Trump talks Mideast peace with Saudi Arabia’s new royal heir
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Live updates (closed)Latest: Netanyahu, Kushner agree: Mideast peace will ‘take time’

Trump talks Mideast peace with Saudi Arabia’s new royal heir

Iran’s Rouhani claims Mideast terrorism ‘benefits the Zionists’; PM, Kushner meet to advance Trump’s bid for Mideast peace; minister says Saudi royal family shakeup will bolster Israel ties

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman speak to the media in the Oval Office at the White House, on March 14, 2017. (AFP/ Nicholas Kamm)
    US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman speak to the media in the Oval Office at the White House, on March 14, 2017. (AFP/ Nicholas Kamm)
  • Newly re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gestures during a televised speech in the capital Tehran on May 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)
    Newly re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gestures during a televised speech in the capital Tehran on May 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)
  • US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem on June 21, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom)
    US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem on June 21, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom)
  • Communications Minister Ayoub Kara arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister office in Jerusalem on June 11, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
    Communications Minister Ayoub Kara arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister office in Jerusalem on June 11, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
  • Israeli Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel speaks at the Herzliya Conference in Herzliya, June 21, 2017. (Courtesy/Herzliya Conference)
    Israeli Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel speaks at the Herzliya Conference in Herzliya, June 21, 2017. (Courtesy/Herzliya Conference)
  • Police and forensic officers remove items during a house search in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Francois Walschaerts)
    Police and forensic officers remove items during a house search in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Francois Walschaerts)
  • US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner looks on as US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman holds a picture as they pay a condolence call to the bereaved family of slain police officer Hadas Malka on June 21, 2017. (Courtesy)
    US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner looks on as US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman holds a picture as they pay a condolence call to the bereaved family of slain police officer Hadas Malka on June 21, 2017. (Courtesy)

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

Kushner visits bereaved family of Hadas Malka

On the first stop on his one-day trip to Israel, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, visits the bereaved family of Hadas Malka, the border police offer who was killed in a terrorist attack on Friday.

According to reports, Kushner conveyed Trump’s personal condolences to the Malka family and asked to be briefed on the visit afterwards.

He is joined by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in making the condolence call.

Kushner is visiting the region with ambitious hopes of laying the groundwork for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

Queen’s Speech presents PM May’s bills to take Britain out of EU

UK Prime Minister Theresa May presents eight draft laws to take Britain out of the European Union in a legislative program read out in parliament by Queen Elizabeth II.

The laws include the “Great Repeal Bill” to overhaul existing EU legislation and separate bills on customs, trade, immigration, fisheries and agriculture.

The queen says the “Great Repeal Bill” would repeal the European Communities Act, the 1972 legislation that enshrined Britain’s membership of the European bloc.

“My government’s priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union,” the queen says in the speech.

She says her government would seek “to build the widest possible consensus on the country’s future outside the European Union,” amid divisions within her own cabinet over the best strategy.

— AFP

Air force chief boasts of ‘unimaginable’ power in future Lebanon war

The head Israeli air force says that in any future conflict with Lebanon the Jewish state will have “unimaginable” military power at its disposal.

Major General Amir Eshel tells a security conference that Israel’s armed forces now have far more punch than they did in the 2006 war against Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

“What the air force was able to do quantitatively in the… Lebanon war over the course of 34 days we can do today in 48-60 hours,” he tells the conference at Herzliya, near Tel Aviv.

“This is potential power unimaginable in its scope, much different to what we have seen in the past and far greater than people estimate,” he adds.

— AFP

Homes, kindergarten in Hod Hasharon evacuated due to brush fire

Authorities are evacuating nearly a dozen homes and one kindergarten in Hod Hasharon as firefighters work to put out a brush fire in the city in central Israel.

No injures or damage is reported.

Suspected Jerusalem synagogue vandal arrested

A 38-year-old Jerusalem resident is arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a Nahlaot synagogue earlier today, police say in a statement.

