Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer explains how and why Yasser Arafat and the KGB invented the “Palestinian” nationality and ethnicity in the 1960s.
Lost among the coverage of the ongoing Hamas-organized protests at Gaza’s border with Israel have been significant protests against Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas. The latest protests began on Sunday, June 10th, in the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah in the West Bank. Protestors blame Abbas and other PA officials for hardships faced by Gaza residents after a year of PA sanctions on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The protests in the West Bank are meant to express solidarity with the cause of their fellow Palestinians in Gaza.
Last year, Abbas introduced a series of sanctions on Gaza to pressure Hamas into relinquishing control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. As part of the sanctions, Abbas drastically cut salaries, forced thousands of civil workers into retirement, cut medical and social services, and reduced foreign aid imports into Gaza. He also raised taxes on fuel and stopped paying bills for Israel’s electricity supply into Gaza.
The demonstration on Sunday was supported by at least 1,500 Palestinians, who travelled from the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Haifa to attend the protest. The protestors’ main demand was for Abbas to lift all sanctions on Hamas in Gaza, but additional demands revealed discontent with international peace negotiations and PA authority, particularly Abbas. Some among the crowd called for Abbas to step down, while others called for Gaza and the West Bank to form a united Palestinian front against Israel.
Protesters held signs and chanted slogans accusing the PA of coordinating with Israeli security forces in the “occupation.” They were organized by far-left activists associated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Hamas’ electoral victories in 2006 marked the beginning of the divisive and occasionally bloody rivalry between Hamas and the Fatah party to lead the PA. Hamas, a known terror group, wrested control from the Fatah party, then continued launching missiles and attacks on the Israeli forces and towns. Since then, the Gaza Strip has been the site of Israeli counter terror operations and internal violence among Hamas supporters. Both Israel and Egypt implement blockades to protect their borders from Hamas’ operatives, except Israel routinely provides Gaza with food, fuel and electricity.
In October of 2017, Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement, but concrete steps have yet to be taken to actually implement the agreement. The deal was meant to allow Palestinian Authority forces to regain control of Gaza and Hamas’ weapons supply. Although Hamas desires to restore national Palestinian unity, the group refuses to concede its weapons and curtail attacks against Israel.
The protests on Sunday exposed the fragility of this agreement, as PA officials blamed Hamas and Israel for Gaza’s problems and Hamas blamed sanctions enforced by the PA. After the second round of protests on Tuesday, PA authorities banned protests in Palestinian territories, at least until after the end of Ramadan celebrations, which begin on Friday.
Despite the ban, protestors demonstrated again on Wednesday, this time resulting in violence and ten arrests. Protestors have claimed that their group has been infiltrated by PA officials and undercover security forces who are attempting to carry out slander campaigns against the protesters. Hamas has expressed support for these demonstrations and called on Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank to continue demonstrating.
At each of the protests, participants have claimed the PA, not just Abbas, is collaborating with the “Israeli oppression” to punish residents in Gaza. Some on social media have compared the Palestinian Authority’s suppression of Wednesday’s protest to Israeli practices. Israeli security forces do cooperate with the PA to prevent attacks in the West Bank, though Palestinians don’t recognize the benefit of the added safety. The Palestinian public reports high levels of corruption and abuse at the hands of PA security, breeding high levels of mistrust in their forces. By equating the PA with Israel, protestors are encouraging new leadership that will be more explicitly anti-Israel, such as Hamas.
As calls increase for Abbas to step down – 64% of Palestinians want him to resign – he must also weigh his deteriorating health. He was recently hospitalized for the third time in a month in yet another health scare. He has taken steps to prepare for new leadership, changing the protocols to block Hamas from fully taking over the Palestinian Authority and ensuring his successor will be someone he trusts.
Abbas has already refused to further work with the U.S. to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the U.S. appears ready to work with a replacement, though U.S. officials are continuing to work toward reaching a peace deal.
Later this summer, President Donald Trump is expected to release a peace plan. Abbas has already declared that he won’t agree to it because he does not view the U.S. as objective mediators in the dispute. According to chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, the U.S. killed any possibility for peace when the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem, the city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians to be their true capital. U.S. Envoy for the Middle East is also quoted as saying the Palestinians need not consent to the deal and that the U.S. will implement the plan rather than negotiate it.
