The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
UNESCO adopts controversial resolution on Jerusalem holy sites
The UNESCO executive board approves a controversial resolution that disregards Jewish and Christian historical ties to Jerusalem holy sites.
“It was adopted,” a UNESCO spokesman says of the resolution that last week led Israel to suspend cooperation with the Paris-based agency.
The resolution, sponsored by several Arab countries and passed last Thursday in the committee stage of the UN cultural body, referred to the Temple Mount and Western Wall only by their Muslim names and condemned Israel as “the occupying power” for various actions taken at both sites.
Russia, Syria halt Aleppo airstrikes ahead of truce
Russia’s defense minister says Russian and Syrian warplanes have halted their airstrikes on Syria’s besieged city of Aleppo in preparation for a temporary truce that Moscow has announced for later in the week.
Sergei Shoigu says the halt in the strikes should help pave way for militants to leave the eastern rebel-held parts of the contested city.
Both Russian and Syrian air raids on Aleppo were suspended at 10 a.m., Shoigu says, describing the suspension as a precursor for the opening of humanitarian corridors.
Moscow yesterday announced a “humanitarian pause” between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday to allow civilians and militants safe passage out of the city.
At that time, Russian and Syrian militaries will desist from any offensive actions. Syrian rebels, including al-Qaeda militants, as well as the wounded and the sick will be allowed to leave to the neighboring rebel-held province of Idlib.
2 lightly hurt as car is stoned in East Jerusalem
Two people are lightly hurt when stones are thrown at an Israeli car in the A-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem, police say.
The two are treated at the scene by Magen David Adom rescue personnel, and security forces begin a search for the perpetrators.
Deputy Knesset speaker joins rally at border to protest Syria violence
Deputy Knesset Speaker Hilik Bar of Labor attends a rally on the Syrian border calling for peace in the war-torn neighboring country and an end to attacks on the civilian population.
“Enough with the unbearable barbarism, enough with the world’s roaring silence toward the horror scenes that Syria provides on a daily basis,” Bar says.
“As an Israeli and a Jew, and mostly as the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor… I feel the obligation to shout out ‘Enough!’ The world has to take an immediate action to put an end to the cruel massacre happening as we speak in Syria,” he adds. “The world must wake up now!”
PA envoy: UNESCO vote on Jerusalem reminds Israel it is occupier
The Palestinian Authority’s deputy ambassador to UNESCO, Mounir Anastas, tells reporters the newly approved UNESCO vote on Jerusalem “reminds Israel that they are the occupying power in East Jerusalem and it asks them to stop all their violations.”
These violations include archaeological excavations around religious sites, Anastas says.
The resolution effectively disregards Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem holy sites, and has led Israel to cut ties with the cultural body.
Man lightly hurt in stone-throwing attack in Jerusalem
One person is lightly hurt when he is hit by stones near the Lions’ Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, police say.
The man is treated at the scene and security forces begin a search for those involved in the incident.
Battle for Mosul could take months, France warns
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the battle to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group could take “months.”
“It could be a long battle, it’s not a blitzkrieg… It’s a lengthy affair [lasting] several weeks, maybe months,” he tells reporters in Paris a day after the start of the offensive, led by Iraqi troops and backed by the US-headed coalition against IS, Iraqi Kurds, Turkey and even Iran.
Israel’s UNESCO envoy spins Jerusalem vote as positive
Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen tries to put a positive spin on UNESCO’s formal adoption of a resolution effectively denying Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem.
Although only Mexico sought to change its “for” vote to an abstention, Hacohen insists Israel is one step closer in its mission “to dismantle the automatic majority enjoyed by the Palestinians and Arab states.”
The ambassador also praises Brazil for expressing its reservations over the language of the resolution, even though Brasilia did not change its vote. But, says Hacohen, such reservations will make it harder to Brazil to support such motions in future.
Mexico’s changed vote means that 23 nations approved the motion today, six voted against (including the US, UK and Germany) and 25 abstained.
