Clashes erupt on Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day
Israelis celebrated the 52nd anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification under Israeli rule on Sunday while clashes broke out on the Temple Mount between Muslims and Jews who were allowed up to the site.
Jerusalem Day tends to be contentious and police were bracing for violence. Waving Israeli flags, tens of thousands of people took to the streets for the annual parade. Many of them enter Damascus Gate and march through the Muslim Quarter, singing and dancing, which Muslims view as antagonistic.
The march passed without incident, but police entering the Temple Mount were met by hundreds of rioters “throwing chairs and other objects at police forces,” according to the Jerusalem police spokesperson.
Five rioters were arrested. Police quelled the rioting and some 120 Jews were allowed to enter the Temple Mount, built on the remains of the Second Temple. The rest of the day passed without incident.
Jews and tourists are generally forbidden to enter the compound during the last days of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. The police, however, decided on Sunday morning to allow the entrance of Jews specifically for Jerusalem Day.
Jordanian, Palestinian and left-wing Israeli officials slammed the provocative decision. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “unequivocally condemns the continuation of Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa, by the break-in of extremists [to the Temple Mount] in a defiant manner with the backing of security forces.” Jordan is the custodian of the holy site.
Jerusalem Day is the commemoration of the reunification of Jerusalem as well as Israel’s capture of the Temple Mount in the 1967 Six-Day War. The day is nationalistic in nature and not a religious holiday.
President Reuven Rivlin used the occasion to thank U.S. President Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the embassy there last year.
“This is the time to thank President Trump and the American people for their steadfast friendship and for his groundbreaking decision,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about how much Jerusalem has changed since 1967.
“We are building it, strengthening it, worrying about its future and developing it into a prosperous city that will not only be a focal point for spirituality and the renewal of Jewish heritage, but also a city that is being renewed with global technology,” he said.
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Knesset members vote to dissolve, new elections set for Sept. 17
Israelis will be going to the polls for the second time in half a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government with enough coalition members, an unprecedented set of events even for Israel’s volatile political system.
At the heart of dissolving the Knesset was the refusal by one secular party to join a coalition with ultra-Orthodox parties and their disagreement on passing a bill to draft Haredi men into the Israeli army. Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman withheld his party’s five mandates that would’ve given Netanyahu a solid majority of 65 seats in the parliament.
The midnight vote on Wednesday to dissolve the Knesset received 74 votes in favor and 45 against.
Netanyahu immediately lashed out against Liberman, blaming him for the government’s collapse and – in the first political salvo of the September elections – tossing the ultimate insult by calling him a left-winger.
“Avigdor Liberman is now part of the left. He brings down right-wing governments,” Netanyahu charged.
Liberman accused Netanyahu of “capitulating to the ultra-Orthodox.”
“We are natural partners for a right-wing government, but not for a government based on Jewish law,” he said.
Liberman’s party is staunchly right-wing, but is secular and hence is at odds with the religious parties who push for Jewish law, halacha, to supercede Israeli law.
“I am not against the ultra-Orthodox community,” Liberman emphasized on Facebook. “I am for the state of Israel. I am for a Jewish state but against a halachic state.”
The ultra-Orthodox parties fear military service will lead their young men into secularism. Netanyahu depends on their political support sp refused to press them on the issue.
Another issue that prevented a coalition agreement is a proposed law that would serve to protect Netanyahu from indictment in light of corruption charges against him. While the religious parties agreed to sign it, the opposition parties refused refused to be part of a government with a prime minister facing indictment.
This new campaign season and political uncertainty will most likely overshadow U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to rollout the “deal of the century,” a proposed peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians. Trump’s Middle East envoy’s Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt arrived in Israel on Thursday amid the political chaos.
The administration is expected to rollout a portion of its plan at a conference in Bahrain scheduled for next month. This part of the plan is expected to lay out economic incentives for the Palestinians.
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Haredi conscription law about to foil Netanyahu’s attempt to build a coalition
With the deadline looming to form a government by tomorrow, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was preparing instead to go to new elections as he has been unable to form a coalition.
Since the April 9 elections, where Netanyahu emerged the clear winner, he appeared on target to form a right-wing coalition comprised of 65 Knesset seats including several religious parties on his side (United Torah Judaism, Shas and the Union of Right-Wing Parties) plus two secular right-wing parties (Kulanu and Yisrael Beytenu).
However, he has failed to meet the vastly divergent demands of all the smaller parties he’s pulling together. Most of this coalition is made up of ultra-Orthodox Jews [in Hebrew “Haredim”] who are opposed to mandatory military service. But Avigdor Liberman, head of Yisrael Beytenu party, has made his participation in the coalition contingent upon passing mandatory army conscription for the Haredi into law.
“After a failed attempt to form a government under the ideal conditions, we expect the prime minister to put more pressure on the haredi parties and the rabbis who stand behind them,” Yisrael Beytenu said.
Liberman’s withholding of his five mandates from the coalition could spell new elections for the country.
According to the Jerusalem Post, this issue of demanding that the ultra-Orthodox serve in the army – as the rest of israelis do – is nothing new.
“The matter has been on the political table for 20 years, since the Tal Commission was formed to examine the historical, blanket exemption haredi yeshiva students received from military service since Israel’s establishment – and more or less decided to continue that exemption,” the paper explained.
Netanyahu’s Likud party has proposed compromises for both sides, but Liberman appears to be unswayable.
“I am now making my last effort to form a right-wing government and to prevent unnecessary elections,” Netanyahu said in a video on Sunday. “I gave the partners a proposal for a solution. It is based on the principles established by the army and on the data that the army has established. There is no reason to reject this.”
If the Knesset is not dissolved after a vote later today or tomorrow, President Reuven Rivlin will have to decide whether to ask another Knesset member to form a coalition.
