Those Loudly Condemning the Israeli Security Minister’s Visit to the Temple Mount Are Playing into His Hands

After the Israeli politician Itamar Ben-Gvir’s recent visit to the Temple Mount, the UN Security Council called an emergency session and several Arab states issued condemnations. France, the UK, and the U.S. conveyed more generic warnings to Jerusalem, and the event got much coverage in the Israeli and foreign press. Yet, although Ben-Gvir has a history of inflammatory statements, this visit adhered to all the normal rules restricting Jewish access to the site, and was in no way out of the ordinary. John Minster considers the outsized response it provoked:

The Temple Mount has long been one of the Middle East’s most contentious areas, and more than one open conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has begun because of events there. But that is a separate discussion. The simple fact is that the international community is assailing Israel for allowing Ben-Gvir to do something he’s supposed to be allowed to do, in the manner he’s allowed to do it, that he has done before many times, and that many other Jews do every year. If this is how the world reacts to a prominent Jew visiting Judaism’s holiest site under the strictest terms, regardless of who he may be, what prospect is there for it ultimately acknowledging the legitimate Jewish religious rights to the Temple Mount?

By going to the Temple Mount, [Ben-Gvir] wants the world to react like this. It puts him in the public eye and indicates, as he tried to show in his campaign, that he alone is willing to speak unspoken truths and confront underlying tensions with Palestinians and Israeli Arabs that other Israeli politicians would prefer to ignore.

By reacting the way they have to his visit, the United States, the UAE, and other countries are playing right into his hands. This entire [tumult] allows Ben-Gvir to set himself up as the great defender of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, a position that he greatly values. Even if they (with good reason) find him execrable, most Jewish Israelis are sympathetic to his insistence on Jewish rights there. Creating a phantom international crisis out of a visit that did not violate the status quo only makes Israelis more likely to support him and others like him who can use the . . . situation on the Temple Mount to their political advantage.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Itamar Ben Gvir, Temple Mount

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship