Israeli police arrested on Wednesday the top Palestinian Muslim religious leader in Jerusalem but released him without charge after questioning him about a fracas between Palestinians and Israelis at al-Aqsa mosque.
Israel’s rare move against Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, came a day after it celebrated the anniversary of its 1967 capture of East Jerusalem. Husseini’s detention was widely condemned by Palestinian leaders as an infringement of religious freedom in the holy city.
Hussein serves under the Palestinian Authority which exercises limited rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as well as neighboring Jordan, long a custodian over Jerusalem’s Muslim holy places.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Hussein was arrested to answer questions about a “public disturbance” on Tuesday near al-Aqsa mosque, which overlooks Judaism’s Western Wall.
The incident began, Rosenfeld said, when Israeli police detained a Palestinian who wanted to enter the plaza but refused to present his identification card.
It developed into a scuffle in which Muslim worshippers threw chairs at Jewish visitors at the site, he added.
Rosenfeld said Hussein was questioned for six hours and released without charge.
On April 13, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority resigned. It was an easy development to miss, but not one to be ignored. It was very bad news, because Salam Fayyad was the “Arab Spring” before there was an Arab Spring. That is, he was what the Arab Spring was supposed to lead to: a new generation of decent Arab leaders whose primary focus would be the human development of their own people, not the enrichment of their family, tribe, sect or party. That Fayyad’s brand of noncorrupt, institution-focused leadership was not sufficiently supported by other Palestinian leaders, the Arab states, Israel and America is really depressing. It does not bode well for the revolutions in Egypt, Syria or Tunisia — none of which have a Fayyad-quality leader at the helm.
Who is Salam Fayyad? A former economist at the International Monetary Fund, he first came to prominence when he was named finance minister of the Palestinian Authority in 2002, after donors got fed up seeing their contributions diverted for corruption. Shortly after he became prime minister in 2007, I coined the term “Fayyadism” — the all-too-rare notion that an Arab leader’s legitimacy should be based not on slogans or resistance to Israel and the West or on personality cults or security services, but on delivering decent, transparent, accountable governance.
Fayyad “dried up all slush accounts and went against Yasir Arafat’s orders by insisting on paying all security officials by direct bank account (rather than with cash given to their commanders based on a questionable list of personnel),” wrote Daoud Kuttab, a prominent Palestinian journalist, in The Jewish Daily Forward. “Fayyad also became the first Arab government official to publish his government’s entire budget online, ushering a new transparency not seen in the entire Arab region.”
More: Goodbye to All That
The truth sometimes hurts; that is why the Palestinian Authority has been working hard to prevent the outside world from hearing about many occurrences that reflect negatively on its leaders or people.
In recent years, the Palestinian Authority leadership, often with the help of the mainstream media in the US and EU, has been successful in its effort to divert all attention only toward Israel.
Following are examples of some of the inconvenient truths that the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank do not want others to know about:
- Over 100 senior PLO and Fatah officials hold Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them various privileges denied to most Palestinians. Among these privileges is the freedom to enter Israel and travel abroad at any time they wish. This privileging has existed since the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993.
- Out of the 600 Christians from the Gaza Strip who arrived in the West Bank in the past two weeks to celebrate Christmas, dozens have asked to move to Israel because they no longer feel comfortable living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
- Dozens of Christian families from east Jerusalem have moved to Jewish neighborhoods in the the city because they too no longer feel comfortable living among Muslims.
- Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank continue to summon and arrest political opponents, journalists and bloggers who dare to criticize the Palestinian leadership.
Read the rest HERE (source).
Civil Administration funds bone marrow transplant for Palestinian child
A two-year old Palestinian boy from the Judea and Samaria region underwent a bone marrow transplant last month at Israel’s Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. The procedure was funded by the Civil Administration, after the Palestinian Authority declined the family’s request to fund it.
‘This procedure will save the child’s life,’ explained Dalia Bessa, the Health Coordinator for the Civil Administration. ‘When this sort of procedure is needed and the Palestinian Authority refuses to fund it, the Civil Administration steps in, in order to save lives.’
Palestinians have a moral right to statehood - but their wish will not be fulfilled until we engage Israel’s strategic security
Whenever it had the chance, Iran supplied extremist factions with weaponry and money to hit Israel: such has been the case with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. If the Israeli military withdrew from the West Bank, is there anything that would prevent Tehran from supplying rebellious factions there as well?
The question hints at a crucial aspect of the Middle East peace process: The recognition of full statehood and military independence for Palestine must necessarily go hand in hand with a new military security concept. Without such an element, an Israeli exit from the West Bank would not be the end of current problems but the beginning of new and deeper ones. The question of “defensible borders” has too long be deemed a “conservative” or “hawkish” issue. The Left should sincerely engage with the problem to pave the way for a feasible approach.
The peace process highlights the classic conflict between morals and pragmatism. Few people would criticize the Palestinians’ right to enjoy full recognition as state entity (hence the moral justification of the claim), yet that moral conviction does not answer the question of Israel’s defense and strategic position. Retiring from Gaza in 2005 was a bold choice by Israel. Relocating settlements ignited a hard national discussion about “Jews evicting Jews”. The Gaza Strip was left to the Palestinians - and soon thereafter Hamas took control of the territory and increased its military activities. Israel’s fear is that reducing control on the West Bank may lead to an equal radicalization of military attitudes in the territory.
