Sunset for Netanyahu?

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This year will be a critical one for the political future of Israel.  The key event is a general election for the Knesset, the country's parliamentary body, which Benyamin Netanyahu's government called for April 9.

The future of Israel should be compelling for any (US) American for several reasons. One is the ongoing drama of the Middle East,  which has been a strategic foreign policy interest for decades, and in which Israel has a lead actor role. The top concern of the Israeli electorate, taken as a whole, is always going to be about the decisions governing the security of the nation. Elections are the only real opportunity Israelis have to express their will(s) in a non-crisis situation (and in crises, only through actions). So, it is an opportunity to raise those larger and longer-term questions of sovereignty and demographic change which are fundamental to Israel's future.

Mostly, though, it is about the political survival of long-time Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Netanyahu has been a master of domestic politics, holding together his Likud party, while all the other parties continue to fragment, and providing a degree of political stability to Israel by putting together coalition after coalition.   In 2019, Netanyahu seeks to produce Knesset magic once again, but the challenge is steeper than ever.

In a scenario that may be a preview of the US election next year, Israel's election will test the question of whether a national leader's support will hold up when there are active criminal cases against him.  Just this week, the Israeli attorney general (like the US' but with a little more real independence) released a statement that, after a lengthy corruption investigation,  he recommends indictment of Netanyahu.

The indictment has not yet officially happened, and it's still possible it may not; furthermore the Israeli justice system is different from the US', more like the continental European ones.  Nevertheless, Netanyahu will go to the polls with a cloud over his head.  He called the election, hoping to delay the indictment beyond it, but he was unsuccessful in his efforts to keep AG Mandelblit from making this announcement before the election; in fact, ethically, the announcement was made precisely so that voters would be properly informed what the nature of the likely charges are.  How similar, yet how different!

The similarity between the Israeli situation and the US one is clear in the character of the allegations against Netanyahu, and the ones that are emerging against Trump.  It's basically loose ethics, combined with garden-variety fraud+ and venality--In Benyamin's case, it's accepting gifts that were too large and trying to use his influence improperly to manipulate the media.  As we saw with the Cohen hearings, the plausibility of the accusations is not really in doubt; the question in Israel is whether they amount to offenses worthy of indictment (as in the US, where it will be whether they should rise to the level of impeachment).

The other novelty is that Netanyahu is being challenged in his strength area, that of national security.  The prospective challenger is Benny Gantz, a former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Force (IDF, i.e. the military).  Not only does he project Strong Defense, he has two other ex-IDF chiefs allied with him in his new party, which also allied with another moderately-strong centrist group, headed by Yair Lapid.  This new party's electoral list, called Yahol Lavan, could come out of the election with the highest number of seats  This would give their party first shot at building a parliamentary majority and a governing coalition with coalition partners.  It is that first-strike edge that Netanyahu has utilized in the past to craft government after government that just barely reached the majority level* .

That bare-majority level would then become the obsession of Gantz and his allies, through contacts that they would have with all of the many other parties.


Gantz' Dilemma
This opposition group has one unifying principle:  Netanyahu must go!  Objectively, when someone has been in power for so long, even if successfully, that person becomes annoying , both to supporters and the opposition (see Angela Merkel).  He is clearly an obstacle to any peace discussion, to any change in the slow suicide policy of expanding settlements into hostile territory, and he has shown no regard for any interest other than self.  To show the level of desperation, Netanyahu urged the Orthodox Jewish party group to take on the successors of Rabbi Kahane, a violent bigot, because a couple of percentage more for that group might make the difference in his coalition.   But, that is only true if Likud gets the highest percentage in this election, as Gantz' crew will be just as eager to expand, left or right, secular or religious, Ashkenazi, Sephardim, or Arab, to get its majority.    Gantz has openly invited Likud to join his government--just without Netanyahu.

