The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Obama, Hollande agree to stay united against Iran, retain sanctions against Russia
US President Barack Obama meets privately with French President Francois Hollande on the last day of the G7 summit.
Among the issues they discuss, the two leaders agree to stay united in pursuit of a comprehensive agreement with several other world powers to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, the White House said. Hollande and previous French governments have shown a more skeptical approach to talks with Iran than the US. Obama and Hollande also agree that sanctions against Russia should remain until the Kremlin fully abides by a peace agreement with Ukraine.
Obama and Hollande also discuss climate change, the threat from Islamic State terrorists, trade and instability in Libya.
Obama plans to consult later today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as he struggles against an increasing threat from Islamic State terrorists. Abadi calls for more assistance from the US and its partners, and he is scheduled to address G-7 leaders during a closed session on terrorism.
Ex-top cop grilled in Ronel Fisher bribe case
A former very senior police official was summoned to the Police Investigative Department in Jerusalem to be questioned on allegations related to the Ronel Fisher case. The case involves the law office of Ronel Fisher, a Tel Aviv attorney suspected of interfering with court work by bribing cops and by supplying his clients with material relating to their investigations to help them prepare for court appearances.
The former top officer’s name as well as the allegations are under a gag order. According to Ynet, the officer’s name was in the spotlight in the past in relation to other affairs but an indictment was never served against him in any of them.
Knesset panel discusses IBA’s financial woes
Eitan Cabel, chairman of the Knesset’s Economy Committee, says the Israel Broadcast Authority has “reached a moment of truth” and the time has come to establish a subcommittee that will be dedicated to rehabilitating the IBA. According to Israel Radio (which operates under the authority of the IBA), Cabel (Labor) intends to summon both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to the committee.
The Economy Committee’s legal adviser, Etty Bendler, says that by law, the treasury must finance operations of the IBA until the establishment of a new cooperative. The broadcasting authority has gone a tumultuous reform and is still beset by debt. Bendler says the treasury cannot refuse a funding request from the official receiver. The IBA’s receiver, Prof. David Hahn, has already twice notified the treasury about the IBA’s serious cash flow problem.
Tel Aviv couple accused in death of drug mule
Police arrests a Tel Aviv couple on suspicion of manslaughter, concluding a three-year-long investigation.
The couple are suspected of importing drugs via a Colombian man who was used as a drug mule. The man died during a flight to Israel when a sachet containing drugs ruptured in his stomach.
Fire breaks out near Jerusalem in Mevo Beitar
A fire broke out near Mevo Beitar,a community southwest of Jerusalem. Five firefighting teams from the Beit Shemesh Fire and Rescue Service are at the scene trying to douse the flames. The teams are assisted by two firefighting aircraft.
The fire broke out in a hard to reach area, according to Israel Radio.
Sharp rise in anti-Semitic crimes in Germany
An exponential rise in anti-Israel crimes in Germany committed by foreigners and immigrants in 2014 points to an urgent need for action, a German politician says.
The government should support Arab and Muslim groups engaged in education against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Green Party parliamentarian Volker Beck said in a statement after the government release of statistics showing a marked increase in both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel crimes last year.
Responding to Beck’s official query, the government reported last week that crimes under the category of “Israel-Palestinian Conflict” increased from a total of 41 in 2013 to 575 in 2014. Of these, 331 were “politically motivated crimes committed by foreigners,” and 91 were violent crimes; the previous year, there were no violent crimes registered in this category.
Former MK David Rotem dies, 66
Former Yisrael Beytenu MK David Rotem dies in his home in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, head of the Efrat Local Council Oded Revivi announces. Rotem was 66 years old.
Rotem announced his retirement from political life in January. He leaves behind a wife, Adina, and five children.
Ex-MK Rotem said to have died of cardiac arrest
Former MK David Rotem died after suffering a cardiac arrest, several Israeli websites report.
PM raps Meretz bill to label settlement goods
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizes a Meretz bill that would label products made beyond the Green Line.
“The State of Israel is in the midst of a struggle against efforts to boycott it in international arenas. There is opposition to these efforts from right and from left and an effort to act against the boycott calls,” the prime minister says at the opening of a Likud faction meeting.
“Legislation against this phenomenon has already started in the US, and this helps our international efforts,” says Netanyahu, referring to laws recently passed in the state of Illinois that threatens companies boycotting Israel with the state divesting from their pension plans.