The problem isn’t so much the political choices made by the Fatah-led Palestinian authorities but the inability of any Palestinian state-like entity to control the West Bank. Let’s take Gaza again as an example: After a truce between Hamas and Israel had been decided, missile operations still went on, performed by uncontrollable maverick groups, some of Salafist inspiration. Moreover, it has become clear that the IDF lacked the capacities to reach the smuggling tunnels to Gaza in the Sinai - and Operation Pillar of Defense has further weakened Israel’s military capacity in the Gaza Strip.
Did Israel kill Yasser Arafat? That is the question being discussed as the Palestinian Authority exhumes his body this week for French prosecutors investigating his death. This follows the announcement by a Swiss institute that they found remnants of the poison polonium on Arafat’s clothes.
However, the more fundamental questions are why would Israel have wanted to kill Arafat and would it have been justified. The assessment must be based on the objective data as to Arafat’s role at the time. Was he just a political leader or was he also an archterrorist leading the most systematic and deadly terror war that Israel ever faced? Yasser Arafat died in November 2004 after four years of a PA terror campaign, also called the second intifada. One thousand Israelis had already been murdered in attacks coming from PA territory under Arafat’s leadership.
Was Arafat directing this terror campaign? If so, he would belong in the same category as terror leaders like Osama bin Laden and Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin, who were killed by the US and Israel respectively, as measures in the war on terror being fought by democracies.
Evidence abounds that Arafat was the force behind the terror war against Israel. First, the PA actively promoted terror and glorified terror through the structures under Arafat’s control.
Britain is prepared to back a key vote recognising Palestinian statehood at the United Nations if Mahmoud Abbas pledges not to pursue Israel for war crimes and to resume peace talks.
Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has called for Britain’s backing in part because of its historic responsibility for Palestine. The government has previously refused, citing strong US and Israeli objections and fears of long-term damage to prospects for negotiations.
On Monday night, the government signalled it would change tack and vote yes if the Palestinians modified their application, which is to be debated by the UN general assembly in New York later this week. As a “non-member state”, Palestine would have the same status as the Vatican.
Whitehall officials said the Palestinians were now being asked to refrain from applying for membership of the international criminal court or the international court of justice, which could both be used to pursue war crimes charges or other legal claims against Israel.
Abbas is also being asked to commit to an immediate resumption of peace talks “without preconditions” with Israel. The third condition is that the general assembly’s resolution does not require the UN security council to follow suit.
In the daily demonstrations here of solidarity with Gaza, a mix of sympathy and anguish, there is something else: growing identification with the Islamist fighters of Hamas and derision for the Palestinian Authority, which Washington considers the only viable partner for peace with Israel.
“Strike a blow on Tel Aviv!” proclaimed the lyrics of a new hit song blasting from shops and speakers at Monday’s demonstration, in a reference to Hamas rockets that made it nearly to Israel’s economic and cultural capital. “Don’t let the Zionists sleep! We don’t want a truce or a solution! Oh, Palestinians, you can be proud!”
Pop songs everywhere are filled with bravado and aggression. But this one reflects a widespread sentiment that does not augur well for President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, which is rapidly losing credibility, even relevance. The Gaza truce talks in Cairo, involving Egypt, Turkey and Qatar, offer a telling tableau. The Palestinian leader seen there is not Mr. Abbas, but Khaled Meshal, the leader of the militant group Hamas, who seeks to speak for all Palestinians as his ideological brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power around the region.
Israel is also threatening Mr. Abbas, even hinting that it may give up on him, as he prepares to go to the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 29 to try to upgrade the Palestinian status to that of a nonmember state. The Israelis consider this step an act of aggression, and even some Palestinians say it is somewhat beside the point at this stage.
“His people are being killed in Gaza, and he is sitting on his comfortable chair in Ramallah,” lamented Firas Katash, 20, a student who took part in the Ramallah demonstration.
For the United States, as for other countries hoping to promote a two-state solution to this century-old conflict, a more radicalized West Bank with a discredited Palestinian Authority would mean greater insecurity for Israel and increased opportunity for anti-Western forces to take root in a region where Islamism is on the rise.
The Palestinian Authority Saturday denied that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was considering postponing a request to the UN to upgrade the status of a Palestinian state.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for Abbas, said that the decision to present the Palestinian request to the UN this month has been taken by the Palestinian leadership and the Arab countries.
He pointed out that the Palestinians circulated over the weekend a draft proposal of the statehood bid to the UN.
“The decision has been taken and there will be no backtracking on it,” Abu Rudaineh said. “We will go the Un to ask for a state within the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
The prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Friday that he planned to soon visit the Gaza Strip, a move that would significantly enhance the legitimacy of the Hamas-controlled Gaza government and antagonize the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the West.
Turkish newspapers reported Friday that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, would travel to Gaza—the first visit by a representative of a NATO country.
Mr. Erdogan, who twice last year scheduled and then canceled visits to Gaza, did not offer specifics as to the timing or agenda for such a visit, which he mentioned to reporters traveling with him to Ankara from Berlin, according to the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman. A Foreign Ministry official later said that the prime minister was simply expressing an “intention” and that he wanted to visit “someday.”
His comments came nine days after the emir of Qatar became the first head of state to step foot in Gaza since the Islamic group Hamas took it over in 2007, pledging $400 million for development projects including housing complexes, road renovation and a prosthetic hospital. The crown prince of Bahrain was scheduled to visit the Palestinian enclave on Thursday but canceled at the last minute to avoid political implications, according to reports in the Arab press.