JERUSALEM (JTA) -- A Palestinian mosque in a Hebron-area village was vandalized and set on fire, allegedly by Jews.
In addition to graffiti spray-painted on the building, several volumes of the Koran and prayer rugs were burned in the fire set late Sunday night.
“The IDF and security officials are working in order to find those responsible, and we view this as a grave and serious incident,” head of the Israeli Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Yoel Mordechai, said Monday.
No one likes Avigdor Lieberman, to hear the left tell it. No one on the Israeli left or in the American Jewish Surrender Lobby liked Avigdor Lieberman's speech at the UN -- the J-Soros Surrender Street only advocates Israeli capitulation to any enemy demand (such as building freeze in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria) ordered withoout negotiation by the Palestinians and their corner men in the White House.
If you want to understand the maddeningly complex debate over Israel's West Bank settlements and U.S. policy, check out these two op-eds that articulately outline two opposing positions.
In today's Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen took the Obama administration to task for what he says is its counterproductive focus on stopping settlement construction as a necessary precursor of a viable peace process.
Cohen accurately laid out the emotional punch the issue carries for both sides:
Israel “has to declare in the near future” that it will compensate settlers living east of the security barrier if they were to leave now, according to Israeli Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon.
“It’s our moral obligation to offer [compensation] to them now,” Ramon said at the annual dinner of the Israel Policy Forum here on Monday night.
That position is at odds with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who until now has viewed such a move as premature, according to Asaf Shariv, Israel’s consul general in New York.
With the anticipated signing this week of a modified Wye River land-for-peace agreement, the plea of right-wing Israelis to Prime Minister Ehud Barak not to dismantle any of the 144 Jewish settlements in the territories is likely to take on greater urgency.
“The peace process would not be hurt if our communities stayed where they are,” said Benny Kashriel, the recently appointed chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
A delegation of Palestinian negotiators were in town this week for consultations about the long-feared May 4 deadline, when the Oslo interim period expires — and when Yasir Arafat has threatened to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood.
In the ambiguous aftermath of the Annapolis summit, a blizzard of contradictory Israeli pronouncements on settlement expansion could be an irritant in U.S.-Israel relations — especially the on-again-off-again plan to build new housing in the red flag Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem.
But few observers expect an all-out diplomatic blow-up despite the Bush administration’s new urgency about forging a peace agreement by the end of the new year.
Gershom Gorenberg, an Israeli journalist, is author of "The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements 1967-1977" (2006, Times Books). Forty years after the war that ignited it, Gorenberg talked to The Jewish Week about the rise of the settlers’ movement and what it has meant for the Jewish state.
The Jewish Week: You write that the extensive network of settlements represents an "Accidental Empire." What do you mean by that?
Was the new ‘crisis’ manufactured to tie settlement issue to holy city?
This week’s U.S.-Israel diplomatic dustup over building additional Jewish housing in east Jerusalem may have as much to do with domestic politics in the Jewish state — and a desire to mobilize American Jews to oppose additional U.S. pressure — as with any shift in Obama administration policy.
Publicly raising its disagreement over Jerusalem may “focus the American Jewish community, which is mostly opposed to settlements, on the fact that when the U.S. demands Israel cease building settlements that includes Jerusalem,” said Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman.
And touching the Jerusalem nerve may help galvanize Evangelical Christians, many of whom have a growing commitment to preserving Jerusalem as Israel’s unified capital, to oppose new administration peace pushes.