EU says agreements with Israel ‘inapplicable’ beyond Green Line
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EU says agreements with Israel ‘inapplicable’ beyond Green Line

Announcement by 28-member bloc's council also calls on PA to increase transparency, resume control of Gaza Strip

  • In this Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 file photo, Israeli border police check Palestinians' ID cards at a checkpoint as they exit the Arab neighborhood of Issawiyeh in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    In this Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 file photo, Israeli border police check Palestinians' ID cards at a checkpoint as they exit the Arab neighborhood of Issawiyeh in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • IDF soldiers near the scene of a stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa on Monday, January 18, 2016. (Josh Davidovich/Times of Israel)
    IDF soldiers near the scene of a stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa on Monday, January 18, 2016. (Josh Davidovich/Times of Israel)
  • US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro speaks at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Jerusalem on November 11, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)
    US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro speaks at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Jerusalem on November 11, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)
  • IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (Miriam Alster/Flash90, File)
    IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (Miriam Alster/Flash90, File)
  • Medics wheel a wounded Michal Forman into the emergency room of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center on January 18, 2016. Froman, who is pregnant, was wounded in a stabbing attack in the settlement of Tekoa (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Medics wheel a wounded Michal Forman into the emergency room of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center on January 18, 2016. Froman, who is pregnant, was wounded in a stabbing attack in the settlement of Tekoa (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Family and friends of Dafna Meir at her funeral in Jerusalem on January 18, 2106. Meir was stabbed to death at the entrance to her home in the settlement of Otniel on January 17. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Family and friends of Dafna Meir at her funeral in Jerusalem on January 18, 2106. Meir was stabbed to death at the entrance to her home in the settlement of Otniel on January 17. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Judea regional Brigade commander Yariv ben Ezra (left) and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot near Otniel on Monay, January 18 2016. (IDF)
    Judea regional Brigade commander Yariv ben Ezra (left) and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot near Otniel on Monay, January 18 2016. (IDF)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Indian External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in Jerusalem, January 18 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Indian External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in Jerusalem, January 18 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
  • President of Association of Disabled Veterans of Fight against Nazism Roman Yagel meeting with Border Police officers. (Artiom Degel)
    President of Association of Disabled Veterans of Fight against Nazism Roman Yagel meeting with Border Police officers. (Artiom Degel)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.

Suspicion of monopolies in school trips to Poland

The Israel Antitrust Authority and Israel Police say they suspect several leading travel agencies for colluding in order to prevent competition in the field of organized school trips to Nazi death camps in Poland.

The allegations include fraud and antitrust violations.

This morning, following a joint clandestine probe by the police and the authority, officers and Antitrust Authority investigators arrested nine suspects and detained several more for interrogation on suspicion of involvement in the affair.

The officers also searched the homes and offices of suspects and confiscated property, assets and bank accounts.

According to the police, employees from several travel agencies banded together after winning a Ministry of Education tender and coordinated pricing in order to promote their agencies being chosen by schools without allowing for real competition.

The investigation is being overseen by attorneys from the Antitrust Authority’s legal department and the economic department at the State Attorney’s Office.

The suspects are also accused of violating the Antitrust Law, receiving goods fraudulently and offenses relating to the Money Laundering Law. A few of the suspects, according to the police, are also being investigated for taking bribes.

The police says it will ask to extend the remand of some or all of the suspects according to the progress of the investigation.

At least 1 killed as Islamic State shells south Turkish town

At least one person was killed and three others wounded when two mortar shells, likely fired from Syria, landed near a school in the Turkish town of Kilis on the border, officials say.

The mayor of Kilis, Hasan Kara, is quoted as saying by Turkey’s NTV television that all schools in the town were evacuated and the shelling had most likely come from Syria.

One of those wounded was in a serious condition, he adds.

Television pictures show the wounded being taken to hospital by ambulance. Windows on the ground floor of the school were smashed by the impact of the blast while one car was severely damaged.

Reports said that the person killed was a school cleaner. The shells reportedly landed in the garden outside the school.

“It seems that the shelling came from the south,” said Kara. “The people should not allow provocations. Kilis residents should stay calm.”