“I was surprised to discover that one of the factions in the House [Knesset] has submitted a bill to label products,” Netanyahu says.
The Meretz bill was submitted last month. All Meretz MKs signed on it. According to the bill, a clause would be inserted to the Law for Consumer Protection that would mandate manufacturers to state “the city or community where the product was made.”
The explanatory notes accompanying the bill say that the law as it stands is lacking, since “the… location does not reflect the place where goods were actually produced and may actually be quite remote from it.”
“The community or city where a product was made has great importance regarding the quality of a product, the working conditions there, climate effects on production and the circumstances of production, including whether it is inside Israeli jurisdiction or in territory held by Israel by way of occupation,” according to the notes.
Neutered by nukes, flies head to the Balkans
Israelis to the Adriatic for a vacation in the next few months will be sharing their flight with unexpected co-travelers: millions of sterile flies who are primed to go into battle against the Mediterranean fruit fly, a pest that has been wreaking havoc on citrus groves in Balkan countries.
The company growing the sterilized flies, BioBee from Sde Eliyahu in the Jordan Valley, specializes in developing natural and bio-friendly pesticides. It recently won a tender by the International Atomic Energy Agency to supply 400 million sterile flies, following a successful project conducted last year.
The flies will be dispersed over a period of several months in citrus groves along the border of Croatia and Bosnia, and they are expected to push the harmful flies away from the groves, thus helping European farmers finish the season successfully.
The fly worms were raised in BioBee labs and underwent special sterilization in the factory’s radioactive facility, operating under the supervision of the Israeli Commission on Atomic Energy. They will be flown to Eastern Europe in a pupal stage and will only develop into flies when they reach their destination.
The IAEA supports the project as part of its plan to encourage use of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes. BioBee won the tender despite competing with a Spanish firm which has won a similar deal in the same region in Eastern Europe in the past.
The Bio-Fly project has been successfully implemented in Israel, especially in the western Negev. It allows farmers to minimize the use of poisonous pesticides, preserve the environment and sell healthier produce.
Belgium nabs 16 in raids on Chechen jihadists
Belgian police detain 16 people for questioning during nationwide raids targeting Chechen jihadist groups, federal prosecutors say, adding some are suspected of training or fighting in Syria.
“The investigation targeted religious jihadism in a part of the Chechen community,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement, adding that the 16 people were detained in 21 raids.
US court strikes down ‘born in Jerusalem’ law
The Supreme Court strikes down a disputed law that would allow Americans born in Jerusalem to list their birthplace as Israel on their US passports in an important ruling that underscores the president’s authority in foreign affairs.
The court ruled 6-3 that Congress overstepped its bounds when it approved the law in 2002. It would have forced the State Department to alter its long-standing policy of not listing Israel as the birthplace for Jerusalem-born Americans.
The policy is part of the government’s refusal to recognize any nation’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, until Israelis and Palestinians resolve its status through negotiations.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the president has the exclusive power to recognize foreign nations, and that the power to determine what a passport says is part of this power.
“Recognition is a matter on which the nation must speak with one voice. That voice is the president’s,” Kennedy wrote.
The ruling ends a 12-year-old lawsuit by a Jerusalem-born American, Menachem Zivotofsky, and his US citizen parents.
Sarkozy meets Rivlin, condemns boycotts
President Reuven Rivlin meets with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Rivlin welcomes the former French premier and says, “As a dear friend of the people and State of Israel, I am pleased to welcome you back to Israel. You know better than many that in order to establish good relations between people, we have to first build confidence. The Israel-Palestinian conflict is not a conflict but a tragedy, and unilateral steps, boycotts, and attempts to exert pressure though international bodies will not bring an end to this tragedy. Unilateral actions will not lead to talks. The only solution to the situation is direct negotiations.”
Sarkozy thanks Rivlin and says, “I want to state how much we condemn unequivocally any idea of a boycott against Israeli democracy.”
Israeli race car driver’s team in anti-boycott gesture
Israeli race car driver Yarin Stern, competing with the West Tec team in Formula 3 races, is touched when his team associates are photographed holding signs with the words, “We say no to BDS. We love Israel.”
Stern has won Israeli racing titles four times. He was Best Rookie for 2013 in Formula 3 races. In the past, Stern raced with a Spanish team and now drives for West Tec, a UK team. He has already won two podium positions with the British group.