But, I have to admit, the opposition program doesn't go far beyond getting rid of Bibi.  In fact, the group, seeking to deflect Netanyahu's attack on the group as being "leftist" or "pro-Arab, has criticized Netanyahu's government for being too soft, by allowing Hamas to receive humanitarian aid intended for Gaza. 

Meanwhile, the "two-state solution" becomes more and more a remote possibility.  We knew Netanyahu would never go there, but it seems that not much should be expected to change, even if he leaves.  Still, if he goes, there is at least a possibility; whereas, if he stays, the short-term future is certain:  Stalemate, and legal morass.   Sound familiar?


*(61 of 120 seats, based on a national proportional representation-based allocation, with a minimum of 3.25% for inclusion).  

+ a phrase I liked from the Cohen hearings:  it suggests banality and casual disregard for the line between right and wrong). . 
 

Comments

The Owl Added Mar 7, 2019 - 6:16pm
I agree with you about the forces ranging against Netanyahu...He again is in political trouble...
 
But then again, he has weathered political troubles for a long time by being better than the rest in the eyes of the voter.
 
Being against someone politically, however, doesn't necessarily translate into votes at the ballot box, the formation of governing coalitions, or actually doing the business of the nation.
 
I think that it is safe to say that the Israeli voter, no matter how liberal he might be, will be voting on the issue of safety and security of the Jewish nation, not on the feel-good type issues that are dominating our political scene.  And with the rising tide of anti-semitism that we are seeing throughout the western world, I am sure that rank-and-file is going to be voting their fears rather than their aspirations.
 
Netanyahu has had a long run in the halls of government...And, like any politician long in the tooth at the job, it is time for him to go.
 
I am not so sure, however, that his opposition is going to be able to match the political skills that Netanyahu has managed to acquire over the years...He has been the survivor when everyone else came to the end.
 
 
Stone-Eater Added Mar 7, 2019 - 6:45pm
Israel is an independent country as any in theory. In fact it is a US state in the ME to secure economic interests. Stop that shit. If it weren't the case the US interest would be almost nil. But since a good part of US economic and financial influence is Ziewish, I understand that.
Jim Stoner Added Mar 7, 2019 - 7:09pm
Owl, 
I agree with much of what you say, especially that Netanyahu has shown himself to be highly skilled politically, and that the opposition may have trouble presenting anything like a coherent program if it wins. 
 
The one thing that is different (besides the possible indictment) is that Netanyahu is no longer assured of winning on the "national security"  question.   There is also the question of whether his antagonism vs. Iran will backfire on him in some way by the time of the election, but generally speaking, anything that heightens tensions or puts Israel on the defensive internationally is liable to help him, not hurt. 
 
S-E,  It is true that the US is Israel's one essential ally, and that Israelis watch very closely any US debate that may relate directly or indirectly to them. In that regard, the Ilhan Omar controversy is front-page news in Jerusalem. 
The Owl Added Mar 8, 2019 - 2:24am
SE fails to see that while the US and Israel are committed Allies, it is absurd to assume that the Israelis will ALWAYS takecthecus position.
 
Remember, it was the Israeli Air commend that attacked the USS Liberty, a spy ship reporting on Israeli military tactical and strategic successes during one of the wars withcp her neighbors.
 
He Israelis fight their fights, not the rights of others.
Flying Junior Added Mar 8, 2019 - 4:15am
And with the rising tide of anti-semitism that we are seeing throughout the western world...
 
Please clarify Owl.  Are you talking about increasing right-wing nativism in Europe or something else.  Do you include the United States in your list of western powers that is experiencing a rise in anti-semitism?
Flying Junior Added Mar 8, 2019 - 4:33am
Jim,
 
You present a copious array of factual current events.  It may be a bit beyond my capability of understanding as to the intricacies of Israeli politics.  Yet it is very important to me.  My fear is that given the example of the Constitution-shattering presidency of the monster, Israelis may see a similar opportunity to support a law-breaker in the next election.
 
