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Friday, November 20, 2009

Has the Obama government misread Israeli opinion on Jerusalem?

Herb Keinon's Analysis: Obama's press on Gilo shows a continued misread of Israel is one of the more astute analyses of why Israel is building in Gilo, and why most Israelis are backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on this issue. Anyone who thought about it could recognize immediately that the heart of the "innocent" seeming Palestinian demand to stop settlements was really the issue of Jerusalem (see Will Jerusalem be a frozen settlement? - which I wrote last May - and O! No! Jerusalem and the Settlement Freeze!). It was obvious what the Palestinians were trying to do with their "settlement freeze." But it was hard to believe that U.S. would be obtuse enough to fall for the ploy or arrogant enough to ignore Israeli opinion entirely.

Herb Keinon is absolutely on the money when he writes: ... Gilo - not in a far-flung settlement overlooking Nablus, nor even in one of the settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, nor even a Jewish complex in one of the Arab neighborhoods of the capital, but in Gilo, one of the large new neighborhoods built in the city following the Six Day War. If Israel cannot build in Gilo without US approval, than it cannot build in Ramot Eshkol, French Hill, Ramot, Neveh Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev, East Talpiot or Har Homa. However, the issue, as we shall see, is not quite what most Israelis - or most Americans think it is.

The Palestinians knew that by posing a demand to end "settlement construction" before resuming peace talks, they would have an iron-clad guarantee that there would never be peace talks, because Israel is not going to give up its claim to Jerusalem, certainly not before there are any negotiations, and Israel will not allow Jerusalem to be treated as a "settlement." The Palestinians don't want to negotiate peace with Israel, because they have finally understood that in negotiations, Israel will never agree to allow the descendants of Palestinian Arab refugees to return to Israel and turn the country into an Arab state, and Israel is not going to give up all of East Jerusalem. "Moderate" Mahmoud Abbas has stated repeatedly that the Palestinians insist on "Right" of return, insist on getting every inch of "East Jerusalem" for their capital city, and insist Israeli withdrawal to the Armistice borders of 1949. Abbas said it first, perhaps in an interview he gave in 2000, and he has never budged an inch from those positions. If they cannot obtain the destruction and dismemberment of Israel by negotiations, the Palestinian "moderates" will turn to unilateral declaration of a state or to other means to accomplish the same end. If Israel agrees to the settlement freeze, the Palestinians can use it as an admission that Israel is giving up all rights to the areas in question, and will seek to ensure that it is a permanent freeze.

Not only would the Palestinians not have to negotiate about peace, but they get an added bonus, since by refusing to agree to the conditions of the nice President Obama, Israel is seen as the "obstacle to peace."

To most Israelis, the issues are obvious. What is a wonder to me, at least, is that some of my American Jewish friends cannot understand why the bad Mr. Netanyahu is putting a monkey wrench in the machinery of peace being operated by their Nobel prize winning president, over another silly settlement. It is surprising to me because you don't have to be a religious fanatic or even Jewish to know that Jerusalem is central to the Jewish people, and has been a central national symbol for the Zionist movement (Zion is a place in Jerusalem, remember?) and modern Israel. You don't have to have much background in the history of the Middle East to understand that since the time of the Emperor Vespasian at least, whoever controls Jerusalem is considered to control the land of Israel (AKA Palestine), an idea ratified, at least in the eyes of the Muslims by the conquest of Jerusalem from the Crusaders by Salah al-din (Saladin). Our American Jewish friends might disagree, but surely they can understand the reasons. Yet one of them wrote that the construction in Gilo looks like Israel is saying,

"We don't give a sh*t what you think or how hard you want to work for peace we will do what we want to do."

The perceptions of Americans about the peace process seem to be a bit strange. Israelis lost over a thousand lives "taking risks for peace," but were are supposed to be considerate of the hard working Americans, burning the midnight bourbon in Washington, who only want us to give up our capital city, a minor sacrifice, in order to advance their political agenda. What bad, ungrateful people we Israelis are, after all Mrs Clinton and Mr. Obama did in order to bring us peace!

The lady who wrote that is not ignorant. She not anti-Zionist. She considers herself knowledgable about dialogue. Dialogue people are supposed to know how to listen. Is it possible that she was totally deaf to Israeli opinion about Jerusalem? Does it really look like that? Perhaps to this nice Jewish lady, and a lot of Americans it does. From here, it looks rather like it is the Obama administration that is saying

"We don't give a sh*t about Israeli opinion, or three thousand years of history, or decisions of the Israeli government. We are an arrogant 800 pound gorilla and we will make you do whatever we want you to do."

Herb Keinon explained the Israeli position very well, though foreigners may not grasp that for most Israelis, Ramat Eshkol and French Hill are as much a part of Israel and Israeli Jerusalem as Pennsylvania avenue is part of Washington DC for Americans. It seems probable however, that it is Keinon who is misreading the American position, rather than the Americans who are misreading the Israeli position. Not only Herb Keinon, but a lot of Israelis may have been misreading the American position on Jerusalem for a long time and have also misunderstood the actual position of the Israeli government and the actual status of Jerusalem as well.

In order for the United States to "misread" the Israeli position on Jerusalem, we would have to assume that Mr. Obama and and his advisors do not know any of the following:

1. Jerusalem was the ancient capital of the Jewish people and has been a central part of Jewish culture in exile. President Obama held a Passover Seder at which he and other attendees presumably read from the Haggadah, including the pledge at the end "Next year in Jerusalem." He had to know that for Jews, this city is not like some town in the West Bank - it is not the same as Efrat, or Ariel or even Gush Etzion.

2. A sizeable Jewish community had lived in what Palestinian Arabs like to call "Arab East Jerusalem" - inside the old city in fact, for hundreds of years before being ethnically cleansed in 1948.

3. Jerusalem does not have the same status in international law as the rest of the West Bank. The United Nations partition plan called for Jerusalem to be internationalized. It was never supposed to be part of any Palestinian Arab state. The Palestinian claims of a "right" to a capital in East Jerusalem based on "international legitimacy" are completely bogus and without foundation. Subsequent UN resolutions reaffirmed the international status of Jerusalem in law, even though it was de facto divided and the eastern part was illegally annexed to Jordan. For example, UN General Assembly Resolution 303 reaffirmed that Jerusalem is a "corpus separatum." The international status of Jerusalem - fictional as it may be, has also been recognized in security council resolutions, which have the status of international law. Therefore it is not possible that the US doesn't know that settlement construction in Jerusalem is different from settlement construction in the West Bank.

4. Mr. Obama and Mrs Clinton both must know that the The Clinton Bridging Proposalsrecognized the special status of Jerusalem and called for the Jewish neighborhoods to remain under Israeli sovereignty.

5. Presumably, even the U.S. intelligence services, admittedly not too knowledgeable about the Middle East, at least monitor the Jerusalem Day declarations of every Israeli Prime Minister, all of whom pledge that "United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided." in those or similar words. Yithak Rabin said, in October of 1995, "First and foremost, united Jerusalem …as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty." Mr Obama and his team had to know that for Israelis, Jerusalem is not just another settlement. They had to know that this issue is political dynamite.

American politicians must also know that these declarations of Israeli leaders are not just political hot air on the same order as the "unbreakable bond" between the United States and Israel, to be trotted out on festive occasions. Too much blood was spilled in Jerusalem for the Israeli position to melt away in the face of political expediency.

