White House says Trump to host Netanyahu on February 15
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White House says Trump to host Netanyahu on February 15

PM says he will ask US president to renew sanctions on Iran in response to ballistic missile test; 'We cannot allow Iranian aggression to go unanswered,' he says

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meeting at the Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meeting at the Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
  • Illustrative: A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)
    Illustrative: A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)
  • US President Donald Trump speaks during the swearing-in of the White House senior staff at the White House on January 22, 2017, in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
    US President Donald Trump speaks during the swearing-in of the White House senior staff at the White House on January 22, 2017, in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
  • Opposition leader Issac Herzog at the Knesset on January 17, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
    Opposition leader Issac Herzog at the Knesset on January 17, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
  • Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the Amona outpost, in front of the Knesset, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the Amona outpost, in front of the Knesset, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the outpost of Amona, in front of the Israeli parliament, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the outpost of Amona, in front of the Israeli parliament, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the outpost of Amona, in front of the Israeli parliament, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the outpost of Amona, in front of the Israeli parliament, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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

Settler leader decries ‘unfathomable tragedy’ of upcoming Amona evacuation

As lawmakers in the Knesset finalize a controversial bill to legalize West bank outposts, hundreds of protesters gather outside the parliament building to decry the upcoming evacuation of Amona, the most contentious of the unrecognized settlements.

While praising the legislation that would legalize some 4,000 housing units in the West Bank built on privately owned Palestinian land, speakers at the event slammed the government for not doing more to prevent the court-ordered evacuation.

Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the Amona outpost, in front of the Knesset, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the Amona outpost, in front of the Knesset, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“An unfathomable tragedy is going to take place. They are going to uproot a Jewish settlement from the Land of Israel,” says Yesh Council chair Yossi Dagan.

“And why?” he asks the crowd. “Because no one took any lead to stop it,” he says.

Germany seeking ‘clarity’ on Trump’s refugee ban

A spokesman for the German foreign ministry says “tens of thousands” of people are likely to be affected by the recent US travel ban.

An executive order issued Friday by US President Donald Trump temporarily restricts entry to America of people from seven majority-Muslim countries.

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

Foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer says Germany is trying to understand the practical implications for its citizens who also hold a passport from one of the affected countries. He told reporters in Berlin on Monday that Germany hoped to receive further “clarity” from Washington in the coming hours.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had expressed regret Sunday about Trump’s decision, but refrained from condemning it.

Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Monday that Merkel intended to “work for a good German-American relationship.”

— AP

Britain’s May says Trump visit to go ahead despite protests

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office says that a state visit to Britain by US President Donald Trump later this year will go ahead, despite increasing calls for it to be canceled over his temporary ban on residents of seven majority-Muslim countries entering the US.

Her office says “an invitation has been extended and accepted.”

President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May react to a question from a member of the media during their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May react to a question from a member of the media during their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

No date has been announced for the state visit, which involves lavish pomp and ceremony, often with a stay at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.

An online petition on a government website has attracted more than 1 million signatures opposing the trip. Protests against the travel ban are planned Monday in London and other British cities.

— AP

Iran VP slams US travel ban as ‘illegal, inhumane and against human rights’

Iran’s senior vice president is calling President Trump’s executive order on travel and visa process ban “illegal, inhumane and against human rights.”

The official IRNA news agency Monday quotes Ishaq Jahangiri as saying the order should be reviewed at the international level.

Jahangiri says: “We will definitely take stance against this illegal, inhumane and anti-human-rights activity in international bodies. And once again (we) will review and explore American human rights in international bodies in order to let the world to know what a system they are facing.”

He did not elaborate.

The executive order suspended issuing visas for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen for at least 90 days.

— AP

World’s largest body of Islamic nations urges Trump to reconsider ban

The world’s largest body of Islamic nations says it has “grave concern” over US President Donald Trump’s order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation issued a statement Monday to the AP warning that “such selective and discriminatory acts will only serve to embolden the radical narratives of extremists and will provide further fuel to the advocates of violence and terrorism.”

It called upon the US to “reconsider this blanket statement and maintain its moral obligation to provide leadership and hope at a time of great uncertainty and unrest in the world.”

The 90-day ban, imposed Friday, affects travel to the US by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. All are OIC members.

— AP

Final vote on outpost bill back on for this evening

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein says the final vote on a bill to legalize West Bank outposts will take place this evening despite an earlier announcement that it would be postponed until tomorrow.

A spokesperson for Edelstein says since the bill was particularly sensitive, the speaker wants to oversee the session and will be on a trip abroad tomorrow.

A Knesset panel on Monday morning approved the final version of the so-called Regulation Bill that would legalize some 4,000 housing units in the West Bank built on privately owned Palestinian land.

Following the meeting, coalition chairman David Bitan said the final vote would not take place today due to an “over-packed schedule.”

Amona protest finishes without incident

Police say a protest outside the Knesset against the upcoming evacuation of the Amona outpost has finished without incident.

All roads around the Knesset are now open to regular traffic.

After Trump travel ban, Iraq bars entry to US citizens

Two lawmakers say that the Iraqi parliament has approved a “reciprocity measure” after US President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning citizens from Iraq and six other Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

The measure, adopted by lawmakers at a Monday session of parliament, is to apply to Americans entering Iraq.

Lawmakers Kamil al-Ghrairi and Mohammed Saadoun told The Associated Press that decision is binding for the government. Both say the decision was passed by a majority votes in favor but couldn’t offer specific numbers. No further details were available on the wording of the parliament decision.

Delegates gathering inside the Baghdad Convention Center, where the Council of Representatives of Iraq, the country's unicameral parliament, meets. (Wikipedia/James (Jim) Gordon/CC BY 2.0)

Delegates gathering inside the Baghdad Convention Center, where the Council of Representatives of Iraq, the country’s unicameral parliament, meets. (Wikipedia/James (Jim) Gordon/CC BY 2.0)

It was not immediately clear who the ban will apply to — American military personnel, non-government and aid workers, oil companies and other Americans doing business in Iraq.

Trump’s order includes a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, and a 120-day suspension of the US refugee program.

— AP

Trump travel ban illegal, ‘mean-spirited’ — UN rights chief

US President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens from mainly Muslim countries is illegal and “mean-spirited,” according to the United Nations human rights chief Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein.

Zeid, who rarely communicates on Twitter, says in a tweet that “discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law,” adding that “the US ban is also mean-spirited and wastes resources needed for proper counter-terrorism.”

Trump on Friday signed an executive order suspending the arrival of all refugees for at least 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely — and barring citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

The UN bodies most directly engaged with migration — the UN refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — issued a statement on Saturday which made no mention of the executive order and stopped far short of condemning it.

Instead, the agencies urged the US to “continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.”

— AFP

Liberman says outpost has 100% chance of being rejected by High Court

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who has publicly spoken out against the outpost legalization bill, says his Yisrael Beytenu party will support it in tonight’s final votes.

But he says you “don’t have to be a genius” to see that the High Court of Justice will torpedo the law. “The chance of it being rejected by the High Court is 100%,” says Liberman at the weekly faction meeting.

Liberman also announces his party will vote against the Shas party’s proposed Western Wall bill. He says he doesn’t know why the Western Wall mixed-gender plaza compromise hasn’t been implemented on the one hand, and on the other hand, the ultra-Orthodox party is seeking to impose even stricter Orthodox rules at the holy site.

“We will vote against this bill,” he says. “It should be said in advance.”

— Marissa Newman

World Jewish Congress condemns attack on Quebec mosque

The World Jewish Congress condemns the attack on a Quebec mosque during a prayer service that left six dead and eight wounded.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the Sunday night attack on the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, in which gunmen fired on the some 40 people inside, a “terrorist attack on Muslims,” Reuters reported. Two suspects have been arrested.

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge. Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country,” Trudeau said in a statement.

Canadian police officers patrol after a shooting in a mosque at the Québec City Islamic cultural center on Sainte-Foy Street in Quebec city on January 29, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Alice Chiche)

Canadian police officers patrol after a shooting in a mosque at the Québec City Islamic cultural center on Sainte-Foy Street in Quebec city on January 29, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Alice Chiche)

WJC President Ronald Lauder calls it a “horrific attack” and called for “those who perpetrated this abhorrent act of mass murder” to be “brought to justice.”

Lauder says is a statement: “We must not be intimidated by terrorism, but cherish our freedom, including the freedom to worship. We must defend each other, and we must look after one another: one religious community after the other, one country after the other. The scourge of terrorism won’t be defeated unless we are united in our resolve to defeat it.”

— JTA

Opposition leader says outpost bill will lead Israel to ICC

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog says the Regulation Bill poses a “very serious danger” to the State of Israel.

“This law creates de facto annexation, contrary to all of Israel’s international obligations. It is due to this law that the UN Security Council adopted its resolution against the settlements,” says Herzog at the weekly faction meeting.

The opposition leader also raps Liberman for saying he’ll support the bill in the Knesset even while believing the High Court will later disqualify it. “You cannot say on the one hand that you will support the bill and also say the High Court will reject it,” says Herzog. “You’re the defense minister.”

Like Herzog, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni says the first reading of the outpost legalization bill drove the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution in December lambasting settlements.

“We will pay for the second and third votes [on the outpost legalization bill] in the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” the former foreign minister says.

Indicating the opposition will filibuster the Monday night vote, Herzog holds up hundreds of objections to the law that his party will present in the plenum.

— Marissa Newman

Israel’s ambassador to Mexico ‘invited’ to rebuke this evening

Israel’s ambassador to Mexico has been “invited” and not “summoned” for a meeting with the country’s foreign minister over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apparent support for US President Donald Trump’s border wall, the Israel Foreign Ministry says.

Jonathan Peled will meet with Luis Videgaray Caso at 9 p.m. Israel time, a brief statement says.

He is expected to receive an angry telling off after Netanyahu tweeted that Trump’s border wall was a “great idea,” comparing it to the wall on Israel’s southern border.

On Saturday, Netanyahu praised Trump for his plan to build a security barrier. Referring to the recently built fence along Israel’s border with Egypt, the prime minister said the measure had been a “great success” in keeping out migrants, who mainly came from African nations.

Israel walked back the tweet a few hours after the prime minister sent it.

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry stressed Saturday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not commenting on US-Mexican relations when the Israeli leader said earlier that US President Donald Trump was “right” in pushing for a wall along the US-Mexico border to block illegal immigration.

Liberman says White House Holocaust statement likely a ‘mistake or a misunderstanding’

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says the White House’s omission of Jews in its International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement is likely a “mistake or a misunderstanding.”

The White House has doubled down on its decision not to single out the Jews in the genocide, saying that other groups suffered as well.

“I don’t think there is room here for a diplomatic demarche,” Liberman says of the controversy. “We aren’t looking for a fight, not with the White House nor with anyone else.”

The Trump administration has shown itself to be “friendly” thus far, says Liberman. He says he hopes next year’s statement is worded differently and highlights Jewish suffering.

Saudi Arabia condemns Israeli settlement construction, outpost bill

The Saudi cabinet condemns Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank, as the Knesset prepared to vote on legalizing outpost communities.

Approval of new West Bank construction announced last week is “aimed at Judaization of large parts of East Jerusalem,” the cabinet adds, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

It says that the settlements contradict the will of the international community “and prevent the opportunity for peace and stability in the region.”

— AFP

Pipe bomb thrown at Rachel’s Tomb IDF post

A pipe bomb is thrown at an IDF post near the Rachel’s Tomb holy site in Bethlehem.

No troops are injured in the attack.

The suspect flees into the nearby refugee camp, with troops in pursuit.

“It’s a little complicated because it’s a refugee camp, but I’m sure they’ll catch him,” Maj. Yanai Gueta, the deputy commander of the soldiers’ battalion, tells The Times of Israel.

— Judah Ari Gross

Palestinians demand apology after UN chief says there was a Jewish temple on Temple Mount

Palestinian officials are demanding an apology after the new United Nations chief told Israel Radio that the Temple destroyed by the Romans was a Jewish temple.

It is “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Israel Radio on Friday during an interview with its New York correspondent.

The UN chief also said that “no one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is holy to three religions today,” including Judaism.

The United Nations Secretary-General designate Antonio Guterres speaks during his swearing-in ceremony at UN headquarters, Monday, December 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The United Nations Secretary-General designate Antonio Guterres speaks during his swearing-in ceremony at UN headquarters, Monday, December 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem affairs minister, tells the Chinese news service Xinhua that Guterres “ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aqsa Mosque of pure Islamic heritage.” He also says that Guterres “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs and overstepped his role as secretary general… and must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.”

