Liberman says Assad is a ‘butcher’ who must go
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Live updatesLatest: Defense minister says Assad is a ‘butcher’ who must go

Liberman says Assad is a ‘butcher’ who must go

Defense minister condemns the killings in Syria, calls for Israel to block Iranian involvement in war-torn country

  • Young Jewish settlers preparing to resist evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost Amona, which is built on private Palestinian land. December 15, 2016. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
    Young Jewish settlers preparing to resist evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost Amona, which is built on private Palestinian land. December 15, 2016. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
  • A vehicle of the International Red Cross is seen in the embattled city of Aleppo before the start on an evacuation operation of rebel fighters and their families from rebel-held areas on December 15, 2016.
 / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER
    A vehicle of the International Red Cross is seen in the embattled city of Aleppo before the start on an evacuation operation of rebel fighters and their families from rebel-held areas on December 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER
  • Illustrative: Russian soldiers gather in the government held side of the embattled city of Aleppo before the start on an evacuation operation of rebel fighters and their families from rebel-held areas on December 15, 2016. (AFP Photo/Stringer)
    Illustrative: Russian soldiers gather in the government held side of the embattled city of Aleppo before the start on an evacuation operation of rebel fighters and their families from rebel-held areas on December 15, 2016. (AFP Photo/Stringer)
  • Egyptians perform prayers for the dead for victims of EgyptAir flight 804 at al Thawrah Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, May 20, 2016. The Airbus A320 plane was flying from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew when it disappeared early Thursday over the Mediterranean Sea. (Amr Nabil/AP)
    Egyptians perform prayers for the dead for victims of EgyptAir flight 804 at al Thawrah Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, May 20, 2016. The Airbus A320 plane was flying from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew when it disappeared early Thursday over the Mediterranean Sea. (Amr Nabil/AP)

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

Amona residents expect to be evacuated next week

The leadership of Amona experts the evacuation to take place sometime in the beginning of next week, Avihai Boaron tells journalists, calling for passive resistance.

“It seems like in the right rooms they’re banging their heads trying to find a way to resolve this,” Boaron, who is leading the residents’ struggle says.

In the meantime, Boaran called on “everyone who cares about the Jewish settlements to come and support us until the expected evacuation.

However, he called on people to respect the soldiers and “only offer passive resistance.”

Judah Ari Gross

Women walking in the Amona outpost on December 15, 2016. Protesters began gathering earlier in the day at the outpost ahead of a court-ordered evacuation. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Women walking in the Amona outpost on December 15, 2016. Protesters began gathering earlier in the day at the outpost ahead of a court-ordered evacuation. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Right-wing activist arrested for incitement

Police say they have arrested a far-right Jewish activist on suspicion of inciting violence.

Police say the man, who they described as a “Jewish right wing activist” posted several things on his Facebook page and in a group that could be considered “crimes of incitement to violence and threats.”

Channel 10 said he made threats to kill Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party.

The suspect, a resident of a community near Jerusalem, is being brought before a judge at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to have his remand extended.

Russia not meeting its commitments on Aleppo – Hollande

French President Francois Hollande hits out at Russia’s role in the ongoing siege of Aleppo, saying that Moscow had broken a promise to aid trapped civilians.

“Russia is making commitments that it is not keeping. There’s a moment where you have to answer with action,” Hollande tells reporters as he arrived for an EU summit overshadowed by events in the besieged city where Syrian and Russian forces are forcing out rebels.

AFP

Russian soldiers gather in the government held side of the embattled city of Aleppo before the start on an evacuation operation of rebel fighters and their families from rebel-held areas on December 15, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / STRINGER)

Russian soldiers gather in the government held side of the embattled city of Aleppo before the start on an evacuation operation of rebel fighters and their families from rebel-held areas on December 15, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / STRINGER)

Kremlin denies report that Putin was involved in DNC hacks

MOSCOW — The Kremlin is denying a report that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed how hacked data from US Democrats was used during the US presidential election.

NBC News on Wednesday quoted US intelligence officials as saying that Putin “became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 1, 2016. (AP/Pavel Golovkin)

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 1, 2016. (AP/Pavel Golovkin)

Asked about the report, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday dismissed it as “laughable nonsense.”

Russia, blamed by the CIA for helping President-elect Donald Trump in last month’s US presidential election, has vehemently denied accusations that it orchestrated hackers to work against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

AP

 

First evacuees leave rebel Aleppo

Ambulances and buses carrying the first evacuees from Aleppo are leaving remaining rebel-held territory in the city under a fragile exit deal, an AFP correspondent reports

A slow-moving convoy of around two dozen vehicles snaked out of Al-Amiriyah district and crossed into government-held Ramussa en route to rebel-held territory in the west of Aleppo province.

AFP

Netanyahu noose ‘art’ briefly put up again

Students at the prestigious Bezalel art school have again briefly put up a poster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a noose.

Police questioned the student artist behind the image after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ordered an investigation into alleged incitement after the work o drew widespread condemnation.

Ynet says the work briefly reappeared on the walls today.

Army Radio said there was also a poster of the prime minister with a Hitler mustache put up at the Shenkar art academy in Ramat Gan. Students there told the radio it was “a statement about free speech.”

A poster of assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin surrounded by images of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a hangman's Noose (screen capture: Twitter)

A poster of assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin surrounded by images of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a hangman’s Noose (screen capture: Twitter)

Proposal to allow 22,000 more Palestinians to work in Israel

The Finance Ministry and the Housing and Construction Ministry will ask the government to approve increasing the number of Palestinian workers allowed into Israel by 22,000.

The Finance Ministry says the proposal has been coordinated with the Defense Ministry.

Most of the permits will be for the construction sector, with agriculture and industry also getting more permits.

The decision is part of the government’s commitment to “improving economic and security relations” with the Palestinians, the statement says.

Egypt: Traces of explosives found on victims of Paris flight

CAIRO — Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry says traces of explosives have been found on some of the victims of an EgyptAir flight from Paris that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea in May.

A ministry statement issued Thursday says a criminal investigation will now begin into the crash of Flight 804, which killed all 66 people on board.

No one has claimed to have attacked the plane.

The crash came seven months after a Russian airliner crashed in the Sinai Peninsula shortly after taking off from an Egyptian Red Sea resort, killing all 226 people on board. The local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group said it had downed the Russian plane with an explosive device planted on board. Russia said the aircraft was likely downed by explosives.

AP

In this Thursday, May 19, 2016 video image released by the Egyptian Defense Ministry, an Egyptian plane flies over a ship during the search in the Mediterranean Sea for the missing EgyptAir flight 804 plane which crashed after disappearing from the radar while carrying 66 passengers and crew from Paris to Cairo. (Egyptian Defense Ministry/AP)

In this Thursday, May 19, 2016 video image released by the Egyptian Defense Ministry, an Egyptian plane flies over a ship during the search in the Mediterranean Sea for the missing EgyptAir flight 804 plane which crashed after disappearing from the radar while carrying 66 passengers and crew from Paris to Cairo. (Egyptian Defense Ministry/AP)

Herzog slams Netanyahu over poverty report

Opposition chief Isaac Herzog is criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after a damning National Insurance Institute poverty report shows Israel is still the most economically unequal country in the developed world.

“Bibi is leading the country toward great achievements in the international sphere. 1.7 million people under the poverty line, first place in the OECD,” Herzog tweeted.

Netanyahu returns to Israel from Central Asia visit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is back in Israel after a landmark trip to Central Asia.

Netanyahu visited two Muslim countries, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, saying the trip was a symbol of cooperation between Israel and moderate Muslim countries.

Raphael Ahren

Bennett warns Slomiansky over sexual harassment claims

Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett tells lawmaker Nissan Slomiansky that if sexual harassment allegations against him are true, he will have to resign, Israel Radio reports

Earlier today Slomiansky was named as the party member accused of sexual harassment in a Facebook post alleging multiple complaints against him.

Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky during a party meeting at the Knesset, October 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky during a party meeting at the Knesset, October 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Jewish Home party stalwart denies allegations, says his “well-known loving nature may have been misinterpreted.”

But Bennett has reportedly professed a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and has re-issued his call for anyone who may have been affected to come forward.

