by Ezequiel Doiny
On May 26 the Jewish Press reported that “This past Sunday, PM Netanyahu’s security cabinet passed a series of new concessions to the Palestinian Authority ahead of President Trump’s visit in order to show Trump that Netanyahu is serious about peace.
The goodwill gestures were not initially revealed to the public, and are now coming to light.
Eight of the ten cabinet ministers voted in favor of all the concessions.
Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked voted against at least some of them
According to some reports at the time, the US Administration did not feel that Netanyahu offered enough with these gestures.
The gestures approved by the cabinet were:
1. Easing passage out of the Palestinian Authority into pre-67 Israel, and enlarging the crossing station near Tulkarem.
2. Expanding the hours of the Allenby Border Crossing with Jordan, to run 24/7.
3. Constructing a new Industrial Zone in Tarkumiya, in Area C, which is land under full Israeli control, effectively converting parts of Area C into Area A.
4. Granting the Palestinian Authority thousands of building permits in Area C to retroactively legalize illegally built Arab construction.
5. To consider a plan to connect the city of Jenin to the Israeli train network.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) has come out strongly against the plan to create the Tarkumiya Industrial Zone in Area C, according to a report in Makor Rishon.
Tarkumiya is the crossing point in southern Hebron, north of Kiryat Gat.
According to the report, the Tarkumiya gesture will hand over thousands of dunams of land to the PA from Area C, which will be converted in Area A, right along the Green Line. A dunam is approximately a quarter-acre.
Furthermore, the industrial zone won’t even be a joint Jewish-Arab industrial zone as other industrial zones in Area C are, but will be exclusively for Palestinian Authority Arabs.
During the meeting, Bennett raised the point that the Palestinian Authority is actively trying to expand into Area C.
Bennett expressed surprised that the industrial zone had to be expanded into Area C, when there is plenty of open space in nearby Area B. Area B is under Palestinian Authority civilian control, and Israeli security control.
In addition, this zone is being built along the security fence, which Bennett says is a security risk…”
Not only Netanyahu is giving part of Area C to the Palestinians, he is also stonewalling the Annexation of Ma’aleh Adumim. Naftali Bennett has been trying to Annex Ma’aleh Adumim since January 2017 but Netanyahu has prevented the vote. On January 19, 2017 Ynet news wrote “After US President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in on Friday, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett plans to start pushing for the annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank…The opening shot will come in the form of a bill proposing to annex the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim…the heads of the Knesset’s Land of Israel Lobby, MKs Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) and Yoav Kish (Likud) have already announced they will bring the Ma’ale Adumim annexation bill to a vote at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday…”
The Ma’ale Adumim annexation vote was originally supposed to take place on January 22 but has been postponed by Netanyahu multiple times. During the peace process the Israeli government used to say they could not annex land in Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”) because they did not want to preclude the final status of negotiations but that is exactly what the Palestinians did in December when they violated the Oslo Accords with UNSC 2334.
UNSC 2334, facilitated by Obama, precludes the final status of negotiations by ruling that all of Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall are “Occupied Palestinian territories”.
Israel should react to UNSC 2334 by annexing Ma’ale Adumim. Nadai Shragai wrote in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs “The linking of Jerusalem to Maale Adumim is an overriding Israeli interest for several reasons:
a. Israel cannot allow Maale Adumim to become like Mount Scopus in the 1948-1967 period, when the mount was an isolated Israeli enclave under UN custody with only a road connecting to it.
b. Israel cannot allow a situation to emerge of security and urban discontinuity between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, or the reversion of Jerusalem to a border-town status (as was the case before the Six-Day War) that would preclude the city’s eastward development.
c. Israel cannot tolerate a threat to the Jerusalem-Jericho road, on which the Palestinian construction is encroaching. This artery is of supreme strategic importance to Israel. In time of war it would enable moving large quantities of troops to the Jordan Valley and northward, as Israel mobilized its forces to contend with a possible “eastern front.”
d. The area of Maale Adumim, including E1, is part of the strategic depth that Israel requires in the context of defensible borders – again, in the face of an eastern front, and to make it possible to defend its capital, Jerusalem.
e. The area of settlement around Jerusalem, including Maale Adumim, constitutes part of the metropolitan area of Jerusalem. This area incorporates both settlement and security as two vital, complementary components of the Israeli national interest.”
Bennet should impose a deadline for the Ma’ale Adumim annexation vote before the Republicans lose majority in the US Congress, Obama’s camp including Keith Ellison and other pro-Palestinian Democrats are expected to win a majority in Congress in the midterm congressional elections in November 2018.
Netanyahu’s refusal to bring the Ma’ale Adumim sovereignty law to the Knesset is not surprising, he was willing to make concessions to the Arabs in the past. On October 1996 templemount.org reported “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Israeli authorities not to block the opening of a mosque at Solomon’s Stables, an area underneath the Temple Mount, HA’ARETZ reported. The decision reportedly took into consideration security assessments which determined that any attempts to reverse construction work at the site would spark a new round of rioting…”
please see http://www.templemount.org/stables.html
Netanyahu’s permission to build a Mosque at Solomon’s Stables enabled the Waqf to destroy Jewish Archaelogical remains during Ehud Barack’s government a few years later. On September 200 Suzanne Singer, a contributing editor to the Biblical Archeological Review reported “Large-scale illegal construction on the Temple Mount and wholesale dumping of earth in the nearby Kidron Valley resumed this spring…”
“… The Temple Mount is, of course, sacred to three great Western faiths and is part of the world’s cultural patrimony. Here may lie remnants from the time of the First Temple of Solomon, the Second Temple built by Herod, the Byzantine period and the early Islamic eras. Israeli excavations around the exterior of the Temple Mount since 1967 have found remains from all these periods, but the Mount itself has been terra incognita, protected by an understanding between Israel and the Waqf that says no construction will take place there…
” …Last November, we reported that the Waqf, in the dead of night, had dumped hundreds of truckloads of earth from the Temple Mount into the Kidron Valley and municipal garbage dumps. About 6,000 tons of earth were removed …Despite the flagrant disregard by the Waqf of the requirement for IAA supervision, there was no serious response by Israeli authorities. Today the dumped earth is unprotected and is being covered with garbage, making it unlikely that the IAA will ever act on its announced intention to salvage artifacts by sifting through the piles.”
“…This spring and early summer, trucks and tractors returned to the Temple Mount, bringing building materials in and carting earth away through the Lions’ Gate, just north of the Temple Mount. For 200 yards along the inside of the Temple Mount’s eastern wall, from the al-Marawani Mosque’s new entrance to somewhat south of the Golden Gate, lie stacks of paving stones, scaffolding, wood and iron materials, along with large architectural fragments, such as pieces of ancient columns…
” …The construction on the Temple Mount is only the latest, albeit perhaps the most egregious, example of the Waqf’s disregard for the protection of antiquities. In 1993 Israel’s Supreme Court found that the Waqf had violated the country’s antiquities laws no less than 35 times, with many of the violations causing the irreversible destruction of archaeological remains.
” …Due to Prime Minister Barak’s concern for negotiations with the Palestinians, no effective archaeological oversight is taking place on the Temple Mount. No one halts the work so that potential damage can be assessed and prevented; as a result, heavy equipment is free to move about the Mount for projects that are neither approved nor supervised. The frequently heard view is that a tough stance by Israel will enflame the Palestinians and set back the peace talks…”
Ezequiel Doiny is a writer residing in New Jersey his work has appeared in Gatestone Institute, Arutz 7 and the Jewish Press