Likud won 35 seats in the April 9 election. The two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, each won eight seats. Moshe Kahlon’s center-right Kulanu won four. And the hawkish Union of Right-Wing Parties won five.
As the Jerusalem Post summed up: “Soon we’ll know how this game of chicken between haredi parties and Yisrael Beytenu will end, either with a dissolved Knesset and Israel going to vote twice in one year, or with the unsolvable puzzle of haredi enlistment pieced together – at least somewhat – after 20 years of political debate.”
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Blazing fires in Israel
Israel is burning. Fires are ripping through the scorched countryside, causing destruction and havoc. Brutally hot temperatures, high winds and low humidity have created conditions prone to wild fires, and Israel has reached out to the international community for help.
Some 3,500 people have been evacuated, and many homes have been burned down. The areas most affected largely lie between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with the village of Mevo Modi’im, founded by the well-loved musician, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, destroyed completely. A bride-to-be called out for help on social media as her wedding dress was burned just days before her wedding. The community rallied around offering a wide array of alternatives, and if there’s one thing about disasters, it’s that there are always good people trying to help. As Fred Rogers famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.””
Egyptian helicopters have been quenching the fires in Moshav Beit Ezra, Ashdod – a remarkable state of affairs, since the last time they were in the area was in the war of 1948.1 Italy, Greece, Croatia, Egypt, and Cyprus have all sent help, gratefully received by Israel, and even the Palestinian Authority has extended an offer of help. Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced, “We received additional offers, including from the PA and others.” 2 The Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu applauded the firefighting and rescue services for their “excellent” handling of the crisis, while warning, “the challenge is still ahead of us.”
Israel is a heavily-wooded country – a fact that surprises many. It is one of only two countries that entered the new century with a net gain of trees, but the tree-planting is so prolific that some experts suggest it should be slowed down precisely because of this danger of forest fires. “The damage is enormous, not just to the woodland, but also to the animals,” said a JNF official (the Jewish National Fund manages many of Israel’s nature areas). “Large swaths of the woodland, the green lung of the Dan region were burnt. We did not expect such a painful blow since we spent the whole night expelling people who lit bonfires.”3 The traditional bonfires for “Lag B’Omer” were banned this year, but it seems not everybody followed the instructions.
There will also be those in Gaza who are eager to capitalize on the fact that the surrounding Israeli countryside is like a tinderbox right now, but there are many around the world who are helping in practical ways and also in praying for God to intervene.
Please join us in calling out for God’s help, protection, and mercy at this critical time for Israel.
 The Times of Israel, Netanyahu thanks Egypt for sending firefighting helicopters, says PA offered aid, 24 May 2019
 YNet News, Several homes destroyed as Israel battles major wildfires; massive damage to Ben Shemen woodland, 23 May 2019
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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Israelis celebrate Independence Day as anti-Semitism spikes around the world and Iran continues its quest for nuclear weapons
Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Haatzmaut, begins with an emotional transition from the sullenness of Memorial Day, remembering Israel’s fallen soldiers, to a joyful celebration of freedom.
Independence Day begins at sundown immediately following Memorial Day. This year marks Israel’s 71st birthday since declaring statehood in 1948. In Israel, the day is celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar, on the fifth of the Hebrew month of Iyar. If 5 Iyar falls on a Friday or Saturday, as it does this year, then Independence Day is celebrated on the preceding Thursday. David Ben-Gurion publicly read the Israeli Declaration of Independence on Friday, May 14, 1948, so around the world, most nations recognize Israel’s Independence day as May 14.
The Independence Day celebrations begin with a state ceremony at Mount Herzl, Israel’s military cemetery. The country then erupts with events, parties, concerts and fireworks shows. The following day is famous for nationwide barbecues, al ha-esh (on the fire) and nary a spot in any park is unoccupied by an Israeli family picnicking and partying all day long.
The Israel Air Forces also regales the nation with flyovers of its fleet. F-15, F-16, F-16I and F-35 fighter jets, the Lavi training aircraft, C-130 and C-130J cargo planes, the Boeing refueling plane; Black Hawk, Sea Stallion, Panther and Apache helicopters were scheduled to take part in the flyby.
Prior to the festivities, fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism were honored in a ceremony following a two-minute siren nationwide in their memory at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Immediately after the siren was sounded, the main national ceremony in the honor of the fallen began at the Israeli military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Israel’s chief of police Motti Cohen were among the senior Israeli officials in attendance.
“We will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said during the ceremony.
Iran’s threats to annihilate Israel and its attempts to build nuclear weapons are considered one of the country’s most serious security threats. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened to abandon his country’s commitments to scale back nuclear weapon production if world powers did not protect it from U.S. sanctions.
Israel was founded as a Jewish state and initially became a refuge for Jews fleeing the Holocaust. Today 45 percent of the world’s Jews live in Israel. But Iran’s threats, rising anti-Semitism around the world and attacks on Jews in Europe and America has made this year’s celebrations all the more poignant.
As it reaches its 71st birthday, Israel’s population has grown by 2 percent over last year. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics
as of May 2019, Israel’s population has for the first time surpassed 9 million people.
Israelis are proud to be, well, Israeli. Some 82 percent of Israelis are happy with country’s achievement and more than 80 percent of Israelis say the country’s achievements outweigh its failures.
According to William Cubbison, a researcher with IDI’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research, Israel’s outlook is optimistic now, but the future looks more grim.
“The past decade and a half has seen a significant rise in positive assessments of the country’s overall situation,” said Cubbison. “But, when looking ahead towards the future, Israelis are less optimistic: large gaps exist between Arab and Jewish Israelis and between Right and Left, both with regard to their pride in being Israeli, and on the future of the state.”