Posted tagged ‘Palestinian Authority’

Palestinians Escalate War on Journalists

August 12, 2017

Palestinians Escalate War on Journalists, Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, August 12, 2017

They said they did not know what “sensitive information” Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were trying to hide.

Today, it is safe to say that the situation of the freedom of the media under the PA and Hamas is not much different than that under Bashar Assad’s Syria or even North Korea.

Palestinian journalists’ hateful obsession with Israel brings them no dividends. Rather, such venomous bias diverts attention from the true challenges and threats they face from the PA and Hamas. By expending their efforts in this twisted fashion, the journalists aid and abet their leaders in building dictatorial regimes that suppress public freedoms.

As part of its overarching effort to silence critics, President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) has resumed its war against Palestinian journalists who refuse toe the line or are suspected of being insufficiently loyal to their leaders in Ramallah.

But this is nothing new: Abbas and his team have long been notoriously intolerant of news stories that reflect negatively on them in particular and on Palestinians in general.

In the past few days, PA security forces arrested six Palestinian journalists from Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron. The journalists — Mamdouh Hamamreh, Qutaiba Kassem, Tarek Abu Zeid, Amer Abu Arafeh, Thaer Al-Fakhouri and Ahmed Al-Halaykeh — are suspected of “leaking sensitive information to hostile parties.”

This is the first time that Abbas’s PA has made such a ridiculous charge against Palestinian journalists. In an attempt to justify the latest crackdown on freedom of the media, Abbas’s news agency, Wafa, published a statement by an unnamed “senior security source” who said that the detained journalists were being interrogated about their role in “leaking sensitive information to hostile parties.” The detained journalists, meanwhile, have gone on hunger strike to protest their incarceration.

Upon hearing about the baseless charge, many Palestinian journalists said they did not know whether to laugh or cry. They said they did not know what “sensitive information” Abbas and the PA were trying to hide.

“We don’t have nuclear facilities,” remarked a Palestinian journalist from east Jerusalem sarcastically. “It’s clear that the Palestinian Authority leadership is using the security issue as an excuse to justify its punitive measures against journalists.”

Another Palestinian journalist from Ramallah scoffed at the charge against his colleagues. “This is the most ridiculous claim I’ve heard in years,” he commented. “It reminds us of Arab dictators who accuse their opponents and critics of revealing state secrets and consuming narcotics.”

That the PA leadership has refused to provide further details about the nature of the offense committed by the suspected journalists has only reinforced the belief that they were targeted as part of an ongoing campaign by Abbas and his lieutenants to silence critics and deter other journalists from doing their job or reporting any story that could reflect negatively on the Palestinian leaders.

Some Palestinian journalists take a different view of the matter. These reporters trace the arrest of the six journalists to a desire to pressure Hamas to release two journalists it is holding in the Gaza Strip: Amer Abu Shabab and Fuad Jaradeh.

In other words, the PA security forces are holding the six journalists hostage until Hamas frees the two newsmen it is holding. The journalists detained by the PA work for Hamas-affiliated media outlets in the West Bank.

Notably, the two Palestinian regimes – the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip — have hardly championed freedom of speech and freedom of the media. In fact, the two parties share the same values when it comes to silencing all forms of criticism. Dozens of Palestinian journalists have been targeted over the past two decades by both the PA and Hamas.

These regimes have their own special way of defining freedom of the press. That is, the press is utterly free to blacken the name of Israel. The name of Hamas or the PA, however, is sacrosanct: criticism of either would land a Palestinian reporter behind bars or in an interrogation room.

Hamas and the PA prefer that the press pound Israel. Short of that, they tolerate journalistic critique of municipal services or the shortage of medicine in hospitals.

Today, it is safe to say that the situation of the freedom of the media under the PA and Hamas is not much different than that under Bashar Assad’s Syria or even North Korea. The failure to achieve a free media for the Palestinians is yet another sign of the Palestinian failure to build proper and transparent state institutions.

The Palestinians have no functioning parliament, no open debate and no free media. In the West Bank, the media is controlled, directly and indirectly, by Abbas and his loyalists. In the Gaza Strip, the only “media” is that which is controlled by Hamas — again, directly and indirectly.

But there is an interesting twist to the latest story of Palestinian Authority and Hamas assaults on freedom of the media. Sadly, many Palestinian journalists do not seem to care much about the harassment and suppression of their colleagues at the hands of their leaders in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip.