AHAVA cosmetics mulls plant inside Green Line
AHAVA, an Israeli and international cosmetics company, is examining options to launch a manufacturing facility in the Tamar Regional Council, which is within the Green Line, Globes reports.
Currently the company runs a factory in Mitzpe Shalem, a few kilometers northward. Mitzpe Shalem is beyond the Green Line, which marks the boundaries of Israel before the 1967 Six Day War.
The company has been the target of left-wing groups and pro-Palestinian groups abroad, and three years ago caved to pressure when it closed a branch in London that was the object of protests by activists who sought a boycott of the company’s products because they are manufactured in territories Israel took over in the Six Day War.
The company’s official statement uses language that avoids a direct reference to the pressure from left-wing and pro-Palestinian groups: “In light of expanding needs of manufacturing and changes in regulations regarding the manufacturing of cosmetics in certain Western countries, AHAVA is indeed checking the possibility of establishing another manufacturing facility. One of the options is the Tamar Regional Council. Other alternatives are being checked; there is still no final decision on opening another facility.”
Michael Oren slams US Supreme Court decision
Kulanu party Knesset Member Michael Oren reacts to the US Supreme Court decision on his Facebook page:
The ruling by the US Supreme Court today, negating the right of Americans born in Jerusalem to denote Israel as their official place of birth, is damaging to Israel’s sovereignty and to the alliance of Israel and the United States.
During my tenure as ambassador in Washington I met with the Zivotofskys and other families who appealed the court in an effort to correct this distortion and then as today I expressed my unequivocal support of their appeal.
Today, to my regret, the court rejected the appeal on the claim that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is in the unique purview of the president and behold — President Obama uses this authority and chooses not to recognize Jerusalem as our capital.
I gave up my American citizenship at the time, but my daughter Lia, who is still an American citizen, was born in Jerusalem, Israel, despite what her passport says.
Hotovely spars with Meridor on one- vs. two-state solution
Efforts to negotiate a two-state solution with the Palestinians have resulted in a campaign of delegitimization against Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely says at the Herzliya Conference.
Hotovely debated with former justice minister Dan Meridor on whether Israel should seek a one-state or a two-state solution.
“There is a vision that there should be a separation between the two peoples for coexistence,” Hotovely says. “When that didn’t succeed, they promised us that the aim of this separation would be an umbrella of legitimization.
“Then they said the partition and separation would be something that could get us by with the other nations,” she continues. “Now, in 2015, an entire generation asked and demanded peace and what did it get? Delegitimization.”
The more Israel offered the Palestinians, adds the deputy minister, the further they ran away, until finally taking the political direction of seeking unilateral recognition at the UN.
“The problem is not one state but the idea of two states, and our thoughts have been frozen on this issue,” she goes on.
Meridor counters, saying that a one-state solution with equal voting rights for the Palestinians would jeopardize the future of Zionism.
“A binational state or two states, there is no third option,” he says, suggesting that Israel could not remain a Jewish state under a one-state solution.
However, he agreed that even a two-state solution would not automatically mean the end of the conflict with the Palestinians.
“I agree that today there is no peace agreement, because the Palestinians do not want one,” he continues. “Two-state solution, yes, but the end of the conflict, I don’t know. The PLO was formed because of 1948, not 1967.
“You can’t solve the conflict, but you can turn Zionism into a just movement,” he concludes.
Meretz responds to PM’s criticism over West Bank produce bill
Meretz criticizes the prime minister’s call to remove the bill on West Bank labeling, saying the Netanyahu government already labels products exported to EU countries.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu… tied our bill to boycott initiatives threatening Israel, even though our bill was already put on the table two Knessets ago, and deals with products marketed inside Israel and not outside it,” Meretz says in a statement on the party’s Facebook page.
The statement continues: “Netanyahu the hypocrite also said that ‘whoever labels products is bound to label people.’ Even if we set aside for a minute the fact that the person who describes the voting rights of 20% of Israel’s citizens as a threat against the country should not be the person to preach about labeling people. It is a simple fact that the Netanyahu government on its own (!) labels products exported to Europe and manufactured beyond the Green Line even today (!!), as part of its trade agreements with the European Union.
“It is unclear why the prime minister is so scared that Israeli consumers receive the same information European consumers get when they buy ‘Made in Israel,’ but if the PM really wants us to remove the bill — here’s an idea: Start negotiations for a permanent agreement to end the occupation….”