But perhaps Israelis have also been misled by our own leaders.and have misread the situation. Most Israelis, and many others, have the impression that Israel annexed East Jerusalem either in 1967 or in 1980, when the Knesset passed the Basic Law: Jerusalem.

The 1967 laws, Law and Administration Ordinance (Amendment No. 11) Law, 1967 and Law and Administration Order (No. 1) of 28 June 1967, extended Israeli juridiction to the area added to the Jerusalem municipality, but these related to internal Israeli law and did not make any declaration regarding the international status of Jerusalem.

Likewise, the 1980 Basic Law simply declares that United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The word "annexation" is not used, the 1948 law regarding annexation is not referenced. The law does not even mention anything about the citizenship status of non-Israeli Arabs living in Jerusalem. This is the entire law, which the government of Menachem Begin passed with so much fanfare:

1. Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.

2. Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court.

3. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.

4. (a) The Government shall provide for the development and prosperity of Jerusalem and the well-being of its inhabitants by allocating special funds, including a special annual grant to the Municipality of Jerusalem (Capital City Grant) with the approval of the Finance Committee of the Knesset.

(b) Jerusalem shall be given special priority in the activities of the authorities of the State so as to further its development in economic and other matters.

(c) The Government shall set up a special body or special bodies for the implementation of this section.

The law is at least very ambiguous. There is no other law that annexed east Jerusalem. Jerusalem is therefore suspended in a sort of legal vacuum in Israeli law. Even that timid attempt to assert Israeli internal jurisdiction over east Jerusalem evoked an international storm of protest. The United Nations Security Council repudiated the law in Resolution 478, a kind of backhanded admission that Israel annexed or tried to annex Jerusalem. The United States abstained; it did not veto the resolution. All foreign governments moved their embassies out of Jerusalem. The United States never had an embassy in Jerusalem. Those "enthusiasts" who are pressing for Israeli annexation of parts or all of the West Bank should take into account that is doubtful if Israel even annexed east Jerusalem, and even that is not recognized by any other government.

American leaders did not "misread" Israeli opinion. Israeli leaders, of the right as well as those of the left, are fully cognizant of international opinion and United States policy regarding Jerusalem. They know very well that the US embassy has remained in Tel Aviv, and that the United States will not register "Israel" as the country of birth of any American born there, and they know exactly why. Israeli leaders have taken it into account even while making the most adamant assertions about Jerusalem to the Israeli public.

The difference of opinion between the US and Israel regarding Jerusalem seems to be something unpleasant that in fact everyone knows, but nobody usually talks about, something like a toilet in Victorian society, or an embarrassing relative who is never mentioned in polite company. Each side jockeys for position and pushes the envelope to see how far it can be pushed. The United States knew exactly what it was doing in insisting on stopping construction in east Jerusalem, and the Netanyahu government knew exactly what it is doing by announcing construction in Gilo. Isn't it time that the Israeli public understood and admitted the real situation, and isn't it time that the American public, especially American Jews, understood how Israelis feel about Jerusalem?

Ami Isseroff

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Monday, August 3, 2009

About Jerusalem: Poor misunderstood George Mitchell and Uncle Sam

US Mideast envoy George Mitchell believes people are misinterpreting the Obama administration's pressure on Israel as well as the Arab response to Washington's regional peace push.

"One of the public misimpressions is that it's all been about settlements," Mitchell told the New York Times in an interview published Sunday. "It is completely inaccurate to portray this as, 'We're only asking the Israelis to do things.' We are asking everybody to do things."


"These are discussions among friends, not disputes among adversaries."

Like the song says, "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good; please don't let me be misunderstood."

There are two types of quarrels: Those based on misunderstanding, and those based on understanding only too well.

What George Mitchell is asking Israel to do is to give up its capital city. What are friends for after all, if not to oblige other friends with little favors like that? This is an even handed policy. The Saudis are asked to allow Israeli overflights (and refuse) and Israel is asked to renounce sovereignty over its capital city. Everybody is asked to do something for the cause, and to please smile while doing it.

The heart of the disagreement is that the US insists that Jerusalem is just another "settlement," that the US does not recognize Israeli sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem, and that they can and should dictate to Israel what policies to adopt in Jerusalem and when and where to build. The most recent "misunderstanding" was a public and ugly US protest against removal of illegal Palestinian occupants squatting in propery owned by Jews. It may not be wise for Israel to build in areas that might be subject to future negotiations, but it certainly understandable that Israel will enforce Israeli law, backed by a supreme court decision, in an area that is declared by Israel to be under its sovereignty. There is no misunderstanding. The problem is not that the United States wants Israel to negotiate, but rather that the US is telling Israel and the world that there is nothing to negotiate about in Jerusalem, since the city does not belong to Israel according to them, but to a hypothetical international administration or Palestinian state. This is not a disagreement among friends. It is a hostile diplomatic act. In the 19 years of illegal Jordanian occupation of East Jerusalem, the United States did not once protest any Jordanian action, including the building of King Hussein's summer house, or the wrecking of the last remnants of the Jewish quarter and the Jewish cemetery in the Mount of Olives.

There is no misunderstanding of US policy in this regard whatever and the policy is unmistakable. The United States does not recognize any part of Jerusalem, East or West, as part of Israel, and certainly not as Israel's capital city. UN Security Council Resolution 250 condemned Israel for holding a military parade (the Independence Day parade) in Jerusalem in 1968. The parade was held in West Jerusalem only. The United States did not veto the resolution. The Web site of the United States Conuslate in Jerusalem is all about Palestinian Arabs - in the West Bank and in Gaza. Not a word about Jews, though Jerusalem has a Jewish majority. The consulate refuses to recognize that there are Jews living in any part of Jerusalem it seems. Are they trying to tell us something?

Perhaps some of the misunderstanding is caused by the reticence of the Israeli government, which has never openly protested against the hostile policy of the United States. On the one hand, Israeli governments grandiosely proclaim that "United Jerusalem is the Eternal Capital of Israel." On the other hand, no Israeli government has seriously tried to get the United States to recognize even Kiriat Hayovel and Rehavia as part of Israel.

West Jerusalem, of course, has been part of Israel since 1948, but the US, to placate Arab opinion, continues to pretend that the internationalization of Jerusalem mandated by the UN in 1947 is a reality. The policy of the United States government regarding Jerusalem is contrary to its own laws, since the 1995: Jerusalem Embassy Act mandated that the United States recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and mandated that the embassy must be moved there and that US citizens born in Jerusalem be registered as having been born in Israel. Using a hypocritical loophole, the law has been ignored by successive presidents. If you think this policy is bizarre, you can write to the consulate at and to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:, U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520, 202-647-4000

Ami Isseroff

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Case of the purloined Jerusalem rock: Behold thy God O Israel

The Israel antiquities authority has the fascinating story of a 21 KG rock that was returned by a repenant N.Y. clergyman. Here is his story:
"I came to Israel on an organized trip. As a student of archaeology, I was very excited when we visited an excavation south of the Temple Mount. I asked how I can purchase a stone from the excavation because I wanted a souvenir with which to pray for Jerusalem and was told it was not possible. On the last day of the trip our Israeli tour guide approached me and took the stone fragment from inside his coat. 'Take it', he said. 'It's a present from me'. I asked him how he obtained the stone and he replied, 'It's okay; don't worry'.
With all due respect to the reverend, it is hard to believe that tour guides walk around with 21 kg (about 50 pounds)  rocks routinely kept under their coats, just in case they might be needed. The rock was from an Ummayad era column, which is not necessarily a proper object of veneration for Jews and Christians. In any case, while I know little about religious matters, I thought only Muslims pray to the Kaaba stone. Jews and Christians are not supposed to pray to objects, are they? Is there a political moral here too? You decide.
Jerusalem Holy Rock
Jerusalem rock: "Behold thy God, O Israel"?
הינה אלוהיך ישראל? 

