TIME

Heavy Security as Israel Reopens Jerusalem Site

The Temple Mount compound with The Dome of the Rock seen in Jerusalem, Oct. 30, 2014.
The Temple Mount compound with The Dome of the Rock seen in Jerusalem, Oct. 30, 2014. Abir Sultan—EPA

(JERUSALEM) — Israel has reopened a contested Jerusalem holy site and deployed hundreds of security personnel amid rising tensions in the city.

Muslim worshippers on Friday made their way through a welter of Israeli checkpoints to the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Police said that Muslim men over the age of 50 and women of all ages could attend the weekly prayers.

Israel closed the site after security forces shot and killed a Palestinian man suspected of attempting to assassinate a hard-line Jewish activist who advocates giving Jews greater access to the site.

Israeli-American rabbi Yehuda Glick was shot three times late Wednesday but his condition is now said to be improving.

Palestinians had condemned the closure as a “declaration of war.”

TIME Middle East

Israel Closes Jerusalem Holy Site After Shooting

A masked Palestinian youth throws a rock during clashes with Israeli security forces in east Jerusalem on Oct. 30, 2014.
A masked Palestinian youth throws a rock during clashes with Israeli security forces in east Jerusalem on Oct. 30, 2014. Ahmad Gharabli—AFP/Getty Images

The Palestinians said temporary closure of the Al Aqsa mosque was a "declaration of war"

Israel closed all access to Jerusalem’s most sensitive religious site on Thursday, a rare move that ratcheted up already heightened tensions following the attempted assassination of a prominent Jewish religious activist and the killing of his suspected Palestinian assailant by police.

The Palestinians accused Israel of a “declaration of war,” deepening a crisis fueled by failed peace efforts, continued Israeli settlement construction and months of simmering violence in the holy city. While Israel said it would reopen the site on Friday, the increasingly religious nature of the unrest risked igniting further violence.

Both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders blamed each other for the tensions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has called for banning Jews from the hilltop holy site, of inciting the violence.

“The international community must stop its hypocrisy and act against the inciters,” Netanyahu said.

Abbas, meanwhile, said Jerusalem is a “red line that must not be touched.” The decision to close access to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound was “a declaration of war” that “will lead to further escalation and instability,” his spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, said. Abbas made no mention of the attempted killing of the Jewish activist.

East Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians, has experienced unrest since the summer, with Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at motorists and clashing frequently with Israeli police. The violence gained steam last week, when a Palestinian motorist rammed his car into a crowded train station, killing a 3-month-old Israeli-American baby girl.

Much of the unrest has centered on the holy site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The violence reached a new high late Wednesday when a gunman on a motorcycle shot and seriously wounded Yehuda Glick, a U.S.-born activist who often leads groups of Jews on visits to the site.

Glick is a leading voice in efforts to allow Jews to pray on the mosque compound — something that Israeli authorities ban because they fear it would prompt violence. Muslim worshippers view Jewish prayer there as a provocation, fearing that Jewish extremists are plotting to take over the area.

In an interview this week with The Associated Press, Glick warned of the growing violence in Jerusalem and said Jews were increasingly being attacked by Muslims.

“The more extreme Islamist organizations are taking over and if we don’t stop them early enough, they will take over the entire Jerusalem,” he said. “We’re calling upon the Israeli government: Stop the violence.”

He remained hospitalized Thursday in serious condition.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned the shooting and said the U.S. was “extremely concerned by escalating tensions” in Jerusalem. “It is critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the status quo,” she said, adding the U.S. had been in touch with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian officials to calm the situation. Under a longstanding arrangement, Jordan holds custodial authority over the mosque compound.

Early Thursday, police forces surrounded the suspected gunman at his home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the man, identified as Moataz Hijazi, opened fire and was killed by the Israeli forces.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said Hijazi had served 12 years in Israeli prison for a number of crimes before he was released in 2012. It described him as a sympathizer of the Islamic Jihad militant group, but said he appeared to have acted alone in Wednesday night’s attack.