Instead of organizing widespread protests to demand the release of their colleagues who are being tortured by PA and Hamas interrogators, Palestinian journalists are still scapegoating Israel. Incredibly, they continue to incite against Israel despite the fact that they are being detained and tortured by the PA and Hamas.

Instead of demanding the release of their six colleagues from PA prison, some Palestinian journalists are protesting because some Israeli (Jewish) journalists came to Ramallah last week to cover the visit of Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The presence of the Israeli reporters in Ramallah enraged several Palestinian journalists, who took to social media to condemn the Palestinian Authority leadership that gave them permission to come and cover the monarch’s visit.

The presence of Israeli reporters in Ramallah last week, to cover the visit of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, enraged several Palestinian journalists, who took to social media to condemn the Palestinian Authority leadership that gave them permission to cover the visit. (Image source: Palestinian President’s Office)

In this cartoon by Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh, an Israeli journalist, carrying a microphone dripping with blood, is interviewing a dog.

Such incitement was easy to find on Palestinian social media websites this week. The presence of several Israeli Arab journalists seemed to roll right over the racist, raging Palestinian journalists — it is the presence of Jewish journalists that they cannot stand.

This attack on Israeli journalists has been backed by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), a Fatah-affiliated group headed by Nasser Abu Baker, a correspondent of the evidently unprofessional Agence France-Press: Baker has also run for election in the Fatah Revolutionary Council.

In a statement published in Ramallah, the PJS strongly condemned the presence of Israeli (Jewish) journalists in Ramallah and urged Abbas to hold accountable whoever gave the Israeli journalists permission to come to the city to cover the Jordanian king’s visit.

It seems that for the PJS, the presence of Israeli (Jewish) reporters in Ramallah is more disturbing than the arrest of Palestinian journalists by the PA and Hamas.

For the record, in recent years the PJS has served as a mouthpiece for Abbas’s office; instead of defending the rights of Palestinian journalists, it devotes more than 95% of its words and actions to denouncing Israel and whipping up rage against Israeli journalists.

Palestinian journalists’ hateful obsession with Israel brings them no dividends. Rather, such venomous bias diverts attention from the true challenges and threats they face from the PA and Hamas. By expending their efforts in this twisted fashion, the reporters aid and abet their leaders in building dictatorial regimes that suppress public freedoms.

Bassam Tawil, an Arab Muslim, is based in the Middle East.

Business as usual in the PA

August 6, 2017

Business as usual in the PA, Israel Hayom, Ariel Bolstein, August 6, 2017

As long as the world takes the Palestinian Authority’s murderous propaganda lightly, the Palestinians will continue to step it up. In the past, we learned what anti-Semitic incitement can do. It would be an unforgivable mistake to allow these agitators to set in motion a process that will lead to the certain death of innocent Jews.

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One of the biggest challenges facing Israel’s public diplomacy efforts is the lack of basic understanding among target audiences in Europe, North and South America, and almost everywhere else in the world, as to the nature of the enemy we face. Even the events of recent weeks were not enough to shatter the prevailing assumption that our conflict with the Palestinians is between two equal parties. It is difficult for those on the sidelines, unaware of what transpires here, to grasp the moral discrepancy between Israel and those seeking its destruction.

Every summer has its one hit song, which is usually catchy and harmless. But the current favorite on the Palestinian street is far from your typical summer song: In it, you won’t find happiness, love or good feelings. Instead, the hit that’s “scorching” the internet and breaking records is a call to murder Jews.

There are no double meanings or euphemisms, nor is there any attempt to downplay or refine the message. The song’s lyrics are clearly directed at Jews, like the blows of a hammer, or more precisely, the wounds inflicted with a knife: “I swear on my religion, I will murder you,” the song says.

Lest there be any doubt, the song goes on to detail the murderous methods popular with the “knights of freedom” of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas and all the other terror groups: a knife, an ax, a pistol and a rifle. The accompanying music video stimulates the rest of the fans’ senses: A combination of video footage and animation is used to depict the attacks already perpetrated and those that will ostensibly be carried out in the future as the screen fills with blood — Jewish blood.

Normally, the musicians behind the summer hit become instantaneous stars, but the ones responsible for the Palestinian hit remain anonymous. It is unclear who posted the latest clip to YouTube but the official Palestinian news agency was clearly only too happy to share it on their channel. If there was ever any doubt as to the Palestinian Authority’s role in the Palestinian incitement machine, this should make it sufficiently clear just who is behind the calls to murder Jews.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his cohorts are waging a campaign of incitement against Israel, the likes of which has not been seen for decades. This is the PA’s objective in everything it does — from using its schools to educate children to violence to online incitement and funding terror through payments to terrorists’ families. Of course, none of this prevents senior Palestinian officials from asking Israel to provide them and their families with advanced medical treatment.

The anonymous performer behind this Palestinian song may not have a fine arts degree, but he knows the way to his audience’s hearts. That is why the hit ends with a call to cleanse the land of all its Jews. In the spirit of our times, it also mentions the religious obligation to “defend Al-Aqsa.” Were you under the impression that the metal detectors were getting in the way of the worshippers at the mosque? Well, here come the Palestinians to take the wool off of your eyes: Their ambitions have nothing to do with this or that arrangement on the Temple Mount or in Jerusalem; their goal is a final solution to the Jewish problem.

As long as the world takes the Palestinian Authority’s murderous propaganda lightly, the Palestinians will continue to step it up. In the past, we learned what anti-Semitic incitement can do. It would be an unforgivable mistake to allow these agitators to set in motion a process that will lead to the certain death of innocent Jews.

Ariel Bolstein is the founder of the Israel advocacy organization Faces of Israel.

“The Battle over Jerusalem Has Just Begun”

August 1, 2017

“The Battle over Jerusalem Has Just Begun” Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, August 1, 2017

(Please see also, Israel’s public diplomacy challenge. — DM)

The Palestinians, feeling triumphant now that Israel has complied with their demand to remove the metal detectors and security cameras, have been clarifying that it is only the first step in their fight to eradicate any Israeli presence in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

They admit that this is a battle over sovereignty on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. For the Palestinians, the real battle is over who controls Jerusalem and its holy sites. The real battle, in their eyes, is over the Jews’ right to live in their own state in the Middle East. Many Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist, and that is what this battle is really about.

The Palestinians have added it up just right. In their own words, they aim at an escalation of violence because they believe that what Israel did is the first step toward even more concessions and even further retreat.

The Palestinian “victory” celebrations that took place after Israel removed metal detectors and surveillance cameras from the entrances to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem bode badly for the future of stability and peace in the Middle East.

To the Palestinians and many Arabs and Muslims, the Israeli move is viewed as a sign of weakness. In their eyes, the removal of the security cameras and metal detectors is capitulation, pure and simple.

How do we know this? Easy: look at the Palestinian response. Rather than acknowledging the conciliatory nature of the Israeli government’s decision, aimed at easing tensions and preventing bloodshed and violence, the Palestinians are demanding more.

As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the controversy over the Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount, which came after three terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers at the holy site on July 14, is part of a larger battle with Israel.

We have reached a new level in this discourse: Palestinian Authority (PA) officials are now openly admitting that it is not the metal detectors or security cameras that are at issue.

Instead, they admit, this is a battle over sovereignty on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. For the Palestinians, the real battle is over who controls Jerusalem and its holy sites. The real battle, in their eyes, is over the Jews’ right to live in their own state in the Middle East. Many Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist, and that is what this battle is really about.

The Palestinians, feeling triumphant now that Israel has complied with their demand to remove the metal detectors and security cameras, have been clarifying that it is only the first step in their fight to eradicate any Israeli presence in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

No one explained this Palestinian position better than the PA foreign minister, Riad Malki, who announced on July 27 that the Palestinians consider the Israeli decision to dismantle the metal detectors and security cameras as surrender. He also confirmed what many Israeli and Palestinian political analysts have been saying for the past few weeks — that the conflict over Israel’s security measures was merely an excuse used by the Palestinians to force Israel to make political and territorial concessions.

In a speech before the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo, Malki explained: “The issue is not metal detectors or cameras, but who is in charge and who has sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Malki went on to explain that the Palestinians do not see the recent conflict as a security issue, but rather as a purely political matter. “The battle over Jerusalem has just begun,” he said, adding that the wave of Palestinian protests over the Israeli security measures had succeeded in “thwarting” Israel’s “conspiracy” to change the historical and legal status quo at the Temple Mount.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki (pictured above in 2009) said last week in a speech: “The issue is not metal detectors or cameras, but who is in charge and who has sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque… The battle over Jerusalem has just begun.” (Image source: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

We are witnessing a rare moment of truth from the PA foreign minister, in which, ironically, he refutes claims by many in the international community and media to the effect that the recent conflict was sparked by metal detectors and surveillance cameras.