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Proactive foreign policy: Israel meeting the Obama challenge

..."Moderate" Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. From the beginning, that should have been the cornerstone of Israeli policy - Arabs, Palestinians included, must recognize the validity of the League of Nations British Mandate for Palestine and of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, both of which explicitly recognize the right of the Jewish people to self determination. After all, that is what the whole conflict is about. Once the Palestinians are will willing to accept international law, we can quibble about borders, refugees and other issues. President Obama's off-the-cuff remarks must be converted into a commitment by the United States to support the existence of Israel and its recognition by its Arab neighbors as the homeland of the Jewish people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already made a statement demanding that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Too bad that demand was not part of Avigdor Lieberman's speech. It will be remembered, also, that Ehud Olmert made a similar effort and then mysteriously dropped it. This issue has to be a centerpiece of Israeli policy, raised at every opportunity. not just a sound bite to be used when the occasion seems to call for it.

Similarly, though it is not a prior condition for negotiations, everyone should be made to understand that Israel will assert the historic rights of the Jewish people in "East Jerusalem." The Palestinians have been allowed to establish a historical "fact on the ground" by dint of repetition: They have convinced at least themselves, and perhaps much of the world, that they have a "right" to a capital in East Jerusalem, even though Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab state, and was not even included in the Palestinian area in the 1947 partition plan. Jerusalem was always known as the ancient capital of Jewish people, and the old city had a large Jewish community until it was ethnically cleansed in pogroms beginning in 1920 and culminating in the expulsion of the remaining Jews by force by the Jordanian Legion in 1948. Absurdly, a sizeable part of world opinion now believes that somehow "East Jerusalem" ought to be the capital of an Arab state and that Israel and the Jews have no rights there.

On these bases, when it is clear what is is being negotiated and what the end of the process will be for Israel, and it is clear that the agreements will be kept at least by the Fatah lead Palestinian Authority, it makes sense to continue negotiations. If they have any intellectual honesty, even the most enthusiastic proponents of "Annapolis" in the USA and in the EU would have a hard time explaining why Israel has to negotiate and what is to be negotiated with a partner that declares that its constituent groups - containing the same personnel who do the negotiating - are not bound by any agreements, and that the end goal of the negotiations is to destroy Israel as a Jewish state. But we can hardly expect others to agree with this point of view if the Israel Foreign Ministry itself has not advanced it at every opportunity.

Read the whole article here:

Proactive foreign policy: Israel meeting the Obama challenge

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Palestinians: No rights for Israel in East Jerusalem

This is the Palestinian position:

There will be no peace whatsoever unless East Jerusalem – with every single stone in it – becomes the capital of Palestine.

Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: "I will not be a traitor. Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah." That is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed unjustly.

In November 2008… Let me finish… Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: "We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin." Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: "I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine – the June 4, 1967 borders – without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places. This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign

This claim made below is false:

East Jerusalem is an occupied area, just like Khan Yunis, Jericho, and Nablus were. Its status in international law will never be anything else. Therefore, any arrangements regarding East Jerusalem are categorically unacceptable.

The truth is that under international law, according to UN Security Council resolution 252 of 1968, passed following the Six Day War, and reaffirming several previous resolutions, Jerusalem does not have the same status as the rest of the "West Bank" at all. Jerusalem is a corpus separatum that was to have been an internationalized area. It was occupied illegally by Jordan. It is a myth that East Jerusalem is "Arab East Jerusalem." Jews lived in the Old City of Jerusalem for hundreds of years until they were ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem in 1948. According to international law, there is no reason to favor Arab sovereignty in East Jerusalem over Israeli sovereignty.

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat: Abu Mazen Rejected the Israeli Proposal in Annapolis Like Arafat Rejected the Camp David 2000 Proposal

Following are excerpts from a TV debate with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on March 27, 2009.

Saeb Erekat: I am sitting in Jericho, in the house where I was born, four kilometers from the Jordan River, and there are Israeli flags from the Jordan River all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, we are living under Israeli occupation. But let me say that Jerusalem has not been – and will not be – lost. 300,000 Palestinian citizens live in Jerusalem.


Jerusalem has not gone anywhere. Jerusalem is here to stay – in the same place throughout the ages. The important thing is for us to return and to liberate Jerusalem.


It is true that the negotiations continued for many years, but don't you know that President Yasser Arafat was besieged in Camp David and was killed unjustly, only because he adhered to Jerusalem, and because he refused to let the Israeli measures on the ground give rise to any [Israeli] right or any [Palestinian] obligation? The Palestinian negotiators could have given in in 1994, 1998, or 2000, and too months ago, brother Abu Mazen could have accepted a proposal that talked about Jerusalem and almost 100% of the West Bank, but it is not our goal to score points against one another here. Our strategic goal, when we strive for peace, is not to do so at any price. We strive for peace on the basis of an Israeli withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 borders, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip geographically connected.


There will be no peace whatsoever unless East Jerusalem – with every single stone in it – becomes the capital of Palestine.


In my family, we are seven siblings. My six brothers and sisters are in the diaspora. But this does not deny them the right to inherit this land. Ten million Palestinians own Palestine, just like I do. Our survival and steadfastness on this land, our wresting of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital – this is what we can achieve in our generation.


Let me recount two historical events, even if I am revealing a secret. On July 23, 200, in his meeting with President Arafat in Camp David, President Clinton said: "You will be the first president of a Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders – give or take, considering the land swap – and East Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state, but we want you, as a religious man, to acknowledge that the Temple of Solomon is located underneath the Haram Al-Sharif." Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: "I will not be a traitor. Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah." That is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed unjustly.

In November 2008… Let me finish… Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: "We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin." Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: "I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine – the June 4, 1967 borders – without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places. This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign…

TV host: Okay…

Saeb Erekat: This is the Palestinian position.

TV host: But let's return to Camp David. When you were in the meetings with Shlomo Ben-Ami… After two weeks of meetings between Barak, Arafat, and Clinton, which led to nothing, there was a meeting in which you proposed that there be [Palestinian] sovereignty, with arrangements in the Old City, including the Haram Al-Sharif. In other words, you proposed Palestinian sovereignty, with Israel playing a role in the administrative aspects. In other words, Israel would participate in the administration of the Haram area – unlike the "reduced sovereignty" demanded by Shlomo Ben-Ami at that meeting. In other words, you wanted to let [Israel] play a role, one way or another, with regard to the so-called Holy Basin.