According to police, the suspect was also behind a similar vandalism incident in northern Jerusalem earlier this month.

Police were called to the Lelov synagogue this morning after worshipers found swastikas daubed inside the building, and three holy books burned.

Kara: Saudi royal family shakeup will bolster Jerusalem-Riyadh ties

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara welcomes Saudi Arabia naming Mohammed Bin Salman as new crown prince, adding that he hopes the change will accelerate the kingdom’s rapprochement with Israel.

“Salman’s appointment means more economic cooperation in the Middle East, and not just regarding oil,” Kara says in a statement. “The strengthening of relations with the Trump government is the beginning of a new and optimistic time between Saudi Arabia and regional states, including Israel and the Jewish people.”

Kara’s remarks are the first response by an Israeli official following the shakeup in the Saudi royal family earlier today.

— Raphael Ahren

Hezbollah claims IDF soldiers sneaked into Lebanon to retrieve spying device

Hezbollah claims that 19 Israeli soldiers have sneaked into Lebanon in order to retrieve a spying device planted by Israel.

A tweet by the Hezbollah-linked account Electronic Resistance posts photos of what is says are IDF soldiers in Lebanese territory near the town of Meiss Ej Jabal, adjacent to the border with Israel.

Lebanon has claimed to uncover Israeli spying efforts in the past.

Israel does not, as a rule, comment on such claims.

Police raid home of Brussels attack suspect

Police in Belgium raid the home of the attack suspect who was killed last night at the Brussels Central Station and took bags full of evidence with them.

The raid was held in Molenbeek hours after the police had full details about the man who sought to explode a nail bomb in the station, but caused only two minor blasts. Soldiers killed the man after he charged at them shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”

The man was from the Molenbeek neighborhood, the home and transit point for many of the suspects linked to attacks in Brussels and in Paris in November 2015.

— AP

Kushner meets Netanyahu to advance Trump’s peace bid

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem.

Also attending the meeting are US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt.

Afterwards, Kushner will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank

Kushner arrived in Israel earlier for a daylong visit aimed at restarting long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

PM welcomes Kushner, hails ‘fantastic warmth’ during Trump visit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, to his office in Jerusalem.

“This is an opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace, and Jared I welcome you here in that spirit, I know of your efforts and the president’s efforts and I look forward to working with you to rech these common goals,” Netanyahu says.

He goes on to say that Trump’s visit to Israel last month was “historic trip, with fantastic warmth, and made an indelible impression on the people of Israel.”

Kushner in response tells Netanyahu that Trump sends “his best regards and it is an honor to be here.”

Attending the meeting is US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who tells Netanyahu “I missed you, It wasn’t the same in the States without you.”

Iranian president claims Israel supports, benefits from terrorism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calls for unity in the Muslim world, saying the global escalation of terrorism only serves to benefit Israel.

“It is clear that they (Israelis) support terrorism in the region,” Rouhani says in a cabinet meeting according to Iranian news outlets. “The more terrorist activities escalate in the region, the greater benefits the Zionists will gain.”

“Today, it happens rarely for Zionists not to have a hand, either behind the scenes or openly, in rifts among regional countries,” he says. “If we want to curb Zionism in the region, we should forge unity in the Islamic world and settle differences.”

Separately, Iranian Defense Minister General Hossein Dehghan says Israel is the root cause of all violence and extremism in the world.

“A world free of violence and extremism is parallel to a world free from the Zionist regime, a motto which will be broadcast by the Islamic world on Quds Day,” Dehghan says, adding that “today, roots of troubles, violence and insecurities in the Muslim world, as well as the whole world, can be traced in the fake and brutal Zionist regime and the US as its main sponsor.”

Rpouhani and Dehghan speak ahead of al-Quds Day, an annual holiday Iran says is designed to show support for the Palestinians and emphasize the importance of Jerusalem for Muslims.