Guterres also told Israel Radio that he would not initiate a new peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, but that he did believe in a two-state solution and would be willing to assist in a peace process if asked to do so.

— JTA

Netanyahu: My Trump tweet about border wall had nothing to do with Mexico

At the start of the weekly faction meeting, Netanyahu denies his tweet praising Israel’s border with Egypt has anything to do with Mexico.

The prime minister’s Saturday tweet, which called the wall a “great idea, great success,” was perceived as an endorsement of Trump’s plan to build a border wall with Mexico. Officials in Mexico furiously condemned the tweet, prompting the Foreign Ministry to stress that Netanyahu was merely referring to Israel’s own security successes.

The prime minister says he was responding to Trump’s praise to Israel’s border wall, “and I said in response that he was right.”

Trump later retweeted me, says Netanyahu.

“Who even mentioned Mexico?” Netanyahu says at the meeting.

Netanyahu blames the media for the subsequent outcry, saying pundits accusing him of harming ties with Mexico want to distract the public from the real issue: the success of Israel’s border fence.

“It doesn’t surprise me. The media is left-wing, mobilized on a Bolshevik hunt [against me], [dedicated to] brainwashing, and character assassination against me and my family,” he says.

He says the media issues a “flood of fake news,” and is pressuring the attorney general and law enforcement agencies “to indict me at any price.”

“There has been nothing like it in the history of the state. It’s doubtful there was anything similar in the history of other democratic countries,” says Netanyahu.

Likud activists at the meeting applaud the prime minister as he enters the room and as he concludes his remarks.

— Marissa Newman

UK Jewish community condemns Trump’s ‘indiscriminate and unjust’ travel ban

Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the national representative body of the UK Jewish community, condemns Donald Trump’s refugee ban.

“Bans based on national origin are indiscriminate and unjust. They would be unlawful in UK law. While we all understand the need to properly check those who enter our countries, this needs to be balanced with compassion towards the plight of those fleeing for their lives,” he says in a statement.

“This is a dismaying beginning to a new US Administration. Good government needs cool, rational judgments delivered professionally, not hasty policy-making on the hoof. All those who respect and admire the USA’s commitment to freedom will call on President Trump to review this misconceived Executive Order.”

Trump says will announce Supreme Court pick Tuesday

US President Donald Trump said he will announce his nomination to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a pick aimed at tilting the court to conservatives on crucial issues such as abortion.

Trump’s choice will fill a vacancy left by the death last year of conservative justice Antonin Scalia, after which the court was evenly divided between four conservative and four liberal justices.

— AFP

Dutch mosques shut doors at prayers after Canada attack

Four of the largest mosques in The Netherlands say they will shut their doors during major prayer meetings after six people were killed in attack on a Canadian mosque.

The Blue Mosque in Amsterdam, The Hague’s as-Sunnah Mosque, Rotterdam’s Essalam Mosque and the Omar Al Farouq Mosque in Utrecht say in a statement “we feel compelled to close mosque doors during prayers.”

Additional safety cameras have also been set up at the Blue Mosque, situated in the southwestern suburbs of the Dutch capital.

Several thousand people attend prayers at the four mosques daily.

“Merciless acts such as in Quebec contribute to the growing global hatred of Muslims,” Said Bouharrou of the Dutch Moroccan Council of Mosques (RMMN) says. “A mosque is an open building that should be accessible at any time of day to all people looking for peace and calm.”

“But we have to be alert against these terror attacks. It’s disappointing that these stringent safety measures should be put in place,” Bouharrou says, adding mosque leaders were in close contact with the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV).

— AFP

Pope Francis condemns Quebec mosque attack

Pope Francis condemns the Quebec mosque attack and calls for mutual respect among people of different faiths.

Francis conveyed his condolences in writing and in person to the archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Gerald LaCroix, who was in Rome on Monday and returned immediately to Canada.

In the telegram, Francis says he is praying for those killed and injured, as well as those who responded to the bloodshed. It says “The Holy Father firmly condemns the violence that engenders such suffering, and begs the Lord for the gift of mutual respect and peace.”

In a separate statement, the Vatican’s office of relations with Muslims is condemning the act of “unheard of violence,” saying a massacre at a mosque “violated the sacredness of human life and the respect owed to a community in prayer in a place of worship.”

— AP

Merkel renews critique of Trump travel ban

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is renewing her criticism of President Donald Trump’s order suspending entry to the US for people from seven Muslim-majority countries and halting refugee admissions.

Merkel said Monday that “the necessary and determined fight against terrorism in no way justifies a general suspicion against people of a certain faith — in this case against people of Muslim faith — or people with a certain origin.”

She added that she believes the US action also “contradicts the basic concept of international help for refugees and international cooperation.”

Merkel’s words echoed similar comments by her spokesman Sunday, the day after the German leader voiced her regret at the decision during a telephone with Trump.

— AFP

Mexican FM calls on Netanyahu to apologize for supporting Trump’s border wall

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize for voicing support for US President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, Haaretz reports.

“We hope that the Israeli government will have the sensitivity to correct Netanyahu’s statement,” Videgaray reportedly said, adding that Netanyahu’s remarks “felt like an aggressive act.”

Knesset flipflopflips on outpost bill vote

After a number of contradictory announcements, the final committee and plenary votes on controversial legislation that would legalize some 4,000 housing units in the West Bank built on privately owned Palestinian land is being postponed from this evening, when it was meant to take place.

Faced with hundreds of proposed revisions by the opposition, the special committee created to finalize the legislation was forced to delay its votes on the revisions until Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. Once approved by the committee, the legislation will be brought to the plenary readings.

Earlier, coalition chair David Bitan said the final plenary vote would be postponed a day, citing a packed legislative schedule but Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein seemed to override Bitan, announcing that the vote would take place, as previously scheduled on Monday evening. A spokesperson for Edelstein said that since the bill was particularly sensitive, the speaker wanted to oversee the session and will be on a trip abroad Tuesday.

Now, a spokesperson for Bitan confirms to The Times of Israel that the plenum vote has been pushed off until Tuesday, at least.

A spokesperson for Edelstein says the plenary vote may not take place until next week, with the opposition requesting more time to debate the bill.

Syria says setting up safe zones for civilians is unsafe

Syria warns against safe zones for civilians that US President Donald Trump has expressed interest in creating, saying they would have to come in coordination with the Syrian government, otherwise they would be unsafe and violate the Arab nation’s sovereignty.

The announcement was made in Damascus by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem during a meeting with the head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, Filippo Grandi, who began an official visit to Syria on Monday.

The announcement comes about a week after the Trump administration’s expressed interest in setting up safe zones for civilians in war-torn Syria, an idea that was greeted with caution by Russia and Turkey, who have taken the lead in the latest peace efforts to end the Mideast country’s devastating six-year war.

— AP

Goldman Sachs latest to condemn Trump travel ban

Goldman Sachs joins the growing list of big US companies criticizing President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending entry into the United States by people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, which has provided several senior Trump administration officials, sent a voice mail to employees Sunday night outlining his concerns, according to the text of the call obtained by AFP.

“This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily,” he says.

Blankfein says he is working to minimize potential disruption to the firm’s staff and “focused on supporting our colleagues and their families who may be affected.”

Trump’s executive order issued late Friday, which also suspended the arrival of refugees and legal US residents, prompted mass demonstrations at several major US airports over the weekend. It has also drawn criticism from many large companies, including Apple, Facebook, and Nike.

— AFP

AG considering reopening case of Ethiopian soldier beaten by police

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit tells the government he is thinking about re-opening a case against a police officer who was filmed last year beating up an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent.

A statement released by the Attorney General’s Office says Mandelblit had been examining a petition to the Supreme Court requesting that the case be looked at again after former attorney general Yehuda Weinstein decided to close a criminal investigation.

The video clip shows a police officer beating Damas Pikda, an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent. After investigation of the case, police decided to demote the officer but said there was no reason to prosecute

Hotovely praises UN chief for Temple Mount comment

Following anger from the Palestinian Authority, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely praises the new United Nations chief for saying that the Temple destroyed by the Romans was a Jewish temple.

