Abbas: 2017 will be the year of Palestinian statehood
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Abbas: 2017 will be the year of Palestinian statehood

PA leader tells Fatah congress that party will step up 'popular peaceful resistance,' but is opposed to terrorism

  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures after delivering a speech on the second day of the 7th Fatah Congress in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 30, 2016. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures after delivering a speech on the second day of the 7th Fatah Congress in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 30, 2016. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
  • A member of the Fatah party reacts at the end of a speech delivered by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the second day of the party's 7th congress in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 30, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI)
    A member of the Fatah party reacts at the end of a speech delivered by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the second day of the party's 7th congress in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 30, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI)
  • Syrian residents fleeing the eastern part of Aleppo sit on the side of the road after arriving at the Jabal Badro crossing point, which was recently retaken from rebel fighters by the regime forces, on November 30, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/George OURFALIAN)
    Syrian residents fleeing the eastern part of Aleppo sit on the side of the road after arriving at the Jabal Badro crossing point, which was recently retaken from rebel fighters by the regime forces, on November 30, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/George OURFALIAN)
  • President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a prayer service attended by thousands of Ethiopian Jews to mark the Sigd holiday, on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a prayer service attended by thousands of Ethiopian Jews to mark the Sigd holiday, on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)
  • Ethiopian Israelis take part in a prayer service for the Sigd holiday on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    Ethiopian Israelis take part in a prayer service for the Sigd holiday on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)
  • Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the Sderot Conference for Society at Sapir College in southern Israel on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Flash90)
    Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the Sderot Conference for Society at Sapir College in southern Israel on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Flash90)
  • Family and friends attend the funeral of Chen Bloch,10, a day after he was killed by a police car in the Tekoa settlement, on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
    Family and friends attend the funeral of Chen Bloch,10, a day after he was killed by a police car in the Tekoa settlement, on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

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

East Jerusalem man jailed for 16 years for stabbing attack

A resident of East Jerusalem is jailed for 16 years for stabbing and wounding an ultra-Orthodox man in the capital in May.

Jerusalem District Court hands down the sentence to the man from the Abu Dis neighborhood, who was found guilty of attempted murder, illegally entering Israel, and being in possession of a knife.

Palestinian detained over possible link to Nataf fire

A Palestinian is arrested and handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning in possible connection with a fire that broke out last week near Nataf, outside Jerusalem, officials say.

According to media reports, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services believe the fire in Nataf, which destroyed dozens of homes, was caused by a Molotov cocktail thrown over the security fence from the nearby Palestinian village of Qatane.

Fire fighters try to extinguish a wildfire which broke out at the entrance to Nataf, in the Jerusalem hills, on November 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Firefighters try to extinguish a wildfire which broke out at the entrance to Nataf, in the Jerusalem hills, on November 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A spokesperson for the fire department declines to confirm the allegation, directing The Times of Israel to the office of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who also declines to comment.

The police are similarly tight-lipped on the arrest. But the Shin Bet security service acknowledges that a Palestinian from Qatane has been brought in for questioning.

However, the agency says, it “cannot yet connect him to the incident.”

Additional details about the Palestinian suspect, namely his age, are being kept quiet, the Shin Bet says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Trump ‘leaving businesses to focus on presidency’

Donald Trump tweets that he will be leaving his businesses in order to focus on running country as president.

“I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” the president-elect says in a series of tweets.

“While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”

2 Israelis, 2 Palestinians arrested for weapons smuggling

Border Police detain two Israelis and two Palestinians on suspicion of weapons trafficking and smuggling.

The suspects are part of a network that allegedly smuggled weapons and ammunition into the Palestinian Authority.

Two of the suspects are believed to have obtained large quantities of weapons and ammunition, some of it stolen from the IDF, and transported them to the West Bank.

Police suspected the munitions were meant to be used in attacks against Israeli security forces and civilians.

The investigation into the affair is ongoing.

— Judah Ari Gross

Bennett threatens government unity over delay to Regulation Bill

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett threatens to break ranks with the coalition government until the passage of legislation that retroactively legalizes settlements and outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land.