UN official: Aleppo evacuation going ‘smoothly’

A World Health Organization official in Syria helping monitor and carry out the evacuation of people from eastern Aleppo says it’s “going smoothly” and that “around 1,000” have left.

Elizabeth Hoff said by phone from the Ramouseh crossing on the southwestern edge of the city that she had seen no presence of Syrian government forces but that Russian troops were overseeing the transport of people out.

Eastern Aleppo residents wait in the streets to be evacuated from the war-torn city of Aleppo, Syria, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. (UGC via AP)

Eastern Aleppo residents wait in the streets to be evacuated from the war-torn city of Aleppo, Syria, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. (UGC via AP)

Hoff, the UN health agency’s representative in Syria, said that checks of identity cards or the state of health had not been conducted yet among those being evacuated by bus and ambulance.

The office of the UN envoy for Syria said the evacuations would be “three-pronged,” involving the sick and injured, vulnerable people and fighters.

— AP

Brazil drops bribery charges against billionaire Joseph Safra

RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian federal court has dropped charges against Jewish billionaire banker Joseph Safra of being part of a conspiracy to pay bribes to Brazilian tax officials.

“Mr. Safra was not investigated, he was not even heard, and even so, he was denounced,” Safra’s lawyer tells reporters this week. “The judges concluded that there was not a minimum of evidence to file a criminal suit.”

Safra, 77, a leading philanthropist in Brazil’s 120,000-strong Jewish community, had denied the charges.

The financier, who is said by Fortune magazine to be the world’s richest banker, was accused of having known of a plan by executives at his banking group in Brazil to pay $4.2 million in bribes to help reduce tax debts amounting to nearly $500 million.

JTA

Norway city calls to boycott Israeli goods from ‘occupied territories’

The City Council of Tromso in Norway adopted a resolution today calling on its residents to boycott products made in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The resolution was adopted Wednesday in a 25-17 vote, according to the municipality’s website.

It states that “the municipal council encourages Tromso Municipality’s residents to boycott goods and services produced in the Occupied Territories.”

JTA

US states file suit against Israeli pharma giant Teva

Twenty US states today filed a class action suit against Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva, Channel 2 reports.

The states allege that the generic drug maker and other companies colluded to keep drug prices high.

Teva’s share price plunged earlier in the month after news emerged that the drug companies could face charges for the alleged collusion.

Assad congratulates Syrians on ‘liberation’ of Aleppo

President Bashar Assad congratulates Syrians on the “liberation” of Aleppo, as civilians and fighters evacuated the last rebel pocket of the city.

The city’s “liberation” was “history in the making and worthy of more than the word ‘congratulations’,” he says in a video posted on the presidency’s official social media accounts.

He describes the army’s imminent capture of Aleppo as a turning point.

“I think that after the liberation of Aleppo we’ll talk about the situation as… before the liberation of Aleppo and after the liberation of Aleppo,” he says.

The video, apparently shot on a phone, was a far cry from the usual format in which Assad’s pronouncements appear, ordinarily in formal media encounters like interviews.

It came as a first group of evacuees left battered east Aleppo, which the army is on the verge of recapturing completely.

Rebels had held the east of the city since 2012, and the army last month launched a major assault to recapture all of Aleppo.

— AFP

Residents in a government-held part of Aleppo's Salaheddin neighbourhood watch as buses evacuate rebel fighters and their families from rebel-held neighbourhoods in Syria's northern embattled city on December 15, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / Youssef KARWASHAN )

Residents in a government-held part of Aleppo’s Salaheddin neighbourhood watch as buses evacuate rebel fighters and their families from rebel-held neighbourhoods in Syria’s northern embattled city on December 15, 2016. (AFP/Youssef Karwashan)

Liberman: No tolerance for violence at Amona

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says there will be no tolerance if protesters at the Amona outpost use violence.

“There is understanding and a will to accommodate the residents of Amona as much as possible,” Liberman says speaking at a Limmud FSU conference in the southern city of Eilat. “But it must be clear — there will be no acceptance and no tolerance of violence against IDF soldiers and members of the security forces.”

“Take it off the agenda,” he says.

Amona residents have called for passive resistance only to the slated evacuation, but attempts to remove some buildings in the illegal West Bank outpost in 2006 were met with violent resistance.