The Palestinian protests that came in response to the security measures indicated that it was more about hating Israel and trying to force it to its knees than about the removal of metal detectors and cameras. During these protests, especially at the entrances to the Temple Mount, Palestinians chanted slogans that included threats to destroy Israel and kill Jews.

“We are marching toward Al-Aqsa (Mosque), and we will sacrifice millions of martyrs,” was one of the chants at the protests, which were led by top Palestinian religious and political leaders. Another chant: “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, jaish Mohammed sa yaoud” (“Khaybar Khaybar O’ Jews, the army of Mohammed will return”) — a reference to the Battle of Khaybar in the year 628 between Prophet Mohammed and his followers against the Jews living in the oasis of Khaybar. The Jews were forced to surrender after being slaughtered and were thereafter permitted to live in Khaybar on condition that they give half of their produce to Muslims. The protesters also chanted slogans calling on Hamas’s military wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam, to launch terror attacks against Israel.

For the most part, the foreign journalists covering the protests did not perceive these chants as intimidating or anti-Semitic. The protests were largely reported in a positive sense as peaceful “civil disobedience.” This is precisely the rhetoric, however, that fuels the Palestinian fire to take to the streets and hurl stones and petrol bombs at Israeli police officers and civilians.

Eighteen-year-old Omar Al-Abed, however, is one Palestinian who paid careful attention to such rhetoric. On July 22, he stormed the home of a Jewish family in Halamish, in the West Bank, and stabbed to death a grandfather and his son and daughter during a dinner to celebrate the birth of a grandchild. Shortly before setting out on his murderous mission, Al-Abed posted a note on his Facebook page in which he echoed many of the slogans from the protests, and went further by describing Jews as “sons of pigs and monkeys.”

The carnage in Halamish was perpetrated by a single Palestinian. Perhaps he acted alone, without having been indoctrinated to murder Jews and without communal support for doing so? Well, let us check: how did the Palestinian street react to his murderous rampage? How did Al-Abed’s own mother respond? The terrorist’s mother was filmed handing out sweets to visitors in celebration of her son’s decision to take the lives of the three Jews. “I’m proud of my son because he has raised our heads high,” she declared.

Perhaps the pride in the terrorist was simply a local affair? No, even that hope is smashed: as many Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, took to the streets to celebrate the brutal murder, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh phoned the terrorist’s father to tell him, “Your son brought pride to the nation.”

The Halamish bloodshed brought intense pride to the terrorist’s mother, to those around her, and to the Palestinian world at large.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who never misses an opportunity to paint himself as a peacemaker par excellence, chose to remain quiet about the murder. Make no mistake: his loud silence over the Halamish terror attack is being interpreted by many Palestinians as an act of condoning the murder of three Jews. Whether condoning the atrocity or terrified of his own people, one thing is certain: Abbas and most Palestinian leaders have trained the Palestinians well. When they smell Jewish blood, they attack.

This is precisely what is going on in the Temple Mount mayhem.

Now that Israel has complied with their demands regarding the security measures, Palestinians feel more emboldened than ever. Murder and incitement, in their case, does indeed pay. They got away with the murder of the two police officers at the Temple Mount; they got away with the murder of the three family members in Halamish, and, in their view, they also got away with the recent violent protests and incitement against Israel.

Buoyed by the Israeli “capitulation,” the Palestinians are now talking about a “historic victory” over Israel. They are boasting that they have twisted Israel’s arm and forced it to “retreat.” Palestinian cartoonists and commentators have expressed similar sentiments, arguing that the removal of the metal detectors and security cameras is largely the result of their violence, terrorism and threats.

Once again, an Israeli gesture is being misinterpreted by the Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims as weakness. This sort of deliberate misreading is far from new. Yet every time it occurs, it sets the stage for another cycle of violence. The result of Israeli conciliation is invariably Palestinian violence.

The Palestinians have added it up just right. In their own words, they aim at an escalation of violence because they believe that what Israel did is the first step toward even more concessions and even further retreat.

Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.

Countering contemptuous Palestinians

July 28, 2017

Countering contemptuous Palestinians, Israel Hayom, David M. Weinberg, July 28, 2017

(In the present environment, “two state solution” would a precursor to the death of Israel. — DM)

Israel should unsheathe its sovereign power and put the extremists down; decisive action that one day might allow for Palestinian moderates to emerge.