Kilis, a town of just under 100,000, lies just north of the Syrian border, some 10 kilometres (six miles) from the Syrian town of Azaz.

— AFP

Eisenkot visits Otniel area

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot visits the Otniel area this morning. Yesterday, a woman was stabbed to death in her home by a Palestinian terrorist in the southern West Bank settlement.

Judea regional Brigade commander Yariv ben Ezra (left) and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot near Otniel on Monay, January 18 2016. (IDF)

Judea Regional Brigade commander Yariv ben Ezra (left) and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (right) near Otniel on Monday, January 18, 2016. (IDF)

Ex-Auschwitz medic to stand trial on February 29

A 95-year-old former medic at the Auschwitz death camp will go on trial next month on at least 3,681 counts of accessory to murder, German authorities say.

Hubert Zafke was a medical orderly at the camp from August 15, 1944 to September 14, 1945, when 14 trains carrying prisoners — including the teenage diarist Anne Frank — arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau where many would eventually be killed in the gas chambers.

Ahead of proceedings due to begin February 29, prosecutors said Zafke was “aware of the purpose of the Birkenau camp as an extermination camp” as well as of its structure.

“Given his awareness, the accused lent support to the organisation of the camp and was thereby both involved in and advanced the extermination,” said prosecutors in an earlier statement as they charged Zafke for complicity in the “cruel and insidious killings of at least 3,681” people.

The trial at the north-eastern town of Neubrandenburg comes after an appeals court overturned an earlier ruling that the elderly accused was unfit to stand trial.

Nevertheless the court acknowledged that he had “cognitive impairments and low physical capacity” and ordered regular breaks during the hearings, as well as medical care.

German media reports that Zafke is suffering from dementia.

— AFP

An old Jewish woman with children at Auschwitz-Birkenau, May 1, 1944. (Wikipedia/Hannolans/CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

An old Jewish woman with children at Auschwitz-Birkenau, May 1, 1944 (Wikipedia/Hannolans/CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

Palestinian sources say father of Tekoa stabber arrested

Palestinians sources quoted by the Hebrew language paper Ma’ariv say the father of the terrorist who stabbed a woman in the Jewish settlement of Tekoa in the West Bank is Ahmed Muhammad Kamal Abiat al Sha’alan.

According to the reports, the man was recently arrested by IDF troops.

Britain to offer language classes to female Muslim migrants

Britain’s prime minister says Muslim women must improve their English to better integrate into British society, and suggests some migrants could be deported if they fail to speak the language.

Arguing that community cohesion is the best antidote to extremism, Prime Minister David Cameron pledges to fund English language classes for female migrants. The 20-million-pound ($28.5 million) fund will help tens of thousands of women facing social isolation and discrimination and emphasize that Britain has expectations for those who want to live in the country, Cameron says.

“At the moment, someone can move here with very basic English and there’s no requirement to improve it over time. We will change that,” Cameron wrote in a commentary in the Times. “We will now say: if you don’t improve your fluency, that could affect your ability to stay in the UK. This will help make it clear to those men who stop their partners from integrating that there are consequences.”

Muslim groups react sharply to the proposal, describing the plan as a blunt instrument leveled at their expense and focusing on the extremist minority rather than the peaceful majority.

The program aimed at women is meant to end what Cameron calls the “passive tolerance” of discriminatory practices and to challenge the “backward attitudes” of a minority of men. Some 190,000 Muslim women in England speak little or no English. Though Cameron acknowledged that problems of forced gender segregation and social isolation are not unique to Muslim communities, he did not mention other groups.

— AP

British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London, December 2, 2015. (AFP Photo/Justin Tallis)

British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10, Downing Street in central London, December 2, 2015. (AFP/Justin Tallis)

2 Iranian poets, facing lashings and prison, escape country

Two Iranian poets who face lashings and prison sentences have fled Iran, one of the writers says, a rare escape for local artists and activists ensnared in an ongoing crackdown on expression in the country.

Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi’s freedom came as world powers lifted sanctions on Iran over its contested nuclear program and as the country separately freed four Iranian-Americans in exchange for seven Iranians held in the US.

The poets’ escape is a reminder that despite the growing detente with the West, hard-liners still exert control over much of life in the Islamic Republic.

Ekhtesari tells The Associated Press that both she and Mousavi escaped from Iran in recent days and made it to another country. She declines to elaborate out of continuing concerns about their safety.

Ekhtesari faces an 11½-year prison sentence, while Mousavi faces nine years on charges ranging from propaganda against the state to “insulting sanctities.” Each was sentenced to 99 lashings. They likely were targeted because their work is known abroad. Both are self-described “postmodern Ghazal” poets who seek to revive the traditional Persian love sonnet by applying it to contemporary political and social issues.

Hard-liners in the police, judiciary and military view any rapprochement with the West as a threat to the Islamic Republic and a sign of moral decay. Rights groups and analysts say those targeted in the ongoing crackdown on expression in Iran also serve as pawns in the hard-liners’ struggle with moderates ahead of February’s parliamentary elections.

Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi faces six years in prison and up to 223 lashes over his films, which authorities also charged with “insulting sanctities.” In June, a court handed cartoonist Atena Farghadani a 12-year, nine-month sentence.

AP

Knesset panel wants to remove Hazan from post as deputy Knesset speaker

The Knesset House Committee, chaired by Likud MK David Bitan, is promoting a bill that would facilitate a process that may end in removing Deputy Knesset Chairman MK Oren Hazan (Likud) from his position, Ynet reports.

Instead of the 90 Yay votes by MKs needed until now, the committee wants to be able to kick Hazan out of the post with a mere 70 Yay votes.

In addition, Bitan wants the faction, from which the deputy speaker hails, to have a say on his removal from office, including the right to promote such a move. The Knesset Committee will today hold a first discussion on the proposal, which would be an amendment to a basic law.

Knesset House Committee Chairman David Bitan speaks at a committee meeting October 26, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Knesset House Committee Chairman David Bitan speaks at a committee meeting, October 26, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Eisenkot says army ‘reassessing new reality’ after Iran deal

IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot is assessing the implementation of the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, two days after the so-called “Implementation Day,” when sanctions were officially lifted.

Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies, Eisenkot says that “there is no doubt that the accord between Iran and the West is a turning point.”

Iran is giving Hezbollah in Lebanon $1 billion a year, says the IDF chief. The military is doing a “reassessment,” he says, to see how this “new reality” will affect the IDF.

— Judah Ari Gross

Dore Gold congratulates Egyptian ambassador on assuming role

Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold meets Hazzam Hirat, the recently appointed Egyptian ambassador to Israel.

Gold congratulates the ambassador on the role and points to the importance of maintaining diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt. The two discussed the regional challenges and the possibility of cooperation between the two countries.

Head of WW II fighters association passes away

The president of the Association of Disabled Veterans of the Fight against Nazism, Roman Yagel, died yesterday at the age of 93.

President of Association of Disabled Veterans of Fight against Nazism Roman Yagel meeting with Border Police officers. (Artiom Degel)

Roman Yagel meeting with Border Police officers. (Artiom Degel)

President of Association of Disabled Veterans of Fight against Nazism Roman Yagel (Artiom Degel)

Roman Yagel (Artiom Degel)

Lapid says lack of media attention to terrorism is foreign policy failure

Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid opens the party’s faction statement with comments on the terror attacks that took place today and yesterday.

“A few hours ago a terrorist stabbed the pregnant wife of a close friend of ours, a central figure in Yesh Atid. He is not only our flesh and blood, but part of our soul. We wish her and her baby a full and speedy recovery.”

Lapid’s comments on Michal Froman are particularly personal because she is the wife of Shivi Froman, who served as adviser to former education minister Shai Piron, who was a member of Yesh Atid.

On the murder of Dafna Meir yesterday, Lapid says, “Yesterday, Dafna Meir, a mother of six, was stabbed to death. Today, she was buried. She was a nurse; a person who spent her life saving the lives of others was murdered at the entrance to her house as she tried to protect her young daughter. Our security forces will capture these vile people and bring them to justice. I examined the international media today. How is it that Dafna’s face is not on the front page of every newspaper? How did we get to a point when the world looks at us and doesn’t care that a woman was stabbed at the entrance to her home?”

Chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, MK Yair Lapid, seen during a faction meeting at the Knesset, Jerusalem, December 21, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Chairman of the Yesh Atid party, MK Yair Lapid, seen during a faction meeting at the Knesset, Jerusalem, December 21, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

PM meets Indian FM Sushma Swaraj

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. They discuss bilateral cooperation on a broad range of issues, as well as increasing cooperation via the business sector in both countries, and not only by means of the two governments.

Netanyahu says that Israel wants maximum cooperation with India, in all areas. Swaraj raises the possibility of increasing the number of Indian students in Israeli institutions of higher education.

Netanyahu and Swaraj jointly view a video clip on Palestinian incitement, which was sent to European foreign ministers. The PM says that the video explained today’s and yesterday’s stabbings of the two mothers. Swaraj expresses her condolences and condemns both attacks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Indian External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in Jerusalem, January 18 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (left) in Jerusalem, January 18, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Liberman slams gov’t after attacks — ‘There’s no PM in Israel’

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman arrives at the spot where a stabbing attack took place in Tekoa and slams the Netanyahu government.

“There is effectively no functioning prime minister in Israel and this is why terrorism continues with Jewish victims every day,” he says.

Liberman — whose party is the most hawkish in the opposition — decided not to join Netanyahu’s government established in May 2015.

More than half of Iran parliament candidates rejected, says local media

Around 60 percent of would-be candidates for Iran’s parliamentary vote in February including many reformists have been rejected by the authorities, official media reported Monday.

“Out of more than 12,000 registered candidates, 4,700 — or about 40 percent — were approved,” Siamak Rah-Peyk, a spokesman for the Central Elections Supervising Committee is quoted as saying by state television.

The committee is dependent on the Guardian Council, a panel of conservative clerics and jurists, to vet registered candidates and overseeing the elections.

Reformist parties have protested against the rejections.

— AFP

Eisenkot sees ‘risks, but also opportunities’ in Iran deal

The deal with Iran contains “many risks, but also opportunities,” Eisenkot says at the INSS.

“The agreement to remove sanctions and the nuclear deal with Iran constitute a strategic turning point, considering what the IDF will face in the coming decade,” he adds.

The IDF’s top general says the unconventional threat against Israel [nuclear and chemical or biological weapons] will decrease in the coming years for two reasons relating to the deal — monitoring; and Iran’s own will to stand by the agreement.

Eisenkot says the IDF’s main enemy today is Hezbollah in Lebanon. He says the army is still struggling to understand the undercurrents in Palestinian society that have driven a recent spate of terror attacks,

He adds that it takes “humility” to understand the undercurrents that lead a different people.

Eisenkot says IDF should be ready for war with Islamic State

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot says at the INSS that the threat from the Islamic State will sooner or later reach Israel.

“In Syria, the success of the terror group was halted. Their successes raise, in my opinion, the probability that we will see them turn their guns against us and against the Jordanians. Also because the quiet space today, the safe space, is between Israel and Jordan.”

Eisenkot says the IDF “should be ready for the outbreak of war at very short notice. It would be a mistake to turn all the IDF’s resources to fighting terrorism.”

Turkey probes opposition chief for calling Erdogan ‘tin-pot dictator’

Turkish prosecutors launch an investigation into the head of Turkey’s main opposition party after he called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “tin-pot dictator.”

Kemal Kilicdaroglu was speaking out against the detention of Turkish academics last week over a petition condemning the military crackdown in the Kurdish-dominated southeast, just days after Erdogan threatened the signatories.

“Academics who express their opinion are being detained, one by one, because of a tin-pot dictator,” Kilicdaroglu told a congress of his Republican People’s Party (CHP) at the weekend.

“How dare you (Erdogan) send police to these peoples’ doors and have them detained.”

“Tell us, tin-pot dictator, what do honor and pride mean to you? Either you maintain your impartiality and get respect or I will remind you every day what honor and pride mean.”

The chief prosecutor’s office in Ankara launched the probe against Kilicdaroglu on charges of “openly insulting the president,” the official Anatolia new agency reports.

The crime is punishable by up to four years in prison.