Last year, a resolution passed by Iran on al-Quds Day called for the elimination of “the cancerous tumor of Israel,” and declares this “noble cause” as the top priority for the Muslim world.

Egypt top court suspends all rulings on islands transfer

Egypt’s top court suspends all previous rulings on whether Cairo can transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, as it considers who has legal jurisdiction.

In the latest twist in a long legal saga, a spokesman for the Constitutional Court says its chief judge has “issued a temporary order to halt the implementation of all rulings that were issued over the Tiran and Sanafir accord.”

The spokesman, Ragab Selim, tells AFP the suspension would last until the court could determine which of the legal rulings in the case “will be implemented and which was issued by the institution with jurisdiction.”

— AFP

FBI says shooting of GOP lawmakers not an act of terrorism

A gunman acted alone when he shot and wounded a top House Republican and four other people on a northern Virginia baseball field, the FBI says.

Tim Slater, the special agent in charge of the Washington FBI office, also says during a news conference that James T. Hodgkinson did not have any ties to terrorism.

Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, was gravely wounded in the shooting last week. He has undergone several surgeries and remains hospitalized. His condition has been upgraded to serious.

Michigan airport evacuated after police officer critically injured

The airport in Flint, Michigan, is evacuated after a police officer was critically injured, officials say.

Bishop International Airport posts on Facebook that the officer was hurt but offered no details about the incident. The post adds that passengers were safe and were being told to check for flight delays or cancellations.

Ken Brown tells The Flint Journal he was dropping off his daughter at the airport and saw the officer bleeding from his neck. He says he saw a man detained by police and a knife on the ground.

“The cop was on his hands and knees bleeding from his neck,” Brown says. “I said they need to get him a towel.”

On Twitter, Michigan State Police say the officer is in critical condition.

Airport and police officials didn’t immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Flint is about 50 miles northwest of Detroit.

— AP

Russia cancels meeting with US official over sanctions

Russia’s deputy foreign minister says he has cancelled upcoming talks with the US undersecretary of state over a new round of US sanctions against Russia.

The Trump administration announced yesterday that it has imposed sanctions on 38 Russian individuals and firms over Russia’s activities in Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry quotes Deputy Minister Sergey Ryabkov as saying that “the situation is not conducive to holding a round of this dialogue” that was scheduled for Friday and criticized the US for “not having offered and not offering anything specific” to discuss.

Russia-US relations have remained tense even as the White House considers scheduling US President Donald Trump’s meeting with Putin on the sidelines of next month’s Group of 20 meeting.

— AP

UK’s May apologizes for response to London high-rise fire

British Prime Minister Theresa May apologizes for the official response to a devastating fire in a London building that killed at least 79 people, saying it was “not good enough.”

“That was a failure of the state, local and national, to help people when they needed it most. As prime minister I apologies for that failure,” she tells parliament.

— AFP

Tel Avivians pause to stretch, pose for International Yoga Day

On the longest day of the year, hundreds of Tel Avivians stretch out their downward facing dogs on the largest yoga mat artwork in the world in Rabin Square, in honor of the third International Yoga Day.

Fifteen hundred yoga mats, creating a 1,400 square meter artwork, envisioned a colorful and rainy future Israel in the year 2048. It’s the third time Israel is celebrating International Yoga Day. Deputy Ambassador to India Anju Kumar said the embassy chose the Rabin Square site to honor the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make the first ever visit by an Indian prime minister to Israel in the first week of July.

Sharona Karni Cohen, an Israeli raised in London, oversaw the yoga art installation through her company Dreame, which commissions artists to draw personalized artwork and prints it on different items.

The United Nations in 2014 designated June 21, the longest day of the year, as International Yoga Day.

— Melanie Lidman

Brussels attacker appeared to have Islamic State sympathies

Belgian authorities find signs that the Brussels train station attacker supported the Islamic State group, and discovered explosives at his home, prosecutors say.