Shortly after Hijazi was shot dead, clashes broke out in Abu Tor, with Palestinians hurling stones at riot police, who responded with rubber bullets to suppress the demonstration. A funeral was planned late Thursday.

The decision to close access to the holy site for the first time in more than 14 years underscored the incendiary nature of the current tensions.

The Palestinian uprising against Israel began after then-Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Jerusalem site in what many saw as a provocative gesture. That visit — in September 2000 — resulted in a temporary closure of the site.

Late Thursday, police said the site would be reopened on Friday to male Muslim worshippers over the age of 50 and female worshippers of all ages. Younger men would be barred, they said, because of the risk of renewed violence.

The Jerusalem tensions come at a sensitive time. U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed last April, and Israel battled Hamas militants in Gaza during a 50-day war over the summer.

More recently, Israel has announced plans to press forward with housing construction in east Jerusalem, drawing condemnation from the U.S. and other key allies.

This week, anonymous senior U.S. officials were quoted as criticizing Netanyahu as cowardly and indecisive in an interview with The Atlantic, and on Thursday, Sweden formally recognized a state of Palestine, a symbolic show of displeasure with Israeli policies.

In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry criticized the derisive language used to describe Netanyahu in The Atlantic interview, and said he was still hopeful to forge peace.

“We still believe it is doable, but it takes courage, it takes strength,” he said.

TIME Israel

Sen. Ted Cruz: Obama’s Unprecedented Attack on Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, Oct. 13, 2014.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, Oct. 13, 2014. Menahem Kahana—EPA

Cruz is the junior U.S. Senator from Texas.

Voters should challenge the administration's views on Election Day

This week, the world was treated to yet another embarrassing display of the Obama administration’s incompetent foreign policy.

According to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, various anonymous officials referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as both “a chicken****” and “a coward.” While these indefensible comments have received the lion’s share of media attention, the substantive remarks about Iran were even more troubling. Goldberg wrote that another senior official claimed that due to their pressure on Netanyahu, it is now “too late” for Israel to stop Iran from amassing an “atomic arsenal.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the White House press corps on Tuesday that the President likely does not know who did this, and there is no effort underway to find out. Other officials have signaled that these persons may be disciplined in ways that are have not been disclosed. But, regardless, they will continue to serve at the pleasure of the President because, as Earnest said, such things happen almost every day in this administration.

In other words, this is no big deal.

With all due respect, this is a very big deal. This is an unprecedented attack on a critical ally of the United States at a moment of international crisis. It is a de facto admission to the mullahs in Tehran that the Obama administration thinks it is too late to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is an inexcusable betrayal of the national security of the American people.

Do the Democrats agree with what Obama administration officials are saying about Israel and its leaders? Do they also concede that a nuclear Iran is inevitable? If not, will they call on the President to identify and fire the persons making these assertions? These questions should be asked—and answered—before Americans head to the polls next Tuesday.

It is my hope that Congress can unite to reverse this administration’s approach by defending our allies and standing up to hostile actors in the world. When the White House acts recklessly, Congress should swiftly act to defend our nation. We will not be able to do so if the Senate is led by Harry Reid acting as a rubber stamp for President Obama. Either the Democrats should denounce the Obama Administration’s dangerous policies or the voters should send them home in November.

As disgraceful as these comments were, at least they bring crystal clarity to the choice we face as a nation on November 4th. Choose wisely.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Israel

Provocative Israeli Cartoon on Deteriorating Relations With U.S. Evokes 9/11

It was published days after a White House official reportedly called Netanyahu "chickens--t"

A cartoon published Thursday by the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz has sparked controversy for its blunt attempt to depict deteriorating relations between conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.