As far as our own election, we can count on unswerving support for the monster from his base and the entire republican party.  There will be no blip on the radar as to his innocence or guilt of any crimes.  His support has moved well beyond such terrestrial concerns for ordinary mortals.
 
A more likely scenario is widespread election fraud from republican-controlled states.  This election fraud will be done in such a way as to provide false evidence in the very likely event of a disputed election or demand for recounts.  Not only will the republican operatives seek to destroy democratic ballots and limit democratic votership.  They will be quite ready  to dispute election results in multiple states.  In fact they are anticipating and planning for this.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 8, 2019 - 7:27am
He Israelis fight their fights, not the rights of others.
 
Ok. So they should stop to be fed by the US by billions and do their own independent thing, no ? In fact, they still use the holocaust to profit and ask reparations until today. Shouldn't Iraqis and Libyans also ask for reparations from NATO ? YES.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 8, 2019 - 7:29am
All
 
There is NO anti-semitism in Europe except a few blinded idiots like you have in the KKK in the US towards blacks. Stop blowing up that subject and concentrate on the REAL reasons why there is racism. It's purely for economic reasons !
Stone-Eater Added Mar 8, 2019 - 7:31am
BTW: I will recognize Israel as soon as Kurdistan will be created. 32 million people living in 4 different countries ask for their own country, but are denied of it......
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 8, 2019 - 8:22am
A great article thank you.   I can only add that money speaks at  the voting booth, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has put more money in peoples pockets then any recent previous Prim Minister.
Dino Manalis Added Mar 8, 2019 - 8:45am
 Netanyahu knows how to protect Israel!
Jim Stoner Added Mar 8, 2019 - 11:54am
Thanks for the comments, all. 
Thomas Sutrina is correct that the Israeli economy is doing very well; that provides some wind at the back of the incumbent 
 
Still, it is the security issue that is front and center, but there are now a variety of viewpoints as to what will best assure Israel's safety in the future.    There is no longer unanimity on the two-state solution among Zionists; some on the left are now arguing for a "one-state, two nationalities" approach.  Believe it or not, some Israelis advocate for the annexation of some or all of the West Bank, and to make that work better (for the Jewish state as a whole), for the expulsion of Palestinians from there.    Support for the "give up land to get peace" approach has faded after it fairly disastrously failed with Gaza. 
 
Trump and Netanyahu back each other "strongly", which creates a potential danger area for Democrats:  they have to be careful not to express sentiment against the state of Israel, though they can find room to  criticize many of Netanyahu's policies.   Israel is still supported by the majority of both US parties. 
 
S-E:  I won't disagree with you about a general statement whether Europe harbors anti-Semitism.  Certainly the EU has taken a strong stance against it, and any right-wing parties who want to participate in European governments need to tone it down.   I would say there is still a tendency to blame the Jews when the economy isn't working so well, as is the case in much of Europe now. 
 
I am following this election through an online subscription to Haaretz, a center-left paper published in English from Jerusalem.  I find that it does a good job of presenting various points of view.  One interesting item is the tricky task Netanyahu faces of cozying up to right-wing European governments (Poland, Hungary) which, in an excess of nationalistic zeal, have decided to pass laws making it criminal to say their people cooperated in the Holocaust.  
 
FJ,  Thanks for the comments.  We must be extremely vigilant in 2020 and in the time leading up to then to make sure votes are counted well and that people who are eligible to vote can exercise their privilege.  
Jim Stoner Added Mar 8, 2019 - 2:14pm
I should also have mentioned the "three-state solution", which is something one would see mentioned more these days.  Gaza goes away--becomes a protectorate of Egypt--and the non-Zionist-settled parts of the West Bank become a protectorate of Jordan, and Israel banks its new borders with its settlements annexed and retaining its wall. 
 
It seems to be the wish of most of Likud.   It's intended to be practical, but really isn't much moreso than the other two impractical objectives mentioned above.  
The Owl Added Mar 8, 2019 - 2:50pm
Anti-Semitism, Stone Eater, is alive and well in Western Europe, and it is not confined to those that you accuse of "nativism".
 
