Agreement on Temple Mount Formalizes Status Quo But Violence Continues
Secretary of State John Kerry reached an accord with King Abdullah of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to formalize arrangements governing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The terms of the understanding reinforce the status quo and will be backed up with 24-hour monitoring of the Temple Mount. “Israel will continue to enforce its ...
Secretary of State John Kerry reached an accord with King Abdullah of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to formalize arrangements governing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The terms of the understanding reinforce the status quo and will be backed up with 24-hour monitoring of the Temple Mount. “Israel will continue to enforce its longstanding policy: Muslims pray on the Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu said on Saturday. “Those who visit or worship on the Temple Mount must be allowed to do so in peace, free from violence, from threats, from intimidation and from provocations. We will continue to ensure access to the Temple Mount for peaceful worshipers and visitors, while maintaining public order and security.”
On Friday, Israel lifted restrictions on access to the al-Aqsa mosque that prohibited men under the age of 50 from entering the mosque. Violence continued over the weekend with at least two attempted stabbings in Hebron and a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Reports emerged on Sunday that at a recent cabinet meeting Netanyahu discussed stripping benefits and travel rights from some Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, but the proposal appears to have been dropped. Since the outbreak of violence a month ago, 54 Palestinians, half of whom were reportedly carrying out attacks, and 10 Israelis have been killed.
U.S. to Conduct More Raids Against Islamic State, Russian Air Campaign Struggles
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said on Friday that the U.S. military will conduct “more raids” like the one that freed nearly 70 Kurdish prisoners last week. U.S. forces will be “in harm’s way, there’s no question about it, and I don’t want anybody to be under any illusions about that,” he said, despite Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook previously calling the raid “a unique circumstance.” Russian planes have encountered difficulties maintaining their operational tempo in Syria, with as much as a third of its attack aircraft and half of its transport aircraft grounded in need of repairs at any time.
- Turkish police got into a deadly firefight when raiding a supposed Islamic State hideout in the southeast city of Diyarbakir this morning; two policemen and five militants were killed, but 12 militants were also arrested, according to the Turkish government.
- Saudi-backed pro-government forces made advances against Houthi rebels in the contested city of Taiz, Yemen, after several days of intense fighting.
- Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has rejected the final appeal request from Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia cleric who called for protests against the government in 2011; unless pardoned by King Salman, he and six other Saudi Shia are due to be executed and have his body publicly displayed, the most severe penalty in the Saudi judicial system.
- A parliamentary candidate for Egypt’s Salafist Nour Party was killed by a gunman on a motorcycle in the Sinai town of al-Arish on Saturday.
- About 30 Islamic militants briefly seized a major supermarket in Aden, Yemen, on Sunday, holding shoppers hostage and beating employees; the militants objected to the co-mingling of men and women in the store and demanded female employees veil themselves.
Arguments and Analysis
“The End of the Abbas Era” (Nathan Thrall, London Review of Books)
“For Abbas, political survival depended on making significant gains before any of this occurred. His strategy entailed several gambles. First, that providing Israel with security, informing on fellow Palestinians, and suppressing opposition to the occupation would convince Israel’s government that Palestinians could be trusted with independence. Second, that after Palestinians had met US demands to abandon violence, build institutions and hold democratic elections, the US would put pressure on Israel to make the concessions necessary to establish a Palestinian state. Third, that after being invited to participate in legislative elections, Hamas would win enough seats to be co-opted but too few to take over. Fourth, that by improving the Palestinian Authority economy and rebuilding its institutions, Abbas would buy enough time to achieve Palestinian statehood. In all four respects, he came up short.”
“New Saudi Poll Shows Iran, Russia, United States, and ISIS Are All Unpopular; Mixed Views on Others” (David Pollock, Fikra Forum)
“A rare national survey from Saudi Arabia, completed in September, reveals that the Saudi public holds a very low opinion of various rival regional and outside powers. By contrast, both Egypt and its adversary Hamas enjoy moderately positive ratings, and even the Muslim Brotherhood received favorable reviews from one-third of Saudi citizens.”
-J. Dana Stuster
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images