The voting on the so-called Regulation Bill, which was drafted by a Jewish Home MK, was suspended earlier today due to opposition from Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu).

“I informed the cabinet that we will not cooperate with the coalition until the Regulation Bill is passed,” Bennett says, according to Army Radio. “If Kahlon does not accept coalition discipline, then neither will we.”

Trump taps Treasury and Commerce secretaries

Donald Trump names his campaign finance chairman Steve Mnuchin as Treasury secretary and billionaire businessman Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary.

Steven Mnuchin speaking at City Harvest: An Event Of Practical Magic in New York City, April 24, 2014. (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for City Harvest)

Steven Mnuchin speaking at City Harvest: An Event Of Practical Magic in New York City, April 24, 2014. (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for City Harvest)

Mnuchin and Ross are asked in an interview with CNBC whether they can confirm the nominations.

“We can, indeed. We’re thrilled to be here and we’re thrilled to work for the president-elect and honored to have these positions,” Mnuchin says.

Mnuchin, 53, who is Jewish, made his fortune as a banker for Goldman Sachs, and has also helmed smaller banks and produced blockbusters like “Avatar” and the “X-Men” movies.

— AFP, JTA

Rivlin: State must free Avraham Mengistu from Hamas

President Reuven Rivlin says Israel is duty-bound to secure the release of one of its citizens who has been held by Hamas in Gaza for more than two years.

Avraham Mengistu, 30, disappeared in September 2014 and the Palestinian terror group confirmed in April that it is holding him. The Ethiopian-born Israeli is said to have mental health problems.

Avraham Mengistu, undated. (Courtesy of the Mengistu family via AP)

Avraham Mengistu, undated. (Courtesy the Mengistu family via AP)

Speaking at a prayer service in Jerusalem to mark the Ethiopian Israeli holiday of Sigd, Rivlin says: “We pray here together to see the speedy release of Avraham and his return to his family and the bosom of his people.”

The president also honors the Sigd festival, which celebrates Ethiopian Jewry’s connection and commitment to Israel, calling it “part of the cultural mosaic of the entire Jewish people.”

As well as Megistu, Hamas holds Hisham al-Sayed, a mentally ill Israeli Bedouin who wandered into Gaza in April 2015 and has not been heard from since, and the remains of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, Israeli soldiers who were killed in action in Gaza in the 2014 war.

Rivlin vows at the prayer service that Israel “will not rest until the boys [Goldin and Shaul] are returned to Israel for burial.”

Arab Israeli arrested for trying to join IS

The police and Shin Bet announce the recent arrest of an Israeli citizen from the Arab town of Jaljulia for allegedly supporting Islamic State and planning to join the organization in Syria.

The suspect was a minor at the time the alleged offenses were committed.

Police say the arrest came after security forces received intelligence information indicating that the suspect intended to leave for Syria. The investigators found that the suspect recently became more religious, and began to make contact with IS fighters in Syria. He allegedly told the fighters that he wished to join the organization there.

— Judah Ari Gross

Top Australian rabbis urge yeshiva officials to quit over child abuse report

The Rabbinical Councils of Australia and New Zealand, New South Wales, and Victoria call on officials at Yeshiva Bondi and Yeshivah Melbourne to step down after a government report released yesterday finds they discouraged members of the Jewish community from reporting allegations of child sexual abuse against their employees.

In a joint statement, the rabbis say: “Child sexual abuse has caused unimaginable suffering to the victims in our community, and RCANZ, RCNSW and RCV and their members are totally committed to removing this scourge from our community and from our institutions. We offer our deepest sympathies to the victims and commit ourselves to learning from the failures of the past.

“As the Royal Commission has made clear, child sexual abuse was allowed to continue because of actions and inaction by some rabbis and community leaders… We call on those who have been identified in the report as not fulfilling their legal obligations to protect children to stand down from their public positions.”

— JTA

Millions of Google accounts on Android phones hacked — experts

Millions of Google accounts have been hacked by new malware that attacks Android phones, Israeli software security company Check Point warns.

The malware allows hackers to gain complete control of the phones and steal user information and passwords.

