Vice President Joe Biden attacked time and again the Netanyahu government which he said causes the White House “overwhelming frustration,” in a speech at the leftwing J Street organization’s annual gala dinner on Monday. “The present course Israel’s on is not one that’s likely to secure its existence as a Jewish, democratic state— and we have to make sure that happens,” Biden said.
Biden recalled his recent meetings with both Netanyahu and PA Chairman Abbas, concluding that “there is at the moment no political will that I observed among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward with serious negotiations. The trust that is necessary to take risks for peace is fractured on both sides.”
According to Politico, the tone and direction of that Biden reference and his overall speech “seemed to rule out the chances of a final year peace push from the Obama administration.” Perhaps.
Biden acknowledged the attack on a Jerusalem bus by Arab terrorists that took place on the same day he was sharing his frustrations regarding the Netanyahu government’s lack of willingness to pursue the two-state solution. Biden condemned the bombing, saying it had been done by “misguided cowards.” He offered prayers to the injured and their families. Which is probably more realistic at this point than anything else the administration could do to promote its goals in the region. That should be frustrating indeed.
Biden began his speech with praise for another guest of honor, young, first-term MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Camp – Labor), who reminded him, he said, of the time he had run for the Senate at the age of 29. “May your views once again begin to have a majority opinion in the Knesset,” Biden said.
Not likely. In fact, if Labor ever wants to be a contender in Israeli coalition politics, it’ll have to move to the center—as the majority of its members have been advocating—which could mean the dropping of needless indulgences like Shaffir.
Towards the end, Biden said, “We are Israel’s maybe not-only friend, but only absolutely certain friend.” That statement will be tested in November, after the elections, when the US Administration will have to decide whether or not to veto a UN Security Council resolution unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state.
Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett responded on Monday to the IDF announcement of discovering yet another Hamas terror tunnel (Cleared for Release: New Terror Tunnel Into Israel Discovered) with an all out attack on the Israeli security apparatus.
“Our worst fears have come true,” Bennett said in an email statement. “Over the two years that passed since Operation Protective Edge (2014), Hamas has not been deterred from re-intensifying its efforts, as we have warned consistently.”
Bennett described Hamas as having defined “a national project to re-dig the terror tunnels reaching deep into Israeli territory. It’s been a high national goal for them, and it’s about time we internalized the idea. The aim of Hamas is to surprise us with a multi-front event of penetration, killing and kidnapping, a kind of Yom Kippur war of terror.”
Bennett insisted that the obligation of the Netanyahu government remains to provide security to the residents of the south, and to prevent such an all out attack with every means available — and not rely on the conceptual notion that Hamas is “so-called deterred.”
Finally, Bennett urged an immediate retaliatory action to follow the tunnel discovery, since said tunnel is, by definition, a Hamas violation of Israeli sovereignty.
Back in 2014, during and after the war, Bennett received much criticism for his claim that it had been he who, by his sheer perseverance, managed to sway the IDF command and the defense minister towards making the effort to discover and demolish the terror tunnels. But in November, 2014, a Channel 2 investigative report confirmed every one of the embattled rightwing leader’s assertions.
The Uvda program determined that it had indeed been Bennett who repeatedly raised the subject of the tunnels at cabinet sessions throughout the summer of 2014, while Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon objected to launching an operation against the tunnels.
“If there is anything that a person who is familiar with the protocols of the cabinet sessions can see,” journalist Ilana Dayan reported, “it is that Minister Naftali Bennett demands, again and again, to launch an operation against the tunnels, and he hears an answer that more or less repeats itself, from Defense Minister Ya’alon: the tunnel threat is one we can live with, it need not be defined as a target, at least not in this round of fighting.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau eventually let the nation know that Hamas was planning a massacre on Rosh Hashana 2014, and that those plans had been averted by the IDF ground operation that destroyed the terror tunnels. But in the summer, Netanyahu had been backing his defense minister against the annoying Bennett’s proclamations.
Nothing has changed in that respect, and the IDF and defense minister, with the PM’s backing, will likely evade the need to punish Hamas now for their newest terror tunnel.
Hillary and Bernie locked horns, clashed, yelled and smashed into each other almost literally last night in Brooklyn, NY. There were cheap shots and there were deep cuts. It can be safely said that the behavioral gap between the Democratic and Republican debates have narrowed significantly, so neither side can claim the high ground any longer. As to the portion of the debate in which we were most interested, US-Israeli relations, we must agree Hillary made us feel a little safer. Sanders started off from the point of view of B’Tselem and J Street, while Hillary at this point is a little to the right of J Street. After last night’s debate, if you’re a Democrat who cares about Israel, we advise you to buy an industrial size laundry clip, put it on your nose and vote for Bill’s wife. Not because we endorse her, we really really don’t, but she scares us a little less than Bernie does.