The 36-year-old Moroccan national identified only by the initials O.Z. was shot dead by a soldier at Brussels Central station on Tuesday after trying to detonate a nail bomb.

“The preliminary results of the search carried out in the residence of the suspect O.Z. in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, showed that he probably made the bomb there,” Belgian federal prosecutor’s spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said in a statement.

— AFP

Activists demand full inquiry into ‘Yemenite Children’s Affair’

Hundreds of activists gathered in central Jerusalem to protest what they say is the government’s insufficient response to the decades-long controversy known as the “Yemenite Children Affair.”

The activists are demanding a full inquiry into the alleged kidnapping of Yemenite immigrant children by Israeli authorities in the 1950s.

Disputed by scholars and seemingly refuted by probes, the case keeps resurfacing, not least because most of the families were not given their children’s bodies or informed of their burial places.

Netanayhu said to thaw East Jerusalem construction freeze

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly approves the construction of 5,000 apartments in Jewish neighborhoods beyond the Green Line.

The reports come as Netanyahu meets with US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, in Jerusalem.

Chanel 2 reports the 5,000 homes were part of the 6,000 apartments planned for East Jerusalem that Netanyahu froze in recent years.

Trump congratulates new Saudi crown prince, discusses Mideast peace

US President Donald Trump spoke today with Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to congratulate him on being named the new crown prince.

According to a statement from the White House, the two leaders discussed the “priority of cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists,” the ongoing dispute with Qatar, economic ties between Washington and Riyadh, as well as efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Kara’s public meeting with Arab leaders was unsanctioned — report

Likud Minister Ayoub Kara’s public meeting with Arab leaders in Ecuador last month was not coordinated or approved by the Prime Minister’s Office, according to Channel 2.

Kara had posted photos of himself with representatives from the Palestinian Authority along with delegates from Oman, Qatar and Yemen and other Arab nations as well as the prime minister of the Sahrawi Republic of southern Morocco, Abdelkader Taleb Omar.

Foreign Ministry officials told the TV station that Kara spoke to the leaders in Arabic, and boasted of Israel’s secret ties with Saudi Arabia.

Likud Minister Ayoub Kara (r) meets with representatives from Oman, Yemen and Qatar in Ecuador on May 24, 2017. (Courtesy)
Likud Minister Ayoub Kara (r) meets with representatives from Oman, Yemen and Qatar in Ecuador on May 24, 2017. (Courtesy)

They declined to say how a minister could have attended an official function abroad without receiving a briefing beforehand.

Kara dismissed the report, chalking it up to an effort to thwart his efforts to strengthen Israel’s ties with the Arab world.

“Its unfortunate that time and again my image as a representative of the Israeli government is tarnished, where I strive to advance peace between Israel and the Arab world,” he says in a statement.

US-Israeli JCC bomb hoaxer reportedly had accomplice

The Israeli-American teenager suspected of making hundreds of bomb threat calls to American Jewish institutions over the last several months, had an accomplice who helped him carry out

According to Channel 2, the 18-year-old from Ashkelon passed along personal information about Republican State Senator Ernesto Lopez from Delaware to his partner, who threatened the senator’s family and attempted to extort him.

A report on the TV station airs recordings of the conversions, in which the partner can be heard threatening to murder the Lopez’s wife and children if he failed to pay $8,000.

Netanyahu, Kushner agree: Mideast peace will ‘take time’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, today “reaffirmed their commitment” to advancing Washington’s goal of brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

During the “productive meeting,” Netanyahu and Kushner “discuss Israel’s priorities and potential next steps…acknowledging the critical role Israel plays in the security of the region,” according to a statement from the White House.

“The United States officials and Israeli leadership underscored that forging peace will take time and the importance of doing everything possible to create an environment conducive to peacemaking,” the statement says.

Also attending the earlier meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office is US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt.

Kushner is also meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank

He arrived in Israel earlier today for a day-long visit aimed at restarting long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

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