The cartoon shows Netanyahu flying an airplane aimed at a tall building topped with an American flag, which resembles one of the Twin Towers that were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

The cartoonist, Amos Biderman, told the Times of Israel that the image was intended to imply that Netanyahu was leading to “a disaster in Israel-U.S. relations on the scale of 9/11.” But it has drawn criticism in the U.S. and in Israel, with Vox writing that “it so breaches the very basics of good taste that it is astounding.”

Relations between Netanyahu and the White House have been notoriously poor, and the Israeli leader moved earlier this week to accelerate planning for new settler homes in East Jerusalem despite the Obama Administration’s opposition. On Tuesday, the Atlantic quoted one unnamed White House official calling Netanyahu “chickens–t.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest later said the official’s comment did not “accurately reflect at all” the administration’s view about Israel.

Read next: Sweden Becomes the First E.U. Member to Recognize a Palestinian State

TIME Israel

Israel Recalls Ambassador to Sweden

(JERUSALEM) — Israel has recalled its ambassador to Sweden to protest Stockholm’s recognition of a Palestinian state.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said Thursday the ambassador was being recalled for consultations, but declined to say how long he would remain in Israel.

Hirschson said the move was made “because of the recognition of the Palestinian state.”

Earlier Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had called it “a miserable decision that strengthens the extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism.”

TIME sweden

Sweden Becomes the First E.U. Member to Recognize a Palestinian State

The decision, which has drawn the ire of Israel, comes unexpectedly early

The Swedish government became the first E.U. member to officially recognize a Palestinian state on Thursday.

Newly elected Prime Minister Stefan Lofven first announced the move at his swearing-in ceremony on Oct. 3, but he was not expected to follow through so soon, Haaretz reports.

“Some will claim that today’s decision comes too early. I’m rather afraid it’s too late,” writes Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. “The past year, we’ve seen how the peace negotiations once again have halted, how decisions on new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have obstructed a two-state solution and how violence has returned to Gaza.”

Wallstrom writes that the recognition aims to support moderate forces among the Palestinians, make future negotiations more equal and give young Palestinians hope of a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Israel has publicly protested the move, which some believe is feeding unrealistic Palestinian expectations of working out a resolution with the international community but without involving Israel, writes the Jerusalem Post.

A total of 134 other countries recognized Palestine before Sweden. Hungary, Poland and Slovakia all did so before joining the E.U.

TIME food and drink

SodaStream to Move Controversial West Bank Facility

Scarlett Johansson SodaStream Partnership
SodaStream unveils Scarlett Johansson as its first-ever Global Brand Ambassador at the Gramercy Park Hotel on January 10, 2014 in New York City. Mike Coppola—2014 Getty Images

The company says the move does not come in response to a Palestinian activist-led boycott

SodaStream announced Wednesday that it will move a controversial facility located in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. The company said that their reason for moving was “purely commercial,” and not due to pressure from Palestinian activists.

The Israeli company will relocate its operations from Maaleh Adumim in the West Bank to Lehavim, northern Israel by 2015. “We are offering all employees the opportunity to join us in Lehavim, and specifically, we are working with the Israeli government to secure work permits for our Palestinian employees,” SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said, according to the Associated Press.

Palestinian activists launched a boycott of the company because of its location in the West Bank, land that Israel has controversially laid claim to since 1967. Up until now, the company has maintained that shutting down its facility—which employed 500 Palestinians, 450 Israeli Arabs and 350 Israeli Jews—would not benefit the cause for Palestinian statehood or the Israeli-Palestine peace process.

Scarlett Johansson was swept up in the controversy earlier this year when the actress stepped down from her position as an Oxfam International ambassador over her role as a spokesperson for SodaStream. The Avengers actress said she had a “fundamental difference of opinion” with the international charity, which opposes all trade from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Johansson later defended the ad: “I’m coming into this as someone who sees that factory as a model for some sort of movement forward in a seemingly impossible situation,” she said. “Until someone has a solution to the closing of that factory to leaving all those people destitute, that doesn’t seem like the solution to the problem.”