Sarkozy says anti-Semitism is ‘stain on tricolor flag’
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy says boycott efforts are counterproductive as well as silly, due to Israel’s prowess in science and technology.
“Israel’s greatest victory was not achieved by the force of arms but by the force of intelligence,” he says at the Herzliya Conference. “Boycotting the start-up nation makes no sense politically, economically and morally.”
The security of Israel “is not a subject on which the smallest compromise can be made […] since we are talking about hundreds of years of persecution of Jewish people — it’s in the books… after the Holocaust, which was not the fault of Arabs but of Europeans, and which did not happen in the Middle Ages but in the 20th century… this is not hundreds of years, it is yesterday. Israel is the realization of a promise,” says the former president, who is aspiring to be reelected.
Sarkozy later discusses anti-Semitism in France. While “France is not anti-Semitic,” he acknowledges there are displays of anti-Semitism, which he describes as “a stain on the tricolor flag.”
Barkat calls on Obama to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat criticizes the US Supreme Court’s decision on Americans born in Jerusalem, calling on Obama to publicly pronounce Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“As Washington is the capital of the United States, London is the capital of England and Paris is the capital of France — so Jerusalem was and always will be the capital of Israel, but more than this, also the heart and soul of the Jewish people.
“It is in these days, when anti-Semitism is trying to rear its head and [the international] Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [movement] supports Hamas positions which threaten the peace of the world and negate Israel’s existence, we expect the US to strengthen the State of Israel and recognize Jerusalem as its capital.
“I call on US President Barack Obama to publicly pronounce what has been known for generations, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that Israel is the home of the Jewish people.”
Dempsey lands in Israel
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and his wife, Deanie, land in Israel and are greeted by IDF General Yaakov Ayash, Israel’s military attache in Washington, and General John Shapland, defense attache at the US Embassy to Israel.
Dempsey will be meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other senior Israeli officials.
Orange boss says ‘radically opposed’ to Israel boycott
Orange boss Stephane Richard says he’s “radically opposed” to a boycott of Israel, according to AFP.
Likud MK Oren Hazan pimped prostitutes, used crystal meth — report
Junior Likud Member of Knesset Oren Hazan is apparently more colorful than both his colleagues in Likud and outside it may have imagined: A Channel 2 exposé says Hazan pimped prostitutes in Burgas, Bulgaria, and procured hard drugs — including crystal meth — when he was there last summer.
In the news report, a woman who ran a bordello in which Hazan was “the big boss” — as she put it — tells of the girls Hazan arranged for his “many friends.” Prostitution and drug use are both illegal in Bulgaria.
According to the law in Israel, an MK can resign but cannot be made to quit. While Hazan’s alleged transgressions all took place before he entered the Knesset, his past still casts a long and troubling shadow on his current status as a lawmaker. Hazan is a member of five Knesset committees.
A tweet by Amit Segal, political analyst at Channel 2, shows Hazan (in white shirt at left) betting in a casino in Burgas.
זונות, סמים קשים וכנסת ישראל. אל תחמיצו הערב את המהדורה המרכזית pic.twitter.com/lzTDkkGeO5
— עמית סגל (@amit_segal) June 8, 2015
IDF deploys Iron Dome near Beersheba
The IDF deploys an Iron Dome battery near Beersheba, after several incidents in which rockets fired from Gaza landed in the western Negev.
In each of the incidents, the Israel Defense Forces said the rockets were the result of an internal struggle between Hamas and Salafi groups inside the Gaza Strip.
Other batteries were deployed over the past few days near Ashdod and Ashkelon.
Russia won’t sign IAEA report that defines Crimea as Ukrainian territory
Russia refuses to sign on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual report, because the document refers to a nuclear site near the city of Sebastopol in Crimea as being in Ukrainian territory, Reuters reports.
A Russian diplomat says the IAEA reference to the Sebastopol facility as Ukrainian is “against common sense and international law.”
Russia’s unilateral annexation of Crimea last year was not internationally recognized and led to economic sanctions on Moscow, which were imposed by the US and the European Union.
Hazan says Channel 2 exposé is product of ‘sick imagination’
Member of Knesset Oren Hazan responds to the Channel 2 exposé that claims he was involved in pimping and hard drugs in Bulgaria: “I am sorry to disappoint you, but the sexual fantasies, sick personality and vivid imagination of you and of those who feed you [the story] are not in touch with reality.”