— AFP

Leader of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu delivers a speech during the 35th General Assembly of the party at Ankara Sports Hall in Ankara, on January 16, 2016. (Adem Altam/AFP)

Leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, delivers a speech during the 35th General Assembly of the party in Ankara, on January 16, 2016. (AFP/Adem Altam)

Sources say EU divided on Israel-Palestine statement

EU foreign ministers are trying to resolve last-minute differences over a statement on the Middle East peace process and Israeli settlements which some feel is too critical, officials and diplomatic sources say.

“Some countries have said they would like to see some changes. We will listen to them but it is obviously desirable that the council be able to approve the conclusions,” French state secretary for European Affairs Harlem Desir said as he went into the foreign ministers’ meeting.

Desir, representing French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, says Greece and several other countries want changes to well-established EU positions.

The EU has held for many years that a final agreement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be based on a two-state solution, and that Israeli settlements are illegal and undermine peace efforts.

Reaffirming that position would not represent any new departure for the 28-nation EU, which believes the whole peace process is in jeopardy and needs to be revived as a matter of urgency.

Diplomatic sources tell AFP the problem arises from an EU decision last year to label goods as imported from Israeli settlements, rather than as “Made in Israel.”

Israel reacted sharply to a move it saw as hostile, smacking of a goods boycott, and suspended diplomatic contacts with the EU on the Middle East peace process which stalled in April 2014.

— AFP

India tweets images of Yad Vashem, as FM visits Israel

The official Indian Government Twitter account Indian Diplomacy tweets aerial images of the Yad Yashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

The tweet comes as Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj is visiting Israel and meeting with PM Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and other diplomats.

Netanyahu — opposition, media should condemn incitement

Prime Minister Netanyahu says the fountain of Palestinian terrorists’ hatred is incitement in Palestinian Authority schools.

Speaking during a meeting with the Rwandan foreign minister, Netanyahu calls on the opposition and media in Israel to condemn not only acts of terrorism but also the incitement leading to them, Israel Radio reports.

Jerusalem Arab arrested for drawing knife on cops

An East Jerusalem Arab was arrested when he approached police officers with a gun in his hand.

Following reports of stones thrown at the light rail near Shu’afat in East Jerusalem, detectives searched the area and noticed a young Arab man with a drawn knife approaching them.

They identified themselves as cops and arrested the man, even though he initially attempted to flee.

The knife was confiscated and no one was hurt in the incident.

A knife confiscated by police officers from an East Jerusalem Arab man on Monday, January 18 2016. (Israel Police)

A knife confiscated by police officers from an East Jerusalem Arab man, January 18, 2016. (Israel Police)

Court rejects appeals against Mandelblit appointment

The High Court of Justice rejects two appeals against the appointment of Avichai Mandelblit to the role of attorney general, Ma’ariv reports.

The appeals were submitted by Ometz and the Movement for Quality Government, two Israeli NGOs monitoring the government.

Justices at the High Court rejected the appeals unanimously.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in second right, arrives with Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit, second left, to the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on December 20, 2015. (AFP/POOL/GALI TIBBON)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (second right), arrives with cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit (second left), at the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on December 20, 2015. (AFP/Gali Tibbon, Pool)

A small step for a plant, but a great one for mankind

Look at this flower. Look well.

Just another orange flower, right? Well, this one, an edible orange zinnia, is harder to grow than lettuce — at least in outer space.

This zinnia has grown and bloomed aboard the International Space Station by US astronaut Scott Kelly, who has been in space for a year.

The main purpose of Kelly’s mission, which is undertaken in partnership with a Russian cosmonaut, Mikhail Korniyenko, is to study the effects of a long-term stay in space.

NASA is growing the flowers and lettuce to learn how to garden in space in micro-gravity conditions. The goal: to be able to colonize Mars one day.

The crop of zinnias was farmed using specially developed “pillows” full of fertilizer, seeds, water, and clay. They are illuminated by LED lights.

Head of the Mandell foundation ‘heartsick’ at terror against ‘those who are the most vulnerable’

Sherri Mandell, Tekoa resident and head of the Kobi Mandell Foundation — established in memory of her son who was murdered in a terror attack when he was 13 — says that she and the foundation “are heartsick and angry at what is happening in our country.

“Yesterday Dafna Meir, a mother of six, knifed to death in front of her children; and today Michal Froman, a young pregnant mother knifed while she was working at a used-clothing charity shop in Tekoa,” she continues.