Saeb Erekat: They will never have this. Like President Abu Mazen said in front of President Bush and PM Olmert: I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. East Jerusalem is an occupied area, just like Khan Yunis, Jericho, and Nablus were. Its status in international law will never be anything else. Therefore, any arrangements regarding East Jerusalem are categorically unacceptable.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Abbas: Olmert agreed that East Jerusalem should be Palestinian-ruled


Ramallah – Ma'an Exclusive – Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has accepted that East Jerusalem should be placed under Palestian control, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday.
In addition, Israel has recognized the existence of only 200,000 Palestinian refugees from the violence at its creation in 1948, Abbas said.
Abbas said this recognition took place in secret final-status negotiations with Israeli negotiators. Israel's acknowledgment of these refugees falls short of the list of 950,000 refugees the Palestinian Authority says were expelled in 1948, along with five million total refugees and their descendants, the Palestinian president claimed.
Abbas revealed this and other information about the negotiations with Israel and with his Palestinian rival, the Hamas movement, during a two-hour meeting with senior Fatah officials in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Abbas said the Palestinian leadership takes the negotiations seriously: "Those who think that we sit with Israelis for sake of publicity; they are wrong."
"We armed ourselves with documents, maps, data and statistics ahead of each session and we have a fortified, professional expert negotiating team. We get prepared each time as if studying before class at school," he said.
Abbas said that he had rejected an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state that would include 92% of the land of the West Bank, saying that he would not accept any deal that left out even 1% of the land.
Abbas also explained that Israel had hesitated to make a firm commitment to the pre-1967 borders during the negotiations. However, in recent meetings, Israeli leaders had finally accepted that occupied East Jerusalem ought to be a part of the Palestinian State.
He said: "Whenever we asked them about the borders they had usually responded that they are not so sure. Only in the last two sessions they recognized those borders including East Jerusalem, as Olmert explained that a two-state solution is the best choice and Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem should be ruled by PA."
The president also recounted an anecdote about his first meeting with United States President George W. Bush. After presenting the US leader with a map of the West Bank showing the route of the separation wall and other Israeli installments, Bush became angry, throwing the maps in the face of an assistant.
"This way there won't be a Palestinian state and Israel is cutting off the road to a solution," Abbas reported Bush as saying.
Abbas said that when he went to Switzerland he was asked why he rejected Hamas' suggestion of a Palestinian state with temporary borders. He said he replied that he advised Hamas leader Isma'il Haniyeh at the time to stop making such suggestions, as he sees them as harmful to the negotiations with Israel.
He said Hamas's suggestion of a long-term truce with Israel would actually stabilize the current situation, with Palestinians controlling less than 60% of the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israeli wall remaining in place.
Abbas said that Hamas is damaging the Palestinian national cause out of anger of their exclusion from politics, "destroying the game because they are not allowed to play."
Blaming Hamas for the collapse of Palestinian internal talks, Abbas also criticized Israel for refusing to allow Palestinian political leaders from the West Bank representing Fatah, the PFLP, and the DFLP, to travel to the talks in Cairo.
Abbas said that three points must be accepted in order for the dialogue with Hamas to proceed: The presence of Arab forces to support Palestinian security forces, reform of the Palestinian government and simultaneous presidential and legislative elections.
Abbas also said that that the Palestinian prisoners slated for release by Israel before the upcoming Eid Al-Adha holiday include lawmakers and prisoners serving long sentences. 

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Barak: Arab areas in Jerusalem could be Palestinian capital

Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said some Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem could become the capital of a future Palestinian state as part of a final peace agreement. This is no different from the formula he offered in 2000. Palestinians continue to insist that Israel has no national rights whatever in East Jerusalem. The late Yasser Arafat amazed American politicians by claiming repeatedly that there had been no Jewish presence in Jerusalem in antiquity. Archeological finds give evidence of the Jewish monarchy as early as King Hezekiah in 700 BC and ancient writers commonly referred to Jerusalem as the former Jewish capital, but Palestinian leaders pretend this evidence does not exist. Arafat's views were frequently seconded by the former Mufti of Jerusalem, Ikremah Sabri.
Prior to 1948, about 5,000 Jews lived in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. The community underwent attrition due to Arab riots in 1929 and 1936. In 1948, the entire community was ethnically cleansed by the Transjordan Legion under the supervision of British officers. East Jerusalem was also the site of the original campus of the Hebrew University, which was reconstituted after 1967. Arab media however, ignore the Jewish connection to East Jerusalem in modern times as well as ancient, and commonly refer to it as "Arab East Jerusalem" on the basis of the 19 year illegal Jordanian occupation.
East Jerusalem is also the site of Masjid Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, important Muslim holy places.
Fatah leaders have been promising a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem since the signing of the Oslo accords, though Israel never undertook to cede all of Jerusalem or any of it as part of a peace setltement.
"We can find a formula under which certain neighborhoods, heavily-populated Arab neighborhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital that, of course, will include also the neighboring villages around Jerusalem," Barak told Al-Jazeera television.
"I'm not sure whether the gaps are close enough," Barak said when asked if a deal was possible this year.
Officially, Israel is not discussing Jerusalem with the Palestinians at all, since the non-Zionist ultraorthodox Shas party insisted they would leave the coalition if any concessions were offered in Jerusalem. Orthodox and ultraorthodox Jews in the United States and Israel, rather than Zionists, are the chief opposition to Israeli compromise on the issue. As long as the Palestinians remain intent on excluding Israel entirely from East Jerusalem, the issue of Israeli compromise is a moot point.
Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Yeshiva student: 'I shot the terrorist in the head'

[Dr. Ami Isseroff Mewnews: Confusion surrounds reports from the scene. Police claim that the IDF officer shot the terrorist after the IDF officer did, whereas the Yeshiva student explains that he shot first. The terrorist was not wearing a suicide bomber vest, but rather an ammunition belt. The weapon was a Kalatchnikov]
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Yeshiva student who shot attacker recounts moments of horror; 'I was studying when shots rang out'

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: For some reason, Israel Radio is frequently not mentioning the role of Dadon in killing the terrorist and only mentions the IDF officer who lives near the yeshiva and joined Dadon.]

'I shot terrorist in head'
Yeshiva student who shot attacker recounts moments of horror; 'I was
studying when shots rang out'
Aviram Zino YNET Published: 03.06.08, 22:42 / Israel News

A yeshiva student who shot the Jerusalem terrorist says he was busy studying when suddenly shots rang out, prompting him to grab his gun and eventually kill the Palestinian attacker

"We realized something happened so I cocked my handgun," Yitzhak Dadon told Ynet Thursday evening.

"I went up on the roof and waited for the terrorist. Meanwhile, I saw blood and shattered glass," Dadon said. "The terrorist continue firing in the air, so I waited to see him again, and then I shot him twice in the head."

Dadon says the terrorist continued firing even after he was hurt.

"He kept on firing until an IDF officer arrived and shot him again," Dadon said.

The gunman infiltrated a rabbinical seminary at the entrance of Jerusalem and opened fire after nightfall Thursday, police said. The ZAKA emergency response service has confirmed at least eight people have been killed.

Paramedics said they treated several people for injuries - among them four in serious to critical condition.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

To the people of Sderot and Ashkelon: Grim Restraint and Fierce determination

In these days, it is important to remember: Arab terror attacks are not new, and casualties are not new. We have seen much worse times in this country. This personal account of the Ben Yehuda Street Bombing of1948 reminds us of the essentials. In the bombing, over fifty people were buried in the wreckage and destruction wreaked by Arab terror.

The letter was not written by a spinmaster, a blowhard politico or a Zionist "Hasbara" master. It was written by an American young lady, a student in Jerusalem in 1948, who had joined the Haganah. She arrived on the scene of the bombing and set up a first aid station.

Zipporah Porath wrote:

I am becoming like the Jews who live here: every shock and sorrow nurtures you to grim restraint and fierce dedication.