“I praise the UN Secretary General for standing up for the historical truth regarding the Temple Mount and the Jewish people’s historical connection to Jerusalem,” Hotovely says in a statement. “You cannot cut off the deep 3000-year connection between the people of Israel and Jerusalem.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Israel Radio on Friday during an interview with its New York correspondent that it is “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple,”

The UN chief also said that “no one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is holy to three religions today,” including Judaism.

In response, Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem affairs minister, told the Chinese news service Xinhua that Guterres “ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aqsa Mosque of pure Islamic heritage.” He also said that Guterres “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs and overstepped his role as secretary general… and must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.”

Jewish CEO of Starbucks says company will hire 10,000 refugees

Howard Schultz, the Jewish billionaire CEO of Starbucks, says his company plans to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in a letter to employees addressing President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees from entering the United States.

“We have all been witness to the confusion, surprise and opposition to the Executive Order that President Trump issued on Friday, effectively banning people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, including refugees fleeing wars,” Schultz wrote in a message sent Sunday titled “Living Our Values in Uncertain Times.”

“I can assure you that our Partner Resources team has been in direct contact with the partners who are impacted by this immigration ban, and we are doing everything possible to support and help them to navigate through this confusing period.”

Schultz also wrote that the “conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream” are being called into question. He added: “I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack.”

— JTA

Trump: ‘There’s certainly a chance of moving embassy’ but it ‘has 2 sides’

In an interview with the Evangelical Christian network CBN News, President Donald Trump appears to backtrack on a campaign promise to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying the issue has “two sides.”

“I’m looking at it, we’re studying it, as you know we’ve discussed this before. We’re studying it very long and hard,” Trump says. “You know it’s a very big decision because every president for the last number of presidents, large number, they’ve come in and they were going to do it and and then all of a sudden they decide they don’t want to get involved.”

Pushed on whether he thought it was likely he would decide to go ahead with the move, Trump says, “I’ve always liked the concept of doing it, I’ll tell you that. I’ll have a decision in the not too distant future. There’s certainly a chance of it, absolutely, but we’re doing very detailed studies on that and we’ll come out very soon.”

AG closes graft investigation into Herzog

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announces he is closing a criminal investigation into opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog over suspected campaign financing irregularities.

The suspicions, which surfaced in May 2016, hinged on direct payments made by donors to members of Herzog’s leadership campaign.

According to a statement released by the Attorney General’s office, Mandelblit did not find enough evidence for an indictment.

The investigation dealt with suspicions surrounding the 2013 Labor Party primaries, in which Herzog beat incumbent Shelly Yachimovich for the leadership. That probe has not been upgraded to a full-blown investigation. Herzog was also suspected of failing to report a donation and of making a false statement to the Central Elections Committee.

New director of Defense Ministry’s Political-Military Affairs Bureau

Col. (res.) Zohar Palti will take over for Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad as director of the Defense Ministry’s Political-Military Affairs Bureau, pending government approval.

Palti was recommended for the position by a committee led by Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Adam.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman accepted the nomination and is expected to bring the issue before the government for final approval shortly.

Gilad has served in the role since 2003. Before joining the Defense Ministry, he served in a number of senior positions in the IDF — head of Military Intelligence’s lauded Research Division, IDF spokesperson and military secretary of the prime minister.

Amos Gilad (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Amos Gilad. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

In a statement, Liberman thanks Gilad for his years of service, saying the fruits of his labor “will remain with us for years to come.

Palti served in Military Intelligence before moving to the Mossad.

Liberman notes that Palti will be entering into the position at a time of upheaval in the world order, in general, and in the Middle East, specifically.

“I believe that Palti will be able to contribute meaningfully to that,” he says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Police now say just 1 suspect in Quebec mosque attack

Quebec police now say just one of the individuals arrested in connection with Canadian mosque attack is considered a suspect, while the other man is considered a witness.

Police didn’t say which one remains the suspect in the Sunday night attack which killed six people and injured more than a dozen others.

Court clerk Isabelle Ferland earlier identified Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed el Khadir as the suspects.

— AP

Trump calls Trudeau to express condolences on mosque attack

US President Donald Trump has called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to express condolences about the Quebec City mosque attack that killed six.

Trudeau’s office says Trump expressed his condolences to Trudeau and the Canadian people and offered to provide any assistance needed.