“We live in Tekoa. Our son Koby was 13 when he was murdered here with his friend Yosef Ish Ran in 2001. The two boys cut school and were beaten to death with rocks in a cave in the canyon near our home,” she says.

“We hoped that terror had stopped,” adds Mandell. “But Arab murderers are still being incited to hunt the young and the defenseless, children like Koby and Yosef, women like Dafna Meir who are unarmed. Women who are taking care of children or are pregnant. The Palestinians are being incited to kill those who are most vulnerable.

“Unfortunately, our enemy will write about these attacks as acts of Palestinian courage and resistance. Others will justify these acts as resistance. Or a response to despair,” she continues.

But these acts, says Mandell, are part of an “orchestrated strategy” to destroy the Jewish people. “They are not lone-wolf attacks. First in September the Palestinians concentrated their murderous activity in the Old City of Jerusalem, and then they were urged to kill on the roads in Hebron and Kiryat Arba and Gush Etzion, and now they are being encouraged to infiltrate settlements,” she continues, according to a statement from the foundation.

“This strategy is doomed and will not bring peace. It will only bring further Palestinian suffering,” adds Mandell.

Seth and Sherri Mandell with Koby in the months before his death (photo credit: Courtesy the Mandell family)

Seth and Sherri Mandell with Koby in the months before his death (Courtesy the Mandell family)

Likud — Liberman and Herzog playing politics as gov’t fights terrorism

The Likud party responds to criticism leveled at it by opposition MKs after today’s and yesterday’s terror attacks.

Yisrael Beytenu’s Liberman and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog “are dealing with cheap politics and rush to take advantage of terror attack scenes in order to get a few more votes,” when the government headed by Netanyahu “takes unprecedented steps and gives its full backing to security forces” in its “determined fight against terrorism,” the statement reads.

Israeli driver hits 2 Palestinian cyclists, kills one

An Israeli driver hit two Palestinian cyclists in their 20s, not far from the checkpoint leading to Barkan in the northern West Bank.

One of the cyclists was killed and the other badly injured.

Road 5 is closed to traffic in the area and police forces are at the scene.

Kerry ‘frustrated, angry’ at Iran video of US sailors

Secretary of State John Kerry says he was “frustrated and angry” at an Iranian video showing 10 detained US Navy sailors, as the American military described how the nine men and one woman were surrounded by machine gun-toting Iranian personnel.

His comments come a day after the two countries hailed the implementation of Tehran’s nuclear deal, with President Barack Obama saying the breakthrough was vindication of his contentious policy of engagement with Iran.

However, underlining the lingering deep suspicions between the two sides, Iran seized 10 sailors last week in the Gulf after their boats strayed into Iranian waters and held them overnight. They were freed on Wednesday after Iran accepted they entered by mistake.

Video footage shows the US Navy personnel kneeling with their hands behind their heads as they were apprehended, something Kerry made clear he was deeply unhappy about.

— AFP

This picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, shows detention of American Navy sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, Iran.(Sepahnews via AP)

This picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, shows detention of American Navy sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, Iran.(Sepahnews via AP)

Shapiro says Israel has ‘two policies — one for Palestinians, one for Jews’

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, in comments at the INSS conference, sharply criticizes Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians.

Shapiro praises the progress in the Duma terror attack probe, but says that Israeli authorities seem to turn a blind eye to settler violence against Palestinians, according to a report in Haaretz.

There are too many cases in which Israelis in the West Bank are taking the law into their own hands and are not investigated, Shapiro says, adding that it seems the country has two standards of law enforcement — one for Jews, and one for the Palestinians.

Shapiro says the US administration is “concerned and perplexed” in the face of Israel’s settlement policy, which, he said, raises questions regarding the country’s ultimate goals.

US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, December 9, 2014. (Matty Stern/US Embassy)

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, December 9, 2014. (Matty Stern/US Embassy)

Shapiro — US will know if Iran cheats

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro says the US will be able to catch Iran in time if it violates the nuclear agreement.

Texas governor to Netanyahu — our state won’t invest in Iran

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tells PM Netanyahu that Texas will maintain its Iran divestiture policy.

