Behind the Scenes of Netanyahu’s Flip-flop on the Temple Mount

By Yossi Verter, HAARETZ

Three members of the security cabinet, from three different parties, who attended several meetings of that forum this week, described Netanyahu to me in similar terms: “Calm, in control, not uptight, attentive, alert and functioning, even at 3 A.M.”

They believed his account that the removal of the metal detectors from the Temple Mount gates was not payment to King Abdullah in return for his agreement to allow the embassy staff and the security guard to return to Israel. “There are situations in which Bibi doesn’t lie,” they said in one way or another. “This time he told the truth. He arrived at the decision to remove the detectors before the incident in Amman. Somehow, the two things became intertwined.”

Within the sealed walls of the security cabinet room, Netanyahu conducts himself professionally, intelligently, responsibly, rationally. He’s been through many security crises, including in the Bermuda Triangle of the three religions in Jerusalem. His learning curve is good. Moreover, he’s cautious – some would say a coward by nature.

But when he gets home, to the fighting family, to sleepless nights, he goes off-kilter. He made the decision to install the metal detectors after the police recommended it and neither the Shin Bet security service nor the army objected. He gave the instruction and flew off to Europe. Just hours after he returned, last Thursday evening, with the situation roiling and Friday prayers around the corner, he convened the security cabinet to reconsider the arrangements at the Mount.

As reported, the initial decision to leave the detectors in place was approved by a large majority. Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) and National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz voted against; they thought their installation was ineffective and probably harmful.

At that same meeting, which followed a few days of mounting tension on the Palestinian street and in Jordan, and a glut of intelligence reports and situation appraisals by the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet, the heads of those two bodies, Gadi Eizenkot and Nadav Argaman, respectively, urged the immediate removal of the detectors. They painted a series of potential serious scenarios, both locally and in broader and more distant circles.

For his part, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said something to the effect of: It’ll be alright. We’ll get them used to it – the Palestinian worshipers will go through the detectors.
The problem with the police is their shortsightedness. They see the picture from the tip of their nose to the far end of their truncheons, at best. Alsheich came from the Shin Bet, which takes a far broader view, but he’s apparently forgotten what he learned there, while retaining what he wasn’t mean to learn. The ministers and Netanyahu preferred to base themselves on his expert opinion. It also served them politically.

That was not true, as we saw, in the case of Galant and Steinitz – the former, a retired major general who was at one stage Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s military secretary; the latter, a former chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and a veteran member of the security cabinet.

“You’re wrong, they will not get used to it, and they won’t go through [the metal detectors],” Galant said in the meeting in the wee hours of Friday morning last week. “It’s a serious mistake to leave the detectors there. Let there be no doubt, I am one of you and bear responsibility for whatever decision is made here, but in my opinion, we need to remove them immediately. Every delay is detrimental.”

Galant’s reasoning was basically similar to that of the Shin Bet and the IDF. “The Arabs are using it against us, from the Palestinians to the Islamic Movement and Hamas,” he warned. “This is a ‘charger’ for terrorist energy that is liable to erupt at any moment, in different places as well” (a prophecy that, unfortunately, was fulfilled about 18 hours later, in Halamish).

“It’s also not practical,” Galant added. “It’s impossible to move tens of thousands of people through metal detectors when they’re in a oppositional frame of mind. This isn’t a closed hall in an airport. On the way to prayers on the Mount they will pass through alleys, shops, people. The opposition will be kindled.”

Galant continued, “Sooner or later we will take down the detectors and will be obliged to open the area. The more time that passes, the higher the price we will pay. We made a mistake when we installed them, but mistakes have to be corrected when they’re still small. The more time you let go by, the greater the loss of honor and the loss of deterrence that will be entailed in removing the detectors.”

The atmosphere in the security cabinet was very different. This was certainly the finest hour of the metal detectors; their popularity soared to new heights. Toward the end of the debate, the balance of forces was clear to everyone. Votes aren’t always taken in that forum. Galant demanded one and wanted minutes taken. After the vote – two against all the others present – he said, “The day will not be long in coming when we’ll have to take another vote on this decision.”