A series of recent public polls conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research indicates the increasing popularity of Hamas in all Palestinian territories. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah is favored in a hypothetical presidential race in all territories. In hypothetical parliamentary elections, the Fatah party would still win, although Hamas has been trending upward in popularity over the last year.
Hamas has successfully organized mass protests against Israel in Gaza, and it seems support for them is spreading into PA-controlled territory in the West Bank. If the PA is unable to make significant reforms to its policies, it will spread discontent further into PA-controlled territory in the West Bank. If Hamas becomes the de facto leaders of both Gaza and the West Bank, U.S. ally Israel would suffer from an increase in attacks from multiple flanks.
After Israel recently destroyed an underwater tunnel, it was revealed that Hamas’ military capabilities are becoming more refined and deadly. Although no invasions via this tunnel were reported, it demonstrates Hamas’ intent to creatively find new ways to attack Israel.
While the Palestinian Authority has a history of refusing to negotiate with the U.S. and Israel for a permanent peace deal, they have generally assisted the Israelis in maintaining public order in the West Bank and preventing large-scale, Gaza-style protests from reaching PA-controlled territory.
Hamas, on the other hand, has carried out lethal attacks on Israelis since its inception, and has no intention of slowing. Recent protests in Ramallah in the West Bank reveal that young, local Palestinians are growing tired of the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Although the protesters didn’t openly express support for Hamas, it is clear they are losing faith in the PA, leaving the door open for Hamas to recruit more supporters in the West Bank.
Despite the PA’s attempts to dismantle Hamas through sanctions, the popularity of Hamas has endured, and many Palestinians observing the PA’s response to West Bank protests may look to Hamas for new leadership.
On March 13th the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt. His convoy was just outside of the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun when a roadside explosive was detonated. Hamdallah was not hurt, but 6 security guards were wounded. Three vehicles were damaged due to the explosion while debris scattered dozens of yards away and left a crater by the road.
President Abbas’s office held Hamas responsible for the attack and said that it targeted Hamdallah and head of intelligence Majed Faraj, both of whom are members of Fatah. Hamdallah spoke after the incident from his Ramallah-based office saying that, “It was a well-planned attempt. They planted explosive devices two meters deep.”
Hamas said in a statement that the targeting of the motorcade was “part of attempts to damage the security of Gaza and deal a blow to efforts to finalize reconciliation.” Shortly after the explosion, Hamdallah gave a speech at an internationally-funded wastewater treatment plant and ensured that he would continue to pursue Palestinian unity.
Fatah and Hamas have been at odds since 2006 when Hamas had defeated the Fatah party during the Palestinian elections in the Gaza strip. Since then, Hamas has controlled the Gaza strip while the PA control parts of the West Bank.
The two sides have fundamentally different views regarding Israel: Hamas doesn’t believe the state should exist while Fatah believes it should and attempts political solutions with it instead.
The Fatah and Hamas have gone through several attempts to reconcile in the last decade. In 2011 both sides agreed to an Egyptian brokered peace deal but could not agree on who to make the interim prime minister of the unity government. Again, in 2012, both sides had agreed to a reconciliation deal but did not follow through on plans to end hostilities.
In November of 2017, for the first time in a decade, Hamas handed over control of 5 Gaza border crossings to the Fatah. Fatah spokesperson Osama Qawasmeh said this move would make the lives of the Palestinians in Gaza “much easier”. He noted that products would move much faster across the border which would make import and export trade much easier. This is positive news for the residents of Gaza who have seen their economy deteriorate over the last decade and whose health system is facing an imminent collapse.
This latest assassination attempt against Rami Hamdallah will only slow down the chance of a reconciliations deal being made anytime in the near future between Hamas and the Fatah.
On February 6th, in the village of Yamun near Jenin, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Security Forces (ISA) killed Hamas commander Ahmed Nasser Jarrar in a raid in the early morning. Ahmed Jarrar was a leader of Hamas’s Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades. Hamas praised Jarrar following the announcement of his death.
According to the IDF, the building Jarrar was found inside was surrounded by security forces. Jarrar armed with an M-16 rifle emerged from the building and was shot dead.
Following the raid, Israeli security forces clashed with dozens of Palestinians. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent two Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets and 7 Palestinians were hurt from inhaling tear gas. No Israeli forces were reported injured.