A statement from Abbott’s office says the governor, who’s traveling overseas, met with the Israeli leader today.

Abbott also announced that he’ll seek new laws, during the 2017 Legislature, to strengthen prohibitions in Texas on the investment of public funds in Iran.

Abbott’s meeting came after last weekend’s historic nuclear deal involving the US and five other world powers that freed Iran from international sanctions. Iran was deemed to have dismantled most of its nuclear program under a deal established last summer.

The Texas governor also plans to attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

— AP

70% of French citizens say removing kippa is giving in to terrorists

Seventy percent of respondents to a survey conducted in France say that it would be giving in to terrorists if Jews were forced to remove their yarmulkes for security reasons.

The survey commissioned by the Paris Match weekly news magazine and conducted on Jan. 14-15 among 1,011 adults was published Friday following one community leader’s call to Jews in Marseille not to wear their yarmulkes.

Tzvi Ammar, the president of the Marseille office of the Consistoire — the communal organization responsible for providing religious services — called on his city’s Jews to hide traditional head coverings following the stabbing of a Jewish man in Marseille on Jan. 11. It was the third stabbing of a Jew wearing a yarmulke in Marseille since October.

Ammar’s suggestion was squarely rejected by other community representatives and by French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia, who called on French Jews to keep wearing yarmulkes “to not give in to the terrorists.”

In the Paris Match survey, conducted by the Odoxa polling company, 36 percent of respondents say they “absolutely agree” with Korsia’s assertion, and another 34% indicate they “pretty much agree.”

Ten percent of respondents, who were pre-selected to represent French society’s voting pattern distribution, said they “totally disagree” and another 19 percent said they “rather disagree.”

Left-wing and right-wing respondents answered similarly in the poll, with 71% supporting the assertion on the right — including 66% within the far-right National Front party — and 76% approving on the left.

— JTA

Oren Hazan slams bill tailored to remove him as deputy speaker

Likud MK Oren Hazan responds to the Knesset House Committee’s approval of the “Oren Hazan Bill,” tailored to remove him from the position of deputy Knesset speaker.

“When the citizens of Israel have no security and their blood is spilled like water, dealing with a bill intended to win cheap populism [sic] and self-aggrandizing shames those who deal with it and I will not take part in this festival,” Hazan says.

Likud MK Oren Hazan in the Knesset, on October 26, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Likud MK Oren Hazan in the Knesset, on October 26, 2015 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

NGO says EU violating its Oslo obligations

The NGO We Have Legal Grounds says the expected EU decision distinguishing between Israel proper and the territories it captured in 1967 “violates the legal rights of the State of Israel and constitutes a blunt violation of the principles established in the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is party in its position as witness. It seems the EU cannot serve as honest broker in the foreseeable future.”

The NGO, working to establish Israel’s rights according to international law, strongly condemns the decision, which, it says, lacks any legal basis.

“The line called the 1967 line is nothing more than the armistice line of 1948. The EU is certainly aware that the ceasefire agreement signed in the Greek island of Rhodes in 1949 clearly maintains that the line ‘in no way constitutes a political or state border.’”

The EU has chosen to ignore Israel’s preferential position as claimant to the territory, which according to international law is considered “disputed.” Furthermore, the NGO says, the European Union is violating its role as guarantor of the implementation of the Oslo Accords which contain a basic principle according to which the question of borders will be decided solely by negotiations.

State Department condemns terror attacks ‘ in strongest terms’

John Kirby, spokesperson for the State Department, says in a statement:

The US “condemn[s] in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attacks over the past two days against Israeli civilians. We were appalled and deeply saddened by the death of Dafna Meir, a mother of six, who was attacked on Sunday in her own home. We extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends and community. Today, a pregnant Israeli woman, Michal Froman, was stabbed in the West Bank. We wish her a full and complete recovery. These horrific incidents underscore the importance of affirmative steps to restore calm, reduce tensions and bring an immediate end to the violence.

UN envoy Mladenov condemns today’s, yesterday’s stabbings

UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov “strongly condemn[s] the two stabbing attacks that took place within the past 24 hours in the settlements of Otniel and Tekoa in the occupied West Bank, which resulted in the death of Dafna Meir, a 39 year old mother of six, and seriously injuring Michal Froman, a pregnant woman in her 30s.”