That is something to think about for the frenzied op-ed writers, who tell us every day that the sky is falling. A 60 year old lesson in being an Israeli, 101, from a young student and new immigrant. This is what we do when the sky really does fall!

Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Border policeman killed, 4 hurt in Jerusalem and W. Bank terror attacks.

Last update - 01:25 25/01/2008    
 Policeman killed, 4 hurt in two W. Bank terror attacks 
By Amos Harel, Yuval Azoulay, and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz Correspondents

A Border Policeman was killed and a policewoman was seriously wounded in a terror shooting attack Thursday night as Palestinian gunmen fired toward the Ras Hamis checkpoint near the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem.
Magen David Adom emergency medical services rushed to the scene and attempted to treat the victims. The policeman was pronounced dead at the scene after efforts to resuscitate him were for naught. The policewoman was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital, Ein Karem for treatment.
The Palestinian news agency Maan reported that a previously unknown organization, the Return and Struggle Brigades, had claimed responsibility for the attack. The organization said it was affiliated with Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

In a separate incident in the Kfar Etzion settlement in the West Bank near Jerusalem, three civilians were hurt after Palestinian militants infiltrated a yeshiva in the community and began stabbing students.
The checkpoint at which the shooting took place served as a pedestrian crossing point between the refugee camp and the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood of Jerusalem. At the time of the shooting, the checkpoint was manned by two Border Police officers.
"This is a serious incident and we will do everything in order to capture the killers," Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen said. "The passages are a serious Achilles heel."
According to an initial report on the Kfar Etzion stabbing incident, the two assailants entered the yeshiva building, one armed with a gun and the other with a knife. They were met by a group of students and one counselor who tried to subdue the attackers. A struggle erupted at the scene and one man was moderately hurt while two others suffered light stab wounds.
The counselor shot and killed the two assailants.
Cohen added that there is no connection between the two attacks.
Large military forces under the command of Colonel Nir Salomon arrived on the scene to investigate the incidents. Authorities will try to piece together the sequence of events in order to figure out how two terrorists managed to enter the grounds of the yeshiva. Magen David Adom ambulances were also summoned to the area.
"Israel continues to wage an unending battle against Palestinian terror which is fueled by extremists and rejectionism," David Baker, an Israeli government spokesman, said in response.
Jerusalem District Police chief Aharon Franco announced prior to the attacks late Thursday that, in light of the escalation of hostilities along the Gaza front, security forces have raised the level of alert, particularly in the run-up to Friday prayers on the Temple Mount.
Franco said the circumstances of the shooting attack remain unclear, though he believes that one or more terrorists arrived at the checkpoint and opened fire in the direction of the two Border Policemen. Franco added that one of the policemen's weapons is missing.
The Jerusalem police chief said that the checkpoint is manned round the clock, "as required by a High Court decision in order to enable traffic to move from the Shuafat refugee camp."
Were the decision left to the police, Franco added, the checkpoint would not be manned at night, and pedestrian traffic would be re-routed through the Shuafat checkpoint, which is situated close to 200 meters from the checkpoint where the shooting took place.
According to Franco, the Ras Hamis checkpoint where the shooting occurred is more accomodating, people-friendly, and safer. Franco said dozens of people pass through the checkpoint each day.
"We respect all decisions made by the Supreme Court, and I have no doubt that if we need to change the way in which we man the checkpoints, we will change it," police chief Cohen said.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Wishful thinking on settlements

It is time for the Jerusalem Post and Israeli public opinion to understand that from the point of view of the United States government, the only good settlement is a peace settlement.
Ami Isseroff 
Sense on settlements
, THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 22, 2007
In its bid to join the pre-Annapolis jockeying, the Knesset voted this week on two measures relating to settlement blocs and outposts. The first, sponsored by Kadima MK Yoel Hasson, supported settlements in high-density Jewish population areas in the West Bank. It passed 39 to 18 with the support of coalition MKs, except for the Labor Party. Labor instead supported another measure, along with Meretz, which called for the evacuation of 105 unauthorized outposts. That measure was defeated 42 to 14.
All of this was somewhat predictable and largely superfluous. Yet Hasson said something unusual for a supporter of the settlement enterprise. "If we had invested energy in another city like Ariel and another Ma'aleh Adumim, and not placing another 20 caravans here and 30 caravans there, maybe the settlement blocs would be much bigger," he declared in the plenum. It is these blocs "that will determine Israel's permanent borders."
This sort of thinking is somewhat refreshing given that the debate over settlements tends to be dominated by those who favor or oppose all of them. Both the Left and the Right, each for its own reasons, have been extremely reluctant to distinguish between "good" and "bad" settlements.
Yet Hasson characterizes the view of many Israelis correctly when he says, "There is majority support among the public and in the Knesset to preserve the settlement blocs. ... Even the Palestinians understand there are places that Israel will not evacuate under any circumstances. There should be no argument with respect to continued development of these areas, particularly along the lines of natural growth."\
Actually, this sort of centrist position recalls the original distinction employed by the Labor Party between "security" and "ideological" settlements. Under the plan named after Labor defense minister Yigal Allon, Labor governments worked toward the goal of defensible borders - as stipulated by UN Security Resolution 242 -- by establishing 21 settlements along the Jordan Valley and the eastern slopes of the north-south ridge bisecting the West Bank.
While the Labor Party has largely abandoned this position and become anti-settlement across the board (as indicated by this week's Knesset vote), the logic of its original distinction remains. In principle, a line can be drawn between settlements designed to secure Israel territorially without blocking the creation of a Palestinian state, and settlements that are designed precisely to block any sort of two-state plan.
Both of the absolutist positions on settlements have been discredited and abandoned by the Israeli majority. While most Israelis are extremely skeptical that the Palestinians will be ready for peace anytime soon, most agree that it is Israel's interest not to rule over the Palestinians in the territories. The two-state concept has shifted from anathema until the late 1980s to a mainstream view today.
At the same time, almost no Israeli can imagine going back to the 1967 lines and dismantling the settlement blocs. Further, following the aftermaths of the unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza, there is little stomach for continuing with that model.
Illegal outposts, however, are another matter. Israel is committed to removing them, and there is widespread agreement that such commitments, along with the need to follow the rule of law, need to be addressed regardless of the peace process or the near-complete lack of confidence in Palestinian intentions or capabilities.
Given this, it makes sense that the absolutists on both side consider the logic implicitly endorsed by the Israeli consensus. This would mean "exchanging" the outposts for expansion of consensus settlements.
For this plan to work, of course, one of the absolutist parties, the United States, would have to at least implicitly change its position. While President George Bush made a nod in the direction of recognizing settlement blocs in his letter to Ariel Sharon in April 2004, officially the US remains opposed to all Israeli settlements.
It is time for the US, then, to discover the distinction made by the Labor Party in the 1970s and by the Israeli consensus today. There is a significant difference between settlements that hamper a two-state plan and settlements that actually encourage such an outcome, by imposing a territorial impetus for the Palestinians to end their war against Israel sooner rather than later.
More explicit recognition by the US of settlement blocs would also help the process by giving Israelis confidence that a two-state plan will truly take Israel's requirement of defensible borders into account. There will be no return to the pre-1967 lines, so stubbornly sticking with a "zero settlement" policy makes a two-state plan less realistic, not more so.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Haim Ramon: Jerusalem and the Summit

Well yes, of course it will be discussed. The question is, what will be said?!
Ramon stated:
"Whoever thinks the subject of discussions will be limited to the structure of Palestinian institutions is deluded. Israel has an interest to get recognition of all of Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods, and to hand over control of Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinians. When we speak of a diplomatic horizon, these are the subjects we are referring to," Ramon said.
All that is pretty clear. The question is, who is silly enough to think that this conference is about Palestinian institutions? It is not about Palestinian institutions. It is not about recipes for gefilte fish either. From the Arab point of view, it is a sort of dinner party. Israel is to be the main course. From the US point of view, it is peace conference that will let it get on with the war in Iraq in peace. From the Israeli point of view, it is not clear what it is - perhaps it is thought to be about Palestinian institution building, or exchanging recipes for Humus and gefilte fish. It is scary if people in the Israel government don't know what this conference is about.
Ehud Olmert is quoted as follows:

While the international conference is designed to promote peacemaking, "it will in no way replace direct negotiations with the Palestinians," Olmert said.

