The European Parliament on Dec. 17 passed a resolution supporting recognition of Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The resolution also launches a "Parliamentarians for Peace" initiative to bring together MEPs and MPs from the Israeli and Palestinian parliaments. The resolution passed by 498 votes to 88, with 111 abstentions. The statement said the parliament reiterated "its strong support for the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the right of self-determination and full respect of international law." (Ma'an, Dec. 17)
US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman last week to disucss the conflict over the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem, and the war on ISIS. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also attended the meeting, where he reportedly urged Jordan to take greater responsibility in preventing violence at the holy site. Jordan, which signed a 1994 peace treaty with Israel, recalled its ambassador Nov. 5, citing the "unprecedented escalation in Jerusalem." In March 2013, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas signed a deal with King Abdullah, entrusting him with the protection of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. The deal confirmed an informal agreement dating back to 1924 that gave the kingdom's Hashemite rulers custodial rights over the holy sites. Under the terms of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, the Temple Mount remains under Jordanian custodianship through the Waqf authorities. On Friday Nov. 16, Israel eased restrictions and allowed men of all ages to pray at al-Aqsa mosque for the first time in months. (Times of Israel, Nov. 17; AFP, Nov. 16; BBC News, Nov. 13; Al Arabiya, Nov. 12; JP, Nov. 5)
Two Palestinians armed with a pistol and axes attacked a synagogue in Jerusalem's Har Nof district during morning prayers on Nov. 18, killing four Israelis. A police officer later died of his wounds. The two assailants were shot dead. (JP, Nov. 19; Ma'an, Nov. 18) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, but in the same statements reiterated its "demands an end to the ongoing incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque and the provocative acts by Israeli settlers as well as incitement by some Israeli ministers." Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and the Popular Resistance Committees all praised the attack. (Ma'an, Nov. 18)
Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel (of the religious HaBayit HaYehudi or Jewish Home party) alarmingly said Nov. 4 that Israel will eventually replace al-Aqsa Mosque with a Jewish temple. According to the Middle East Monitor, Ariel told radio station Kol Berama, voice the ultra-orthodox Shas movement, the status quo cannot continue at al-Aqsa as it "was built in the place of the holiest place for Israel." Ariel said that construction of a third Jewish temple at the site is the primary demand of the Torah, "as it is at the forefront of Jewish salvation." This was apparently Ariel's response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call for "all Knesset members to calm tensions regarding the Temple Mount and show responsibility and restraint." We have not heard that Netanyahu has scolded Ariel or disavowed his comment.
A group of Israeli settlers set fire to some 100 olive trees owned by Palestinian farmers near Nablus as the 2014 olive harvest began last week. "A group of settlers from the Yitzhar settlement located near Huwara town in Nablus set fire to the town's olive fields, causing the destruction of 100 trees," said Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority official in monitoring settlements file in the northern West Bank. The attack sparked clashes between the settlers and local residents, which ended upon the arrival of Israeli forces. Around 20,000 Jewish settlers live near Nablus in 39 Zionist-only settlements. Palestinian residents complain of repeated attacks by settlers, who usually enjoy the protection of the Israeli forces (Al-Akhbar, Oct. 22) At Deir al-Hatab, near Nablus, the olive harvest has been spoiled by constant incrusions from settlers at Elon Moreh. The Palestinian farmers are allowed access to their lands only in coordinaiton with military expoort—just a few days per year. They were barred from their lands entirely between 2002 and 2007. (Haaretz, Oct. 26)
Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police at East Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound Oct. 9, leaving three officers lightly injured, according to police. Israeli authorities said the clashes erupted after several dozen masked Palestinians began throwing stones, fire crackers and other pyrotechnical devices at police when al-Aqsa mosque opened for prayers. Police chased the demonstrators towards the mosque, where they barricaded themselves inside and continued hurling objects toward the police, authorities said. Palestinian sources said the clash erupted after dozens of Israelis tried to invade the mosque while marking the Sukkot feast. They said soldiers threw tear-gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated bullets at the Palestinians in the complex and even into the interior of the mosque. (IMEMC, Al Jazeera, Oct. 8)
Violent protests sparked by the abduction and killing of Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khudair in East Jerusalem spread to Arab villages in Israel on July 5. Palestinians overwhelmingly believe he was abducted and killed by far-right Jews as a "price tag" reprisal for the slaying of the three Israeli youths, and Palestinian Attorney General Mohammed al-A'wewy said preliminary results from the autopsy (carried out by Israeli doctors) indicated he had been burned alive. Israeli authorities have remained silent on the investigation, still refusing to recognize it as a hate crime, although six Jewish suspects were arrested July 6. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said: "These debased murderers don't represent the Jewish people or its values, and they must be treated as terrorists." At Khudair's funeral on Friday July 4, Palestinians chanted "Intifada! Intifada!" Stones thrown at Israeli police were met with tear-gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. At least one Palestinian was reported hurt in confrontations in Nablus. Palestinian officials said they would try to prevent a new intifada, but angry protests erupted even in usually calm Arab areas of Israel, with youth throwing stones and firebombs at passing cars. Dozens have been arrested in the clashes.
International media rights group Reporters Without Borders on June 8 said it was "outraged" by an Israeli police raid on the offices of a Palestinian media agency last week. On June 6, Israeli police raided the East Jerusalem studio of Palestine TV and detained Nader Beibars, the producer of Good Morning Jerusalem, and Palmedia cameraman Ashraf al-Showeiki. Both were detained, interrogated, and later released. Israeli forces raided the studio as the show was being broadcast live. "This raid, and the broadcast shut-down, join the long list of violations of Palestinian news media rights by the Israeli security forces, with never-ending threats, arrests and military operations," Reporters Without Borders said. "The Israeli authorities keep on persecuting the Palestinian media and journalists. After seizing Al-Wattan TV's transmission equipment in 2012, the military are now threatening it with another raid on the grounds that it obtained its new frequency illegally." Israeli police said Palestine TV did not have the required broadcasting permits and suspected the station of inciting violence.