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The Palestinian Authority and its fiendish intra-Palestinian Islamic rivals seem hellbent on brinkmanship; on being belligerent adversaries with escalating, maximalist demands of Israel.

They really think they can roll Israel back by recourse to street brawls and international courts; by browbeating Israel through aggression, isolation and criminalization; by demonizing Israel with outrageous lies like “Al-Aqsa is in danger.” They think they can conduct guerilla and diplomatic warfare against Israel with impunity.

It’s time to disabuse Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and these gangs of such delusion, through resolute Israeli action.

The holy war over the Temple Mount that Abbas is promoting tells Israelis that Palestinian society has gone crazy-radical-rogue Islamic — just like much of the Arab Middle East. This spells the end of the two-state solution as Israelis (and most Western policymakers) understood it. Because the one thing that Israel absolutely cannot countenance is the emergence of a madcap Islamic caliphate in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

Sinai-stan, Hamas-stan, Hezbollah-stan, and Syria-stan already have emerged on Israel’s southern and northern borders. This is more than enough for Israel to handle. A Pales-stan on Israel’s eastern border would be unbearable. Israel can’t and won’t let it rise.

The only Palestinian state in the West Bank that Israelis ever contemplated was a mature entity willing to reconcile ideologically with Israel, leading to the reasonable sharing of land, airspace, natural resources, and historical and religious sites.

The sharing includes the Temple Mount. Indeed, for there to be peace, Jewish prayer would have to be facilitated on the Temple Mount, alongside the prayers of other faith-traditions.

Alas, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian national movement is far from understanding this.

The only Palestinian state that Israelis ever envisioned would not threaten Israel’s security, obviously. This means that it would be truly demilitarized with Israeli supervision on all borders and at all holy places. It would not form hostile foreign alliances or allow radical Islamic groups to dictate the internal agenda. It would not rev up violent insurrection when it has a difference of opinion about management of a city or holy site.

Alas, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian national movement is far from accepting this.

The only Palestinian state that Israelis ever thought of tolerating in Judea, Samaria and Gaza would declare a permanent end to the conflict and all claims against Israel. This means recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and recognizing ancient Jerusalem as its capital. It means renouncing the so-called right of refugee return, and inculcating respect, not anti-Semitism, on Palestinians airwaves and in Palestinian schools.

Alas, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian national movement is far from internalizing this.

On the contrary, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian liberation movement will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state nor forgo refugee return. In other words, he wants his state, but without an end to the conflict. He seems to want a Palestinian state to continue the conflict.

Professor Ahmad Khalidi, a Palestinian ideologue close to Abbas, scorns the two-state solution as a “sovereign cage.” “The concept of Palestinian statehood is nothing but a punitive construct devised by our worst enemies — the United States and Israel — to constrain Palestinian aspirations and territorial ambitions,” he has written.

Until now, Israeli governments have sought to co-opt Palestinian leaders into peace and to mollify Palestinian masses through compromise and concession, including the provision of Israeli money, guns, water, electricity and many aspects of national sovereignty.

This could have been a path to enhanced Palestinian national power in cooperation with Israel. But the kleptocratic Palestinian Authority has pocketed these goodies without showing any true willingness to meet Israeli needs and expectations.

As a result, tactical Israeli restraint, like the decision to retreat from justified security measures at the Temple Mount, comes off as capitulation to Palestinian terrorism. It reinforces the rejectionist and triumphalist Palestinian narrative. It looks and smells like appeasement.

Winston Churchill warned that “an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” So it’s time for a different strategy. Palestinian overreach and superciliousness should be countered by strong Israeli and international countermeasures.

Palestinian leadership must be disabused of the notion that it can drive Israel off the Temple Mount and out of east Jerusalem by violence, or coerce Israel into withdrawals by appealing to international tribunals.

This will require perseverance and the flexing of muscle.

To begin with, Israel can stop doing favors for the Palestinian Authority like absorbing its mushrooming debt for electricity and fuel, or selling it water at discount prices. Then Israel should stop facilitating the business interests of Abbas’ cronies, whose cartels control the Palestinian economy. The international donor community, too, might usefully rethink the huge sums of cash it pours into Abbas’ coffers every year.