— Raphael Ahren
Police arrest suspected East Jerusalem stone-thrower
Police arrest a 15-year-old resident of A-Tur in East Jerusalem on suspicion of throwing stones, as they search for suspects who — in a separate incident — hurled stones at a car in the neighborhood earlier the day and lightly wounded two people.
The teen is taken in for questioning by Jerusalem police.
Merkel: Russian sanctions over Syria are an option
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says sanctions against Russia over its actions in Syria should remain an option.
Merkel says she and French President Francois Hollande will discuss Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a planned meeting on Ukraine in Berlin tomorrow, but cautions against expecting “miracles.”
Both leaders have been sharply critical of Russia’s support for the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Merkel says that she is “of the opinion that no options, including that of sanctions, can be taken off the table in view of the situation, but the priority is that we look at lessening people’s suffering in some way, and that will be an issue tomorrow.”
Comptroller fines parties for 2015 campaign violations
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira has fined Israeli political parties for violating campaign laws during 2015 Knesset elections, he says in his latest report.
Shapira says the Likud and Jewish Home parties were fined some NIS 850,000 apiece, the Joint (Arab) List was fined NIS 1.2 million and Yisrael Beytenu was fined close to NIS 200,000 for a variety of infractions.
The comptroller also details the parties’ overspending during the election, with Yesh Atid being the worst offender — running up a deficit of NIS 16 million. Likud overspent by NIS 10 million, Yisrael Beytenu by NIS 9 million and Jewish Home by NIS 4 million. The closest to staying on target was Zionist Union, which came in at NIS 2.8 million over budget.
Assad’s army warns IS not to flee Mosul to Syria
The Syrian army command says anyone who tries to cross the border from Iraq into Syria will be faced with force.
The command says it believes the United States and Saudi Arabia would try to guarantee safe passages for fighters of the Islamic State group fleeing from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to head to Syria.
Iraqi government and Kurdish forces, backed by US-led coalition air and ground support, launched coordinated military operations yesterday to wrest Mosul from IS. There have been reports that a route leading to Syria was left open for IS fighters who want to flee.
IS controls parts of Syria and Iraq and the extremists have been crossing between the two counties since they declared a self-styled caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria in June 2014.
Trump invites mother of Benghazi victim to final debate
Donald Trump’s campaign invites the mother of an American killed in Benghazi, Libya, to attend tomorrow’s final presidential debate.
Trump’s campaign confirms that Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, will be one of its guests. Smith tells Yahoo News that she thinks she’ll be seated in the front row.
Smith gave an emotional speech at the Republican National Convention blaming Trump rival Hillary Clinton for her son’s death. She accused the former secretary of state of lying to families about what sparked the 2012 attack that killed four Americans. Republicans have tried to make Benghazi a central issue in the campaign.
Trump also made headlines with his guests at the second debate. They included a trio of women who have accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual harassment and assault.
Belgium charges 4 after terror raids
Belgium charges four people with involvement in terrorism after 15 early morning raids in the northern cities of Ghent, Antwerp and Deinze, the federal prosecutor’s office says.
“Those persons have been indicted for participation in the activities of a terrorist group,” a statement says.
“Some of them are suspected of recruiting people with a view to departing to Syria and joining Islamic State there,” it adds.
The prosecutor says no arms or explosives were found and the raids had no immediate connection with the deadly IS-claimed attacks on the Brussels airport and metro which left 32 people dead in March.
Hitler’s house may or may not be demolished
A new row erupts over Austria’s plans to demolish the house where Adolf Hitler was born, with experts saying they opposed its destruction only a day after a decision was announced.
Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said yesterday the listed property in the northern town of Braunau would be “torn down” to stop it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine, and a new building there would be used by a charity or the local authorities.
Sobotka said the decision was based on recommendations from an expert committee. But several of the 13-member panel now deny backing the push to bulldoze the yellow corner house where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889.
“The demolition option had been explicitly mentioned in the [government’s] proposal and was not approved by us,” say two of the panel.
Sobotka then says the main goal is to destroy any “resemblance” to the current house, “especially its outer appearance.”