— AP

Eiffel Tower to be lit in honor of Quebec mosque attack victims

The mayor of Paris says that the lights on the Eiffel Tower will be switched off at midnight to honor the victims of the attack on a Canadian mosque in which six people died.

In a tweet Monday, Anne Hidalgo says the action would send a “fraternal message to everyone in Quebec and in Canada.”

The lights on the iconic Paris monument will be turned off from midnight.

–AP

80% reduction in plastic bag use a month after charge introduced

Israeli supermarkets have seen an 80 percent reduction in plastic bag use, a month after a law went into effect charging customers to use them, Channel 2 news reports.

The new law, which went into effect on January 1, requires supermarkets to charge 10 agorot (almost $0.04) per plastic bag.

According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, before the new law, the average Israeli used 275 plastic bags per year, which adds up to about two to three billion plastic bags across the country each year. This accounts for approximately 7% of Israel’s waste.

A supermarket worker packing plastic bags at the Rami Levi supermarket in Talpiot, Jerusalem, September 3, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A supermarket worker packing plastic bags at the Rami Levi supermarket in Talpiot, Jerusalem, September 3, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The law requires supermarkets to purchase the plastic bags at 10 agorot per bag, and pass that cost on to their customers. The law is only applicable to major supermarket chains. Local convenience stores and open-air markets are not required to charge customers for bags.

New documents prove German shipbuilder bribed Israeli officials — report

New documents collected by the German newspaper Handelsblatt prove systematic corruption by German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp and Israeli officials dating back to 2004, Channel 2 news reports.

The documents contain details of bribes paid by the company to Israeli naval and government officials, the report says.

Netanyahu’s conduct in the purchase of vessels from ThyssenKrupp is currently being reviewed by police, in one of the probes that have been launched into his affairs.

Known as Case 3000, it involves allegations that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer swayed the multi-billion-shekel deals in favor of ThyssenKrupp, which he represented in Israel. Police are checking whether the premier himself sought to influence the deals due to his ties to the attorney, David Shimron.

US officials say Iran defied UN resolution, tested ballistic missile — report

US officials say that Iran has conducted a ballistic missile test in a violation of a United Nations resolution, Fox News reports.

The launch occurred on Sunday at a test site outside Semnan, about 140 miles east of Tehran, the report says. The Iranians are said to have fired a Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile. Officials told Fox that it flew 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle.

According to UN resolution 2231, which went into effect on July 20, 2015, Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Netanyahu calls for new sanctions on Iran in response to ballistic missile test

Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu calls to renew sanctions on Iran after a reported ballistic missile test over the weekend.

“Iran has again fired a ballistic missile in callous defiance of a UN resolution,” Netanyahu writes on Facebook. “In my coming meeting in Washington with President Trump, I plan to raise the issue of renewing sanctions against Iran in relation to this and other things.”

“We cannot allow Iranian aggression to go unanswered,” he adds.

UN says Trump will allow its staff back in country

The United Nations says it has received assurances that the Trump administration’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries will not affect UN staff members from those countries.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said a handful of UN staff members traveling on G-4 visas — which allow non-diplomats to work at UN headquarters in New York — were kept from boarding planes over the weekend.

But Dujarric said he was informed Monday that “all issues had been ironed out and we got the needed assurances from the US Mission” that staff from the seven countries with valid G-4 visas can return to work at the United Nations.

Dujarric reiterated that the UN “very much hopes that the measures put in place regarding refugees are temporary,” saying “the US has been a critical partner of the United Nations organization…in resettling refugees.”

— AP

British Foreign Secretary says “all British passport holders remain welcome” in US

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says he has been assured by American officials that “all British passport holders remain welcome” in the United States, even if they are also nationals of seven countries temporarily barred by President Donald Trump.

Johnson has told lawmakers in the House of Commons that Trump’s executive order “will make no difference to any British passport holder, irrespective of their country of birth or whether they hold another passport.”

Confusion has reigned about whether dual nationals are affected by the 90-day ban on citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attends an EU foreign affairs council at the European Council, in Brussels, November 14, 2016. (AFP/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attends an EU foreign affairs council at the European Council, in Brussels, November 14, 2016. (AFP/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Johnson said the UK had told the Americans of “our anxiety about measures that discriminate on grounds of nationality.” He said “this is something that we do not support.”