Olmert went on to say that "whoever doesn't agree to talks with Abbas will tomorrow find himself facing Hamas and a terrorist regime in the West Bank."

But whoever does agree to talks with Abbas will probably also find himself facing Hamas and a terrorist regime in the West Bank, because Abbas doesn't have control of Palestinian society. The reasons for talking to Abbas are much more complex, and what is said to Abbas will also determine what we will face in the West Bank.
Ami Isseroff

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Peace conference? Wise and unwise words from Ephraim Sneh

The upcoming peace conference cannot succeed without preparation. Wise words from Ephraim Sneh:

Checklist for a peace pact


If the Middle East peace conference proposed by US President George W. Bush succeeds, it will be hailed as a milestone. If it fails, it will bring about increased despair and cynicism and constitute the gravestone of peace efforts. The key lies in preparation.

For this conference to become a stepping-stone to real progress, participants must come with well-defined ideas and clear objectives and leave with a genuine plan of action in which all players know the roles they have committed to. Good speeches are not enough.

The most critical parties, Israelis and the Palestinians, should come ready with an agreed-upon list of permanent-status principles that will outline the contours of an agreement. No details are needed at this stage.

Conventional wisdom suggests that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders are not strong enough to market such an agreement to their constituencies. That is simply not true. Both peoples are smarter and more pragmatic than even their leaders think, and both publics came to their own practical conclusions long ago.

And not wise words:

Most Israelis rarely visit the Palestinian parts of Jerusalem. They know that a "united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty" is a slogan that has not reflected reality for years. (The security wall constructed in Jerusalem excludes a substantial part of the city's Palestinian citizens, leaving the city, and the people, effectively divided.)

Most Palestinians acknowledge that the refugees will not return to Haifa, Jaffa or any other towns or villages where they or their ancestors lived before 1948. The illusion of return has served as a pretext to neglect hundreds of thousands of Palestinians stuck in refugee camps.

The above may be true or not. Overwhelming majorities of Palestinians insist on right of return to Israel as part of any peace agreement. As for Israelis, while they don't go to "East Jerusalem," they certainly go to the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, and Jews bring their kids to have bar-mizvah ceremonies at the West Wall. Abbas explicitly claimed that Palestinians must have those areas as their own. Where is Ephraim living?

Here are some wiser words however:

Both parties also should be required to bring with them interim reports on what has been accomplished regarding security arrangements in the West Bank. This is critical, and tough questions must be answered. For instance, how are the Aksa Martyrs Brigades fugitives complying with their commitments? How is law and order being imposed by the reformed Palestinian Authority security forces? How is the movement of Palestinians being eased on West Bank roads?

Donor states must arrive prepared to pledge concrete support to specific projects, or to finance key activities in PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad's government. This includes Arab states, especially those enjoying high oil prices. Solidarity with the Palestinian people cannot be confined to speeches in international or Arab conferences. The price of solidarity is commitment and action.

THERE IS great expectation regarding Saudi Arabia's participation. But if the Saudis intend solely to promote reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, it is better that their delegation stay in Riyadh. Hamas, with its terrorist-Islamist charter, cannot be among the builders of Middle East peace; it is one of its principal spoilers.

If, however, the Saudis intend to offer tangible support to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his government and to promote their own ideas for peace, their participation is paramount.


Neither the Bush administration nor the Israelis and the Palestinians can afford anything less than real progress. A conference that produces a good show but no tangible results will ultimately disappoint. In the past, in this volatile region, frustration has led to violence and destruction. Serious preparation, commitment and bold leadership are indispensable.

Unfortunately we can see that nobody is well prepared, and there won't be much real progress. The interim reports of both sides will be either blank or filled with empty verbiage. Hosni Mubarak was right to warn that the conference is ill-prepared: Mubarak: Mideast summit lacks structure, consensus on issues

Ami Isseroff

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Rebuld the Jewish Temple?

On Tisha B'av (ninth day of the month of Av) the traditional commemoration of the destruction of the temple, Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg asks, Should Jews build the Third Temple?. As there are a number of Jews, and many more Christian Zionists who would support this project, the question bears discussion. His answer is "no."

I have to agree, but for different reasons. He points out that each of the temples lasted only a relatively brief time before being variously looted or destroyed. Curiously, he doesn't mention the temple built upon the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile, only the temple of Solomon and the rebuilding done by Herod. The second temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was a great national rallying point, and served as the symbol of the Maccabee revolt.

The Muslims would of course object to building a temple in place of the mosques, but perhaps this could be overcome by building a temple on the Ophel, which was probably the actual site of the first temple.

The big problems with rebuilding a temple are that Israelis do not want to live in a theocracy, do not want to engage in animal sacrifice, and do not want to support everyone named Cohen and Levy as temple acolytes and priests. I am not a vegetarian, but God might be.

Perhaps it would be OK to erect a modest structure on the Ophel, to symbolize the return of the Jewish people to our national home. That, after all, would be the real importance of the temple in a Zionist context. Instead of paying to subsidize Cohens and Levites, worshippers could voluntarily donate money to charity.

Ami Isseroff

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New road to Jerusalem City of David opened

The headline reads "New road to the Western Wall opened" but the road only gets as far as the City of David.
The article states:
A new road leading to the Western Wall aimed at easing traffic congestion in Jerusalem's Old City was inaugurated on Monday...
The last stretch of the new road, leading from the Arab village of Silwan up to the Dung Gate, is expected to be completed in a couple of years, with today's new road connecting to the old existing road alongside the City of David across from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
It is a bit of exaggeration, to cover up the fact that the Jerusalem temple mount bridge plan was cancelled owing to religious hysteria.
The Jerusalem post article cited above reminds us of the popularity of the Western Wall as a tourist attraction and indirectly, tells us about the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people. The Western Wall was once though to be a remnant of the temple. In actuality, it is probably a retaining wall built by Herod to shore up the landfill he used to enlarge the mountain when he renovated the second temple.
This article about Hezekiah's tunnel tells a bit about the geography of the Gihon and Silwan area and their real significance in Jewish history. , and also
Ami Isseroff  


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Jerusalem temple mount bridge plan cancelled owing to religious hysteria

