Kerry to meet with Netanyahu, Abbas in bid to curb violence
Secretary of State John Kerry said in Paris that he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to stem the wave of violence in Israel and the West Bank.
“Later this week I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu because he will be in Germany … we will meet there,” Kerry said Sunday at UNESCO headquarters, the French news agency AFP reported. “And then I will go the region and I will meet with President Abbas, I will meet with King Abdullah [of Jordan] and others.”
Kerry confirmed the meetings that were widely reported — German and Israeli officials had announced the Kerry-Netanyahu meeting late last week. Netanyahu was scheduled to travel to Germany on Wednesday to discuss the current crisis in Israel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Kerry was traveling in Europe this week.
His announcement in Paris came two days after President Barack Obama acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself from a wave of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli citizens. In the past month, eight Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, while 40 Palestinians, including 19 identified by Israel as assailants, have been killed, according to the Associated Press.
Obama called on Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “tamp down the rhetoric” feeding the current violence in Israel.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence directed against innocent people and believe that Israel has a right to maintain basic law and order and protect its citizens from knife attacks and violence on the streets,” Obama said last week at the White House during a news conference with the president of South Korea.
Obama called on Netanyahu and Abbas, as well as other Israeli and Palestinian officials, to “try to get all people in Israel and in the West Bank to recognize that this kind of random violence isn’t going to result in anything other than more hardship and more insecurity.”
He called again for a resumption of the peace process toward a two-state solution.
The “only way that Israel is going to be truly secure and the only way that the Palestinians are going to be able to meet the aspirations of their people is if there are two states living side by side in peace and security,” the U.S. leader said, adding, “Right now, everybody needs to focus on making sure that innocent people aren’t being killed.”
Kerry spoke last week by phone with Netanyahu in what the State Department called in a statement a “constructive conversation … about how best to end the recent wave of violence and to offer U.S. support for efforts to restore calm as soon as possible.” Kerry reiterated the United States’ “strong condemnation of terrorist attacks against innocent civilians and support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens,” according to the statement.
In a conversation last week with Abbas, Kerry “reiterated the importance of avoiding further violence and preventing inflammatory rhetoric, accusations and actions that will increase tensions,” according to a State Department statement about the call.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio meets Israeli terror victims
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Israeli terror victims at a Jerusalem hospital.
“When you are attacked, we also feel attacked,” de Blasio said during the visit last Saturday to the Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem with his Jerusalem counterpart Nir Barkat. “We in New York are very familiar with the effects of terrorism,” he added, a reference to the Sept. 11 attacks on the city.
“You can’t think about acts of terrorism like this in the abstract when you meet the victims and you meet the families. It becomes very real,” de Blasio said. “There can’t be peace when civilians are wantonly attacked just for going about their business.”
Earlier, de Blasio met with Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai and with Israeli and Palestinian children and their parents from the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School, a joint Arab-Jewish school that was the victim of an arson attack late last year. On Sunday, de Blasio and 40 mayors from cities around the world visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum. He also was scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
During his three-day visit to Israel de Blasio was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a conference of international mayors sponsored by the American Jewish Congress and other Jewish groups.
It is his fourth trip to Israel, his first as mayor, according to The New York Post.
U.S. ambassador to Israel: Israeli actions not excessive
The United States ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, said Washington does not view Israel’s recent actions to curb Palestinian violence as excessive and supports Israel’s right to defend its citizens.
Shapiro made the statement during an interview last Friday on Israel Radio about indignation by Israeli officials at what they viewed as a suggestion by a State Department spokesman that Israel was using excessive force against Palestinians.
“The United States does not view Israeli actions as excessive,” Shapiro said. “We recognize the Israeli government’s right and responsibility to defend its citizens.”
Asked whether the United States considered the shooting of knife-wielding people intent on stabbing passers-by to be excessive, Shapiro said: “We have always supported and continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself. There is no justification, there is no excuse whatsoever for these outrageous attacks. They present a difficult situation to deal with.”
On Oct. 14, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that although Israel “has a right and responsibility to protect” its citizens, “we’ve certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force.”
Shapiro added that the United States “never suggested Israel change the status quo” at the Temple Mount — a claim that seems to be fueling some Palestinian violence toward Israelis in the recent spate of attacks.
In answer to a reporter’s question, Kirby said that the status quo on the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims, “has not been observed, which has led to a lot of the violence.” Shortly thereafter, Kirby walked back that statement, tweeting: “I did not intend to suggest that status quo at Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif has been broken.”
Kirby’s statement on excessive force prompted Gilad Erdan, Israel’s interior security minister, to accuse the State Department of “hypocrisy” and demand that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry distance themselves from Kirby’s words and “clarify the U.S. position.”
Cleveland-area rabbi to serve 22 years in prison for sex abuse
A Cleveland-area rabbi will serve 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of a minor.
Rabbi Frederick (Ephraim) Karp, 51, was sentenced Oct. 15 in Baltimore County Circuit Court, the home county of the victims, all females. He had been scheduled to go on trial later this month.
Karp, the former director of spiritual living at Menorah Park Center for Senior Living in Beachwood, Ohio, was sentenced to 35 years, with 13 years suspended, plus five years of supervised probation after he is released, the Cleveland Jewish News reported.
The abuse reportedly took place when family friends visited the Karp’s suburban Cleveland home and also when he visited the family over a five-year period that ended last December. The victims lived in Baltimore County at the time of the incidents. Two of the three were under the age of 18.
Karp was president of Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains until being suspended from the position in January. He was arrested the same month at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York while on his way to New York for the Association’s annual conference, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported.