News Digest — 5/21/20

May 21: Jerusalem Day March Replaced With ‘700 Person Chain Around Old City’ – Live Virtual Tour for Diaspora

Since Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in Israel, is celebrated Thursday (21st), police and organizers came to an agreement on Wednesday (20th) about how to mark the anniversary of Israel’s taking control of the Temple Mount compound and the eastern parts of the city during the 1967 Six Day War.

The day is usually marked by a march through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, ending at the Western Wall.

According to the agreement reached with the Israeli police, instead of a march through the Old City’s narrow streets, 700 people will be allowed to form a human chain, with social distancing between links, around many of the Old City gates, organizers said in a statement.

In addition a convoy of cars will drive around Jerusalem and circle the Old City.  The events will culminate in a ceremony at the Western Wall attended by 450 people who registered in advance.

Organizers had sought permission for a 3,000 person human chain stretching from the center of western Jerusalem through the Old City.

The agreement comes after a high court hearing on the matter.

After Israel captured East Jerusalem in the Six Day War, it united it and declared the entire city the undivided capital of Israel.  

In light of the coronavirus, Jerusalem Day will be celebrated by way of a virtual tour for those living outside of Israel (Diaspora).

In the past, thousands of tourists arrived in Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday, visiting the city’s famous sites such as the Western Wall, the Old City, and the Mahane Yehuda Market.  This year, with the coronavirus, tourists were unable to come to the city leading to the World Zionist Organization and B’nai Brith International setting up a live tour of the city.

“As is written in the Talmud, ‘Ten cubits of beauty fell upon the world, nine cubits on Jerusalem!’ and on Jerusalem Day we see the beauty of the city in all its glory,” said Yaakov Hagoel acting chairman of the WZO.

“In order for those in the Diaspora, who are unable to feel Jerusalem physically on this special day, we have designed a unique live tour that will make available to our viewers the pastoral scenes and stories of the heritage of Jerusalem, if not the actual fragrances and smells of our eternal city, on the day we mark the reunification of Jerusalem for eternity as the capital of the Jewish people, including those in the Diaspora,” he added.

The event will be broadcast on the World Zionist Organization YouTube and Facebook pages, Yaakov Hagoel and B’nai B’rith International on Thursday May 21, 2020, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Israel time.  The live broadcast will last three hours.      



Khamenei Slams UAE ‘Betrayal’ For Flight To Israel

Stunned by a surprise flight of an Arab airliner landing publicly in Israel, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the United Arab Emirates and accused them of betrayal.

On Tuesday (19th), UAE-based Etihad Airways flew a commercial flight carrying 16 tons of aid for Palestinians to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.  It was the first-known flight between the two countries, that have no formal diplomatic relations, although there have been visible back-channel relations for years.

“Today, some Persian Gulf States have committed the biggest treachery against their own history and the history of the Arab world,” Khamenei tweeted.  “They have betrayed Palestine by supporting Israel.  Will the nations of these states tolerate their leaders’ betrayal?”

Although there are no direct flights between the UAE and Israel, travel between the two countries is not uncommon with passengers switching planes in a third country.

Last December, Israel and UAE diplomats held a secret meeting at the White House to discuss bilateral issues including Iran.

The predominantly Sunni-Muslim Arab countries have a fractious relationship with Shi’ite-Iran, which constantly intimidates its Arab neighbors, including a threat in 2018 to bombard not just Israel, but also the UAE and Saudi Arabia with missile attacks.



UN Ambassador Danny Danon: Abbas Must Talk With Israel, Not Threaten It

Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas should negotiate a peace deal with Israel rather than threaten to cut security ties with it, Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said Tuesday (19th).

“Mahmoud Abbas is failing the Palestinian people.  Under his leadership, the PA continues to demonstrate its obstinance, now threatening to end security ties with Israel if we pursue applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, as per the Trump Administration’s Vision for Peace,” said Danon.

He spoke out after a PLO meeting in which Abbas said he was cutting security ties with Israel and canceling all agreements with it in response to Israel’s plans to take control of parts of the West Bank.

“The decision to apply sovereignty will be made by Israel, and only Israel.  As Prime Minister Menachem Begin said after extending Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, ‘you can annex foreign land – you cannot annex your own country,’” Danon said.

“Abbas only has to do one thing: enter into direct negotiations with Israel.  Instead, at this late hour, he continues to bluster and make threats.  Ending ties with Israel will ultimately hurt the Palestinians far more than it harms Israel,” he added.

Danon spoke in advance of the monthly meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.



Palestinians Doubt Abbas’ Latest Threats To Renounce All Agreements With Israel – Khaled Abu Toameh

PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas threatened on Tuesday (19th) to renounce all agreements with Israel but stopped short of canceling them, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday (20th).  An official pointed out that Abbas’ previous threats had failed to stop the U.S. from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy there.  A senior PA security official said on Wednesday (20th) that he was unaware of any instruction from the Palestinian leadership to halt security coordination with Israel.

A Fatah official said, “Since 2015, Chairman Abbas has been reading from the same paper.  How many times can you repeat the same threat?  How can you renounce the same agreements you said you renounced five years ago?  That’s why Israel and many in the international community no longer take these threats seriously.”  A Ramallah-based veteran Palestinian journalist remarked, “Everyone knows that these threats are meaningless because, without the agreements with Israel, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority won’t be able to survive for another day.”



Stray Camels Are Problem In Negev Region

A 30-year-old man was killed Tuesday night (19th) after colliding into a camel on a highway in southern Israel.

Road fatalities caused by stray camels have been a recurring problem in the Jewish State.

According to Regavim, a movement for protecting Israel’s resources, the police respond to 1,000 stray camel complaints on a daily basis.

“Tragically, tonight we are once again seeing the unnecessary loss of life on the blood-drenched roads of the Negev.  This is an inconceivable price to pay, and is compounded by the fact that it was both foreseeable and avoidable,” said Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim.

In the past decade, more than 350 motorists have been injured and over a dozen killed by stray camels.  Only recently did the government step in to help police track those responsible.

The Camel Law passed in June 2018 requires all camels to be registered and identified with an ID chip. Prior to the law, owners were only required to attach a tag to the camel’s ear for identification purposes.

However since its passage, only one-third of camels in southern Israel have been chipped and registered by Israel’s Veterinary Services.

“I call upon the incoming Minister of Agriculture Alon Schuster, who is well aware of this terrible situation that has claimed so many victims, to roll up his sleeves without delay and to ensure that the Camel Law is implemented immediately and in full,” said Deutsch.

The Agriculture Ministry estimates that 200 to 300 camel herds roam around the country, mostly in southern Israel, and about 1,500 are born every year.