In case you were wondering what happened to the Israeli plans to build a "Mughrabi gate" bridge: they were scrapped. Read about it here: Israel scraps Mughrabi Gate bridge planThe original plan did not take into account the flurry of religious hysteria that would inevitably accompany any move by any Jew regarding the temple mount, including sneezing near it, and would lead to a Jihad. The protests of benighted and hate mongering fanatics were backed by the UN:
A UNESCO report on the dig concluded that the excavation is not damaging the holy site but called on Israel to stop the dig nonetheless to allow for international observation of the work.
Even though an investigation commission found that Israel had not disturbed the mosques in any way or committed any damage, Israel was nonetheless forced to cease and desist. In contrast, the Muslim Waqf has been busy bulldozing priceless artifacts of the first temple period beneath the Al-Aqsa mosque, and weakening the foundations of the mosque for about ten years. Alarming cracks have developed in the Temple Mount thanks to these actitivites. The mount is apparently really an artificial mound, that was raised by Herod in order to enlarge the original "mount" which was too small to accommodate his ambitious building plans. The ancient land fill project is now being undermined, quite literally. When the whole structure collapses, bringing down the Al-Aqsa mosque, the event will undoubtedly be blamed on "the Jews."
The religious hysteria stirred up against the construction was primarily the work of Sheikh Raedh Salah, head of the northern branch of the Israel Islamic Association, whose speeches filled with anti-Semitic invective and false charges were aimed at inciting violent insurrection.
By the way, nobody knows if the first temple is really underneath the mosques, or if, as some suggest, the original site was on a different mountain.
Ami Isseroff


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Monday, February 26, 2007

What are the odds in Jesus theory?

Last update - 20:12 26/02/2007
It states:

"On a scale of one through 10 - 10 being completely possible - it's probably a
one, maybe a one and a half."

Decide for yourself, what is more likely - is Jesus buried in this place or another like it? Or on the other hand, was he born to a virgin and resurrected three days after his death? What are the odds?

Scholars and clergymen in Jerusalem slam new Jesus documentary

By The Associated Press

Archaeologists and clergymen in Israel have derided claims made in a new documentary produced by the Oscar-winning director James Cameron that contradict major Christian tenets.

The Lost Tomb of Christ, which the Discovery Channel will run on March 4 in the United States, argues that 10 ancient ossuaries - small caskets used to store bones - discovered in a suburb of Jerusalem in 1980 may have contained the bones of Jesus and his family, according to a press release issued by the Discovery Channel.

One of the caskets even bears the title, Judah, son of Jesus, hinting that Jesus may have had a son. And the very fact that Jesus had an ossuary would contradict the Christian belief that he was resurrected and ascended to heaven.

Most Christians believe Jesus' body spent three days at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City. The burial site identified in Cameron's documentary is in a southern Jerusalem neighborhood nowhere near the church. The documentary is directed by Toronto filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici.

Although the documentary makers claim to have found the tomb of Jesus, the British Broadcasting Corporation beat them to the punch by 11 years.

In 1996, when the BBC aired a short documentary on the same subject, archaeologists challenged the claims. Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television.

"They just want to get money for it," Kloner said.

Osnat Goaz, a spokeswoman for the government agency responsible for archaeology, declined to comment before the documentary was aired. She said the Antiquities Authority agreed to send two ossuaries to New York, but they did not contain human remains. "We agreed to send the ossuaries, but it doesn't mean that we agree with [the filmmakers]," she said.

The claims have also raised the ire of Christian leaders. "The historical, religious and archaeological evidence show that the place where Christ was buried is the Church of the Resurrection," said Attallah Hana, a Greek Orthodox clergyman in Jerusalem. "The documentary," he said, "contradicts the religious principles and the historic and spiritual principles that we hold tightly to."

Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film's hypothesis holds little weight.

"I don't think that Christians are going to buy into this, Pfann said. "But skeptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear."

"How possible is it?" Pfann said. "On a scale of one through 10 - 10 being completely possible - it's probably a one, maybe a one and a half."

Pfann is even unsure that the name Jesus on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it is more likely the name Hanun. Ancient Semitic script is notoriously difficult to decipher.

Kloner also said the filmmakers' assertions are false.

"It was an ordinary middle-class Jerusalem burial cave," Kloner said. "The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time."

Archaeologists also balk at the filmmaker's claim that the James Ossuary - the center of a famous antiquities fraud in Israel - might have originated from the same cave. In 2005, Israel charged five suspects with forgery in connection with the infamous bone box.

"I don't think the James Ossuary came from the same cave," said Dan Bahat, an archaeologist at Bar-Ilan University. "If it were found there, the man who made the forgery would have taken something better. He would have taken Jesus."

None of the experts interviewed by The Associated Press had seen the whole documentary. Repeated attempts to contact Cameron and Jacobovici were unsuccessful.

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Temple Mount: A bit of disappearing history

Friendship on Temple Mount
A lesson in how history can be made to dissolve.,7340,L-3368454,00.html
The wonderful story of Jewish-Muslim cooperation under Turkish rule

Yehuda Litani Published: 02.22.07, 18:39 / Israel Opinion

A delegation of Turkish experts is expected to visit the excavation works at the Mugrabi Bridge near the Temple Mount within the next few days. This is in accordance with an agreement reached between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his counterpart Ehud Olmert during the latter's visit to Turkey last week.

And already Arab Knesset member Talab a-Sana is begging to know what on earth do the Turks have to do with the Temple Mount, and wouldn't it be easier for the Israeli government to coordinate the works with the local Waqf than with far off Turkey? It's as if a-Sana wanted to say: A close neighbor is better than a distant brother. But that same distant brother once ruled the nation, and throughout the 400 years of its rule here, Jerusalem's Ottoman governor was responsible for the third most sacred site to Islam after Mecca and Medina – the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

In the years 1992-3 the late King Hussein of Jordan financed the renovations of the golden dome, which was carried out by a construction company from Northern Ireland. On a visit to the site during those renovations I discovered a story that wasn’t known until then, regarding the Jewish-Ottoman-Palestinian connection to the mosques on Temple Mount.

Story of the iron panel

The Dome of the Rock was surrounded with scaffolding, and before ascending one of them afriend of mine drew my attention to an iron panel that lay on the floor and was inscribed in French. The foreman of the Irish construction company said the panel had been found between the two halves of the crescents at on top of the mosque, and was temporarily dismantled so that the dome could be coated in gold.

The words in French revealed that the Mosque had been renovated in 1899 during Turkish rule, and that the works had been assisted by the Jewish community in Jerusalem led by a public figure called Avraham (Albert) Entebbe, who among his numerous other activities was also the principal of the city's "Kol Israel Haverim" school.

Entebbe, who was the undersigned on the French inscription, was known for his courageous ties with the heads of the Ottoman rule, and the inscription noted that for the purpose of renovating the mosques on the Temple Mount five acclaimed Jewish artists had been invited to Jerusalem. The Jewish stone carvers, wood carvers and iron mongers from various cities in the Mediterranean basin, shared their skills with their Muslim brothers during months of work.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Ethnic Cleansing" in Jerusalem?

Next time you read about the "ethnic cleansing" of Jerusalem by evil Zionists, remember this article. Also remember - from 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule. The Jews of Jerusalem were no longer allowed to live there.

Last update - 10:06 21/02/2007

Study: 57 percent of East Jerusalem residents are Arab

By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent

Forty-three percent of East Jerusalem residents - 184,300 people - are
Jewish, and 57 percent Arab, according to figures to be released Thursday by the
Jerusalem Center for Israel Studies.

The study was released to coincide with the start of a lecture series
marking the fortieth anniversary of the city's unification.

From 1967 to 2005, Jerusalem's Arab population has grown from 68,600 to
244,800 - an increase of 257 percent.

