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

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Arab lawmakers protest home demolitions in northern Israel

Arab lawmakers are protesting after police demolished 11 homes in the northern Israeli town of Qalansawe.

“This is an unprecedented crime and a declaration of war against the residents of Qalansawe and the Arab population,” says a statement from the Joint (Arab) List party.

Police demolished the buildings saying they had been illegally built without permits.

Recently Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to crack down on illegal Arab construction after the High Court ordered the demolition of the illegal settlement of Amona, saying laws would be applied equally in Israel.

“The houses were in the process of receiving planning permission, the government has hastened to act in order to make a point,” the statement says.

 

 

Herzog calls for Netanyahu to be suspended as communications minister

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog is calling for the attorney general to prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from also serving as communications minister.

Netanyahu is reportedly being investigated by police for attempting to collude with the publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, seeking favorable coverage in return for sidelining their main competitor.

“I have asked him to respond within 48 hours. If not I will appeal to the High Court,” Hezog tells army radio.

“I think the AG should have acted awhile ago and prevented Netanyahu from having any influence over the media,” Hezog says.

Netanyahu is also foreign minister.

Netanyahu says PA behind incitement

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party have praised the deadly truck terror attack in Jerusalem and are inciting to violence.

Netanyahu is touring a military base with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and says that not only did Abbas not condemn the attack, but some members of his party even praised the attacker.

Liberman says Abbas has directly ordered mosques to incite against Israel, according to Israel Radio.

Four soldiers were killed when an East Jerusalem Arab rammed his truck into the group as they were touring the capital on Sunday.

Twin blasts hit Afghan parliament, casualties feared

Twin explosions were detonated near the Afghan parliament in Kabul today, the interior ministry says, with casualties feared in the latest attack to rock the Afghan capital.

At least one of the blasts was apparently caused by a car bomb, ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi says.

“They targeted employees of parliament, there have been casualties,” a second security source says.

AFP

Autopsy confirms Carrie Fisher died of heart attack

Carrie Fisher’s death certificate has confirmed the Star Wars actress died of a heart attack, the BBC reports.

The certificate says the cause of death is “cardiac arrest/deferred,” according to the BBC.

In this Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 file photo, Carrie Fisher presents the life achievement award on stage at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

In this Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 file photo, Carrie Fisher presents the life achievement award on stage at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

The “deferred” reference means more investigation is needed by the coroner to find out what caused the heart attack, the report says, noting that toxicology tests, which can take several weeks, are likely to be carried out.

Last month Fisher, who found enduring fame as Princess Leia, was hospitalized after she suffered a medical emergency on board a flight to Los Angeles. She died several days later.

Norwegian mass murderer Breivik makes Nazi salute at court

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik made a neo-Nazi salute as he walked into a courtroom at a high-security prison where judges today are reviewing a ruling that his solitary confinement is inhumane.

Dressed in a dark suit, the bearded Breivik stared briefly at reporters while making the salute but did not speak.

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik making a neo-Nazi salute, as judges began reviewing a government appeal against a ruling that his solitary confinement was inhumane and violated human rights on Jan. 10, 2017. (Lise Aaserud/NTB Scanpix via AP)

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik making a neo-Nazi salute, as judges began reviewing a government appeal against a ruling that his solitary confinement was inhumane and violated human rights on Jan. 10, 2017. (Lise Aaserud/NTB Scanpix via AP)

The 37-year-old right-wing extremist, who killed 77 people in a bomb and shooting rampage in 2011, sued the government last year, saying his solitary confinement, frequent strip searches and the fact that he was often handcuffed during the early part of his incarceration violated his human rights.

The government is appealing against a surprise decision by the Oslo District Court, which sided with Breivik’s claims that his isolation in the maximum-security Skien prison breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

AP

Explosion hits singer’s car near Tel Aviv, no injuries

Police say there was an explosion in a car near Tel Aviv, there are no reports of injuries.

Hebrew language media says the car belongs to famous Israeli singer and television personality Margalit Tsan’ani.

In 2011 Tsan’ani was convicted of extorting her manager, but she served no jail time under a plea deal.

Police say that sappers are searching the area to “try and determine the cause of the explosion.

Arab sector to strike over house demolitions

The Arab sector is being called on to hold a general strike tomorrow to protest the demolition of 11 homes in the town of Qalansawe.

The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel, an umbrella group representing the community, is calling for the strike in businesses and schools.

At least 21 killed, 45 wounded in Kabul parliament blasts

At least 21 people were killed and 45 wounded in twin bombings near the Afghan parliament in Kabul today, a security official tells AFP.

“The blasts left 21 people dead and 45 others wounded, most of them civilians including parliament employees,” the official says, requesting anonymity.

AFP

Police says explosion in singer’s car is a criminal incident

Police say the explosion that hit the car of singer Margalit Tsan’ani was a criminal act.

“The background to the incident is criminal,” police say, noting that sappers are still investigating the area.

Swiss Muslim girls must take swimming classes with boys: Europe court

Muslim parents in Switzerland cannot refuse to send their daughters to school-run swimming lessons with boys, Europe’s top rights court says, dismissing a challenge by a Turkish-Swiss couple claiming the rule violates their beliefs.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) accepted that the refusal by Swiss authorities to exempt the couple’s two daughters from the compulsory lessons interfered with their freedom of religion.

But the interference, it ruled, was justified by the need to protect the children from social exclusion.

School has become the focal point in several high-profile battles between Swiss authorities and Muslim families who say their religion prevents their children from participating in some mixed activities.

AFP

Liberman tells Azaria supporters to be quiet if they want to help him

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tells supporters of Sgt. Elor Azaria, a soldier convicted of shooting dead a disarmed Palestinian assailant, they should “sit quietly and stop making noise and ruckus” if they really want to help him.

Last Wednesday, Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter, prompting outrage from his supporters. In the aftermath of the contentious trial, some of his backers have taken to social media to denounce and threaten IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and the judges who presided over the case.

Since the verdict came out, Liberman, who voiced support for Azaria before becoming defense minister last year, has called for Israelis to respect the court’s decision and asked the soldier’s attorneys to forgo an appeal, hinting that this would ensure Azaria received a lighter sentence.

“We all know that on the one side [of this case] there’s a decorated soldier and on the other there’s a terrorist who came to kill Jews,” Liberman writes on his Facebook page.

“We’re doing everything to guard both the values of the IDF and the soldier Azaria. Anything else only hurts,” he says.

Judah Ari Gross

Health ministry warns public after oil spill near beach

The Health Ministry is warning the public not to swim in the Rishon Letzion and Palmahim beaches in southern Israel after a large oil slick was sighted near the shore.

It is not immediately clear what the source of the oil is.

Israel starts procedure to revoke residency from truck attacker’s family

Israel has summoned 12 family members of the East Jerusalem terrorist who drove his truck into a crowd of soldiers, killing four, to begin procedures for stripping them of their residency status.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri says that “we have to use every measure at our disposal as a deterrence,” according to Hebrew language media.

Deri thanks police and Interior Ministry workers for beginning the procedure so quickly.

Johnson confirms Britain helped draft UN resolution against Israel

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson confirms that Britain helped craft the wording of the United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements.

“I want to remind you that the UK was closely involved in the drafting of that resolution,” the Haaretz daily quotes Johnson as saying.

“It was an Egyptian-generated resolution and we only supported it because it contained new language pointing out the infamy of terrorism that Israeli suffers every day,” Johnson says in response to questions from MPs, according to Haaretz.

 

Paris to light up city hall in blue and white for Jerusalem terror victims

Paris will light up city hall in the colors of the Israeli flag to commemorate the victims of Sunday’s terror attack in Jerusalem.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says it will happen at 7:30 this evening.

Germany did the same thing yesterday, lighting up the Brandenburg Gate with the Israeli flag.

Four soldiers were killed when an East Jerusalem man rammed his truck into them as they toured the capital on Sunday.

Both Germany and France have seen similar truck ramming attacks.

 

Death toll from Afghan parliament bombings rises to 38

An Afghan official says the death toll from twin bombings in Kabul has climbed to 38, with civilians and military personnel among those killed.

Mohibullah Zeer, an official in the Public Health Ministry, says another 72 people are wounded in the attack.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi says a suicide bomber struck first, followed by a car bomb, adding that four police officers are among those killed.

The Taliban, which is waging a 15-year war against the US-backed government, claimed the attack, which took place near government and legislative offices.

AP

Palestinians seek weekend prayers to protest US Embassy move

An official says Palestinian leaders are calling for mosque and church prayers “from Pakistan to Tehran, from Lebanon to Oman” this weekend to protest the possible move of the US Embassy in Israel to contested Jerusalem.

US President-elect Donald Trump promised such a move during his campaign.

Mohammed Ishtayeh, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, says Tuesday that the Palestinians were told by “American circles and diplomatic friends” that Trump might reaffirm the plan during his January 20 inaugural speech.

Ishtayeh says an embassy move would mean “the end of the two-state solution” to the conflict and would violate a global consensus.

The Palestinians seek a future capital in East Jerusalem.

Most countries, including the US, maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.

— AP

IS claims deadly attack on Egypt police in Sinai

The Islamic State jihadist group says that it was behind the car bomb attack on a police checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula that killed eight people yesterday.

The group’s Egyptian branch, Sinai Province, says in a statement that “soldiers of the caliphate” had staged the assault on the checkpoint near the city of El-Arish.

According to the interior ministry, seven policemen and a civilian passerby were killed in the attack, while police shot dead five assailants.

Jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 unleashed a bloody crackdown on his supporters.

Most of the attacks have taken place in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

— AFP

Netanyahu tells AIPAC leaders ‘unequivocal’ evidence US behind UN resolution

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells a meeting of officials from AIPAC that Israel has “unequivocal evidence” that the United States was behind a UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements.

“We have unequivocal evidence that the Security Council resolution passed against Israel was led by the administration,” Netanyahu says. “There is no question whatsoever about it.”

The US has denied it was behind the resolution and said it made the decision not to veto it at the last moment.

Coalition chair denies PM trying to bury outpost bill

A spokesman for coalition chair David Bitan tells The Times of Israel that there are no plans to bury a bill that would legalize construction of settlements on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, but declines to say when the bill will be brought for a vote or why it has been delayed.

Fearing repercussions from the US administration, a final vote on the so-called Regulation Bill, which would legalize some 4,000 housing units in the West Bank built on privately owned Palestinian land, had been shelved until President Obama leaves office on January 20, Bitan confirmed to The Times of Israel in December.

But the bill was put “back on the table” following the US’s failure to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, The Times of Israel was told after the vote.

Bitan’s spokesman denies reports in Haaretz that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now trying to prevent the bill from progressing altogether.

“I don’t know where these reports are coming from or who is saying it,” he says. “There are no such plans.”

A spokesman for Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose Jewish Home party has originally proposed the bill, declined to comment on the reports, saying he could not confirm or deny that the bill had been frozen.

— Raoul Wootliff

Men in KKK outfits protest hearings for Trump attorney general

Two men wearing Ku Klux Klan costumes were removed from the confirmation hearing for Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, after they caused a disruption today.

As security took them out of the room, they yelled, “You can’t arrest me, I am white!” and “White people own this government!”

Civil liberties advocates have cited Sessions’ voting record and his appearances before groups that espouse harsh views on Muslims and immigrants. He was rejected for a federal judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee 30 years ago amid accusations of racial insensitivity.

In a prepared opening statement, Sessions said he understands “the history of civil rights and the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters.”

AP

Protesters wearing white sheets shout at Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as he arrives for his confirmation hearing to be the US attorney general on 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

Protesters wearing white sheets shout at Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as he arrives for his confirmation hearing to be the US attorney general on 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

Lithuanian game show taken off the air over Nazi salute and ‘Jew’ clue

A Lithuanian game show in which a contestant performed a Nazi salute and shouted “Jew” to describe a Jewish composer has been taken off the air.

Actress Asta Baukute, a former lawmaker, made the gesture on the “Guess the Melody” episode that aired Friday, Delfi reported. In the charades-style game, contestants act out songs and other music trivia without explicitly naming them.

Standing up in a leather coat and dancing excitedly, Baukute put both the index and middle finger of her left hand to her upper lip — ostensibly to indicate Hitler’s mustache — and raised her right hand in a Nazi salute high in the air. She yelled “Jew” three times in Lithuanian.

She was signaling that she recognized the melody being played belonged to Lithuanian composer Simonas Donskovas, who is Jewish.

JTA

Trump tells allies US embassy move going ahead — CNN

The incoming Trump administration is telling allies that it will go ahead and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, CNN reports.

CNN says there is speculation the announcement could be made on May 24, when Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day, marking the unification of the city in 1967. It is just several days before a waiver signed by President Barack Obama on moving the embassy expires.

But European diplomats have apparently warned Trump against the move, saying it could ignite the region. “It’s very dangerous,” a European diplomat tells CNN.

State Dept. adds 2 top Hezbollah officials to terrorist list

The US State Department listed as designated terrorists two Hezbollah officials, including the son of a former top commander believed assassinated by Israel.

A statement yesterday named Ali Damush, a senior aide to the Lebanese group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and Mustafa Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, the former chief of Hezbollah military and terrorist operations. The elder Mughniyeh was assassinated in 2008 in Syria in an operation believed to have been carried out by Israel’s Mossad agency with CIA backing.

Damush helps recruit terrorists and gather intelligence for Hezbollah’s overseas terrorist attacks.

The younger Mughniyeh, the State Department release says, at one time led Hezbollah’s operations on the Golan Heights. One of Israel’s chief concerns arising from the civil war raging in Syria since 2011 is that Hezbollah, an ally of the Assad regime, gains a foothold on the strategic plateau. Israel has controlled part of the Golan Heights since the 1967 Six-Day War.

State Department designation as a terrorist keeps individuals from conducting any transactions involving the US financial system and inhibits their travel, as they appear on lists shared by law enforcement agencies.

JTA

Ben Cowen, Australian entrepreneur and Jewish community activist, killed in gliding accident

Ben Cowen, an entrepreneur and a Jewish community leader in Australia, died in a paragliding accident while on vacation with his family.

Cowen, the youngest child of the late Governor-General Zelman Cowen, crashed after being caught in strong winds on Sunday afternoon. He was 50.

Cowen was known as a keen adventurer and founded the Anaconda chain of camping and outdoor megastores, which he sold before becoming an investment adviser. He sold the chain in the late 2000s and founded Edison Partners, a boutique advisory firm, where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions, and also worked as a lawyer and investment banker.

Rabbi Shimon Cowen told the Australian media that his brother “had a very bold spirit.”

JTA

At least nine dead in Kandahar blast during UAE envoy’s visit

At least nine people were killed in an explosion in the governor’s compound in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province Tuesday during a visit by the UAE ambassador, local media reports

The UAE foreign ministry said envoy Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi and other UAE diplomats were wounded in the “terrorist attack”. Afghanistan’s Tolo News says the blast left nine people dead and 16 others wounded.

AFP

Publisher reportedly told PM he would do all he could to keep him in power

Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes reportedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if the two reached a deal, he would do all he could to keep Netanyahu in power.

“If we can come to an agreement on the law, I will do all I can to make sure you stay in power as long as you want,” Channel 2 quotes Mozes as saying from within hours of taped conversation between the two. “I’m looking you in the eye, and saying this as clearly as I can,” he reportedly says.

The apparent deal on the table, which was never implemented, would have seen the prime minister work to reduce the circulation of the pro-Netanyau Israel Hayom daily newspaper — Yedioth’s biggest rival — in exchange for more favorable coverage in Yedioth.

Leaks from the ongoing investigations into Netanyahu continued to trickle out today, with police reported to have seized hours of tapes from negotiations the prime minister held with the dominant media mogul over a mutually beneficial deal. Those recordings are said to prove, among other things, that Netanyahu initiated the illicit meetings.

Police have two tapes, each containing hours of conversations between Netanayhu and Mozes, recorded on multiple occasions.

Truck terrorist was killed by both soldiers and guide

An autopsy of the terrorist who drove his truck into a group of soldiers, killing four of them, was killed by bullets fired by soldiers at the scene and a civilian tour guide.

The examination found he was killed by bullets from an army issued M-16 rifle and from a 9mm pistol, Channel 2 says.

The report comes amid allegations that soldiers at the scene were slow to respond, a charge the army denies.

 

Contacts reported between IDF officers and Azaria family over deal

Senior IDF officers reportedly met with the family of the soldier convicted of shooting and killing an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in a bid to work out some kind of a deal with him

The head of the Kfir unit in which Sgt. Elor Azaria served held a meeting with Azaria’s father in which he suggested that if they don’t appeal the conviction and change there legal team, he might get a lighter sentence or a pardon, Channel 2 reports.

He is set to be sentenced next week, concluding a high-profile trial that deeply divided the country. His attorneys accused the court of bias and vowed to appeal.

Earlier today Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman suggested that if Azaria’s supporters want to help him, they should “sit quietly.”

Obama says Netanyahu’s actions show he does not support 2 state solution

President Barack Obama says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions do not show that he believes in a two state solution.

“The settlement issue has become a barrier to a two state solution. Bibi says he approves a two state solution but his actions have shown that if he is pressured to do something (else), he will do so,” Obama says.

Obama notes that there has been an increase of settlements from 300 to 400,000 settlers in the last years. “That was not compelled by Israel’s security,” he says in an interview Channel 2 TV.

Obama acknowledges difference between East Jerusalem and West Bank

President Barack Obama acknowledges that there is a difference between East Jerusalem and the West bank even though the UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements lumped them together.

“Of course” Obama said, when asked if he saw the difference in an interview with Channel 2.

However, he said that East Jerusalem is currently considered occupied, but this could change after negotiations.

“Some parts of what are currently considered occupied territories will come into Israel in negotiations,” Obama says in the interview noting that history and strategic depth would come into account in peace talks.

“Even Israel acknowledges the status of East Jerusalem is a live issue in negotiations,” he says.

Obama says Israel had a real friend in the White House in last 8 years

President Barack Obama says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wrong to condemn him and his administration.

Asked if Netanyahu could look forward to having a friend in the White House when Donald Trump comes in to power, Obama said: “He had a good friend, just Bibi did not always recognize it.”

“He had a good friend in the last eight years,” Obama said, noting that even the issues that Netanyahu disagreed with Obama the most over, were actually in Israel’s interest.

“On Iran , Israel’s own military intelligence teams would acknowledge that the chance of Iran getting a nuclear weapon is much further off.”

“This deal has worked to achieve the narrow interest we set out to achieve,” Obama told Channel 2 in an interview

Obama says Netanyahu ignored him ‘countless times’ over settlements

President Barack Obama says that he decided not to veto the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements because Israel has repeatedly ignored “countless” warnings from the US over the issue.

Obama vetoed a similar resolution in 2011 because “I thought the prospects of some sort of negotiations were still alive,” he tells Channel 2 in an interview.

“Since that time I vetoed it in 20011 what has happened, since that time you have seen continued settlement construction and approvals unabated,” he says.

“John Kerry has talked to Bibi and I have personally talked to Bibi countless times and it was ignored,” Obama says, adding that Israeli settlements continue to grow “going deeper and deeper into the “West Bank.

Obama noted that every US administration had opposed settlement construction since 1967.

Obama: greater support for settlements under Trump could ‘worsen situation’

President Barack Obama is warning that “unfettered support” for Israel’s settlement policies will over time lead to a “worsening situation” between Israelis and Palestinians.

Obama spoke to the Israeli TV program “Uvda” in an interview broadcast Tuesday, as he prepares to hand off to President-elect Donald Trump, who has indicated he will be more accepting of Israel’s expansion of settlements. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel is an outspoken settlement supporter.

AP