Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 14, 2019

What We’re Reading


Top Israeli Minister Calls for Status Quo Change at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, Sparking Jordan's Ire,

“Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Tuesday that he believes the status quo at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount ought to be changed to allow Jewish worshipers to pray at the site, following violent clashes that took place at the compound earlier this week…Speaking on 90FM radio, Erdan added that ‘we should operate to get to a point when Jews can also pray there. But we need to achieve it through political agreements, and not by force.'”

The Temple Mount Is in the Fanatics’ Hands,

Zvi Bar’el writes, “Even Haaretz’s editorial Monday, ‘A Surrender to a Few Extremists,’ fell into the trap laid by that ‘handful.’ Granted that only about 200 zealots, bullies of religion, thronged the entrance to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, but they’re not a handful. They forced the police to let them in even at the price of a violent confrontation. And they forced the authorities’ hand with the knowledge that much of the public is behind them.”

Occupation & Human Rights

Israeli Army Forced to Admit Blindfolding Detained Palestinians Is Against Protocol,

“A petition to the High Court of Justice by 33 left-wing activists has forced the military to reiterate and clarify regulations that forbid blindfolding detained Palestinians and to admit that soldiers had exceeded their authority by doing so.”

West Bank attack deals heavy blow to Israel,

“Military expert and former PLO artillery commander Wassef Erekat told Al-Monitor, ‘The Gush Etzion attack took place in a heavily secured area fitted with all means of security surveillance and monitoring, along with the permanent presence of military patrols. This indicates the development of the mentality of the perpetrator or perpetrators of the attack, who had the boldness to execute their mission and disappear.’”

Geopolitics delay action while climate change threatens to parch Mideast,

All of the 19 MENA countries were placed in either the high or extremely high category, making it the world’s most at-risk region. Qatar, Lebanon and Israel topped the list. Hofste pointed to the arid geography of the region but said the rankings are also significantly influenced by climate change and socio-political issues.

Israeli Politics

In Netanyahu’s Israel, Democracy Is Dying in Broad Daylight,

“Matanyahu Englman, the new state comptroller elected in July by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-dominated Knesset, seems hell-bent on stripping his august position of its previous stature. He is voluntarily relinquishing the powers accumulated by successive state comptrollers since the post was established in 1949. He is stripping his office of its authority to recommend criminal proceedings and degrading its oversight of government ethics.”

Democratic Camp candidates, including Rabin’s granddaughter, meet Abbas,

“MK Issawi Frej and Noa Rothman said they met with Abbas to draw attention to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate ahead of general elections in September, amid growing calls for annexation of West Bank settlements by right-wing figures.”

Is the reunited Joint List enough to bring back Palestinian election boycotters?,

“’The Joint List is back, but barely. Let us get on with our summer, and talk again in September,’ said Khaled, an activist who preferred to go only by his first name. Khaled was a staunch election boycotter last time, and he said that identifying by his full name is likely to elicit unwanted debates.”

Palestinian Politics

Abbas said to snub visiting Republican Congress members,

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly snubbed a visiting delegation of Republican Congress members on Tuesday, sending other senior officials to meet them in his place.”

UN asks Palestinians to explain hate speech, antisemitism,

“The Palestinian Authority was called to task for hate speech and antisemitism in its official statements and in its textbooks during the government’s first ever review by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held in Geneva on Tuesday.”

Rogue militants defy Hamas’ restrain policy vis-a-vis Israel,

“Hamas has denied responsibility for the five Palestinian terrorists who tried to infiltrate Israel last week on two separate occasions, describing them in media briefings as ‘rogue’ figures. Still, it seems that the more accurate way to define these perpetrators would be ‘rebels.’ Both incidents appear to signal the first signs of a clear, significant revolt by members of the organization’s armed wing dissatisfied with their leadership’s policy of restraint vis-a-vis Israel.”