So all the killings and all the responses – it was in all vain. Everything is back to where it was before the 14th July: there is no official security for Muslims (Jews of course are the exception because they are SO dangerous! Especially when they pray); the metal detectors and even the security cameras have been taken down, and the only checking will be of exceptionally suspicious characters.
And in return the Mufti of Jerusalem has FINALLY and graciously instructed his mob that they can return to pray at Al-Aqsa. What a shame. I was hoping they would stay away for good.
So all is back to where it was – except for the minor detail that five Israelis – two policemen and Yosef, Chaya and Elad Salomon – were viciously murdered and they cannot be brought back to life.
This clarifies the realization that the whole crisis – the murders, the international condemnations (of Israel, not the “poor oppressed Palestinians who were stopped from carrying out more murders, the poor mites”), the involvement of do-gooders like the US, the Jordanian embassy crisis – it was all for naught.
Maybe Netanyahu should have listened to the Shin Bet after all and not erected the metal detectors? But what could he have done following the shooting of the Israeli cops at the Temple Mount? Could he or should he have just ignored it and let the situation carry on as before?
David Horovitz analyses some of the pitfalls which Netanyahu flung himself into, and explains the difficulties in extricating himself – and all of us, in his article “eyes wide shut into disaster”:
It has been widely reported that the Shin Bet security agency and the IDF were barely consulted ahead of the decision to install metal detector gates at the Temple Mount after the July 14 terror attack there. It has been widely reported that police chiefs and the public security minister did not believe the measure constituted a particularly significant step. It has been widely reported that Netanyahu failed to detail the metal detector plans when he spoke to Jordan’s King Abdullah and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the immediate aftermath of the attack, in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two police officers on duty just outside the compound with guns they had smuggled into the holy site. It has been widely reported that the Shin Bet and the IDF urged that the metal detector gates be removed ahead of July 21’s Friday mass Muslim prayers.
Whatever the truth of these various damning reports, some of which have been denied, a more “responsible” prime minister should surely have realized the inflammatory potential of the metal detector gates, particularly when installed in the way they were.
A narrow, determinedly blinkered interpretation of that Israeli-instituted division of responsibility might allow Israel to claim that altering the means of access to the Mount does not constitute a breach of the so-called status quo. But a real world approach, a responsible approach, an approach to serve all interests — most emphatically including Israel’s — required careful consultation over the new measures with the Jordanians, and with the Palestinian leadership for that matter.
Responsible leadership has other dimensions too. It required intervening long ago with the Jordanian authorities, who have whipped up their people into hostility against Israel while privately enjoying the benefits of economic and security relations with Israel (as detailed here by Avi Issacharoff). To his credit, by contrast, Netanyahu has sought to muster leverage to work against the incitement to violence by the Palestinian Authority that so directly contributes to acts of terrorism such as the brutal killings of the Salomon family at Halamish on Shabbat eve.
Responsible leadership necessitated a far firmer line with the Israeli inciter-in-chief Raed Salah, head of the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, who has for years disseminated false assertions that Al-Aqsa is in danger — lies that fatally resonated with the three Israeli Muslims from his Umm al-Fahm catchment area who shot dead those two (Druze) police officers just outside the Mount on July 14.
Responsible leadership would also ensure that Israel had a foreign minister in place with the time to helm discussions on such seemingly minor but actually significant matters. And would insist on having a defense minister with years of security experience. But Netanyahu, not conspicuously underworked, nevertheless insists on leaving the Foreign Ministry post vacant and handling that portfolio himself, and booted his irritatingly principled ex-chief-of-staff defense minister Moshe Ya’alon in favor of the populist, militarily inexpert Avigdor Liberman.
Herb Keinon is more forgiving of Netanyahu as he details the lessons to be learned from the crisis of the last two weeks:
Had Netanyahu foreseen the outrage that installation of the security devices would have caused, it is hard believe he would have taken that step.
But he did not foresee the outrage, apparently, which means things were not thought through sufficiently, which is a shame.
Netanyahu convened three security cabinet meetings over the last six days to consider whether the metal detectors should be removed. He should have convened at least one before installing them.
When dealing with what is arguably the most sensitive piece of real estate on the planet, even the smallest alteration needs to be considered extensively and consultations held with other stakeholders, such as the Jordanians, Saudis and Palestinians. Otherwise, all hell might break loose.
We can’t just talk to ourselves and think that solves the problem
For days, the country debated whether or not the metal detectors should remain in place or be removed, as if once Israel decided to remove them, everything would work out.
This is an endemic Israeli problem, a tendency to think that if the Jews come to agreement among themselves over an issue – something that is in and of itself no easy chore – than the issue is solved. We debate among ourselves and think once that debate is over reality will conform to our decisions.