Meanwhile, SodaStream has been having a hard time convincing U.S. consumers to buy at-home soda machines. Its third-quarter earnings dropped 14% from last year.

[AP]

TIME Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Infant’s Killing in Jerusalem Reignites Talk of a New Intifada

Mideast Israel Palestinians
A masked Palestinian kicks a burning tire during clashes with Israeli security forces a day after 14-year-old Palestinian-American, Orwah Hammad was killed by Israeli troops during clashes, in the village of Silwad, near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Oct. 25, 2014. Majdi Mohammed—AP

Incidents of violence in the city and the West Bank increase tension between Israelis and Palestinians

Gill Schechter has lived in the Armon HaNatziv neighborhood of East Jerusalem for over 30 years, during which time he has always felt safe — until recently. His street abuts a Palestinian neighborhood, from which rocks and cement chunks have been lobbed at the Jewish homes and cars here with increased intensity.

He doesn’t remember ever before worrying, as he does now, about driving in and out of his neighborhood or letting his kids walk home from school.

“I don’t think it’s heading in the direction of an Intifada — I think it’s here already,” says Schechter, a 41-year-old Israeli electrical engineer and father of four, referring to the Arabic word for uprising “People don’t want to walk in the streets, people’s houses are being trashed and we see very little being done, as the police have their hands tied behind their backs.”

Tensions increased in the city, including in Schechter’s neighborhood, on Oct. 22 when a 21-year-old Palestinian resident of Jerusalem named Abdel-Rahman Shaloudi drove into a line of people waiting for a tram in the center of the city. Shaloudi’s car hit Haya Zissel Braun, a three-month-old Israeli baby, throwing her into the air. She landed on her head and later died. Police shot Shaloudi as he tried to flee the scene on foot. He later died of his wounds.

Schechter is a member of the security committee for Armon HaNatziv, which sits in the southern part of the city and borders two Arab villages that are part of Jerusalem — Jabel Mukaber and Sur Baher. Armon HaNatziv is over the Green Line, which marks Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and therefore is considered by Palestinians as an illegal settlement. Many Israelis consider Armon HaNatziv simply as a neighborhood of the capital.

“I’m not a war-monger, but there is a limit to what the authorities should allow when you’re in charge of a city,” Schechter tells TIME. “We have young guys across the road throwing huge chunks of concrete at us. Were it to hit someone in the head, it could easily kill a person.”

Across town, to the north, Saedi Shrateh is a 22-year-old construction worker and student at Al-Quds University in the West Bank city of Ramallah, north of Jerusalem. He lives near the Qalandia checkpoint, which separates Jerusalem from the southern outskirts of Ramallah. Although he has an Israeli-issued Jerusalem resident’s ID, which allows him to go anywhere in the city, he stays away from West Jerusalem more and more following a spate of attacks on Arabs by Israeli ultranationalists. Everyone, he says, tries to avoid walking alone.

“As witnessed in the past week or so, the vibe in the streets is for a third Intifada. But not all Palestinians are willing to participate,” says Shrateh, who wears a black T-shirt that reads “Gaza is under fire,” a reminder of the recent seven-week-long war between Israel and the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza. “I think we need another Intifada to achieve our goals, but I’m afraid too many people will sit at home. Nowadays, people are more concerned about making it in life and advancing their economic situation.”

There is almost no corner of this city that isn’t abuzz with talk of a third Intifada. (The first Palestinian uprising started in 1987, and the second in 2000.) Fears grew over the summer after the murder in June of a Palestinian youth named Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The teenager was abducted in Jerusalem and then murdered. Police have charged three Israelis with the murder, including two minors, saying the three were upset by the news that three Israeli teenagers had been kidnapped in the West Bank — Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah — and shot dead by Hamas operatives.