Check Point experts who discovered the hack say some 13,000 phones are being infiltrated every day, Channel 10 reports.

Lighter in hand in Knesset, Likud MK urges revenge for ‘arson terrorism’

Likud MK Oren Hazan takes to the podium in the Knesset brandishing a lighter and demands revenge for what some politicians have branded “arson terrorism” during the wave of recent wildfires that swept the country.

Hazan calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to work together on the issue.

“We aren’t going to check tree by tree, leaf by leaf.. what was arson, what was wind,” he says.

“I’ve got the new weapon of the terrorists,” he continues, pulling out the lighter.

“With this they set fire to the whole country… An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is not far from the reality,” he says, holding the flame aloft.

The lighter is taken from him by a security officer.

Likud MK Oren Hazan holds up a lighter in the Knesset plenum on November 30, 2016, calling it the 'new weapon of terrorists' amid claims that arson caused at least some of the recent wave of wildfires to hit the country (screen capture: Channel 10)

Likud MK Oren Hazan holds up a lighter in the Knesset plenum on November 30, 2016, calling it the ‘new weapon of terrorists’ amid claims that arson caused at least some of the recent wave of wildfires to hit the country (screen capture: Channel 10)

 

UN strengthens North Korea sanctions over nuke test

The United Nations Security Council votes unanimously to tighten sanctions against North Korea following its most recent nuclear test, placing a cap on Pyongyang’s coal exports to China.

South Korean soldiers watch a television broadcast reporting on North Korea's latest nuclear test, at a railway station in Seoul on September 9, 2016. (AFP Photo/Yonhap/STR)

South Korean soldiers watch a television broadcast reporting on North Korea’s latest nuclear test, at a railway station in Seoul on September 9, 2016. (AFP Photo/Yonhap/STR)

The new sanctions resolution, spearheaded by the United States and coming after three months of tough negotiations with fellow veto-wielding council member China, passes by a 15-0 vote. It condemns “in the strongest terms” North Korea’s test on September 9.

The resolution aims to curb North Korea’s coal exports — the top external revenue source for the impoverished state — by more than 60 percent, says a US official.

— AFP

Israeli soccer games to honor Brazil crash victims

Upcoming soccer games in Israel will include a moment of silence for the Brazilian players who perished in a plane crash yesterday in Colombia.

Rescue workers search at the wreckage site of a chartered airplane that crashed outside Medellin, Colombia, on Tuesday November 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Luis Benavides)

Rescue workers search at the wreckage site of a chartered airplane that crashed outside Medellin, Colombia, on Tuesday November 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Luis Benavides)

Just six of the 77 people on board survived the crash of the charter flight, which was taking players and coaches from the Chapecoense soccer team for a match against Colombia’s Atletico Nacional.

The gesture comes at the request of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Channel 2 reports.

“Every sports fan in Israel stands by your side at this difficult time,” Kahlon tells his Brazilian counterpart.

Over 600 Jewish clerics pledge to press Trump on human rights

More than 600 rabbis and cantors sign a pledge to hold the Trump administration accountable for protecting the human rights and civil liberties of all people.

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights is circulating the pledge, which was posted on the organization’s website two weeks ago. It had garnered 635 signatures as of this morning.

A woman protests against US President-elect Donald Trump in front of Trump Tower on November 20, 2016 in New York. (AFP/Kena Betancur)

A woman protests against US President-elect Donald Trump in front of Trump Tower on November 20, 2016 in New York. (AFP/Kena Betancur)

“As rabbis and cantors, we fervently pledge to raise our voices, and those of our communities, to hold the new administration accountable for protecting the human rights and civil liberties of all people as precious creations in the divine image,” the pledge reads.

“Jewish history has taught us that fascism arrives slowly, through the steady erosion of liberties. And we have learned that those who attack other minorities will eventually come to attack us. To our great dismay, we learned this truth again when, during this election campaign, anti-Semitism rose to the fore, along with racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, and homophobia.”

— JTA

West Bank mayor to Israel: Stop building on private land

The head of a Palestinian village in the West Bank calls on Israel to halt the construction of temporary homes for Amona settlers evacuated ahead of the upcoming demolition of the outpost.