Merkel, Putin, Hollande to meet tomorrow on Syria
French and Russian presidents Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a “working meeting” on the Syrian crisis tomorrow in Berlin, the French leader’s office says.
The meeting will be aimed at “giving the same message to Vladimir Putin on Syria: a durable ceasefire in Aleppo and humanitarian access so that the devastation of this city can end,” says an aide to Hollande.
Russia announced an eight-hour ceasefire in Aleppo commencing at 0500 GMT on Thursday to allow time for Syrian civilians to flee the besieged city and to permit humanitarian workers to deliver aid. Moscow said earlier today that Russian and Syrian forces have halted airstrikes, in what the Kremlin calls a “goodwill” gesture, amid mounting criticism of Russia for backing the brutal regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Danon to UN: Cut funding to B’Tselem
Israeli ambassador Danny Danon calls on the UN to halt funding for B’Tselem after its executive director urged the Security Council to press Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian territories.
According to Israel Radio, Danon says three agencies of the world body have given money to the left-wing NGO and therefore it is no surprise that El-Ad was invited to address the Council in order to attack the State of Israel.
Bar-Ilan mulls cutting UNESCO ties over Jerusalem resolution
Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv says it will consider whether to sever ties with UNESCO to protest its resolution effectively rejecting Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem holy sites.
The university works closely with UNESCO on educational projects on tolerance and peace, including workshops, research and conferences.
“The decision by UNESCO, which denies Jewish connection to the holy places in Jerusalem, runs contrary to engaging in education for peace and tolerance, and even exceeds hostile positions on Israel previously adopted by the organization,” Bar-Ilan says in a statement, according to Walla.
Settler, 18, suspected of attacking Palestinians
An 18-year-old resident of the Beit El settlement is arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault of Palestinians, police say.
The suspect allegedly attacked farmers from the West Bank village of Dura in May, using stones and sticks.
The suspect will remain on remand until Thursday, and the investigation continues.
2 children lightly hurt by stones thrown in A-Tur
Two children aged 9 and 14 are lightly hurt when they are pelted with stones in the A-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
The two are treated for their injuries at Hadassah Hospital, Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, and then are released home, Israel Radio says.
UNESCO motion shows Al-Aqsa of ‘purely Islamic heritage’ — Hamas
Hamas hails UNESCO’s formal adoption of a resolution effectively denying Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem as “a victory for the Palestinian people.”
Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Palestinian terror group, says Hamas welcomes the resolution that confirms “Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is of purely Islamic heritage.”
According to Zuhri, the resolution “demolished the Israeli fiction” about the sites considered to be the most sacred in Judaism.
— Dov Lieber
Obama warns ‘Mosul will be difficult fight’
Barack Obama warns of a tough battle ahead as Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition advance on Mosul to wrest the city from the Islamic State group.
Obama says the push to liberate the northern city, the jihadists’ last stronghold in Iraq, now in its second day, was a “major step forward.”
“I am confident that [IS] will be defeated in Mosul and that will be another step toward their ultimate destruction,” he tells a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
“Mosul will be a difficult fight. There will be advances and there will be setbacks,” Obama says.
President Obama: “Mosul will be a difficult fight,” but “I am confident" ISIS will be defeated in Mosul as well https://t.co/uIwI9ccGS8
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 18, 2016
Assad’s wife says she refused offer to leave Syria
The wife of Syrian President Bashar Assad tells Russian TV that she declined offers to leave Syria in return for safety and financial security for her and her children.
Asma Assad tells state-run Russia 24 that those who made the offers for her to “run from Syria” earlier in the five-year war were not Syrians, but did not elaborate.
She says the offers were “foolish” and a “deliberate attempt to shatter people’s confidence” in her husband.
Police to protect gig by Palestinian rapper Regev wanted banned
Police will protect a show starring Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar at the Haifa festival this evening, for a performance that Culture Minister Miri Regev wanted banned.
Two people were briefly detained but released on condition that they stay away from the concert at the opening of a community theater festival in the northern city, police say.