And so it was, word for word. The next day, last Friday, when the details of the cabinet meeting leaked and the views expressed by the IDF and the Shin Bet became known, those two bodies became the punching bag of the right wing. Every mother’s son smashed and bashed them, accused them of wimpishness, of surrendering Israel’s sovereignty. In short, leftists. Suddenly the police became the darling of the right wing, an object of veneration. Until they’re called upon to evacuate settlers from some new ghost outpost. When that happens, the cries of “Nazis” will reverberate across the rocky terraces, and we’ll read the trenchant tweets about the use of exaggerated force.

July 29, 2017 | 16 Comments »

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  1. @ Bear Klein:
    I don’t vote, and although I perfectly agree with myself, I would be the last person who I would vote for. 🙂

    The 90% figure, a discipline that I wouldn’t relax, still leaves plenty of room for issues in which you are either undecided or disagree.

  2. @ Abolish_public_education:
    How about if you agree with them 89%, 88%, 87%, 70% of the time? 90% of the time sounds almost like you could only vote for yourself? Then what happens if you change your mind you might not be able to vote for yourself.

    Obviously you are entitled to your personal philosophy.

  3. @ Bear Klein:
    If you must vote (why bother?), don’t vote for the guy unless you agree with him at least 90% of the time.

    Otherwise, I suggest that you back the guy who you *oppose* > 90% of the time. If you can’t love him, HATE him.

  4. Israel is in need of new leadership, a new Prime Minister. Bibi acts more to stay in power than do the right thing. He is reminding me of Barak, Olmert, Sharon who when they felt their time as a Prime Minister was in peril started to do things that are really bad for Israel (Sharon – Gaza retreat, Olmert & Barak offers to Pals that would give away parts of Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria).

    What is Bibi willing to do to try and appease his enemies in Israel to stay in power. I do not know but it is scary.

    Israel needs term limits for Prime Ministers.

    Who can the next Prime Minister be? No obvious choice. I like Nir Barkat but he does not yet have a strong enough base. It is possible however. I like also like Naftali Bennet but Bayit Yehudi is as currently constructive not going to be more than a coalition partner.

  5. This point seemed to me to be of importance. When Rudolf Klement as a young person was sent to work with Trotsky in that house in Prinkipo he already spoke or had 5 languages. This is what I find significant. Within 6 months he had mastered Russian to the extend that he was doing translations, and Trotsky thought these translations very good translations. Why do I mention this. It seems to me to open a window onto the type of person that was attracted to Trotskyism in that very difficult time.

  6. let us get one thing clear here from the very start. You cannot approach the material that I produce from a closed mind. If you harbour prejudice of any kind forget it.

    the interview I mentioned was with a Mrs Edelson (I think vera was her first name but that is from memory)

    She came from Palestine. She was originally from Russia. that is important in how I will tell this story.

    Trotsky was removed to a place internal to the Soviet Union in 1927, and then in 1929 to external, that is external exile.

    Mrs Edelson travels to Mexico in June 1937. Just an 8 years later.

    A few other facts here. Just 7 or 8 months later on 16 February 1938 the sone of Trotsky and natalia called Leon Sedov was dead in Paris.

    leon Sedov was the main man in the Trotsky movement in Europe. About 5 months later in July 1938 the person who was with Trotsky in Prinkipo and called Rudolf Klement also dead, I wil spare you the gruesome details.

    Back to my question…why did this woman make the trip? This is the real answer..Stalin may have thought of killing Trotsky in 1927 and then in 1929 the date of total exile.

    This overlooks one important thing. Stalin did have the physical power no dout about that. But it leaves out the immense standing that Trotsky STILL had in the Russian especially working class. From the ending of the Civil War in 1922 to 1927 only five years.

    The issue revolves around this. Trotsky did not ever underestimate Stalin. But Stalin thought that Trotsky would be drowned out politically in Exile as many others had been. In my opinion there was a lack of judgement but it was on the part of Stalin. He actually did underestimate Trotsky.

    The greatest work that Trotsky did was not before but after, and fighting from a situation of defeat.

    i will not try to hammer in the nails here but there is actually a link to what Jews in the world today must do.