In a letter sent to the attorney general, state prosecutor and settler leaders, the mayor of Silwad says that the homes are being built illegally on private Palestinian land with the intention of thwarting a High Court ruling against such construction.

The court has ordered the outpost, which is also built on private Palestinian land, to be demolished by December 25.

Rivlin: Local councils should decide on Shabbat buses

Rivlin says the decision on whether to operate public transportation on Shabbat should be made by local authorities, not the government.

“I am not asking to solve the things that cannot be solved, just asking to ponder whether the time has come to move the debate about religion and state to the regional and community level. Maybe, just maybe, we can reach a compromise that is better for all sides,” says the president at an international forum on secularism, Ynet reports.

“It is clear that when public transport on Shabbat is a question on the national level, we are being dragged into a zero-sum game between ‘the State of Tel Aviv’ and ‘the State of Bnei Brak,” the president says, referring to two central cities known for their secularism and orthodoxy, respectively.

“We all understand that these two important cities in Israel can have excellent neighborly relations if we would only grant them a mandate to make the decisions that are right for them, away from the spotlight, spin and political constraints,” he adds.

Ex-security chief: Apparent IAF attack in Syria targeted Hezbollah arms

Israel’s former national security adviser, Maj. Gen (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, tells Army Radio that an attack attributed to the Israeli Air Force overnight in Syria likely aimed to prevent the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah.

“Israeli intelligence apparently identified an apparent transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Syria,” he says. “And the State of Israel… therefore took action over one of its stated red lines, as we have done in the past.”

Abbas set to address Fatah congress in Ramallah

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to address his Fatah party’s first congress since 2009.

The 81-year-old leader was re-elected head of Fatah as the congress opened yesterday, but speculation has mounted over who will eventually succeed him as president.

He has not publicly supported a successor.

Abbas had been expected at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) before some 1,400 delegates in Ramallah.

— AFP

OPEC reaches deal to cut oil output

The OPEC oil cartel reaches a deal to reduce its output for the first time in eight years, Qatar’s energy minister and president of the OPEC conference says.

The reduction by OPEC will be “1.2 million barrels per day, to bring its ceiling to 32.5 million barrels per day,” Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada tells a news conference in Vienna.

He says that non-member Russia has also committed to reducing its output by 300,000 barrels per day, half of a hoped-for 600,000 barrels per day from outside the cartel.

The move aims to stabilize the global oil market, NPR reports.

— AFP

Spanish police arrest 2 Moroccans for suspected IS links

Spanish police arrested two Moroccans for suspected links to the Islamic State group, including one who was allegedly studying intensely on the internet to carry out attacks against civilians, the Interior Ministry says.

A ministry statement says a Moroccan arrested in the central town of Aranjuez spent many hours viewing and spreading IS-related video material and displayed a fanaticism that fit the profile of a dangerous “lone actor” recruited to carry out attacks.

The ministry says much of the material he received and sent concerned Osama bin Laden and four extremists who blew themselves up in Spain in 2004 following the Madrid train attacks.

It later says police arrested another Moroccan who had traveled to Turkey recently to join IS in Syria but was sent back by Turkish authorities.

— AP

Creator of McDonald’s Big Mac dies at 98

Michael “Jim” Delligatti, the Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s franchisee who created the famous Big Mac nearly 50 years ago, dies at the age of 98.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Kerry Ford confirms that Delligatti died at home surrounded by his family on Monday night.

Delligatti’s franchise was based in Uniontown when he invented the chain’s signature burger with two all-beef patties, “special sauce,” lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun.

— AP

Check Point security chief: 1,000 Israelis hit in new Google hack

The head of security for Check Point says at least 1,000 Israelis have been targeted in the new hack of Google accounts on Android phones, Army Radio reports.

The software company announced earlier today that it had discovered the new malware, and said more than a million people were affected.

Abbas: Next Fatah congress will be in Jerusalem, capital of Palestine

Abbas says in his opening remarks at the Fatah congress in Ramallah that the next one will take place in the city of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of a Palestinian state.

He tells the current congress, the first since 2009, will serve to strengthen Fatah and end internal party conflicts.

