News Digest — 10/14/22

Police Brace For Tense Friday After 18 Arrested In Overnight Jerusalem Riots

Police on Friday (14th) announced the arrest of 18 people after overnight clashes in several areas of eastern Jerusalem, including the flashpoint Sheik Jarrah neighborhood.

Palestinian groups have declared Friday (14th) a “day of rage,” encouraging the city’s residents to confront security forces in response to the ongoing police operation in Shuafat.

For much of the past week, securing forces heavily restricted entry into and out of Shuafat amid suspicions that the gunman who killed a soldier at a nearby checkpoint last week was hiding there.

On Thursday night (13th), rioters in the Shuafat neighborhood threw fireworks and rocks at the Jerusalem light rail, which passes through predominantly Palestinian parts of eastern Jerusalem as it traverses the city.

In Sheik Jarrah, violence erupted after a rock was thrown at a Jewish-owned home, moderately injuring a 17-year-old.  Jewish youths attacked Palestinian property and vehicles in response.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai toured the area and praised security forces for “standing on the front line,” protecting citizens with their bodies, with determination and bravery, while working around the clock against all the challenges.”

“Police will continue to act with determination and with all means at their disposal against violent perpetrators, those who disturb the peace and those who attempt to hurt civilians or security forces in eastern Jerusalem,” he said in a police statement.

The security establishment opted against restricting access to the Temple Mount for Friday prayers despite the escalating tensions in Jerusalem, with the Kan public broadcaster citing fears that capping the number of Muslim worshipers could attract more rioters.

Jerusalem Mayor, Moshe Lion denied Jerusalem was “burning” and stressed Sukkot festivities had not been impacted by the violence.

“The residents of eastern Jerusalem are an inseparable part of this city.  Yes, it’s true that there is a minority that occasionally raises the temperature.  I am not here to convince people that there isn’t violence in specific sections.  But to say that Jerusalem is burning?  Absolutely not,” he told Army Radio.

Amid the current violence, police on Thursday (13th) announced the deployment of two police reserve units to the streets of Jerusalem, with two additional units deployed around the city’s outskirts.



Lapid: Our Forces Won’t Rest Until They Catch Attackers And Those Who Sent Them

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Thursday afternoon (13th), held a security assessment in the wake of events in eastern Jerusalem and continued preparations for the holidays.

The prime minister received a detailed security and intelligence briefing on the activity of the security forces in Jerusalem and throughout the country, and on the efforts to achieve calm.

Additional steps to strengthen police units on the ground via the use of designated budgets were considered and taken.  Lapid also directed that two plans for strengthening the police in the short-term be advanced.

Prime Minister Lapid received a comprehensive update on the events and marches that are due to take place around the country, in which tens of thousands of Israelis are expected to take part, with emphasis on Jerusalem, and ahead of the Simchat Torah celebrations.

The prime minister approved the continued deployment of the security forces in the field as well as plans to be activated in the event of disturbances and violent events.  He was also briefed on the search for the terrorists involved in the recent attacks.

Prime Minister lapid emphasized the importance of increased information efforts among the Palestinian Arabs in order to stop terrorist activity.  He stressed that we must be alert and not allow “fake news” to mislead the public.

He thanked the security forces, the IDF, the ISA and the Border Police for their determined action for the citizens of Israel over the holidays and on a daily basis. 

“The security forces are deployed throughout the country to enable the holiday events to be held as usual in Jerusalem and throughout the country.  We are determined to allow the events to take place as usual while taking a strong and uncompromising position against terrorism and violent disturbances.  The security forces will not rest until they apprehend the terrorists and those who sent them,” Lapid said.

Also participating in the meeting were Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, National Security Council Director Dr. Eyal Hulata , Israel Police Inspector Yaakov Shabtai, ISA Director Ronen Bar, Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman, the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary Maj.-Gen Avi Gil and additional senior officials.



Palestinian Factions Agree On Elections To End Dispute, But Doubts Persist

Rival Palestinian factions meeting in Algiers for talks mediated by the Algerian government agreed on Thursday (13th) to resolve 15 years of discord through elections that will be held within a year, Palestinian and Algerian officials said.

However, there was skepticism back home that they would deliver any concrete changes after such previous promises of elections failed to materialize in the past.

The leaders of 14 factions, including Mahmoud Abbas,’ Fatah faction movement and the Islamist group Hamas, held two days of talks in the run-up to an Arab summit in Algiers next month.

Under the agreement, formally announced later on Thursday (13th), the parties promised to “speed up the holding of presidential and legislative elections in all of the Palestinian territories including Jerusalem” to within a year, according to officials. 

It also recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization, of which Abbas is the head, as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, calling for elections for its national council within a year.