This is apparent in our endless debates over the future of the settlements. For instance, we believe if we decide among ourselves that the settlement blocs will remain part of Israel in any future agreement, then that is the way it will be. The hard reality is that there is another party that might have a different idea.
The relationship with Jordan is very strong
… Jordan, of course, is of critical strategic importance to Israel. Imagine for a moment what Israel’s strategic situation would look like if Israel’s neighbor to the east, with which it shares a long border, was Syria or Lebanon instead of Jordan. Life would be much more difficult.
But Israel is even more critical for Jordan.
In fact, one could argue that Israel – because of its military, security and intelligence cooperation, as well as because of the water and gas it sells the country – is of existential importance to the Hashemite Kingdom.
If King Abdullah were toppled, Israel could survive, albeit faced with enormous new headaches from the east. But if Israel ceased to exist, it is not clear whether the Hashemite Kingdom – with more than a million refugees who filtered down from Syria, hostile Shi’ite forces on its eastern border with Iraq, and a strong fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood constituency within – would endure.
When things work, they work
Israel is nothing if not enormously – perhaps even abnormally – self-critical. When things go wrong – such as the decision to install the metal detectors on the Temple Mount – we complain, and debate and second- guess endlessly. And in the end, there will be calls for the establishment of a commission of inquiry.
But when the system works, hardly a word is heard.
Keinon adds a word of warning to the Right not to push Netanyahu too far:
Critics of Netanyahu say often he is the prisoner of the right-wing of his party and of his coalition; that he is the prime minister in title, but in practice, those calling the shots – when it comes to issues such as the diplomatic process with the Palestinians and construction in the settlements – are Ze’ev Elkin, Miri Regev, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.
The Temple Mount crisis shows that there is a limit to the Right’s influence. Regev slammed Netanyahu for the decision to remove the metal detectors. And Shaked, Bennett and Elkin all voted against it in the security cabinet meeting Monday night.
But still Netanyahu went through with it.
Balancing the predictable sniping from Regev and Bennett against the possibility of a full-blown conflagration over the issue, the prime minister opted to brave their sniping to fend off what the security apparatus warned could truly be a catastrophic situation.
I admire Herb Keinon a lot, but I think he is too forgiving of Netanyahu in this situation. Netanyahu is the one person who should have foreseen the disaster and either made a firm decision to stand staunchly in the face of the violence, or should never have gone through with his initial decision in the first place. He is being led, not acting like a leader.
The right wing reflect the opinion of most Israelis who are furious at Netanyahu’s cack-handed mishandling of the whole crisis, and particularly the humiliating capitulation to every single one of the Muslims’ demands.
The decision to remove the new security measures was met with harsh criticism from both the Israeli right — which blasted it as a capitulation — and the left, which argued the measures shouldn’t have been introduced to begin with.
While saying that he would not criticize Benjamin Netanyahu directly over the decision, the prime minister’s principal coalition rival, Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, characterized the move as a “surrender” to terrorism.
“Instead of sending a message about Israel’s sovereignty on the Temple Mount, we are sending a message that we can be questioned,” he said.
In a rare attack on his party leader, Likud MK Oren Hazan said that Netanyahu “would not be forgiven for capitulating over Israel’s future security.”
Israel did not even enforce the demand that the bodies of the Temple Mount terrorists be buried in a quiet funeral. The funeral was a rabid, bloodthirsty celebration of murder:
Some 10,000 residents of Umm al-Fahm took part in the funerals of the three terrorists who carried out the Temple Mount shooting attack earlier this month, with attendees greeting the bodies with shouts of joy and fireworks while praising the young men as “martyrs” and “heroes.”
On Wednesday, the High Court ruled that the bodies of Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Jabarin, 29, Muhammad Hamed Abed al-Atif Jabarin, 19, and Muhammad Ahmad Mafdel Jabarin, 19, were to be returned to their families after they were shot dead while carrying out the attack that claimed the lives of two police officers.
In fact those bodies should not have been returned at all – they were an excellent bargaining chip. Yes, yes, I know, we should not stoop to their level, bla bla bla. But the time has come, long ago in fact, for us to take off our kid gloves and play nasty. But tell that to our uber-Leftist High Court who never met a terrorist it didn’t accommodate.
Now Netanyahu is trying to play to the gallery on his right by backing the municipal expansion of Jerusalem to include Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and Betar Illit. But Bibi is brilliant at talking. He is absolutely useless in the execution.
He plays up to the right with his nationalistic talk, which enrages the Left and the international community. And then he lets the Right down by backing off from his commitments (how many times has he authorized “new settlement building” and then backed off?). In this way he manages to outrage both Left and Right while pleasing no one, and earning himself no brownie points at all. This is a leader? This is what Israel needs at this crucial time?