And now, to what they actually said last night about how they’d like to finally bring peace to the region…
Blitzer: Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”
What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?
Sanders: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.
But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.
Heckler: Free Palestine!
Sanders: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.
Sanders: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.
Sanders: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.
That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think…
Blitzer: … Thank you, Senator…
Sanders: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.
Blitzer: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?
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Clinton: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with…
Clinton: President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.
They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.
So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.
That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…
Blitzer: … Thank you…
Clinton: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.
Blitzer: Thank you, Senator, go ahead — go ahead, Senator.
Sanders: I don’t think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.
And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That’s not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?
I believe that it was, you have not answered that.
Clinton: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.
I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible. It would be great — remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.
Clinton: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.
So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.
Blitzer: Thank you, Secretary.
Sanders: I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech.
Sanders: So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long-term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.
That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that’s the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise.
Clinton: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.
There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.
I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.
Blitzer: A final word, Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.
Clinton: … you know, I have spoken about and written at some length the very candid conversations I’ve had with him and other Israeli leaders. Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right, but it is a difficult position.
If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge.
Blitzer: Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing.
All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.
European leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to fight anti-Semitism, according to Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association (EJA), who received greetings from the heads of most countries in the EU.
Margolin was the recipient of holiday greetings from Europe’s leadership ahead of the upcoming Jewish high holy days, particularly Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, which begins next Sunday night.
The continent’s leaders are seeking to “reinforce with Europe’s historic Jewish communities and reaffirm their commitment to fighting the wave of anti-Semitic acts that have blighted cities across the European Union,” Margolin said.
Messages of support and solidarity were led by France’s Francois Hollande, who departed from the secular protocol of the French Republic to send his new year wishes to European Jewry. The French president offered a firm commitment to fight “against all words and acts of an anti-Semitic nature, and to allow everyone to live together, without exception, with the same values of freedom, tolerance and community”.
French Premier Manuels Valls added his “readiness to fight against anti-Semitism, and all forms of racism and intolerance, and to tirelessly support European initiatives designed to defend the values which shape our democracies”.
Austrian President Heinz K. Fischer spoke out in support of “the common interest of Jews in Europe.” Fischer said he sought to renew Austria’s ties with the Jewish State by way of its commitment to “the safeguarding of Israel.”
He added that Austria remains committed to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in Europe and the world, and to the “safeguarding of minorities including the Jewish community in Austria, which has always strongly influenced our country’s culture,” he added.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel also reaffirmed his “excellent relationship with the Jewish community in Belgium.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte recalled his country’s endorsement of a joint statement on anti-Semitism at an informal meeting of the United Nations General Assembly last January.
“I share your concern about rising anti-Semitism in Europe,” he said in his message to European Jewry. “This scourge affects Jewish communities first, but in essence it is a threat to society as a whole,” he added.
EJA General Director, Rabbi Margolin thanked the European leaders for their wishes and commitments.
“Rabbis and community leaders across Europe report that in light of the growing anti-Semitism and nationalist atmosphere there has been a significant decline in the number of Jews who take part in community activities,” he said.
“However, Jewish communities are working hard to help Jews attend Rosh Hashanah services. Major security measures are being taken and we can report that there is a relative increase in the number of Jews who have expressed their intention to attend synagogues over Rosh Hashanah with their families, compared to last year. “
In Manchester, England alone, anti-Semitic incidents rose by nearly 80 percent in 12 months, according to a report issued by the Community Security Trust earlier this year.
A 17-year-old boy was beaten unconscious in an attack by three men who attacked him and three other Jews this past Saturday night. The boy remains hospitalized with a suspected brain bleed. The three other victims, ages 17, 18 and 20, were also verbally and physically assaulted but did not require admission to hospital.
An older Jewish woman who recently immigrated to Israel from the United States on aliyah was attacked when she made her first trip to the Temple Mount this week.
Brenda Rubin, a resident of Jerusalem, was a new Israeli for seven months when she was punched in the ribs Tuesday morning by a burka-clad Muslim woman.
Because the attacker was wearing a burka, as were those around her, security personnel obviously knew it would be impossible to identify with certainty who the attacker had been — possibly a factor in the planning of the Arab harassment campaign in the first place.
“It was my first time on the Mount and it was a very important thing for me,” she said. “This woman in black came in between our lines and gave me a big punch under my rib on my side that I’m still feeling.”
When Rubin reported the attack to a police officer immediately after, he brusquely told her to “file a complaint” (at the nearby police station – after leaving the Temple Mount.)
He took no further action, even though the group of burka-clad Muslim women from which her attacker emerged was still standing nearby, harassing a small group of Jews.
“I feel like, we came to Israel, this is our Land, we didn’t come here to be shivering Jews,” Rubin said in a taped interview afterwards. “It’s really painful that somebody could feel they could come and use the name of God to come and hurt us.”
According to a Facebook post by The Temple Institute, “Muslim women are paid a daily stipend by the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas) to be present on the Temple Mount during the hours that Jews are allowed on the Mount, and to verbally and physically harass the Jewish worshipers from the moment they enter the Mount to the moment they exit the Mount.
“The Israel police, following strict orders, do nothing to prevent the attacks nor intervene once the attacks have occurred, (due to government fear of offending the Muslims).”
The Temple Mount is the holiest site on earth in Judaism, and the third holiest site in Islam. Nevertheless, the Israeli government has allowed Jordan to govern the site via the Islamic Waqf Authority. Jews are regularly mistreated at the site and sometimes attacked; often they are denied access to the site altogether, despite legal rights to the contrary.
Rubin, who still feels pain in her side, added, “I would like the people who feel that there is some commonality, to come [to the Mount] and walk around on some morning and see… how we’re being harassed – and that’s very disturbing.”
A text at the end of the videotaped interview states in Hebrew: “This time, the blow came as a punch; but the next time could be a knife.”
A Hamas fighter captured by Israel early in July has revealed a wealth of information about the terror group’s plans to attack civilians and soldiers in the Jewish State.
The arrest of Ibrahim Adel Shehadeh Sha’er, 21 was only cleared for release early Tuesday afternoon, however, after weeks of questioning.
Sha’er was captured in a joint operation by Israel Police and operatives from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), according to a release sent to Hebrew-language media.
A resident of Rafah, Sha’er revealed a great deal of information to his investigators, including details about Hamas emergency procedures.
Hamas has rebuilt much of its terrorist infrastructure since the end of last year’s Operation Protective Edge war in the region, he said, including its tunnel network.
Sha’er provided specific locations and routes of the tunnels, as well as digging sites in Rafah where tunnels start – including one that he said led to the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Israel.
He also shared details about the purpose of the new road built by Hamas along the security fence. Shin Bet was able to confirm, for instance, that the road was intended for use in a surprise attack on Israel that was to involve vehicles that were to have crossed the border.
A Hamas operative, Sha’er personally was involved in many different aspects of terrorist training that included combat, command, use of advanced weapons and explosives.
During the war he served in a logistics and support company that transported military equipment and explosives to fighters in the field. Sha’er was also directly involved in combat zones, planting anti-tank mines and carrying out observation in the field.
According to the report, Sha’er was also privy to information discussed by many Hamas senior officials. He revealed many details about the relationship between Hamas and Iran, who he said sent generous military aid to Gaza to strengthen the terror organization.
Iran has been sending money, advanced weaponry and electronic equipment to Gaza, including devices used to disrupt radio frequencies and help bring down Israeli reconnaissance drones flying above the enclave. Sha’er also claimed that Iran had trained Hamas operatives in how to fly para-gliders, with the hopes of using the novel equipment to infiltrate across Israel’s border.
The Hamas prisoner also provided information about the formation of elite units in the terrorist group, and their anti-tank, anti-aircraft and observation capabilities.
At present, he said, Hamas can view and film Israeli territory at a distance of three kilometers (approximately two miles) in from the border.
Sha’er provided more details about the changes in military strategy, logistics and unit formations since last summer’s war as well.
He told his interrogators that Hamas has indeed been confiscating materials for manufacture of weapons that are being permitted by Israel into the enclave – due to international pressure – for reconstruction of civilian homes and other infrastructure.
Civilians are once again being endangered, Sha’er said, as Hamas routinely stores explosives in residential structures – as it did prior to last summer’s war – in anticipation of air strikes by Israel on separate weapons storage sites.
An indictment against Sha’er was filed with the Be’er Sheva District Court on July 31, accusing the Hamas operative of membership and activity in an outlawed association, attempted murder, contact with a foreign agent, forbidden military training and additional various weapons offenses.
Cleared for publication: Detectives at the Jerusalem District Police Central Unit have arrested seven suspects, all residents of Abu Tor, including three minors, in connecction with attacks on Jews in the area of the Armon HaNatziv promenade in East Talpiot.
Two couples and a Jewish youth who were walking in the area of the promenade were attacked in three separate incidents. Another Jewish youth who was jogging on the promenade itself was also attacked.
In each case, there were a number of attackers, and the victims were seriously injured.
Jerusalem District Commander Nitzav Moshe (Chico) Edri assigned the investigation to the central unit, with parallel investigations taking place in the intelligence and undercover units as well.
“These were serious attacks against civilians who wanted nothing more than to be able to stroll outside and enjoy the air,” Edri said in a statement.
“The professionalism of the central unit and determination of the Jerusalem Special Operations forces and Border Guard Police led to the prompt arrest of the suspects,” he added, praising his investigators for a job well done.
“We will continue to operation in an uncompromising manner against any attempt to disturb the public safety and peace, and we will operate to bring all the perpetrators to justice.”