Opposition lawmakers are demanding the government condemn the ban even more strongly and cancel a state visit to Britain by Trump planned for later this year.

— AP

Ownership of Hitler’s house to go to Austrian court

An Austrian newspaper reports that the owner of the house where Adolf Hitler was born is going to high court to challenge the government’s right to take possession of the property.

The challenge is in response to last month’s parliamentary approval of a government bill to expropriate the house after she refused to sell it.

The daily Kurier, in a report for its Tuesday edition, says owner Gerlinde Pommer has asked Austria’s Constitutional Court to rule against the government move.

Adolf Hitler's birth house in Braunau am Inn, Austria. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Adolf Hitler’s birth house in Braunau am Inn, Austria. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Hitler was born in 1889 in the house in Braunau am Inn, a town on the German border.

Officials want to remodel the property’s facade to eliminate its draw as a shrine for admirers of the Nazi dictator and to offer it to an agency that runs workshops for disabled people.

— AP

Poland puts detailed list of Auschwitz SS guards online

Historians in Poland put online what they say is the most complete list of Nazi SS commanders and guards at the Auschwitz concentration camp in hopes some of them can still be brought to justice.

The state-run Institute of National Remembrance says that the SS KL Auschwitz Garrison list is based on data from archives in Poland, Germany, Austria, the United States and, to a limited extent, Russia, where archives remain mostly inaccessible.

The work of historian Aleksander Lasik, the institute and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, it has more than 8,500 entries. It is based on a list that Lasik built during more than 30 years of archival research.

“The world justice system has failed and I’m doing what a historian should do: expose the responsible individuals as war criminals,” Lasik says.

Lasik’s full database includes more than 25,000 names of guards from various German-run camps. The list is not complete and his search continues, Lasik tells The Associated Press. Up to 200 former guards at the German death camp could still be living, he says.

— AP

White House says Trump to host Netanyahu on February 15

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Washington, DC to meet with President Donald Trump on February 15, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announces.

The tête-à-tête between the two leaders will be their first since the president assumed power. They had their first phone call on January 22, in which they discussed the Iranian threat and Mideast peace process, according to readouts from both the White House and Prime Minister’s Office.

One subject certain to come up is Trump’s campaign pledge to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a proposal welcomed by Jerusalem. Since moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, however, Trump has wavered on that promise. “We’re doing very detailed studies on that and we’ll come out very soon,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network on Friday. “I hate to do that because that’s not usually me: studies. It’s usually, I do what’s right. But this has two sides to it. Not easy.”

— Eric Cortellessa

White House says ‘looking into’ Iranian ballistic missile test

White House press secretary Sean Spicer says the US administration is “looking into” reports that Iran tested a ballistic missile in disregard to a UN resolution.

“We’re aware that Iran fired that missile. We’re looking into the exact nature of it and I’ll try to have more for you later,” he tells press during a briefing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called to renew sanctions on Iran after the reported missile test.

“Iran has again fired a ballistic missile in callous defiance of a UN resolution,” Netanyahu wrote on Facebook. “In my coming meeting in Washington with President Trump, I plan to raise the issue of renewing sanctions against Iran in relation to this and other things.”

‘The president went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust,’ White House says

Responding to criticism over a statement President Donald Trump made on Holocaust Remembrance Day omitting the mention of Jews, White House press secretary says the Jewish people have no better friend.

“He’s aware of what people have been saying. But I think, by and large, he’s been praised for it. I think the president recognized the tremendous loss of life that came from the Holocaust, but I think with respect to, you know, Israel and the Jewish people specifically, there’s been no better friend than Donald Trump when it comes to protecting Israel, building a better friendship with Israel,” Spicer says.

“You look at what Prime Minister Netanyahu’s talked about. He welcomes this administration. He appreciates the friendship and respect that he has shown to Israel and to the Jewish people.”

Administration officials have said they were intending to highlight the fact that the Nazis had many victims, not just Jews, and that they had “no regrets” about the formulation.

“I gotta be honest,” Spicer says, “I mean, the president went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust and the suffering that went through it and the people that were affected by it and the loss of life, and to make sure that America never forgets what so many people through, whether they were Jews or gypsies, gays, disability, priests.”

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