Israeli security officials held Ahmed Jarrar responsible for the January 9th drive by shooting which killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach on the road near his home. Shevach was in his car when men opened fire on him.
Ahmed Nassar Jarrar is the son of Nassar Jarrar, Nassar was a senior Hamas commander and was the leader of Hamas’s forces in Jenin, playing a significant role in the 2nd Intifada until he was killed by Israeli troops in 2002.
This is not the only incident of a Rabbi being murdered this year in Israel. On February 5th a Rabbi named Itamar Ben-Gal was violently stabbed to death at a bus stop outside of the city of Ariel. Israeli security forces believe a man named Abed al-Karim Adel Assi who is linked with the Palestinian Authority (PA) carried out the murder.
President Netanyahu referenced the successful Israeli operation “determined and complex” in a statement, highlighting the raid as an example of Israeli justice.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh vowed that attacks would continue, referencing the “liberation of Jerusalem” Jerusalem has been front and center of Hamas’ calls for action following an operation on the Temple Mount killed two Israeli police officers in July of last year; and has remained a propaganda focus following the announcement of the U.S. decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Over the last month the US has laid out new sanctions that target individuals and entities connected to Hamas, including Haniyeh. The designations are at least partially in response to news that Haniyeh was the preferred Hamas leader of the Iranians, who have renewed financial support of the Palestinian terror group.
The US Treasury Department placed Haniyeh on a sanctions blacklist that will freeze any US based asset he may have and prohibit any individual or company from doing business with him.
Haniyeh has said that these sanctions delegitimatize the US as a peace broker between Israel and Palestine. Hamas reacted to the sanctions by saying it shows the “depth” of US bias toward Israel.
It seems likely that continued low level terror attacks by Hamas will continue against Israeli targets, as part of a long running campaign that has sometimes been called the “knife intifada” due to the relatively unsophisticated attack methods that have been prevalent. Still it seems unlikely that Hamas would choose to substantially escalate this low intensity conflict with Israel in the short term, as it continues to reestablish ties to its Iranian backers.
On December 14th, the Israeli military carried out strikes in Gaza targeting Hamas facilities and announced it will close border crossings into Gaza until further notice in response to rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel.
This decision comes just over a week after President Trump announced, on December 6th, that the U.S. will officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the U.S. embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After Trump’s announcement, protests were organized in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the decision drew criticism from during an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Turkey on December 13th, and several U.S. allies have come out against the decision.
The two crossings, Kerem Shalom and Erez are the only two crossings left on the Israeli border with Gaza. Kerem Shalom is the main crossing point used to move supplies and goods in and out of Gaza and Erez is a pedestrian crossing. Closing these border crossings will tighten the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
The only other crossing into Gaza is on the Egyptian border. The border crossing was most recently scheduled to be reopened by Egypt on November 25th, but has remained closed following an attack on a mosque in Sinai that killed at least 300 civilians. Egypt has previously canceled planned openings of the border crossing, citing an unstable security situation in the country. Egypt blames Hamas for providing fighters and training to jihadist groups targeting Egyptian security forces and civilians. Egypt has rarely opened the crossing since the 2013 removal of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and close ally of Hamas.
About 15 rockets have been fired towards Israel since Trump’s announcement. While Israeli defense forces believe that Islamic Jihad fighters are responsible for the rocket fire, they hold Hamas solely responsible for the strikes because Hamas’ forces control the territory.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called for a new intifada against Israel in the wake of the Embassy decision. The terrorist organization urged Palestinians to protest at the border fence. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli riot police resulted in at least 2 Palestinians dead and dozens injured. Additionally an Israeli border guard was injured in a stabbing attack by a Palestinian wearing what appeared to be a suicide bomb vest, which did not detonate.
During these tensions, Hamas is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the group’s founding. The organization was created by the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in order to participate in attacks on Israel, and to provide an Islamist alternative to the Palestinian nationalist PLO. Efforts by the Muslim Brotherhood to establish an armed group culminated with Hamas’ participation in the 1st Intifada in 1987. The group continues to deny the existence of a state of Israel, oppose the peace process, and to promote attacks against Israelis. Hamas swears to force the U.S. to reverse its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Haniyeh also called on all Arab and Muslim nations to set aside every Friday for days of rage until the U.S. reverses its decision.
Despite Hamas’ rhetoric, it is uncertain if another intifada is likely, since Hamas suffered severe setbacks following the 2014 Israeli-Gaza conflict, after Israeli forces retaliated for a Hamas operation which kidnapped and killed 3 Israeli teenagers. Hamas is facing strained relations with other Arab states, due to wider regional tensions between an Arab coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia, and Hamas’ patrons, which include Iran, Turkey and Qatar.
President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin the process to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — has prompted warnings of Arab violence. The concern is that the move may undermine the chances to advancing peace efforts.
King Abdullah of Jordan warned of the “dangerous repercussions” of such move and Mahmoud Abbas warned of the consequences that such step may have on the peace process and the stability of the region.
These arguments were echoed by several countries including Turkey, Egypt, and Syria. France stated that such issue should be resolved in a final status negotiation between both sides. Some Democrats and media analysts in the U.S expressed similar concern. Yet, the United Kingdom and the Vatican wisely avoided strong judgements on the subject-matter.
Those arguments that have expressed fear of Arab rage, fail to see the entire picture.
Israel offered a solution on Jerusalem during negotiations with the Palestinians. In the year 2000 during the Camp David Conference, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered sovereignty over Arab Jerusalem and Palestinian custodianship over the Muslim Holy Sites. That offer was far-reaching and unprecedented, where Israel broke the dogma of one unified Jerusalem, a gesture President Clinton fully acknowledged and admired. Likewise, he agreed to concede territories in East Jerusalem, in the Old City and the Temple Mount. Then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat demanded sovereignty over all of East Jerusalem and over the holy sites. In order to defend his position on Jerusalem, Arafat was even willing to shame himself with absurd arguments and distorted facts such as “the ruins of the old Jewish temple were not in Jerusalem but in Nablus.”
That negotiation ended in a 5-year violence also called the “Second Intifada.”
Still, less than half a year after the collapse of Camp David, Israel accepted the “Clinton Parameters”, a proposal for final peace between the parties that included again recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, including the Arab suburbs and the Arab quarters of the old city. However, Arafat responded again by demanding control over the Al Aksa Mosque and the entire Temple Mount. In other words, Arafat demanded control over all the holy sites, Muslim, Christian and Jewish (including the Western wall, the holiest site to the Jewish people). The reality is that such attitude of insisting in retaining 100 percent of Jerusalem does not sound like an appropriate negotiating strategy. It is true that the negotiating process may start from the unreasonable and sometimes from the absurd. But the unreasonable cannot be proposed this late in the process or in any realistic negotiation where the parties seek a successful outcome.
But this is not the end. In 2008 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made another offer to Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s successor. According to this offer, the Palestinian capital would be in East Jerusalem and Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and the United States would govern the Old City jointly. The Saudis could be part of it, provided that they recognize the State of Israel. The Arab neighborhoods would be part of the Palestinian state and the Jewish neighborhoods part of Israel. This offer received no response from Abbas.
Can we really say that reasonable solutions have not been tried? A U.S Embassy in West Jerusalem is going to change a Palestinian attitude that has been negative all along? What gesture or step would bring about a positive Palestinian attitude?
Egypt refused to respond to president Bill Clinton’s call to give support to Arafat to make concessions during the Camp David negotiations., Egypt walked away from the entire peace process except for introducing negative resolutions on Israel in the United Nations on behalf of the Palestinians. France and a few other European countries supported a UNESCO resolution denying the special connection between the Western Wall and the Jewish people. Why did France do it? To appease and please the Arab and Palestinian street? To avoid terrorist attacks on its soil? It certainly wasn’t to advance peace.
The real problem of the peace process does not lie in a U.S decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Furthermore, such move does not preclude the possibility of a compromise on East Jerusalem. The question is: Will the Palestinians come forward? The answer is “no.” The Palestinian Authority is too weak and illegitimate to make compromises. For their part, Arab countries have not done much to support such compromises.
President Trump’s move on Jerusalem sends a clear message to the Palestinians and Arab countries that they no longer can have “veto powers” on Jerusalem and that they should play once and for all a positive role in promoting peace and reconciliation with Israel. A policy guided by fear of Arab rage would have been be a sign of weakness and a perilous flawed foreign policy. Trump made the right decision.
