On Netanyahu’s Claims Ahead of Donald Trump’s Visit to Israel
[UPDATE: On December 10, 2015, Trump announced that he was postponing his visit to Israel. A spokesperson also denied reports that he was planning to visit the Noble Sanctuary mosque complex (known as the Temple Mount to Jews) in occupied East Jerusalem.]
Earlier today, it was announced that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits Israel later this month. The announcement comes in the wake of controversy over Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States and other racist comments, which have been widely condemned. In response to criticism for agreeing to meet with Trump, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement claiming that “Israel respects all religions and stickily preserves the rights of all its citizens,” despite massive evidence to the contrary documented by Israeli, Palestinian, and international human rights organizations.
The IMEU offers the following fact sheet on Netanyahu’s claims regarding equality for Muslim and other non-Jewish citizens of Israel, and also concerning provocations by messianic Jewish extremists, including senior government officials, who have been inciting tensions around the Noble Sanctuary mosque complex (known as the Temple Mount to Jews) in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, which Trump reportedly will visit during his trip.
Discrimination Against Non-Jews in Israel
- Since its establishment in 1948, which was accompanied by the expulsion of between 750,000 and a million Palestinians in order to create a Jewish majority state, Israel has systematically privileged Jewish citizens over Muslim, Christian, and other non-Jewish citizens, who comprise about 20% of Israel’s population today.
- Today, there are more than 50 laws that privilege Jews and/or discriminate against non-Jews, dealing with everything from education to housing, land ownership, and family reunification rights.
- Ninety-three percent of the land in Israel is owned either by the state or by quasi-governmental agencies, such as the Jewish National Fund, that systematically discriminate against non-Jews.
- Over the entirety of its 67-year existence, there has been a period of only about one year (1966-1967) that Israel did not rule over large numbers of Palestinians to whom it granted no political rights simply because they were not Jewish.
Provocations on the Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount by Senior Government Officials & The “Judaization” of Jerusalem
- In recent years, messianic Jewish extremists, including senior Israeli government officials, have been inciting tensions around the Noble Sanctuary mosque complex (known as the Temple Mount to Jews) in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem. These extremists, who have the publicly declared goal of building a Jewish temple in the Noble Sanctuary, have been making increasingly frequent visits to the Noble Sanctuary guarded by Israeli police, and have been attempting to legislate a change to the status quo arrangement in the Noble Sanctuary that has been in place since 1967, which stipulates non-Jews are allowed to visit the Noble Sanctuary but not pray in it.
- While Netanyahu denies any responsibility for provoking tensions around the Noble Sanctuary, senior officials in his cabinet and party have been aggressively campaigning for increased Israeli control over the Noble Sanctuary, even publicly calling for the imposition of Israeli sovereignty over it and the construction of a Jewish temple. On December 9, 2015, Haaretz reported that Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan had contributed money (approximately $12,000 USD) to the Temple Institute, which is actively working towards building a temple in the Noble Sanctuary, as has a close Netanyahu associate and chairman of American Friends of Likud, Kenneth Abramowitz.
- The Israeli government and municipalities like the city of Jerusalem also directly fund groups like the Temple Institute and sponsor their public events. The Temple Institute is also promoted on the municipality of Jerusalem’s website and on its official tourism site. (See here for fact sheet on Israeli government support for Temple Mount extremists.)
- Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, successive Israeli governments have attempted to cement Israeli control over the expanded boundaries of the city using a number of different measures, including severely restricting construction in Palestinian areas and then destroying structures built without permission, while simultaneously encouraging the construction of illegal Jewish settlements in and around the city.
- According to the 2009 US State Department International Religious Freedom Report, “Many of the national and municipal policies in Jerusalem were designed to limit or diminish the non-Jewish population of Jerusalem.”
- According to a December 2015 report in Haaretz newspaper, only 7% of the building permits issued by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem over the past few years have gone to Palestinian neighborhoods, where 40% of the city’s population lives. In 2014, Israel issued 3,238 building permits in Jerusalem, of which only 188 were issued in Palestinian neighborhoods.