Pretty much describes the state of affairs here and elsewhere. I was going to use the Hebrew term “balagan,” which means a state of confusion, a muddle. But that is much too benign. “Dysfunctional” suggests impairment, and that is much closer to the mark.
Let us return to the issue of video cameras on the Temple Mount.
Seems such cameras probably will go up, PA objections – which I noted in my last posting – notwithstanding. The agreement, which was apparently signed, was between the US, Israel, and the Jordanians.
However, yesterday there was this news item:
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office denied Monday allegations from the Jordanian Wakf Muslim Authority that Israel has prevented security cameras from being placed on the Temple Mount, in accordance with an agreement signed between Israel, Jordan and the US.
“Final arrangements for the manner and locations of the cameras on the Temple Mount, which was agreed upon between Israel, Jordan and the United States, were supposed to be coordinated at the professional level.
“…Israel has already expressed its consent to start the process as soon as possible.”
Why would the Jordanian Wakf make this accusation? We have an answer here:
It was the Wakf that was playing games, attempting to unilaterally install cameras, without the coordination of technical teams, which had not yet met. The prime minister’s office has cited Kerry’s statement from Saturday on this:
“I expect Jordanian and Israeli technical teams will meet soon to discuss the implementation of this idea.”
I am very pleased that Israeli security stopped the Wakf from proceeding unilaterally. This is a demonstration of sovereignty, at some level. And where did the Wakf try to install cameras? At the Mughrabi gate, the only gate through which Jews and other non-Muslims can enter. Ah ha…
What I have learned since last I wrote about the situation is that Israel already has cameras on the Mount – at least 100 and possibly as many as 300 – that are used for Israeli security. According to Israeli officials, the feed from the cameras now to be installed will go to the Wakf and also Israeli police. This too is good, if it happens.
But wait: the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammed Ahmad Hussein said on Sunday – which is after Kerry had made his announcement about the agreement – that the Wakf had not decided whether to go along with the cameras.
This is how it is here.
Ya’akov Kirschen has perhaps the last word on precisely how dysfunctional the situation is, although he graciously calls it “Looney Times”:
Boy is it the truth!
The Joint Committee of Temple Organizations – which is comprised of 30 organizations working for Jewish rights on the Mount – has released a statement declaring that “the prime minister is not entitled to prevent Jews from praying on the Temple Mount…” This stance, says the Committee, contravenes Israel’s Basic Law: Jerusalem, and Israel’s Law of the Holy Places. Indeed.
Basic Law: Jerusalem, section 3, reads, “The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and…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.”
Protection of the Holy Places Law, reads very similarly: “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 with regard to those places.”
What we are seeing, then, is an eagerness by the Israeli government to scrupulously safeguard the religious rights and freedoms of diverse groups within Israel – Christian, Muslim, Bahia, etc. etc., while at the same time permitting deprivation of the rights and freedoms of Jews when it comes to the holiest of Jewish sites.
Dysfunctional, for sure.
Yesterday the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was marked.
Because of his association with Oslo, Rabin has been seen over the years as someone who enthusiastically embraced “the two-state solution.” Or, I might better put it, came to be seen thus, as his memory was co-opted by those eager to promote that “solution.” To this day, there are those who promote this distorted vision of Rabin as rationale for pursuing negotiations.
The reality is far more complex.
On October 5, 1995, Rabin brought to the Knesset the Interim Agreement for ratification. Note the following that he proposed (emphasis added):
 No sovereign Palestinian state.
“[The] State of Israel…will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
“We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state…”
 United Jerusalem.
”First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev.”
So what Rabin envisioned for Jerusalem 20 years ago, the Arabs are stills screaming about, with regard to building in E1, between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem.
 No return to ‘67 borders (sic).
“The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.
“Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the ‘Green Line,’ prior to the Six Day War.
“The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.”
“I want to remind you: we committed ourselves, that is, we came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.”
And then there is this, additional, regarding our relationship with the PA. Said Rabin to the Knesset (emphasis added):
”We are aware of the fact that the Palestinian Authority has not — up until now — honored its commitment to change the Palestinian Covenant, and that all of the promises on this matter have not been kept. I would like to bring it to the attention of the members of the house that I view these changes as a supreme test of the Palestinian Authority’s willingness and ability, and the changes required will be an important and serious touchstone vis-à-vis the continued implementation of the agreement as a whole.”
My friends, this was 20 years ago, and to this day the necessary changes in the Palestinian Covenant have not been made – essentially what was required was removal of clauses that called for Israel’s destruction.
We must ask, even now, what pressures were brought to bear on Rabin: why he felt the need to continue with the Oslo process, which, it seems, had already become something of a runaway diplomatic train. If he viewed the PA’s changing of its Covenant as the supreme test of its seriousness, why did he not demand those changes before implementing the next stage of Oslo?
We see here the unfolding of a very unfortunate pattern, and I would suggest that at his core, Rabin seemed to know better.
I did not lead off with news about terror attacks today. But this does not mean they have ceased. They have diminished in frequency, but have not halted. Security officials are warning us the attacks may continue for some while yet.
Yesterday morning, a terrorist seriously wounded a soldier in Kiryat Arba, right outside Hevron. He was then shot dead.
In the afternoon, a terrorist at the Machpela was thwarted in his attempt to knife a soldier.
In Jerusalem, thank Heaven, it has been quiet for a couple of days.
Speaking of Jerusalem, at the Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said something about looking into revoking Jerusalem residency for whole Arab neighborhoods, which would mean some 80,000 or more people. This is different from from revoking it for those who commit or attempt to commit terror acts, and for their families. While the latter is a very good move, moving on the larger proposal would be highly problematic.
While at first blush it might seem good, there is reason to be wary with regard to removing residency permits for whole neighborhoods. Right wing members of the government reacted with alarm, fearing that what Netanyahu intended was to lop off these neighborhood and say they were now part of the PA – a dangerous process that would be the beginning of dividing Jerusalem.
I do not expect that what Netanyahu casually mentioned will come to pass, but I wanted to mention it here. My speculation: Could he have floated this as a warning to those Arab residents who still entertain thoughts of committing terrorist acts?
In light of the current quiet in Jerusalem – may it continue! – I have decided to run “Jerusalem of Gold” – “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav”: my very favorite version with the late, great Ofra Haza. English subtitles and scenes of Yerushalayim included.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.