Three Israelis were killed and another injured by a Palestinian gunman in Har Adar, a Jerusalem suburb which straddles the 1949 armistice line, on September 26th. The attack occurred when security guards opened a gate to admit Palestinian laborers with permits into the settlement in the morning. The attacker who was shot dead, Nimr Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal, held a work permit. Jamal regularly worked in Har Adar cleaning houses.
The Har Adar is an upscale community west of Jerusalem and known for its good relations with its Palestinian neighbors. Typically, 150 Palestinian laborers enter the community every day for work.
Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza strip welcomed the attack. Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said “Once again Jerusalem proves that it is at the heart of the conflict with the occupation, and that there is no way to get it out of the equation of the conflict.”
Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also officially designated Jamal a “martyr.” The Palestinian Authority pays annual financial compensation to terrorists and their family members who conduct terror attacks against Israelis. The continued payment of terrorist salaries has been a sore point between the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. Congress.
The attack took place while the United States Envoy Jason Greenblatt was in the Jerusalem discussing the relaunch of the Arab-Israeli peace process. Greenblatt issued a statement saying he was horrified and calling for unity against terror.
Since October of 2015, Palestinians have killed 51 Israelis, two Americans and a British tourist in stabbing, shootings and car-ramming attacks. Israeli forces have killed over 255 Palestinians, most of who most were killed during an attack of terror, or during clashes with Israeli forces.
At the peak of violence in September 2016, there were 480 attacks total, which included stabbings, shootings, car ramming, roadside bombings, stone throwing, and Molotov cocktails.
This attack has been one of the deadliest in the past two-year spate of violence and comes at a tense period during an important Jewish holiday.
In July of 2017 there was a spark of terrorist attacks and violent protests which occurred in Jerusalem’s old city at the Temple Mount/ Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. On July 14th two Israeli police officers were killed by three Palestinians which Hamas claimed as a “heroic act”, and on July 21st three Palestinians were killed by Israeli police and injured close to 400 others Palestinian protesters at the holy site.
The frequency of these attacks have lessened, however, with the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur nearing, could spark a new wave of violence, or lead to more attacks at the holy sites in Jerusalem.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is providing aid to violent protesters in Jerusalem. The Times of Israel reports:
The aid reportedly included boxes of food and drink, which came with a flyer attached depicting the Dome of the Rock and a quote attributed to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reading, “With the help of God, Palestine will be freed. Jerusalem is ours.”
While Palestinian media reported that an Iranian youth movement provided the food packages, PA intelligence officials said it was clear that the Iranian regime was behind the aid.
Photos of the care packages have emerged on social media.
توزیع شیرینی و بسته های غذایی مردم ایران بین جوانان مقاوم فلسطینی در مقابل #مسجد_الاقصی
همراه با جمله رهبری:#فلسطین_سوف_تحریر#القدس_لنا pic.twitter.com/s5UcfRUcxt— امیر طاها صالحی (@Taha_salehi20) July 29, 2017
Palestinian media is claiming Iranian youth movements are distributing the care packages. However, sources within Palestinian security forces told Israel HaYom that “such a large logistical effort could not have been single-handedly managed and funded by a youth movement” and that “It is plainly obvious that the government in Tehran, by way of its long tentacles, was behind these efforts.”
Palestinian leadership has pushed violent incitement for years. The claim that Israel is trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque is a regular falsehood. This incitement has already lead to several deaths including three members of the Solomon family, who were brutally murdered by a 19-year-old jihadist who claimed in a Facebook post that he was “going to die for Al-Aqsa.”
Last year, the Obama Administration transferred $1.7 billion dollars to the largest state sponsor of terrorism, including a $400 million payout via an unmarked cargo plane, filled with pallets of shrink-wrapped European currency, in the middle of the night. Obama administration officials even admitted that these funds could be used to fund terrorism.
Iran has been ramping up its anti-Israel rhetoric and foothold in the region. In addition to the care packages, Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, has ramped up its aggressions towards Israel. Recently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is building underground facilities for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Trump administration recently recertified the Iranian nuclear deal (the JCPOA). However, new sanctions are being levied against Iran over its ballistic missile development, financing of terrorist groups, and its involvement in conflicts around the region.
The Iranian regime’s continued involvement in promoting violent incitement against Israel is a further ramping up of its long-term goal of becoming the region’s hegemonic power. While the US can’t rescind the pallets of cash already sent to Iran, the Trump administration can do more to ensure that the Palestinians are not the beneficiaries of additional funds to incite violence, including defunding the Palestinian Authority for subsidizing terrorism.