Then Israel can and should revoke the VIP permits that allow Abbas and his ministers to fly in and out of Ben-Gurion International Airport on their luxury private jets. Let them beg King Abdullah in Amman for travel privileges.

Simultaneously, Israel should arrest the activities in east Jerusalem of rabble rousers like Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, the former the grand mufti of Jerusalem and the lead agent in the city for Erdogan’s Turkey and the Moslem Brotherhood; Sheikh Issam Amira, the lead agent in the city for the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir); and Abbas’ handpicked henchmen, the intemperate Grand Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein and the fanatic former chief justice of the PA’s religious court, Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi.

Their sermons, “charitable” enterprises and educational programs glorify terrorists and explicitly call for violent resistance to Israel. Their networks (along with Fatah social media) also are the source for the libel that Al-Aqsa mosque is at risk.

It’s also not too hard to arrest 2,000 of their key street activists — those leading the riots in the city.

Israel should unsheathe its sovereign power and put the extremists down; decisive action that one day might allow for Palestinian moderates to emerge.

David M. Weinberg (www.davidmweinberg.com) is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Abbas is playing a dangerous game

July 27, 2017

Abbas is playing a dangerous game, Israel Hayom, Yaron Blum, July 27, 2017

(Please see also, Israel’s public diplomacy challenge. “Of course, the world rightly assumes that no nation would willingly give up what is rightly theirs, and so millions watching from the sidelines throw their support behind the violent side that refuses to compromise.” — DM)

The threat of stopping the security coordination with Israel is likely to turn on Abbas, as Hamas is lurking around the corner, waiting for the opportunity to stage a coup against the Palestinian Authority as it did in 2007 in the Gaza Strip. The need to calm these players down is of the utmost importance if the wave of incitement is to stop becoming a wave of more lone terrorist attacks.

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The Temple Mount crisis is far from over. The latest excuse for the Palestinians’ riots is Israel’s decision to conduct manual security checks on the Temple Mount complex.

How transparent and pathetic. Everyone with something at stake on the Temple Mount or Al-Aqsa mosque understands that the site has become a fantastic vantage point from which to promote personal interests. For the average Muslims, the Temple Mount and any change in its status quo is a red line. Indeed, this motif prompts millions in the Muslim world to take to the streets and is strong enough to glue the various streams in Muslim and Palestinian communities worldwide together.

Tensions apparently came to an end after an agreement between Jordan and Israel to take down the metal detectors and security cameras installed on the Temple Mount after the July 14 terrorist attack carried out by three gunmen from Umm al-Fahm. Despite this, the Muslim players found an excuse to reignite the playing field. And who are these players’ captains? The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, organizations active around Al-Aqsa, Waqf workers, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, and Turkey.

Even though Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is once again disparaging Israel and its policies, despite agreements between him and Israel, the star of the week is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. From a point of great weakness against rivals in the Fatah movement, such as exiled party official Mohammed Dahlan — not to mention Hamas — Abbas realized that the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” narrative had the potential to add to his failing power. At the moment he is doing everything to ignite the streets, whether through his own voice or through the heads of the Tanzim, one of Fatah’s militant factions, and Fatah itself.

Palestinian Authority and Palestinian security apparatus officials, who had received orders to suspend the security coordination with Israel before its decision to remove security measures on the site, are now calling to further escalate the popular struggle by taking to the streets in protests planned for Friday in the Temple Mount area against the “occupation.”

Abbas’ recent declarations and direct involvement in the escalation stand out in their irregularity and are worrying. Most of all, however, these are new because they do not hide behind excuses. He is not meandering, maybe because he feels that the bullets in his gun are running out and this step can improve his current low position. Abbas is playing a double game: With the U.S. and the international community, he conveys a message of willingness to negotiate with Israel; while on the other hand, when speaking of the Temple Mount crisis, he comes out with contradictory, obtrusive statements on cutting ties, as well as calls likely to be construed as condoning terrorist activity by young Fatah and Tanzim members.

The threat of stopping the security coordination with Israel is likely to turn on Abbas, as Hamas is lurking around the corner, waiting for the opportunity to stage a coup against the Palestinian Authority as it did in 2007 in the Gaza Strip. The need to calm these players down is of the utmost importance if the wave of incitement is to stop becoming a wave of more lone terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, a handful of residents in the Jewish community in Hebron are taking advantage of the situation by invading the Machpelah House, adjacent to the Cave of the Patriarchs, over which they claim ownership. This creates a new and dangerous point of contention, as well as a post the Israeli army and police are forced to protect. Some would understand this development as a provocation for escalation — and it is difficult to argue with that.