Although the clashes simmered down following an Israel-Hamas cease-fire in late August, the rage among many Palestinians has yet to abate. In recent weeks, several events seemed close to reigniting the conflict. One has been the arrival in Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood near the Old City of Jerusalem, of several dozen Jewish settlers who have moved into two buildings they had bought. Palestinians see these moves as a provocation. To them, any time a group of Israeli Jews moves into the neighborhood, it not only causes friction but potentially marks it is as territory Israel would retain control of in a peace deal. Israeli Jewish groups who move their activists to these neighborhoods say they’re reclaiming ancestral land and acknowledge that part of their goal is to prevent Jerusalem from being redivided, as it was between 1948 and 1967. The Jerusalem municipality says it cannot stop anyone from moving to another neighborhood of Jerusalem if the property is purchased legally.

Also in recent weeks, Jewish groups seeking to hold holiday prayers at the Temple Mount — known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, housing both the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock — have led to concerns that a dangerous showdown is brewing over Jerusalem’s holiest site. And each time things get tense Israeli police keep young Muslim worshippers out, only allowing access to people over 50. Earlier this week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told activists from his Fatah party that Palestinians should be present on the site at all times to stop “the fierce onslaught on Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre Church.”

When news broke Wednesday night that a Palestinian from Silwan had driven his car into pedestrians waiting for a tram, killing the three-month-old, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately blamed the attack on Abbas and said his “incitement” was responsible. In response, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu’s accusations represented a “dangerous new low” in Israeli-Palestinians relations.

The two sides have only seemed to exacerbate tensions, likely setting the stage for more violence.

The tensions are not limited to Jerusalem, but are also spreading to the West Bank. During riots on Friday, Israeli forces shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian-American youth named Orwah Hammad. The shooting took place in the village of Silwad, north of Ramallah.

Government ministers in Netanyahu’s cabinet and Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, have argued for taking a tougher line in East Jerusalem, arguing that this is the only way to stop Palestinian rioters. Barkat also announced he was deploying more police throughout the city, installing cameras in neighborhoods like Schechter’s, and launching a surveillance balloon over East Jerusalem to collect information about riots as they are forming.

Schechter — and many others Israelis in Jerusalem — seemed pleased with the response. But Palestinians say it will only bring further trouble.

“I certainly don’t see this moving in the direction of calming down,” Adnan Husseini, who holds the Jerusalem portfolio for the Palestinian Authority, tells TIME. “The Israeli government is doing everything to accelerate tensions and make things more difficult. We have a confrontation in almost every area of Jerusalem, on every street. It may not have been announced, but is seems there is a small Intifada already.”

Read next: Palestinian Killed in Clash With Israeli Military

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 21

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. After another war, it seems more clear that the Israeli siege of Gaza continues through “inertia.”

By Itamar Sha’altiel in +972

2. A new project looks to inspire a generation to bold new scientific innovation by stimulating creative storytelling.

By Michael White in Pacific Standard

3. Attempts to combat voter fraud should be balanced against a constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.

By Matthew Yglesias in Vox

4. More than meets the eye: Visual inspection is far from sufficient for guaranteeing the safety of meat and poultry. It’s time to reform USDA food safety systems.

By the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for Science in the Public Interest

5. Lifting teachers into leadership roles could help achieve the big gains for students we’ve been seeking.

By Ross Wiener in the Aspen Idea

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Israel

Raising the Dead: Lack of Space Forces Cemeteries Skywards

Cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel
Cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel Dan Balilty / AP

From Israel to Brazil, elevated cemeteries are providing the final resting place for thousands of people as space runs out at ground level

At first glance, the multi-tiered jungle of concrete off a major highway does not appear unusual in Petah Tikva, an Israeli city of bland high-rises. But the burgeoning towers are groundbreaking when you consider its future tenants: They will be homes not for the living but rather the dead.

With real estate at a premium, Israel is at the forefront of a global movement building vertical cemeteries in densely populated countries. The reality of relying on finite land resources to cope with the endless stream of the dying has brought about creative solutions…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

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