During the same period, the Jewish population grew by just 140 percent -
from 197,700 in 1967 to 475,000 in 2005.

The relatively slow growth rate among the Jewish population has led to a
decline in its share of the city's population. From 74 percent in 1967, this
figure was 66 percent in 2005.

The Arab population, meanwhile, rose from 26 to 34 percent.

Population forecasts in Jerusalem indicate that if demographic trends
continue, the capital's population will rise to 958,900 in 2020 - 60 percent
Jews and 40 percent Arabs.

An annual comparison of the growth rate of the two populations shows the
Jewish growth rate higher than the Arab only six times between 1967 and

The years of high growth occurred in the 1970s, as large-scale building
projects were carried out in Jewish neighborhoods, and in the 1990s during the
massive absorption of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

The report indicated that the government targets for Jerusalem's Jewish
population have not been reached.

In the early 1970s, the government estimated that the Jewish population had
to grow by 3.7 percent a year to maintain the demographic majority.

In the past four decades, however, the Jewish population grew by an average
of only 2.7 percent annually.

The average rate of population growth among Arabs during the same period
was 3.4 percent.

The large Jewish neighborhoods established in areas attached to the city in
1967 are Pisgat Ze'ev (population approximately 41,000), Ramot (40,000), Gilo
(27,000), Neve Yaakov (20,000), Ramat Shlomo (14,000), and East Talpiot

The largest Arab areas of East Jerusalem are Shuafat (34,000), the Muslim
Quarter of the Old City (26,000), Beit Hanina (24,000) and A-Tur-Aswana

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Leave the U.S. embassy where it is

Leave the U.S. embassy where it is
By Bradley Burston
My daughter's passport is part of the longest-running ruse in modern American politics.
Where other U.S. passports list place of birth as the name of a country, hers says, simply, Jerusalem.
No country. Certainly not Israel. Her passport, in a sense, is a non-paper.
Just as Washington's legation in West Jerusalem is a non-embassy. Despite explicit legislation to the contrary, the Bush White House and the Rice State Department have succeeded for years in ducking, evading, and stonewalling efforts to grant concrete form to recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Taking the lead, George Bush has played fast and loose with Federal law - and with his own explicit campaign promises - in a six-year effort to resist moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
And, for once, George Bush has got something right.
He did it again last month. Hours before hosting American Jewish leaders for a lavishly photographed Hanukkah celebration, he signed an order deferring until mid-2007 the legally mandated transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
From Bush's standpoint, the Jewish leaders took it well. Or, at least, quietly. With one exception. Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America suggested that Bush's signing a six-month waiver to delay moving the embassy, as he has now done more than 10 times, would "give a victory to the forces of terror."
"We dare not be intimidated by and appease these terrorist bullies," Klein said in a statement, which directed much of its criticism against the silence of the other American Jewish dignitaries who attended the Hanukkah observance.
"We are also deeply disappointed that American Jewish organizations have been frozen into silence about this important issue. We also urge pro-Israel Christian groups like Reverend John Hagee's Christians United for Israel to speak out. Such failure may send another harmful message - that American Jewry does not care sufficiently about Jerusalem as Judaism's holiest place."
Moving the embassy, it should be noted, is one of Klein's signature issues. In July, 1999, as then-Texas governor Bush was raising funds in Newark, New Jersey for his run at the presidency, Klein approached Bush, citing Congress' overwhelming passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which states:
"Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999."
Klein said to Bush "The Clinton administration has refused to honor pre-existing U.S. law and move the embassy to Jerusalem. Will you as president follow U.S. law and move the American Embassy to Jersualem immediately?"
"I'm afraid that might screw up the peace process," Bush replied, aware that the Israeli government had opposed the 1995 legislation. "I don't want to screw up the peace process."
His frat boy clumsiness notwithstanding, Bush was on to something. The embassy should stay where it is. When there is a solution to the conflict, moving the embassy will be a certain result. In the absence of a solution, moving the embassy move the peace process even further back.
In the cratered moonscape of diplomacy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the White House has a special responsibility to act as a mediating and moderating influence. No other party can marshal the resources that the United States can, in acting as close as it can manage to the role of honest broker.
It's no longer a matter of policy. It's a matter of life and death.
The Palestinian movement for independence may now be in its worst state ever, its inability to provide for its needy at an all-time low, its international standing compromised as never before, its internal infighting spilling over into the targeting of Palestinian children.
Morton Klein's position, and that of the hardline ZOA, is that the Palestinians should be kicked when they are down.
The ZOA, which proudly opposes compromise, negotiation, and concession, believes that the only change in Israel's policy should be kicking the Palestinians harder, or finding a spot in which the Palestinians have yet to be kicked.
The real reason that the office of the U.S. ambassador continues to face the Mediterranean and not the Knesset, has everything to do with the difference between public service and lip service.
When the Embassy Act was first proposed, the Rabin government was against the legislation, which, as then-AIPAC executive director Neal Sher has noted, was also in direct contravention of AIPAC policy.
It wasn't meant to help Israel score points, it was meant to help the Republicans retake the Clinton White House. The new speaker of the house, Newt Gingrinch, saw the issue as a way to siphon pro-Israel support and campaign donations away from the Democrats. And the Republican front runner, Senator Robert Dole, who in the past had opposed legislation to relocate the embassy, was suddenly in the driver's seat of the moving van.
True, Israel needs recognition. But Israel and its western half of Jerusalem have survived, and thrived, without it for nearly 60 years. Recognition can wait.
What cannot wait is the possibility of diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians. Every passing week, every Israeli and Palestinian casualty, every new settlement enterprise, makes a solution that much more pressing, and that much more remote.
Most Jewish leaders know that. Even AIPAC knows that.
Moving the embassy would not be a victory for Israel. Morton Klein wants Bush to move the embassy not as a victory for Israel, but as a victory for Morton Klein.
The United States knows very well that the capital of Israel is Jerusalem. Federal law has said so explicitly for more than a decade. But Washington also knows what Israel knows:
West Jerusalem will not be recognized as the capital of the Jewish state, until East Jerusalem becomes the capital of an independent Palestine.
There will not be a solution without a Palestinian state. There will be no Palestinian state without a share of Jerusalem as a recognized capital.
Washington has a unique and urgent responsibility to see to it that Israel follows through on commitments to ease the plight of Palestinian non-combatants, to truly remove checkpoints and allow freer movement of people and goods, rather than announcing counterfeit concessions the IDF has no intention of implementing.
Washington must press Israel to reduce to the lowest possible minimum, harm to Palestinian civilians in the context of fighting between the IDF and gunmen.
Washington must see to it that the route and the nature of the West Bank fence does not do harm to non-combatant Palestinians, that it does not keep them from their land and their livelihoods, that it does not divide between their children and an education, a future.
Just as Washington has a unique and urgent responsibility to see to it that Palestinian non-combatants stop suffering at the hands of their armed and irrational compatriots, whose actions are keeping international aid from reaching a growing number of the desperately needy in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
These are the tasks that Washington should be addressing, and with every measure of vigor, creativity, and intelligence that this administration can muster. If only for the sake of the legacy that George Bush will leave.
What Washington does not need to do, is to stage a provocation. That, at this stage, is the only real significance of moving the embassy.
The White House must explore every opportunity to work for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Time is running out. For Israel, for the Palestinians, and perhaps most crucially, for George Bush.

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