— Dov Lieber

Trump shortlists four for secretary of state

Trump is weighing four finalists to lead the State Department, one of the most powerful and prominent Cabinet positions.

Spokesman Jason Miller says Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are on the short list. A separate transition official says Trump is also considering former CIA Director David Petraeus and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker for the job.

President-elect Donald Trump (R) and Mitt Romney dine at Trump International Hotel in New York on November 29, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

President-elect Donald Trump (R) and Mitt Romney dine at Trump International Hotel in New York on November 29, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

A decision on the secretary of state post is not believed to be imminent.

Trump held a private dinner with Romney last night, their second meeting to discuss the Cabinet position. He also met with Corker and Petraeus this week.

Giuliani was initially seen as a lock for the State Department, but questions about his international business ties and his public campaigning for the job are said to have given Trump pause.

— AP

Celebrity-backed Palestinian cinema closes

One of the best-known cinemas in the Palestinian territories closes after running out of money, organizers says, six years after a grand reopening ceremony backed by international celebrities.

Demolition work had begun on Cinema Jenin after it failed to attract enough customers in recent years, says German director Marcus Vetter, one of those behind the 2010 relaunch supported by rock musician Roger Waters and human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger.

The cinema, the last in Jenin in the northern West Bank, was also used as a cultural center and theater but is now expected to be replaced by a mall.

“It is a very disappointing and sad moment,” says Vetter, explaining the heirs of the original owners had sold it for about 1.7 million euros ($1.8 million).

Built in 1957, Cinema Jenin was considered to be one of the largest and most impressive cinemas in the Palestinian territories but it shut down after the first intifada began in 1987.

— AFP

Abbas praises Oslo, says it led to leadership return from Tunisia

Despite talk of moving away from 1993 Oslo Accords with Israel, Abbas tells the Fatah congress that the agreement “paved the way for our return [from Tunisia], for what is happening right now as we are gathered here in Ramallah.”

Pelosi re-elected as leader of House Democrats

Democrat Nancy Pelosi wins re-election as minority leader in the US House of Representatives, fending off a strong challenge by a younger lawmaker who called for a change after the party’s poor election performance.

“Honored to be elected by my colleagues to serve as Democratic Leader. Let’s get to work,” the 76-year-old Pelosi says on Twitter, after winning the internal party vote 134 to 63.

She survived a challenge from congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio to extend her 13-year grip on party control in the chamber.

The seven-term lawmaker Ryan, 43, drew support from several Democrats disgruntled by their party’s loss in the November 8 presidential election and their failure to gain back many seats in Congress.

— AFP

Abbas at Fatah congress: We will seek full UN membership

Abbas tells the Fatah congress in Ramallah that he intends to secure full UN membership for the State of Palestine.

“We will go to the UN Security Council to ask for full membership,” he says. “We must get it.”

Toronto students boycott vote on Holocaust Education Week

Students at Ryerson University in Toronto stage a walkout rather than vote on a resolution to commemorate Holocaust Education Week.

Local members of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association reportedly stage the walkout during the semiannual general meeting of the Ryerson Student Union. B’nai Brith Canada says the meeting lost its quorum as a result.

Ryerson University in Toronto (screen capture: YouTube)

Ryerson University in Toronto (screen capture: YouTube)

The resolution, which was submitted by a member of the Ryerson Hillel Jewish students’ group, called on the Student Union to offer annual Holocaust education programs to emphasize “the value of pluralism and the acceptance of diversity.” There was no mention of Israel.

The Ryerson Student Union voted to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel in April 2014. The resolution prohibits the student group from having ties with companies that do business in Israel, including Home Depot, Costco and Sears, and removed Sabra hummus from the campus cafeteria.

“What starts with BDS does not end with BDS,” says Amanda Hohmann, national director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “More often than not, BDS is simply a gateway drug to more blatant forms of anti-Semitism.”

— JTA

Abbas to Fatah: Israel will leave settlements eventually

Abbas tells crowd at the Fatah congress in Ramallah to have patience, as Israel will leave its West Bank settlements eventually.