“The police presence will be strengthened to prevent friction and to preserve citizens’ safety and public security,” says police spokeswoman Luba Samri.
Regev demanded that Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav withdraw the invitation to Nafar to perform, accusing him of incitement against the Jewish people. But city officials decided to stick to the original running order for the municipality-sponsored event, which they say is meant to bring Jews and Arabs together in the mixed city.
Nafar confirms he will still attend, telling reporters that “no one can silence my voice.”
‘Stop whining,’ Obama tells Trump
Barack Obama on Tuesday tears into Donald Trump for sowing suspicion about the integrity of the US election, telling the Republican presidential nominee to “stop whining” and focus on winning votes.
Obama calls Trump’s intensifying, preemptive warnings about voter fraud “unprecedented” in modern politics. The rhetoric is not based on any evidence, Obama says, but is simply aimed at discrediting the election before the first votes are counted.
Obama to Trump: "Stop whining" https://t.co/U0Yced0fOf
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 18, 2016
“You start whining before the game’s even over?” Obama says at a White House press conference. “Then you don’t have what it takes to be in this job.”
The president also accuses Trump of showering praise and modeling his policies on Russian President Vladimir Putin to a degree that is “unprecedented in American politics.”
US demands Tehran free jailed Iranian-American and father
The United States is demanding the release of an Iranian-American businessman and his 80-year-old father who were handed tough sentences in Tehran on espionage charges.
“We are deeply concerned about reports that US citizens Siamak Namazi and Baquer Namazi have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner says in a statement. “We join recent calls by international organizations and UN human rights experts for the immediate release of all US citizens unjustly detained in Iran, including Siamak and Baquer Namazi, so that they can return to their families.”
Siamak Namazi, a well-connected business consultant who has supported reformist politicians in Iran, was arrested as he arrived in Tehran a year ago. His father, Baquer, was detained in February when he came to Iran to seek his son’s release.
The US also expressed concerns about reporters of the “declining health” of the elder Namazi.
Pentagon says Islamic State holding civilians in Mosul
Islamic State jihadists are barring civilians from leaving Mosul and using them as human shields, as the battle for the Iraqi city enters its second day, a Pentagon official says.
“We know they are being used as human shields, absolutely,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis tells reporters. “They are being held there against their will. We have not seen any change in the last day of people leaving or fleeing.”
Flag-waving protester denied entry to Palestinian rapper’s gig
Police prevent a protester carrying an Israeli flag from entering a concert by Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar at Haifa’s arts festival, Channel 10 reports.
Police are providing extra security for the concert, after Culture Minister Miri Regev called for it to be banned and accused Nafar of incitement against Jews.
שוטר מסרב להכניס להופעת תאמר נפאר בחיפה מפגין עם דגל ישראל pic.twitter.com/NKyjjvqlKX
— חדשות 10 (@news10) October 18, 2016
Gates, Gates, Cook made Clinton’s VP list
Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates and Apple chief exec Tim Cook were among nearly 40 elected officials, military leaders and corporate CEOs that Hillary Clinton’s campaign considered for vice president last spring, according to a list that appears in emails hacked from Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and disclosed by WikiLeaks.
The list emailed from Podesta to Clinton last March included several Democratic senators, among them Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tim Kaine of Virginia, who was eventually picked by Clinton.
Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Clinton’s opponent in the hotly contested Democratic primary, also made the list — at the very bottom.
Bloomberg gives $50 million to Boston Museum of Science
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg donates $50 million to Boston’s Museum of Science, crediting his hometown institution with sparking his intellectual curiosity.
The contribution is the single largest in the museum’s history and will fund an endowment to support the institution’s education division that is now named the William and Charlotte Bloomberg Science Education Center, in honor of his parents.
“I know how important this Museum is and what an impact it can have on young people — because I was one of those young people,” Bloomberg says in a statement published on the museum’s website.
“We are thrilled by Mike’s extraordinary generosity,” says museum president and director, Ioannis Miaoulis. “With his gift, he is investing in young people — in making a new generation of critical thinkers. This generous gift dramatically expands our capacity to make science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) accessible to all.”