The family of Omar al-Abed will receive $3,120 per month because he murdered the Solomon family in cold blood.
Leil Leibowitz of Tablet Magazine expounds on Abed’s financial reward:
Because the payment is commensurate with the length of the terrorist’s jail sentence, and because the sentence grows heftier the more Jews the terrorist kills, the al-Abeds will be richly rewarded for Omar’s murderous spree: the monthly salary paid to the families of those sentenced to 30 years or more in prison is $3,120. Just for comparison, an average Palestinian engineer earns about $1,300 per month.
The Palestinian Authorities (PA) payouts to the families of murderers, which is commonly referred to as “Pay for Slay,” only serves to incentivize more violence against Jews.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a watchdog group monitoring the PA’s incitement of violence, reports that the PA’s “total expenditure for directly funding terror is 1.237 billion shekels or $355 million” for 2017.
Palestinians receive approximately $500 million annually from the United States. How much of this money specifically is being used as a reward for murdering the Solomon family?
Recently, Israel capitulated to the demands of a violent mob by removing metal detectors placed at the base of the Al-Aqsa mosque, in response to the murder of two Israeli police officers, following riots. However, the violence will not stop so long as the PA continues to provide financial incentives for murdering Jews.
Right now there are bills going through congress, such as the No Bonuses for Terrorists Act and the Taylor Force Act, which would end US taxpayer subsidizes for Palestinian terrorism. A clear message needs to be sent to the Palestinians that the US will no longer subsidize their violence and murder.
Palestinians murdered 2 Israeli Druze police officers on the Temple Mount. In response, Israel temporarily closed the Al-Aqsa mosque to Friday prayers and then installed metal detectors to protect civilians. Palestinian officials claimed these security actions were a defilement of the Al-Aqsa mosque and used this as an opportunity to call for violent Intifada. Palestinians rioted and threw firebombs at Israeli security forces. These violent clashes resulted in the deaths of three Palestinians.
On Friday night, the Solomon family was murdered in cold blood as they celebrated Shabbat. A 19-year-old jihadist who claimed in a Facebook post that he was “going to die for Al-Aqsa” massacred them.
The metal detectors also led to heightened tensions between Israel and Jordan. On Sunday, an Israeli guard was stabbed at the Israeli Embassy in Amman. These metal detectors are no more invasive than the explosive detectors placed at the gates of the Masjid al Haram, which surrounds the Ka’aba.
Instead of blaming the violence on incitement from Palestinian leaders, Israel is being blamed.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of using the violence to take over Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Organizations such as the Middle East Institute blamed Prime Minister Netanyahu for the violence, noting his decision for additional security was a “hasty decision” made “without due consideration to Jordanian, Palestinian or Arab-Muslim sensitivities.”
Just the other week the U.S. State Department published a report claiming Israel is to blame for terrorism attacks committed by Palestinians and accusing the Jewish state of being largely responsible for an impasse in peace negotiations.
Now, Israel has made the mistake of capitulating to the whims of a violent mob. Israel has decided to replace the metal detectors with security cameras. There is no way Israel can spin this that doesn’t reek of surrender. Now, Israel’s sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem will be challenged with violence.
These acts of violence were not committed because of the instillation of metal detectors. They were committed because of Palestinian leadership such as Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who says Jews pollute the Temple Mount with their “filthy feet.”
For years, Palestinians have pushed a false idea that Israel is trying to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque and that every action committed by Israel to ensure its security is a nefarious attempt at destroying Islamic holy sites. The P.A. uses more than $300 million every year to pay salaries and pensions to individuals like the one who butchered the Solomon family.
The blame for violence needs to be placed on those responsible. Jewish life is not worthless, and we have to stop treating Palestinians with the bigotry of low expectations and hold them accountable for their violent incitement. U.S. policy needs to reflect both of these facts.
Secretary Tillerson’s State Department opposes bills such as the Taylor Force Act, which would end U.S. taxpayer subsidization of Palestinian terrorism. It is time for the U.S. to stop supporting people committed to the annihilation of the Jewish people in the name of fake peace, and it’s time for the U.S. State Department to get on board. If we don’t, Palestinians will continue to see violence as a way to get what they want.