Rumblings of it have come from Poland and France, and I doubt seriously if you wanted to look hard enough in Germany and the Low Lands that could find it simmering just below the surface...
 
And yes, the core issue is economic....the "have nots" are upset that the "haves" "have" and since the Jews of Europe have been cut out of most of the prosperity due to prejudice, they concentrated on societal survival in ways that were easily protectable and transportable...like money and gemstones.
 
Is the United States covered by the canvas of anti-semitism that I paint?  Of course, it is.   We've seen it in the embarrassment of our House of Representatives having to pass a resolution against hatred as a right-handed slap against one of their own who has been both vocal and visceral in her hatred of the Jew.
 
We even see it here on these pages from people whose intolerance is the stuff of legend...lots of "legend" and precious little "reason".
 
Are you falling into this group of intolerants, sir?  Sounds like you are....
 
 
 
 
Nobody's Sweetheart Added Mar 9, 2019 - 12:09am
Most racial conflicts seem to be more economic in nature, and religious conflicts seem to be more political in nature. Regarding Israel, it seems to be the same cast of characters constantly changing jobs.
Jim Stoner Added Mar 9, 2019 - 12:58am
Owl,  I  am not familiar with her whole career, but I would say that you overstate the case when you imply (or indicate) that Ilhan Omar "has been both vocal and visceral in her hatred of the Jew." 
 
What she has said recently, and it did indeed cause the House to end up passing a resolution against hatred--doesn't sound like that bad of a thing to do, though it is certainly a distraction--was two comments: 
1) AIPAC has been buying loyalty to Israel with money (campaign contributions); and 
2) Some people (vaguely) were accused of loyalty to foreign interests.  
What she is complaining about--bottom line--is the disproportionately large influence Israeli interests get in Washington as compared to "Arab" interests.    She did it very badly, and she basically needed to apologize to her Congressional colleagues for the imputed corruption.  I would not agree with those who say that anti-Semitism was the theme, it was an unfortunate--and repeated--slur.  I will confine my comments to say that there have been a lot worse in the US, in recent times, than what she did.
 
Stone-Eater Added Mar 9, 2019 - 2:42am
Owl
 
As I said this is grossly exaggerated. Jews are not the focus and the most important thing here. They are a very tiny minority and live for themselves. Could be that they serve as scapegoats and lightning posts for other stuff....like unwanted mass immigration. And - I'm not in favor of both.
Jim Stoner Added Mar 14, 2019 - 7:48pm
I did say this: 
anything that heightens tensions or puts Israel on the defensive internationally is liable to help him, not hurt. 
 
I guess it was obvious it could happen, but Hamas got a missile launched from Gaza in the direction of Tel Aviv tonight. 
 
This will definitely affect sentiments in the election, if it will be held at all.  I would imagine Netanyahu can delay it (the election) for some weeks--about as long as Theresa May can delay her demise (wishing for something to happen?) , while Bibi's fate is probably on the line now
 
John Minehan Added Mar 16, 2019 - 10:04am
The last time Netanyahu ran, he beat the Grandson of Eire's first Chief Rabbi . . . on St. Patrick's Day.  He seems to have Support in High Places . . . .
 
Netanyahu spent part of his youth in New Jersey, where his father was teaching.  He famously skipped his high school graduation in New Jersey to fight as an IDF Paratrooper in The Six Day War.  His brother died in the Entebbe Raid in 1976. 
 
He is a very committed man to his country and is steeped in its politics, but has the advantage of understanding US politics as well, from having grown up here.
 
