Only Israel Can Preserve Jerusalem as a Holy City for Three Faiths

Yesterday, Dore Gold, the former Israeli ambassador to the UN, testified at a congressional hearing about the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. To Gold, the question of the embassy is part of a larger issue: “the need for Western recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” The absence of such recognition, he argues, “helps fuel the dangerous fantasy, popular in the Middle East, that Israel is impermanent and illegitimate.” But there is an additional reason the West should ensure that Jerusalem remains in Israel’s hands:

[O]nly a free and democratic Israel will protect the holy sites of all the great faiths in Jerusalem. Let me stress, to the extent that the U.S. reinforces Israel’s standing in Jerusalem, it is reinforcing core American and Western values of pluralism, peace, and mutual respect—and it is reinforcing the position of the only international actor that will protect Jerusalem’s holy sites. . . .

UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, which endorsed the partition of Mandatory Palestine, . . . called for establishing an international entity around Jerusalem, [that] would be governed by the United Nations itself. On May 15, 1948, when Israel declared its independence, invading Arab armies placed Jerusalem under siege. . . . Israel’s foreign minister, Moshe Sharett, reported to the UN that “ancient Jewish synagogues are being destroyed one after the other as a result of Arab artillery fire.” Those artillery shells hit churches and even the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. The mounting attacks led to a mass exodus of the Jewish population of the Old City—what today would be called “ethnic cleansing.” What did the UN do? Nothing.

Decades later, the 1995 interim agreement, an extension of the Oslo Accords, gave the Palestinian Authority some control over Muslim holy sites. Much like the idea of a UN-administered Jerusalem, this, too, proved disastrous:

It the aftermath of the failure of the Camp David summit in July 2000, the PLO launched what became known as the second intifada. Religious sites were specifically targeted. In Bethlehem, Fatah operatives and Palestinian security services assaulted Rachel’s tomb in December 2000. Less than two years later, in April 2002, thirteen armed Palestinians from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah Tanzim forcibly entered the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem—the birthplace of Jesus and one of the holiest sites for Christianity.

The gunmen took the Christian clergy hostage, looted church valuables, and desecrated Bibles. Another repeated target for attack was Joseph’s tomb in Nablus, the protection of which was undertaken by the Palestinians in [1995]. Gunmen from Fatah and Hamas took part in the ransacking of the site in October 2000. The site came under attack again as Palestinians torched Joseph’s tomb in October 2015 and set it on fire.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Jerusalem, Second Intifada, US-Israel relations

 

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary]. approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat