Israel in the News Jan/Feb 2011

PA Says Jews Have No Right to Western Wall
THE JERUSALEM POST—The Western Wall belongs to Muslims and is an integral part of al-Aqsa mosque and Haram al-Sharif (Islamic term for the Temple Mount complex), according to an official paper published in November by the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Information in Ramallah.

The “study” was prepared by Al-Mutawekel Taha, a senior official with the ministry to “refute” Jewish claims to the Western Wall. The document claims the Western Wall, or al-Buraq Wall, as it is known to Muslims, is Waqf property owned by an Algerian-Moroccan Muslim family. It claims there isn’t one stone in the wall that belongs to the era of King Solomon.

“The Zionist occupation falsely and unjustly claims that it owns this wall, which it calls the Western Wall or Kotel,” Taha wrote. “This wall was never part of the so-called Temple Mount, but Muslim tolerance allowed the Jews to stand in front of it and weep over its destruction.”

Israel No Asset
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Israeli Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said the United States no longer sees Israel as a strategic asset and feels no moral responsibility for Israel’s existence:

“Today we find ourselves facing an American administration that does not see as a basic point of reference the moral responsibility for the existence of Israel. It certainly supports the Zionist idea, the idea that the Jews of Israel live here, but it does not feel any moral responsibility for Israel’s existence.

“There is definitely a new American perception that does not see Israel as a strategic asset in the Middle East for both the United States and the free world. This is a development that even we, the veteran politicians, see as something new.”

Asked if it would help if the Americans signed a letter saying that a building freeze would not include Jerusalem, Rivlin replied, “They’ll say to the Palestinians, ‘Don’t be afraid, you know we’re behind you. Israel says that Jerusalem isn’t included, but we won’t let them build there,’ or something similar to that. They will speak two languages—one for the Palestinians and one for the Israelis. A letter making promises on Jerusalem doesn’t hold water.”

Freeze Fracas
ARUTZ-7—U.S. officials are unfamiliar with commitments America allegedly offered Israel in exchange for a ban on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, says investigative journalist David Bedein. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the United States promised not to pressure Israel for additional bans on construction in exchange for a three-month building freeze now.

Bedein said he was surprised to hear the Americans deny the promises reported by Netanyahu. The officials said they had heard of the commitments in the Israeli media but had not received confirmation from the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Kurtzer, wrote in The Washington Post that Israel should not sign the agreement with Obama, calling it a “bribe.” Israel’s National Security Advisor Uzi Arad said American officials had promised in writing not to pressure Israel again if Israel agrees to a second moratorium on building and also promised to sell Israel F-35 stealth fighter jets in exchange for the freeze. The jets are conditional on reaching an agreement on borders within the 90-day freeze period.

An American official denied one of the alleged commitments, telling Haaretz a construction ban would include Jerusalem.

Israel Blamed for Terrorism
ARUTZ-7—A controversial British politician has accused Israel of being the “cause of terrorism” and said the West’s treatment of Muslims was caused by “Holocaust guilt” and the “power of the pro-Israel lobby.”

According to a report published on the European Jewish Press Web site, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Jenny Tonge told the British House of Lords, “The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is held up as an example of how the West treats Muslims and is at the root cause of terrorism worldwide.”

In 2004 Tonge said she would consider becoming a suicide bomber if she were an Arab living in the Palestinian Authority. In 2006 she said, “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a grip on our party.”

Ariel Sharon Moved Home
THE JERUSALEM POST—Five years after falling into a coma caused by two strokes, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 82, was temporarily moved back to his Sycamore ranch in the Negev in November.

Hospital officials said specialists from the medical center would accompany him this time. During future “vacations,” they will not. The Sharon family will hire medical and auxiliary staffers. If Sharon remains stable over several visits, he will remain at the ranch, a hospital spokeswoman said.

UN Declares Rachel’s Tomb a Mosque
ARUTZ-7—The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has officially voted to declare Rachel’s Tomb to be a mosque. It also called for Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron—the burial site of the other biblical patriarchs and matriarchs—to be removed from Israel’s National Heritage list.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) claims Rachel’s Tomb is holy to Muslims as the site of the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque and demands con-trol over both the Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, as well as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Israel announced it will suspend its cooperation with UNESCO until the organization reverses its decision. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said, “This resolution was adopted by the Arab automatic majority, led by the Palestinian Authority, in another attempt to delegitimize Israel. UNESCO has become a rubber stamp for the PA.”

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, rabbi of the Western Wall, termed the decision “outrageous.” “They have never said in the past that this was a Muslim holy site. The [UN] organization responsible for heritage has turned heritage into politics.”

Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad called UNESCO’s decision “hypocritical and anti-Semitic” and said, “Islam is trying to rob the past and falsify history.” He called on the Israeli government to declare the sites National Heritage Sites and invest in their development. Doing so, said Eldad, “will shut the mouths of those who try to rob Israel of its past.”

Tens of thousands of Jews recently visited Rachel’s Tomb to mark the biblical anniversary of the matriarch’s death. It is located within Bethlehem city limits but remained under Israeli control when the rest of Bethlehem was transferred to PA control.

Journalist Nadav Shragai, writing for Yisrael Hayom, noted that Muslims living in Israel have historically referred to Rachel’s Tomb as “Kubat Rahel,” the Arabic term for “Rachel’s Tomb.” Under Ottoman rule (1516–1917), it was a Jewish site. Only in 1996 did the PA begin to call it a mosque, he said.

Rachel was the wife of Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel. She was buried more than 2,300 years before Islam came into existence.

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