I would not count him out too readily. 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 16, 2019 - 11:34am
The future of Israel is going to be in the hands of China and Russia very soon. Once China develops her One Belt One Road system connecting Pakistan, Iran and Turkey with Europe on the side and the far east on the other America's dominance in the Middle East ends, and with that, Israel's power is drastically reduced while that of the Arab world increases. 
Unlike America, China does not give a hoot about holy lands and Judaism.
John Minehan Added Mar 16, 2019 - 2:12pm
Interestingly, both Israel and Iran support the OBOR initiative.
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 16, 2019 - 4:52pm
Stone
 I will recognize Israel as soon as Kurdistan will be created. 32 million people living in 4 different countries ask for their own country, but are denied of it......
How is that going to be accomplished without tearing up the Arab world which suits Israel just fine? 
Kurdistan was deliberately left out of the Sykes/Picot agreement in 1916 for exactly this crisis. England and France set about creating Israel while "ignoring" an (Kurdish) elephant in the room. They did ignore Kurdistan. they let it fester for possibly one reason and that is to help Israel expand on a later date.
In order to form Kurdistan today it requires dismantling Arab nations or carving them out to the point they break up. Then Israel expands according to the plan of "Greater Israel".
Jim Stoner
The Jewish power in Congress was written up in the Jerusalem Post and referred to the increase to 6% of Jews as "our tribe". 
From Israel to the ADL have a stranglehold on DC. With a rising Muslim population in America, this hold will be broken. 
John
The last thing Israel wants is a fully developed Iran which she will become when China invests in her like she is doing with Pakistan. Israel and America gain nothing from the OBOR and China sides with Iran over Isaeal on politics.
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 16, 2019 - 4:53pm
They did not ignore Kurdistan. 
Jim Stoner Added Mar 17, 2019 - 12:33am
If there is to be a proxy war between Israel and Iran, on the Syria side of the Golan Heights, Israel will be ready for it and should be expected to demonstrate its usual military superiority, both on the ground and in the air.    The area is very volatile at this time between various factions and provocations against the Israelis should be expected, as per the border between hostile Gaza and S. Israel.   
 
Let's hope it doesn't happen, as that would make the domestic political shadow boxing about Israel into something much more real. 
The US should be able to stay out of this, and there is no logical reason for us to do more than stand by, at this point, having abandoned any coherence in our Syria policy (in either administration) beyond killing ISIS.   Still, we should expect there might be Iranian units in the field, and that will present a challenge for our thinking, and the Israelis'. 
 
Speaking of "Kurdistan": I would say that the YPG success in NE Syria should give them a shot at some real autonomy, especially if the national situation calms (as opposed to large-scale war).  The Syrian Kurds anticipated the eventual and typical Trump ally-betrayal (so far, a semi-betrayal, due to the intervention of wiser heads) and have managed to maintain a mode of coexisting with Assad's regime through the chaos.   They may achieve something comparable to what the Kurds in Iraq have done, or better. Their biggest risk is attack from Turkey, where the Kurdish situation has worsened in every way.   
Barbara Ellison Added Mar 17, 2019 - 9:04am
I believe that in spite of the desire of others to try to oust PM Netanyahu, or to smear him, that he will be elected again.
The people of Israel know he has their best interest at heart, much as real Americans know that President Trump has our people's best interests at heart.
No one person is going to please every other person..But both Netanyahu and Trump have been doing a good job in protecting their respective countries...
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 11:01am
Barbara
.But both Netanyahu and Trump have been doing a good job in protecting their respective countries...
Trump has protected Israel at the cost of America. The war with China is partly to keep her from dominating the Middle East. 
Trump moves to make Jerusalem Israel's capital has poured gasoline on a raging fire. When wars and upheavals break out American troops fight and die for Israel. 
Barbara Ellison Added Mar 17, 2019 - 12:56pm
Michael...Jerusalem IS and always HAS BEEN Israel's capital...President Trump simply acknowledged the fact..He didn't MAKE it the capital.
 
You mislead those who can be misled with false statements. You are way too influenced by haters of both Israel and America...
 
And unbeknownst to you, Israel has been protecting America as well.. You just don't know how to read reality, or what the word "allies" means...
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 1:13pm
Barbara
Isn't Jerusalem under dispute between Palestine and Israel? both want parts of that city as capital.
 
Barbara Ellison Added Mar 17, 2019 - 1:48pm
Not dispute Michael.. And there IS no "Palistine" or "Palestinians". Read history..Palestine was a TERRITORY, and at one time Jews were considered Palestinians, as in, residents of the Territory of Palestine..
 
Now Israel is a STATE, a COUNTRY, and muslims wish to steal it, much like muslims want to take more land from India...
 
Jerusalem belongs to Jews, and the Hebrews before we were called Jews...It was the capital way back then, and still is today...
 
The effort of muslims to take any part of what belongs to Israel, which covers much more than just Jerusalem, is a matter of trying to steal what does not belong to them...
 
Jerusalem is NOT holy to islam...The Temple Mount is NOT holy to muslims...You either have fallen for the lies, or you are a promoter of the lies... 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 1:59pm
Barbara
Palestinians and I do not agree with you. Judaism died in 72 AD and what came up in Europe is Talmudic Judaism based on Rabbinical teachings. Jews lost Israel as much as they lost the faith.  No Temple can be built because all the Levi priests were killed and all records destroyed
Today not one single Jew has records of any connection to the Levy priests. without those records, no sacrifice, and no Temple. 
We know how Palestine was grabbed from the Ottoman Empire.  and all the history from the beginning of Zionism to this day.  Neither one of us can convince the other, but that is the prevailing state of the ME and even of the UN. Most of the UN is on my side,.
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 2:02pm
Barbara
If there is any continuity of Old Judaism it is through Christianity who continues to hold the Torah as sacred as the Gospel while the Babylonian Talmud is the opposite of the Torah. They are so opposite to each other that 
It is said what the Torah "what the Torah forbids the Talmud Permits"
Barbara Ellison Added Mar 17, 2019 - 2:07pm
You are a real trip Michael....LOL.  :D
And your continued false statements are not worth responding to...So..I'll leave it to whoever else reads your false statements to believe you or to find the truth for themselves, with G-d's help.
Shalom
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 2:34pm
Barbara
what you said is meaningless. You simply dismiss my comments because you cannot prove them wrong. You remind me of Israel's foreign policies. Simply dismiss the Palestinians or any opposing voice without a counter argument. That is why Israel will fail. 
Jim Stoner Added Mar 17, 2019 - 3:26pm
You guys....!
as you say, Barbara,  there is a territory of Palestine, and the people who live there are naturally called Palestinians.  And, guess what?  The land that is now called Israel is part of that territory.   And, Jerusalem is a holy place to Muslims (as well as Jews and Christians), and this is being honored and that must continue, and it makes sense for the aspiration of both groups of Palestinians to have it be their capital. 
 
The state of Israel was imposed on a portion of Palestine by the UN; it is a legitimate state, Michael B B, though its authorized boundaries are not the current ones.  Those boundaries, like all of the artificial boundaries created in the region, have fluctuated and could be a subject for negotiation. 
 