  7. I am going to be very particular about who I recommend. Along with Bil Warner I think I would at the moment limit it to two others, one is Joan Peters and her Time Immorial book, and the other is Aaron Klein. Both of these I could call investigative journalists. There is the sense with Klein that he gets right into the heart of them, and with a good knowledge base himself, he does not approach these mad people from on high, but right from within, in their very midst. There is a strong similarity actually to that on the Temple Mount interview and the whole essence of Joan Peter’s work on the issue of immigration INTO Palestine.

  8. The history of the left, of revolutionary socialism I mean here, be precise when language on this theme has been debased in America (Breitbart and Infowars are examples), but here I know I talk o people who know what they are talking about.

    The whole history of Lenin’s political life was composed of a fight against ultra-lefts. Now I know very well there are none on Israpundit. But there are big parallels.

    So often you have Jews from their arm chairs belting out IN WORDS fire and thunder.

    Sounds great though what does it all mean.

    The problem here is that Islam is not understood. Is it understood by anybody today? The great thinkers on this have long gone.

    Now when anybody in America talks about Islam you can take it that they are deeply ignorant.

    I probably make an exception for Dr Bill Warner and remember he is a doctorate in science.

    I would say that the Israeli Jews are deeply ignorant about many of these issues. But since they have a natural interest in the subject and since they do know something, the ignorance in the west and east is absolutely enormous.

    Martin Sherman has a very important item in his armoury. he asks that a percentage of Israeli total budget is given to this theme.

    To spread the message as it were. But not in the old meanign of that term. the embassies are nearly useless in this regard because these people are not pioneering thinkers.

    Ted has placed at our disposal a very long piece by Aaron Klein. The genius of Klein is that he did not just elaborate on these historical issues, but he did so as he interviewed a leading Islamist in Jerusalem.

    Yet hardly anybody will know about this interview.

    it could be totally pivotal in a whole ne approach.

    A friend of mine on Facebook was wondering how the Jews of Israel could be so patient. I think the answer is that they are wise, and thye know the patient, who is really a quite mad patient. the Palestinian Arabs being the most extreme give madness a bad name.

    One practical point. The Druze police seemed to be overcome. perhaps they were in a position that was dangerous for them. Basically if some mad Arab comes out intent to kill make sure that he is killed first…that kind of approach. Perhaps the two Druze were blinded by the very nature of their guarding position. So I would seek to change that position immediately.

    You need a movement o fth eleft which defends you in the west. Only myself can create that movement.

    Ted asked me some time to write explaining where I am coming from…I wil do that son and submit to Ted for publication…with more care than this which is sort of a ramble…apologies.

    But in the meantime I am going to work more on Kleins interview. So by the end of that my friends will know about it…and as they say bit by bit

  9. @ SHmuel HaLevi 2:

    At first glance, one might discount SHmuel`s warning and assessment. However doing so would be at one`s own peril. This is one pundit who has never flip flopped and is based upon considerable evidence absolutely correct.
    Netanyahu must be excused from all government service.
    The Wizard has been exposed as the man behind the curtain.Who can take him seriously. Funny that HaAretZ has good things to say about him, that, my friends is a bloody red flag.
    It is time for new elections and serious organizing. Giddy up.

  10. Ahhh, the source is from “ha’aretz”.
    That ghastly fake nus center is part of the New York Times circle so naturally is aiding the Netanyahu’s line.
    Our sources describe the specimen otherwise.
    What we do know is that the speechster is coached and controlled 24/7.
    The PR show while receiving the two subjects part of the embassy to Jordan staff was prepackaged.
    Netanyahu is likely to be preparing and coached to do another of his staged speeching rampages, making faces, prancing, gesturing, rotating from side to side…
    eve using cardboard and red markers props…

    Netanyahu is the worst ever PM and must go.

  11. The only thing that was achieved by removing the metal detectors was to motivate the Arabs to demand further concessions. Instead of insisting on Jews’ right to visit their holy site whenever and for whatever reason they want, they still will be watched carefully to see of their lips moved when they asked for some water.
    The issue has been kicked a short way down the road and it will come back to bite us severely in the behind quite soon, like during the coming high days. The only thing that will save us is God’s mercy.