Marissa Newman

The 2006 clashes in Amona (Nati Shohat/Flash 90)

Illustrative photo of clashes between settlers and Israeli soldiers in Amona in 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israeli reported killed in paraglider accident in South Africa

An Israeli has been killed in a paragliding accident near Cape Town in South Africa, Ynet reports.

No other details were given.

France seeks urgent UN talks on Aleppo evacuation

France is requesting urgent closed-door consultations at the UN Security Council on the evacuation of civilians from Aleppo and plans for deliveries of aid to the Syrian city.

France is working with Germany and other EU countries to push for the deployment of observers to Aleppo to monitor the situation, as Syrian forces move to assert full control over the city, French Ambassador Francois Delattre says.

“In these very dark days in Aleppo, it is critically important to have international observers under the surveillance of the UN to oversee the situation and this is critically important,” Delattre tells reporters.

The meeting could take place later Thursday or Friday, he adds.

— AFP

Police to investigate Jewish Home MK for sexual harassment

Police are to launch a probe into allegations that Jewish Home lawmaker Nissan Slomiansky sexually harassed several women, Channel 2 reports.

Earlier today Slomiansky was named as the party member accused of sexual harassment in a Facebook post alleging multiple complaints against him.

Police are now trying to gather testimony from seven women to hear their claims and see if they are prepared to press charges, the report says.

EU to extend Russia sanctions for 6 months

BRUSSELS — The European Union will extend its sanctions against Russia for six more months to keep pressure on Moscow to respect the fragile peace agreement in Ukraine, EU officials say.

Two officials say EU nations backed the deal at a summit of EU leaders and the formal decision will be adopted over the next few days. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision was not officially made yet.

The extension further underscores the worsening relations between the 28-nation bloc and Russia.

AP

Six officers hurt in East Jerusalem stone throwing

Police say six officers were lightly wounded by stones thrown at them in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Police were investigating the death of an Arab man who died in hospital earlier this evening, police say, when residents began throwing stones at them.

The circumstances in which the man was injured and subsequently died, are not immediately clear.

Soldier gets 10 days jail for call to refuse Amona evacuation orders

An IDF soldier has been sentenced to 10 days in jail for handing out leaflets encouraging his fellow troops to refuse to take part in the upcoming evacuation of Amona, Channel 10 reports.

The fliers said the evacuation of the illegal settlement outpost would “harm the values of the Jewish people.”

“It’s in your hands — don’t harm the people of Israel, the land of Israel and the Torah of Israel,” the leaflet reads, according to channel 10.

Liberman expresses concern for Diaspora Jewish communities

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, an avowed secularist, says he is “really troubled” by the state of American Jewry, arguing that if the Jews don’t “wake up,” Diaspora Jewry will be greatly diminished in less than two generations as Jews increasingly marry outside the faith.

“One of the things that really troubles me is the whole issue of Judaism, of the Jewish people in exile,” Liberman told a Limmud FSU conference in the southern city of Eilat.

Defense Minister Avigdor Libermans speaks at Limmud FSU in Eilat, December 15, 2016 (Courtesy)

Defense Minister Avigdor Libermans speaks at Limmud FSU in Eilat, December 15, 2016 (Courtesy)

“Whoever saw the last surveys by the Pew Center, the rates of assimilation, the connection between the new generation in the United States to Judaism — not just Israel. Israel, too.”

“The picture (that emerges from the survey) is very serious,” warns the leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party, who has long sought the division between religion and state in Israel.

“If we don’t wake up, in a generation and a half, there will nearly be no Jewish people in the Diaspora, apart from Orthodox communities,” he says.

Marissa Newman

Defense minister says Assad is a ‘butcher’ who must go

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says that Syrian President Bashar Assad is a “butcher” who “should be removed from power.”

Speaking at the opening of the Limmud FSU conference in Eilat, Liberman was asked about the bloody siege in Aleppo and the civil war in Syria.

“Assad is a butcher, who has slaughtered and murdered hundreds of thousands of people, including by using chemical weapons. In my opinion, he should be removed from power,” Liberman says.

The defense minister also says that “we should block Iranian involvement in Syria.”

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