It is my opinion that the division of the region into two states is unnatural, and that neither side is negotiating to achieve that agreement in good faith.  In my view, they are one people with two religions, a difficult problem to solve--historically, it has often been bloody--but one that must be addressed. I disagree with the prevailing Israeli view that the status quo is acceptable. 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 4:00pm
Barbara
On a related subject of Free Speech. Why do people want free speech? mainly because they want to say what is on their minds even if it is objectionable to others.
But in reality those in power block opinions of those not in power. Censorship of what Palestinians experience to what they want to what they think of Israel is overwhelming while Israeli's and Zionists say whatever they want on Israel in a Jewish and Israeli friendly American media. 
You know more than anyone that I cannot discuss a whole range of Jewish subjects and history but I should passively listen to you and other  Jews on this subjects even if it has a direct bearing on my life.
You got to know that a that Israel was imposed against the will of the Arabs and the Muslim world. England and France used their power to do this. 
Now the Muslim world will use power, not law, but Power to be heard since the law including free speech is denied to them.
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 4:03pm
You also know that what is law may not be what is moral. slavery was law but not a moral act.
Barbara Ellison Added Mar 17, 2019 - 6:10pm
Jim S...There WAS a Territory called Palestine..It is now no longer a Territory..
Just as "Indian Territory" is no longer a Territory in America..
It stopped being a Territory in 1907..Now it is a part of the United States, the country. The original Territory covered all of what is Oklahoma, part of what is Missouri, part of Kansas and part of Arkansas...
There are no "Indian Territorians", and there are no "Palestinians"...It is hoopla to avoid calling themselves Arabs/muslims..Only the Jews were referred to on passports and such as Palestinians..
Israel's capital, Jerusalem, will always belong to Israel as it's undivided capital.... Can you truly think that muslims would ever willingly "share" anything with Jews or Christians?
Jerusalem is not holy to muslims...That is another lie that spreads for muslim benefit..
The Jewish Temple Mount is not holy to muslims either.. You know what they do on that mount, right? 
But that is another issue..
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 6:26pm
 Can you truly think that muslims would ever willingly "share" anything with Jews or Christians?
They did under the Ottoman Empire to the Mughal Empire.
 
An argument can be also made that the Jews were never meant to return to Israel after they were banished and the Temple destroyed. The European Jews became European and the Talmud had nothing to do with Israel. 
Jim Stoner Added Mar 18, 2019 - 9:04pm
Barbara,  I fail to see the detail of your argument that there is no longer a territory (small t) of Palestine, beyond a flawed analogy with Oklahoma/Indian Territory.  
I believe you are wrong about Jerusalem not being holy to Muslims--it's definitely in the top 5 for all sects, as it has history both through the Biblical line and in the history of Muhammad. 
The Temple Mount is currently (and with great difficulty) administered by Muslims with Jordanian passports. 
Within the city of Istanbul is the location of the highest religious authority of the Orthodox church.  The title is the Metropolitan, or something like that.   It's not a very tolerant society of other religions these days, but this person--the equivalent of the Orthodox Pope--is  there, without significant issue.  Remember that the Vatican City was alien to the Italian state after it was formed until the Pope and Mussolini got it together.   The nature of religious and secular authorities' relationship has been love-hate for 2000 years or so. 
 
Jim Stoner Added Mar 18, 2019 - 9:06pm
Sorry, it's "patriarch", not "metropolitan".  No further comment. 
John Minehan Added Mar 21, 2019 - 11:45pm
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is first among equals among the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
 
Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is first among equals among the Copts (an Oriental Orthodox Church).
 
Armenian Apostolic Church, an Oriental Orthodox Church is headed by a Catholicos (or presently, two Catholicoi).
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 22, 2019 - 9:46am
Jim
Heard on the news that the Golan Heights are going to be given to Israel against UN support. Trump was falling all over himself in getting the news out. 
Jim Stoner Added Mar 22, 2019 - 10:47am
Yes, Trump has come out to recognize Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights (which Israel announced long ago).  The UN does not recognize that.  Trump is looking to assist his friend Netanyahu in the election. 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 22, 2019 - 12:56pm
Jim
First Jerusalem now the Golan Heights.  This is going to lead to wars (Plural) and to terrorist attacks here in America. When that happens we blame Islam when it is really the fault of Israel and the Jews who support Trump such as Adelson, Kurshner, Singer, and others. 
 
John Minehan Added Mar 22, 2019 - 12:59pm
That should aid Netanyahu in the election.
 
Syrian Multiple Rocket launchers on the Golan Heights (or modern long range guns) range most of Israel.  That was why taking the Golan Heights was critical in '73 and holding it remains critical now. 
 
Israel lacks strategic depth, hence the problems in 2016 and the deployment of IRONDOME in the last several years. 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 22, 2019 - 1:25pm
John
I pray that Americans receive the same level of destruction we inflict on the Middle East and around the world.