“Nothing justifies the murder of a mother in front of her own children. My thoughts are with the families and friends of all victims of violence,” a statement from his office says.

Mladenov calls on “Israeli and Palestinian authorities to take action to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice.”

Israel: Shapiro’s comments unacceptable

Responding to US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, who said Israel’s West Bank policies represent a double standard, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls the comments “unacceptable and incorrect.”

“The words of the ambassador, on a day in which a murdered mother of six is buried and on a day in which a pregnant woman is stabbed — are unacceptable and incorrect,” the statement reads. “Israel enforces the law for Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority is the one responsible for the diplomatic freeze, and continues to incite and refuse talks.”

EU resolution says ties between Israel, member states ‘inapplicable’ beyond Green Line

The EU resolution comes out and states that the union and its member states are committed to ensuring “continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products.”

The resolution “expresses [the EU’s] commitment to ensure that — in line with international law — all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”

The phrasing clearly indicates that the EU regards Israel’s sovereignty as extending to the 1967 lines and not beyond.

However, the policy “does not constitute a boycott of Israel which the EU strongly opposes,” a statement from the EU says.

EU document calls to ‘end occupation that started in 1967’

“The EU is united in its commitment to achieving a two-state solution – based on parameters set out in the Council Conclusions of July 2014 – that meets Israeli and Palestinian security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty,” the document published by the union this evening states.

It calls to “end the occupation that began in 1967, and resolve all permanent status issues in order to end the conflict.”

Israel has occupied the West Bank, previously held by Jordan, since the 1967 Six Day War.

EU urges ‘transparency’ in Gaza, end of Israeli closure

This evening’s document issued by the EU council “urges all Palestinian factions to engage in good faith in the reconciliation process which is an important element for reaching the two state solution.”

The union will “continue its support to Palestinian aspirations for Statehood,” the statement says, but “it is of the utmost importance that the positive results of the past are not lost and Palestinian institutions must continue to grow stronger, more transparent, more accountable and more democratic.”

The document calls on the Palestinians to work “towards genuine and democratic elections for all Palestinians.” It also calls for the Palestinian Authority to resume control of the Gaza Strip, and calls on Israel to end its closure and open all crossing points.

The union “welcomes the steps that Israel has taken to ease some restrictions on Gaza. However the lifting of restriction on movement of people, services and goods – particularly those designated as ‘dual-use items’ – is needed to allow reconstruction efforts and basic service delivery.”

Israel has yet to formulate its response to the document.

Palestinians to be barred from West Bank settlements

Palestinians will be completely barred from entering all West Bank settlements to work, after two terror attacks inside settlements today and yesterday.

According to Channel 2, the ban will be reexamined every 24 hours, based on the security situation on the ground.

Swiss Jews dismiss concerns over construction near Jewish cemetery

Swiss Jews dismiss concerns raised by Satmar rabbis in New York about construction work performed on a Zurich building that borders a Jewish cemetery.

The approval of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities of construction at the Museum for Modern Art followed protests by the Satmar-affiliated United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn that said the project involved “plans to exhume a Medieval Jewish cemetery,” leading to its “destruction.”

David Niederman, the president of the union and a prominent leader of the Satmar branch – a large, isolationist stream of haredi Judaism with a strong presence in New York and London – said hundreds would rally Monday at United Nations headquarters in New York to protest the construction.

“Jewish communities appealed to halt the ongoing desecration of the cemetery,” he wrote in a statement Sunday.

But Jonathan Kreutner, general secretary of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, tells JTA that the communities his organization represents “do not share these concerns at all” regarding the medieval cemetery, which is no longer in use.

Kreutner adds that the federation sees “no reason to protest” because the three Orthodox communities of Switzerland agree with the city to take steps “according to the halachah,” Orthodox Jewish religious law, “if remains of Jewish people will be found at the construction site; which is not even clear at the moment.”

He adds: “For us, everything is in good local Jewish hands and we do not need advice from Jewish groups abroad.”

Halachah prohibits disturbing or otherwise manipulating the remains of Jews, except in special circumstances.

— JTA

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