  12. Government bureaucrats think that they’re omniscient.

    As Feiglin would probably agree, the government bureaucrats involved in these discussions could not possibly have foreseen the wonderful, highly desirable result that the Arabs would react to the security measures by staying away.

    Once again we see that when the Government gets it right, i.e. installation of metal detectors, it’s purely by luck.

  13. This is about the most shameful article I’ve read for a long time. I am certainly glad that Galant never did become Chief Of Staff. The Arabs object to anything whenever they please; it can be too much pepper in the schwarma on the street corner. It can be that they believe that Israel is sprinkling powder on their windowsills to make their wives barren) this happened somettime in th 1970s when I was living there..They don’t need ANY “provocation” like the metal detectors, but when one comes along, however frivolous, they grab it, to give themselves pseudo-legitimacy.

    The Israeli Govt. are afraid of their shadows. What if the Arabs didn’t like the detectors. It would have been a trial of normalcy against unpredictable contrariness. It would make NO difference. The detectors should have remained UP. If that kept away the dirty dogs from the Mount…. good. If that rersulted in increased murders, good, Shoot to Kill, and then we’d see how long they would be willing to die for Allah. It needs to arrive sometime, and a more pitiful reason would have been hard to find.

    The international Community might have finally seen open and blatant terrorism wrought for it’s own sake at long last..

  14. President Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize at the beginning of his term which would produce nothing but chaos and war.

    President Trump will, most likely, never receive a Nobel Peace Prize for his very real efforts and accomplishments in that direction even early on his presidency, however ephemeral, by the inevitable nature of things.

    Rabin and Clinton got one.

    Alfred Nobel should have stuck to what he was good at, making explosives and other weapons of war. Another Swedish crackpot, in a long line of them, for the history books.

  15. The only good thing that has come out of this is that it becomes possible to talk about President Trump’s not insignificant achievement of making peace between Israel and Jordan, in contrast to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton destabilizing the Middle East and the Ukraine and creating all of the problems we have today. I mean, will the real crazies please stand up.

    On the other hand, the Arabs are trying to de-stablize President Trumps peace initiative by changing the subject and putting Israel on the defensive.

    Defense and diplomacy don’t work. Time to take a stand. “There is no diplomatic solution.”

  16. They will get used to it if their leaders tell them to but they won’t.

    MEMRI July 28, 2017Special Dispatch No.7031
    After Israel Removes Al-Aqsa Security Measures, ‘Abbas, Fatah Call For Continuing The Struggle

    Throughout the current Al-Aqsa crisis, PA President Mahmoud ‘Abbas has maintained a relatively restrained tone in his statements outlining the PA’s position. He stressed that “[East] Jerusalem is Palestinian,” and that the struggle is not just about removing the security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, but is a broader struggle for sovereignty over and control of the area. He praised the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and expressed support for their actions, but took care not to openly call for escalation. However, statements by senior Fatah officials show a different picture; according to them, ‘Abbas has ordered an escalation of the struggle.
    After the removal of the security measures on July 27, 2017, ‘Abbas issued a directive, following the guidance of the religious leadership, that prayers at Al-Aqsa resume, but refrained from calling for calm and even stressed that the struggle would continue. A statement by the Palestinian foreign minister said that the struggle would continue until the situation at Al-Aqsa returned to what it was before 1967 – that is, prior to the instatement of Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem. Palestinian officials called on the people to come to the mosque “in order to cement the achievement.”
    The following are excerpts from official Palestinian statements on the Al-Aqsa crisis in the last few days…”

    When he says before 1967, he means in Arab Muslim hands. Recall, Abbas previously objected to being left out of negotiations about the Temple Mount. But, at the end of the day, that’s a purely internal matter. The Arabs are one people, one country split into 22+ and they just want to keep every inch that they stole while appearing to be David battling Goliath. The Arab behomoth is Goliath in David’s clothing to fool the international community into helping them destroy Israel, or at least give them a sop for their guilty consciences. Every one of these European meddlers should be asked what their parents and grandparents did during the Shoah.