Political splits since 2007 have weakened Palestinian aspirations and have prevented leadership and parliamentary elections, since ballots were last cast in 2005 and 2006. 

Hamas’ legislative victory then laid the groundwork for the political rupture.  The Islamist group which opposes peace with Israel, seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 while Abbas’ Western-backed Palestinian Authority stayed dominant in the West Bank.

In the Palestinian territories, people have been following the talks in Algeria with little optimism that an agreement will deliver change, and sources familiar with the talks said delegations had failed to agree on forming a unity government.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune wants to use next month’s Arab League summit – the first since before the COVID-19 pandemic  – to cement his country’s place as a regional heavyweight.  It has held talks for months with Palestinian factions to pave the way for a deal on elections, and bring unity between Hamas and Fatah, which has failed over and over again for years.

Renewed demand for Algerian oil and gas, and the end of mass street protests that rocked the country from 2019-20, have bolstered its confidence on the international stage.

However, its ongoing dispute with neighboring Morocco, which has erupted into both countries’ relations with major European states, has overshadowed the run-up to the summit.



Abbas Meets Putin: Says ‘US No Longer Welcome As Broker For Talks With Israel’

The Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, on Thursday (13th) used an audience with Vladimir Putin to denounce the United States, telling the Russian leader that he has no faith in Washington as a Mideast peace broker.

Mahmoud Abbas spoke with Putin at a regional summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.  His comments about the US, traditionally the main broker between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, came at a time when the US and Russia are at loggerheads over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We don’t trust the US,” Abbas said, speaking in Arabic, as Putin looked on.  “We don’t accept the US, under any condition, as a single party in solving the Middle East problem,” he added.

With Thursday’s (14th) meeting, Abbas became one of the few world leaders to sit down with Putin since Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February.  In his public comments, Abbas did not mention the war, nor did a statement released later by his office.

The US had been central to previous negotiations, brokering interim peace deals in the 1990s that created the Palestinian Authority, which Abbas leads.

Abbas’ words, however, come in what could be the waning years of his leadership.

The 87-year-old heads a weak Palestinian Authority leadership with no real succession plans for the day the long-serving leader is gone.



Why Jerusalem Is The Right Location For The UK’s Embassy – Gary Mond

Up until 1948, the world generally referred to “Palestinians” as the Jews who lived in what was to become modern Israel.  The “Palestinian” flag until 1948 contained a Magen David (Star of David), the Palestine Post was the region’s Jewish newspaper and Palestinian football teams comprised Jews.

Jews were ethnically cleansed from the Old City and eastern Jerusalem by the invading Jordanian and Arab armies in 1948.  Jews were the majority of the population of the Old City.  Synagogues were deserted and destroyed and the vibrant Jewish community erased.  The Jewish neighborhood of Simon HaTsadik (Simon the Just) became the Muslim area of Sheikh Jarrah.

The default position for the location of an embassy is a country’s capital city, and it is for the country itself to decide its location.  Israel has declared that Jerusalem is its capital city and this must be respected.  The UK already has a consulate in eastern Jerusalem to serve the local Arab communities.  Why, therefore, should there not be an embassy in Jerusalem to serve Israeli citizens? 

The Abraham Accords and the immense benefits for the region flowing from them has shown that the relocation of the US embassy in Jerusalem has had no adverse effect.  Neither would the relocation of the British embassy.

The writer is Chairman of the National Jewish Assembly.



Italy Marks 40th Anniversary Of Rome Synagogue Attack

The Italian Jewish community marked 40 years since the 1982 terrorist attack at the Great Synagogue in Rome.

During the attack by Palestinian Arab terrorists a two-year-old boy was killed and 37 were injured.

The attack occurred on Shabbat at 11:55 a.m. as Jewish families were leaving through the back door of the synagogue as five terrorists walked to the back entrance and threw three or more grenades into the crowd and then began firing with sub-machne guns.

“The October 9, 1982 attack on the Synagogue of Rome by Palestinian terrorists on a solemn day in which a blessing was given to children, Stefano Gai Tache, 2-years-old, died and 40 people were injured.  Since then our soul has been marked by an indelible wound,” the Jewish Community of Rome said on Twitter.  “Let’s not forget little Stefano Gai Tache, an Italian child, a victim of anti-Jewish hatred.”

A ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the terrorist attack was attended by Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella.

During his inauguration speech in 2015, Mattarella told the Italian parliament that Italy had “paid the price of hate and intolerance” in a “not too distant past,” referring to the antisemitic attack and the murder of the toddler, according to the Wanted in Rome news site.

“I want to remember only one name: Stefano Tache, killed in the vile terror attack on the synagogue in Rome.  He was only two years old.  He was our child, an Italian child,” he said.