?

As Shimon Peres predicted it the 1990s, it is a whole “new Middle East.”

He was right, but unfortunately in a negative sense of the word “new,” as we can now see that it is a much, much worse Middle East.

What we originally thought was an Arab Spring, has now become a dark and stormy winter.

My friends, the time has come to stand united against evil around the world and in particular the Middle East. Whether it is the Islamic republic of Iran, the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic “state within a state” of Hezbollah in Lebanon, or the Islamic Hamas in Gaza, we must stand united.

Unfortunately, and I say this with great disappointment and sadness, Israel’s repeated attempts to convey such dangers and concerns with previous administrations were not sufficiently heard.

Let me say this once again in a clear manner: the forces of evil in the Middle East are not only a threat to Israel, but a threat to all people who uphold the value of life and democracy.

Israel is proud to stand with the United States of America and all life and freedom loving people.

In the spirit of democracy, Israel looks forward to be welcoming President Trump and his delegation to Israel this month.

President Trump has shown himself to be a true friend of Israel, we continue to see eye-to-eye on many of the current issues I mentioned, as well as the similar values we share.

I believe the President will keep his promise to recognize a united Jerusalem as the only capital of Israel, not just because it is the current reality, but more so because it is RIGHT historically.

I am also looking forward to meeting the new U.S ambassador to Israel, Ambassador Friedman, IN HIS NEW EMBASSY IN JERUSALEM.

My friends, I would like to bring to your attention a growing problem which Israel is facing, the lies and attempts to re-write history.

Most, if not all of these lies come from terror-supporting states, terror backed organizations, BDS organizations, Left wing NGO’s and anti-Israel Student Organizations.

But when we hear these lies about the Jewish People and Israel, what should our response be?

WE MUST TELL THEM THE TRUTH.

I already mentioned one of the lies earlier, and its sole purpose is to make people believe that the Jewish people have no ties to the city of Jerusalem. And by the way, if anyone in the world has any doubt, I suggest they go visit many of our amazing museums where they will find ancient Jewish artifacts. I have yet to hear about any “Palestinian” findings.

Another of the lies that is well spread is that the Palestinians are ruled by Israel.

My friends, the truth of the matter is that the PALESTINIANS RULE THEMSELVES and this is the case for 23 years already. They run their own educational system, healthcare, security, financial, justice and media. All under the Palestinian Authority.

Sadly, almost in every instance, they use their influence to glorify violence and death.

In schools their text books are filled with hatred toward Jews and Israel. Their year-end ceremony includes a kidnapping of Israel soldier or worse.

In their court system they give a death sentence to those who sell their private land to Jews.

Their financial system have budgets for families and individuals who commit terror and to those who murder Israelis.

They use their health systems and facilities to hide and transport weapons and terrorists (most notably in Gaza).

They use their media to incite the youth to violence and publish “how to kill Israelis” videos.

And all of this, with the full support, encouragement and approval and at times even at the direction of the Palestinian Authority.

My friends, are we speaking the same language here? Or maybe I should say, are we on the same page here?

I ask myself, what prevents the Palestinian Authority from engaging Israel without any preconditions and making peace? Well, we all know the answer.

And we all know that Israel, on the other hand, is ready and willing for peace.

But each time we reach out to the other side, the terrorists spill more of our blood, and there is more mourning, more death.

This must stop.

Israel is not the obstacle to peace. Israel continues to extend its hand in the efforts of peace, but the choice to end this war lays with the Palestinians themselves.

People always ask me why am I against the idea of the establishment of a Palestinian state. To that I answer:

1. Jews have always had a connection to the land of Israel since the beginning of our time and before anyone else was walking on this land. Our entire identity and “who we are” evolves around this land and its history. Our nation was born on the hills of Judea and Samaria.

2. Israel need stable and defensible boarders in order to survive in the Middle East; a Palestinian state will place a direct security threat upon all of the citizen of Israel.

3. I want my children to grow up with peaceful neighbors, not generations of children that call for our death and destruction.

My friends, I’m happy to see that the Trump administration says what I’ve been saying all along, the settlements in Judea and Samaria are not the obstacle towards peace!

It is the Palestinians’ leaders who are the obstacle to Peace.

So for as long as I am elected to serve my country, I will ensure that a Palestinian state will not be created.

My friends, before I go I would like to tell you this, ISRAEL IS A LIGHTHOUSE OF DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman, black or white, left or right, gay or straight, and there is really no difference if you are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. We are life loving people, our strength is our freedom and values. All citizens of Israel live together in peace. Now my friends, how many other countries in the Middle East hold and live by these values? Instead of fighting with Israel, they should view Israel as a role model and stop preaching us to make peace.

And for this my friends, I am so proud to call myself an Israeli. Proud of our democracy, economy and our achievements. I’m proud of our advances in science and technology.

My friends, Israel and the United States have always been close allies. I am happy with our current accomplishments but I am even more excited about what we can and will accomplish in the future.

In the coming years, America and Israel must stand shoulder to shoulder in matters relating to the Middle East. We must stand united when they burn our flags. We must stand together when they attack nightclubs and cafes.

ISRAEL HAS NO BETTER FRIEND THAN THE UNITED STATES, AND THE UNITED STATES HAS NO BETTER ALLY THAN ISRAEL.

And so, I look forward to continue working with the United States in making true peace in the Middle East while building stronger connections in the field of science and technology.

Thank you again for the warm welcome and for allowing me to address you all today. I’m sure you will enjoy the rest of the conference. Until next time, shalom and toda raba!

Sent to Arutz Sheva by the MK, this is an excerpt from Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis’s speech to the JPost Conference in New York, May 7, 2017.