Yaron Blum is a former senior Shin Bet security service officer.

Israel’s government under triple siege

July 26, 2017

Israel’s government under triple siege, DEBKAfile, July 26, 2017

Where the ministers went wrong was in failing to go after the perpetrators of the murders committed at one of the most sensitive world shrines. The killers belonged to the lawless Jabarin clan that rules the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. The ministers did not treat this clan as central to the crime, out of concern for the delicate relations with Israel’s Arab minority. Instead, Temple Mount, the lightening rod of Israel’s relations with the entire Muslim and Arab world, was treated as the core issue.

If Israel fails to draw a strong red line at this point in the standoff, a new crisis or terrorist outrage will be staged every few days to force the ministers to fall back step by step on measures pivotal to national security. Popular opnion at home, incensed over the Halamish terrorist outrage, was against the first concession and will oppose any more.

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Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is being forced back step by step on the Temple Mount standoff by a three-line siege imposed by the Palestinians, Sunni Arab governments, including Jordan, and public opinion at home.

The security cabinet can’t be faulted for approving its first rational steps for securing the worshippers and visitors frequenting Temple Mount, after three Israeli Arab gunmen desecrated the shrine on July 14 by shooting dead two Israeli police officers on guard at Lion’s Gate.

Metal detectors at the gates provided a quick fix for reopening the shrines the next day.

Where the ministers went wrong was in failing to go after the perpetrators of the murders committed at one of the most sensitive world shrines. The killers belonged to the lawless Jabarin clan that rules the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. The ministers did not treat this clan as central to the crime, out of concern for the delicate relations with Israel’s Arab minority. Instead, Temple Mount, the lightening rod of Israel’s relations with the entire Muslim and Arab world, was treated as the core issue.

The Jabarins felt safe enough to carry on breaking Israel’s laws. On Tuesday, July 25, a member was caught smuggling a truckload of illegal Palestinian workers from the Palestinian town of Jenin across into Israel. It was obvious that something is badly amiss in national homeland security policies.

In another example, the government finally, a year late, ordered the home of one of the Tel Aviv Sarona Market terrorists, who murdered four Israelis, to be knocked down. One story of a building in the Hebron village of Yata will be destroyed. At the same time, the Supreme Court of Justice in Jerusalem gave the police 30 hours to hand over the bodies of the three Temple Mount gunmen, members of the Jabarin tribe,  to their families for burial.

Razing the home of one of the Tel Aviv terrorists, who claimed to have been inspired by ISIS, in a timely fashion, a year ago, might have been some deterrent for the killers of Umm al-Fahm.

It now turns out that the shrine murders 12 days ago were the result of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians coming together for a joint terrorist conspiracy against Israel. The location was deliberately chosen as the catalyst for dragging moderate Arab rulers into a plot for compelling Israel to give up its sovereignty on Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem.

This conspiracy was insufficiently addressed by the ministers taking part in the security cabinet’s deliberations. The removal of the metal scanners, security cameras – or any other measures Israel was been forced to cede – will not satisfy the Palestinians and Israeli Arab leaders, including their members of parliament. They are intent on drawing their community of 1.5 million into the bloody brew they have cooked up for the entire Arab world to consume.

As this juncture, the Israeli government has no choice but to brake hard on concessions – even as street violence escalates – and draw a red line against caving in any further. The Palestinians and their clerics should be firmly informed that if they choose to continue to boycott Al Aqsa and hold prayers in the street outside the shrine, so be it. Israel will not budge any further on its responsibility to secure Temple Mount against more violence. And their dream of a victory parade on the holy compound to celebrate their humiliation of the Jewish State will never come true.

Very few Israelis are aware of the origins of the 180,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem today. Most of them originate in Hebron and migrated to Jerusalem over the years since 1967. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which ruled eastern Jerusalem and its shrines for 19 years up until the Six Day War, very carefully kept Hebron natives out of the city. Their extremist conduct over Temple Mount explains why.

If Israel fails to draw a strong red line at this point in the standoff, a new crisis or terrorist outrage will be staged every few days to force the ministers to fall back step by step on measures pivotal to national security. Popular opnion at home, incensed over the Halamish terrorist outrage, was against the first concession and will oppose any more.