“Sharon left Gaza even though he considered it sacred land,” he says, referring to then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s evacuation of the settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005.

 

UN warns of ‘giant graveyard’ as thousands flee Aleppo fighting

The UN’s aid chief warns that Aleppo risks becoming a “giant graveyard” after more than 50,000 people are reported to have fled intense fighting between government and rebel forces.

A Syrian government offensive to retake all of the divided city has battered Aleppo in recent days, with regime shelling on an opposition-controlled area reported to have killed at least 26 civilians.

Speaking to a special Security Council session by video-link from London, Stephen O’Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, appeals for action to stop the fighting.

“For the sake of humanity we call on — we plead — with the parties and those with influence to do everything in their power to protect civilians and enable access to the besieged part of eastern Aleppo before it becomes one giant graveyard,” he says.

Syrian residents fleeing the eastern part of Aleppo sit on the side of the road after arriving at the Jabal Badro crossing point, which was recently retaken from rebel fighters by the regime forces, on November 30, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/George OURFALIAN)

Syrian residents fleeing the eastern part of Aleppo sit on the side of the road after arriving at the Jabal Badro crossing point, which was recently retaken from rebel fighters by the regime forces, on November 30, 2016. (AFP/George Ourfalian)

— AFP

Dozens protest Amona evacuation in West Bank

Police arrest two Jewish teenagers among dozens who burned tires and blocked Route 60 near the Ofra settlement in the West Bank, in an apparent protest against the evacuation of the illegal Amona outpost.

According to police, several dozen young Israelis barricaded the highway with stones, before officers could reopen the roadway.

Two of the protesters were arrested for disturbing the peace, while the rest dispersed.

“The area is now quiet,” police say.

— Judah Ari Gross

Ex-PM aide said under house arrest over sexual assault claim

A former senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office, a close associate of Netanyahu, is under house arrest for five days over allegations of sexual assault and violence, Channel 2 reports.

The unnamed official is accused of attacking a performance artist about six weeks ago, after the two appeared at a conference together, the report says.

After the conference, the official reportedly offered the woman a ride back to the city in which they both live. The alleged victim says the man sat beside her in the back of the vehicle, plied her with alcohol and touched her against her will. He then allegedly took her to an apartment where other men were present and forced her to perform for them. The complainant says also he tried to kiss her against her will.

Channel 2 says that the complaint has been under investigation in secret for more than a month. According to the report, the man was questioned under caution yesterday and later placed under house arrest.

Coca-Cola opens first factory in Gaza Strip

Coca-Cola says it has formally opened its first factory in the Gaza Strip, in a move that could create hundreds of jobs in the beleaguered Palestinian enclave.

The bottling facility was partially open for several months but begins full operations after a ceremony.

The $20-million investment is the company’s first plant in Gaza and will create around 120 jobs immediately, a statement says, with an eventual expansion to 270.

Zahi Khouri (Courtesy: Coca-Cola publicity)

Zahi Khouri (Courtesy: Coca-Cola publicity)

“The opening of our first Gaza plant is an important milestone,” says Zahi Khouri, the founder and chairman of National Beverage Company (NBC) responsible for Coca-Cola in the Palestinian territories.

“Our new Gaza plant shows our ongoing commitment to investing and supporting progress in communities around the world,” says Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent in a statement.

— AFP

Kahlon says Kulanu will oppose Regulation Bill

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon says his Kulanu party will oppose the so-called Regulation Bill, which aims to retroactively legalize settlements built on private Palestinian land.

Knesset voting on the legislation was delayed earlier today due to reservations by Kulanu. The party is opposed to the section of the bill that explicitly overturns a High Court ruling forbidding the expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land on which the Amona outpost sits.

The court has ruled that the outpost must be demolished by December 25. The legislation aims to overturn that decision.

Abbas: 2017 will be the year of Palestinian statehood

Abbas tells the Fatah congress in Ramallah that 2017 will be the “year of the Palestinian state, and end of the Israeli occupation.”

He says Fatah will step up “popular peaceful resistance” in all of its forms, and expresses the Palestinian Authority’s opposition to terrorism.

— Dov Lieber

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