Why Israel Was Right to Allow a Jewish Politician to Visit the Temple Mount

Yesterday morning, Israel’s newly appointed—and highly controversial—national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a short visit to the Temple Mount, during a time it is regularly open to Jews. (Muslims generally have complete access to the area, while Israeli authorities sharply limit the entry of Jews.) Ben-Gvir’s visit was preceded by threats of violence from Hamas, as well as warnings from inside and outside the Jewish state that it could provoke unrest and other dire consequences. Although the politician’s thirteen-minute walk around the Mount was condemned by Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other countries, it proved uneventful. Yaakov Katz, writing before the visit, argues that, whatever one thinks of Ben-Gvir’s politics, he should be allowed onto Judaism’s holiest site:

The dilemma for the government is the following: if the Temple Mount belongs to Israel and is under Israeli sovereignty, then there should be no issue with any Israeli, especially an elected official, visiting the site. That it is such an issue shows the inherent problem.

On the other hand, there is a true fear of violence, which Israel always wants to avoid. It is also understandable that Ben-Gvir is not just any politician. He is viewed suspiciously by many Israelis and definitely by the Palestinians and the international community. Nevertheless, he is an elected Israeli official who is now a senior minister in the cabinet.

And the final point is this: of anyone thinks that violence will erupt because Ben-Gvir visits the Temple Mount, then it is important to keep in mind that the Palestinian terrorist groups do not need an excuse to launch attacks against Israel. They can use the Ben-Gvir visit this week, and next week, they will find another reason. The bottom line is that these [reasons] are just excuses. That is exactly what Hamas did in 2021, when it used the Jerusalem Day parade to launch rockets at Israel. A terrorist group bent on Israel’s destruction does not need excuses to attack.

Which is why the questions we should be asking are different: why is Israel under threat from a terrorist group for allowing Jews to pray at Judaism’s holiest site? Why is it okay for everyone else to pray there and not for Jews? And why do these Palestinian groups get away with making such threats?

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Hamas, 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