No thanks for foiling terrorists at the mosque

July 25, 2017

No thanks for foiling terrorists at the mosque, Washington Times, , July 24, 2017

(Old Wesley Pruden can write a pretty bitter editorial. Good for him! — DM)

Jason Greenblatt. (Associated Press)

The metal detectors have infuriated the Palestinians because they will make it difficult to ambush police and to spill blood, some of it no doubt of innocent Arabs, as part of their peace initiative.

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It’s time to beat up on the Jews again, particularly the Jews in Israel and the West Bank. Once more they’re not standing still enough to enable the Palestinians to maim and kill.

Killing by stealth is what the Palestinian freedom fighters do best. They’re pretty good at it, particularly when they get to prove their manly courage against women and children. They’re bravest of all against infants. A Palestinian terrorist almost never flinches when an infant shakes his rattle at him.

The terrorists are upset this time because the Israelis installed metal detectors at the entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem after three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers just outside the mosque, using guns they had smuggled into the compound.

The metal detectors have infuriated the Palestinians because they will make it difficult to ambush police and to spill blood, some of it no doubt of innocent Arabs, as part of their peace initiative. Slaying a few innocents is merely collateral damage in the name of Allah. Poor Allah, the crimes committed in his name and in his “defense.” It’s not entirely clear why Allah would need defending by mere mortals, but there is much in Islam that is difficult to understand.

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and ever eager to pour something flammable on troubled waters, to be helpful to someone passing by with a match aflame, said his government would “freeze contact on all levels” with Israel until the metal detectors are removed. This is negotiation, Middle East style: resolution on terrorist terms first, negotiations later.

Blowing the trumpet usually used to call retreat, the Israeli Security Cabinet is discussing ways to “reduce tensions,” including a “review” of the continued use of metal detectors to take weapons out of the hands of terrorists. The Trump White House dispatched its special envoy for international negotiation, Jason Greenblatt, to Jerusalem Sunday night to try to “end the bloodshed.” He will need extraordinary luck.

Mr. Greenblatt will “be closely coordinating” with Jared Kushner, President Trump’s 60-minute man for defusing trouble everywhere. Mr. Kushner deserves a trip to a war zone as relief from defusing tensions within the family, and particularly his own tense relationship with Donald Trump Jr. over the fallout from the young Mr. Trump’s conversations about whatever it was he talked to a Russian lawyer about.

It’s always one darn thing after another in the Middle East, and particularly between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Nothing will ever be settled, of course, until one side dies, either in battle, in brawling, or of old age. The Arabs have tried conventional warfare, even starting one war with Pearl Harbor-like stealth and surprise. They took their usual licking, and even that didn’t work, though it is true that the Arab military colossus enjoyed only a 6 to 1 advantage. Ganging up on women and children is all that a defeated Colossus can do.

Donald Trump sent Mr. Greenblatt aloft with a statement condemning the violence, not just condemning it but this time “utterly” condemning it, and that’s condemning it to the uttermost. This is the soft approach, which might work against Upper or Lower Slobbovia, but probably not against the likes of the Palestinians, the North Koreans or the gallant regiments of ISIS.

The attempt to calm troubled land and water gained new urgency with the murder of most of an Israeli family finishing their Shabbat supper Friday night in the West Bank settlement of Halamish. The killer looked typical.

Omar al-Abed, 19, who lived in a nearby village, broke through a window and surprised the family with an unregistered knife, stabbing and slashing with stealth and surprise, killing the father, about 60, and his son and daughter, in their 40s, before they could gather their wits to fight back. Several grandchildren listened to the slaughter, terrified, hiding in another room. Their grandmother was slashed, too, but survived. The killer was wounded by an Israeli soldier who heard their screams and arrived with a gun.

The killer told his captors that he bought the knife two days earlier to avenge the metal detectors at the Temple Mount. It’s obvious to everyone that precautions against violence are unnecessary in the Middle East. Why can’t the Jews give assistance to those who only want to kill them?

The Israeli Defense Force distributed a photograph of the killer taken from his Facebook account — where else but Facebook? — and supplied a translation of his vow to avenge the metal detectors. “Take your weapons and resist,” he wrote to others. “You start a war amongst us and Allah will judge you for it.” Hamas, the terrorist organization, praised the slaughter of the Israel family as “heroic.” Of course. But if Allah is just, he might favor the Jews.