17 bids for Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project – Jordan
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Live updates (closed)Latest: Police receive false report of explosion at Eilat mall

NATO chief says ‘essential’ to step up Israel cooperation

Jens Stoltenberg touts ‘shared values’ ahead the first official Israeli mission at headquarters; President Rivlin says he’d meet with Abbas as both visit Brussels

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

  • European Union President Donald Tusk, right, welcomes Israeli President President Reuven Rivlin before  their meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels, June 21, 2016.   (AFP/JOHN THYS)
    European Union President Donald Tusk, right, welcomes Israeli President President Reuven Rivlin before their meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels, June 21, 2016. (AFP/JOHN THYS)
  • The security barrier near the settlement of Beit Horon on Route 443 (Kobi Gideon/ Flash 90)
    The security barrier near the settlement of Beit Horon on Route 443 (Kobi Gideon/ Flash 90)
  • A sign for Camp Livingston, a Jewish summer camp in Bennington, Indiana. (JTA via Twitter)
    A sign for Camp Livingston, a Jewish summer camp in Bennington, Indiana. (JTA via Twitter)
  • Eritrean migrants protest in front of the European Union embassy in Ramat Gan, calling for the UN to try the Eritrean leadership for crimes against humanity, on June 21, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Eritrean migrants protest in front of the European Union embassy in Ramat Gan, calling for the UN to try the Eritrean leadership for crimes against humanity, on June 21, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the Conservative party's spring forum in central London, Saturday, April 9, 2016. (John Stillwell/PA via AP)
    Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the Conservative party's spring forum in central London, Saturday, April 9, 2016. (John Stillwell/PA via AP)
  • President of the European Council Donald Tusk with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, June 21, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)
    President of the European Council Donald Tusk with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, June 21, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)
  • The Red Sea islands of Tiran, in the foreground, and Sanafir, in the background, sit at the the Strait of Tiran between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images, via JTA)
    The Red Sea islands of Tiran, in the foreground, and Sanafir, in the background, sit at the the Strait of Tiran between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images, via JTA)
  • Olga Babaev told a Peruvian newspaper that she did not want to return to Israel and “I want to go to a warm place.” (Screenshot from Facebook)
    Olga Babaev told a Peruvian newspaper that she did not want to return to Israel and “I want to go to a warm place.” (Screenshot from Facebook)

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

PA slams ‘execution’ of Palestinian teenager

The Palestinian foreign ministry slams the killing of a 15-year-old Palestinian by Israeli soldiers overnight.

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager and injured several others who were initially suspected of being involved in throwing rocks at cars on highway 443, but were later found not to have been involved.

The ministry calls the incident an “extrajudicial execution” and “Netanyahu’s reaction to EU’s adoption of the French initiative,” referring to the EU’s recent backing of the French peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians that was dismissed by the Israeli government.

An Israeli soldier during an operation near Bethlehem in the West Bank on December 8, 2015. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

An Israeli soldier during an operation near Bethlehem in the West Bank on December 8, 2015. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

In a statement, the ministry also calls for Palestinian, regional and international human rights organizations “to quickly document the circumstances of this heinous crime” so it can be tried in national and international courts.

— Dov Lieber

Egyptian court rejects island transfer to Saudi Arabia

An Egyptian rejects as illegal a marine demarcation border agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia under which Cairo would surrender control over two strategic Red Sea islands to Riyadh.

The verdict by the administrative court inflicts a serious foreign policy setback to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government which, together with loyal media, has zealously argued that the agreement would bring economic benefits for Egypt and that the islands are owned by Saudi Arabia, which merely placed them under Egyptian control in 1950 for protection.

The Red Sea islands of Tiran, in the foreground, and Sanafir, in the background, sit at the the Strait of Tiran between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images, via JTA)

The Red Sea islands of Tiran, in the foreground, and Sanafir, in the background, sit at the the Strait of Tiran between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images, via JTA)

The uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir control narrow shipping lanes leading north to the port cities of Eilat and Aqaba in Israel and Jordan respectively. The closure of those lanes in 1967 by then Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser is chiefly blamed for the outbreak of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war in which Egypt lost the Sinai Peninsula. It was returned to Egypt, together with the two islands, under its landmark 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

There was no immediate comment from the Saudi or Egyptian governments on the court ruling. Egypt’s parliament, which is packed by government supporters, has yet to endorse the agreement.

— AP

Iraqi commander: About 2,500 IS militants killed in Fallujah

A senior Iraqi military commander says about 2,500 Islamic State militants have been killed during a month-long offensive to recapture the city of Fallujah.

The counter-terrorism forces’ chief in the operation, Lt. General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, tells the local al-Sumaria TV late on Monday that the number of IS fighters inside Fallujah ranged between 3,500 to 4,000 when the offensive began in late May.

Iraqi troops have not disclosed their losses in Fallujah though the Islamic State group claims to have killed dozens.

Iraqi security forces enter central Fallujah after fight against Islamic State fighters, Friday, June 17, 2016. (AP Photo)

Iraqi security forces enter central Fallujah after fight against Islamic State fighters, Friday, June 17, 2016. (AP Photo)

Al-Saadi offers no specifics to back up the figure of 2,500 killed IS fighters. He claimed about 15 percent of them were foreign fighters.

He cites Iraqi police reports as saying 1,086 IS-linked suspects have been arrested. He didn’t say how many IS militants remain in Fallujah.

– AP

Brexit campaigners at odds over ‘xenophobic’ poster

Former London mayor Boris Johnson criticizes a poster showing a column of non-white migrants trying to enter the European Union, a view that underscores a deepening rift between campaigners promoting Britain’s exit from the 28-nation bloc.

Johnson, one of the most prominent campaigners on the “leave” side, is distancing himself from UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, whose “Breaking Point” poster has been widely criticized.

Britain’s anti-EU campaigners have long been bitterly divided. Johnson’s Vote Leave won Electoral Commission approval to be the official standard-bearer of the campaign. Farage, a member of the European Parliament, has fought on nonetheless.

Johnson tells LBC radio the poster has “xenophobic undertones” and says “my campaign is based on fairness.”

— AP

Boeing confirms sales agreement with Iran Air

Boeing Co. confirms it signed an agreement with Iran Air “expressing the airline’s intent” to buy its aircraft — the Islamic Republic’s first major deal with an American company following its landmark nuclear accord last year with world powers.

It’s unclear how much the agreement with Iran Air would be worth, though an Iranian official earlier suggested the total Boeing sale to the Islamic Republic could be valued at $25 billion.

The Chicago-based manufacturer says in a statement that it signed the Iran Air agreement “under authorizations from the US government following a determination that Iran had met its obligations under the nuclear accord reached last summer.”

“Boeing will continue to follow the lead of the US government with regards to working with Iran’s airlines, and any and all contracts with Iran’s airlines will be contingent upon U.S. government approval,” the statement says.

— AP

David Cameron says Israel better off with UK in Europe

UK Prime Minster David Cameron says a vote for Britain to leave the European Union in Thursday’s “Brexit” referendum would weaken Israel’s position on the world stage.

Speaking to UK charity Jewish Care’s annual dinner Cameron says that while a member of the European Union, Britain is able to influence the intergovernmental body when dealing with Israel.

“When we’re fighting terrorism and Islamist extremism are we better doing that out on our own or fighting together with our European partners. When Europe is discussing its attitude towards Israel do you want Britain – Israel’s greatest friends – in there opposing boycotts or do you want us outside the room, powerless to affect the conversation,” Cameron says.

Cameron also slams a recent poster of the “Leave” campaign featuring a line of immigrants passing through Europe alongside the words “Breaking point,” suggesting it was reminiscent of Nazi propaganda.

“When I look at that poster… I see the opposite of everything that makes our country great. I’m proud that Britain is home to people who fled persecution – including those who fled the Nazis and from Russians pogroms,” Cameron says.

“I hate that this scourge has returned to this world and specifically to our country. I promise wherever we see antisemitism – from politicians who should know better to abusive graffiti daubed on synagogues and homes – I will do everything I can to drive it out of this country,” he adds.

EU to back Mideast peace with ‘unprecedented’ support

A top European Union official says the bloc stands ready to provide Israel and the Palestinians with massive political, economic and security support as part of any peace agreement between them.

European Council President Donald Tusk says that the EU will “back up a peace deal with an unprecedented package of cooperation and support to both Israel and the future state of Palestine.”

Tusk says after talks in Brussels with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin that “a lasting peace in the region remains a top priority” for the EU.

President Rivlin responds, saying the issue should not hinder cooperation between Israel and the EU.

Rivlin says, “Promoting peace in the Middle East is a vital interest of Israel. At the same time, I believe that our special bilateral relations can grow and develop in an independent way.”

President of the European Council Donald Tusk with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, June 21, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)

President of the European Council Donald Tusk with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, June 21, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)

EU foreign ministers expressed determination on Monday to throw the bloc’s weight behind Middle East peace moves and a possible international conference before the end of the year.

They invited EU agencies to present proposals “including on economic incentives, without delay.”

— With AP

Iran warns Bahrain ‘will pay price’ for crackdown on Shiites

Iran warns Bahrain that it is fanning armed rebellion and “will pay the price” after an escalating crackdown on the country’s Shiite majority saw a top cleric stripped of citizenship.

Bahrain has been shaken by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister in 2011. Tensions have reached fresh heights in recent days, with the suspension of the Al-Wefaq main Shiite opposition group and, on Monday, the stripping of top Shiite cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim’s citizenship.

Predominant Shiite power Iran has long championed the rights of the community in Bahrain and a prominent Iranian general said the move against Sheikh Qassim was a step too far.

“Surely they know that the aggression against Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim is a red line… that will leave no option for the people but to resort to armed resistance,” Qassem Suleimani, head of the elite Revolutionary Guards’ overseas operations arm, the Quds Force, tells state media.

Bahrain’s rulers “will pay the price and it will have no result but the destruction of this bloodthirsty regime,” he adds.

— AFP

17 bids for Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project – Jordan

Jordan says that 17 international firms have launched tenders for the construction of a canal linking the Red Sea to the shrinking Dead Sea.

The ambitious project has been in the works for more than a decade and aims to provide much-needed water to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. It moved closer to reality in December 2013 when Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed a water-sharing deal.

Jordan’s water and irrigation ministry did not name the firms who tendered, but said that each would be examined by a technical committee.

The Jordanian bank of the Dead Sea. (CC BY jemasmith, Flickr)

The Jordanian bank of the Dead Sea. (CC BY jemasmith, Flickr)

The first phase of the project — with an estimated cost of $900 million — involves building a conveyance system to transfer 300 million cubic meters (10.6 billion cubic feet) of water each year from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

The ministry says it would also see the construction of a desalination plant with a capacity of 65-85 million cubic meters a year.

— AFP

Rivlin says he’d meet with Abbas as both visit Brussels

President Reuven Rivlin is willing to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during separate trips by the two of them to Brussels this week, according to the president’s diplomatic adviser David Sarange.

“The president, who is currently visiting Brussels, was asked by European officials if he would meet with Abu Mazen [Abbas], who is also expected to arrive in the city this week,” Sarange tells Israel Radio.

“In response, we replied that we are willing to meet anywhere, anytime. If the meeting were to take place, one of the things that needs to be stressed, and would be by the president, is the need for a direct meeting between Abu Mazen and the prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu],” he adds.

Netanyahu has repeatedly called for a meeting with Abbas, saying he is willing to go to Ramallah to do so.

Israel says incitement, terror ‘entirely to blame’ for death of Palestinian teen

Responding to PA claims it “executed” a Palestinian teenager killed by IDF soldiers overnight, Israel says Palestinian incitement and terror is to blame for the security situation that lead to the death.

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager and injured several others who were initially suspected of being involved in throwing rocks at cars on Route 443, but were later found not to have been involved.

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry called the incident an “extrajudicial execution” and “Netanyahu’s reaction to EU’s adoption of the French initiative,” referring to the EU’s recent backing of the French peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians that was dismissed by the Israeli government.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry describes the statements as “cynical defamation.”

“Were it not for the difficult security situation that is entirely the blame of Palestinian incitement and terror, Israel would not need to use force in order to protect itself,” he says.

“Unfortunately, there is a long list of Israelis murdered by rocks thrown by Palestinians at roads and every Israeli victim proves the need to take measures against this,” he adds.

‘Wandering Israeli’ leaves Lima airport after making headlines in 3-week stay

A 57-year-old woman dubbed “the wandering Israeli” by Peruvian media leaves Lima’s international airport after living in the arrivals area for 19 days and making headlines across the country.

Olga Babaev’s story was reported by Peruvian newspapers and TV channels, which likened it to Steven Spielberg’s film “The Terminal.”

During her stay at the airport, which started when she landed May 29, the Israeli Embassy in Lima offered her assistance, but Babaev refused it, according to consul Limor Sherman. A Peruvian Jewish institution offered her shelter, which she also refused.

Olga Babaev told a Peruvian newspaper that she did not want to return to Israel and “I want to go to a warm place.” (Screenshot from Facebook)

Olga Babaev told a Peruvian newspaper that she did not want to return to Israel and “I want to go to a warm place.” (Screenshot from Facebook)

“I don’t want to go back to Israel. I don’t have anyone there. Also, I have problems with my family name, which is not Jewish,” Babaev told the El Comercio newspaper last week. “I want to go to a warm place.”

Peru is Babaev’s second stop in South America. After begging for food for two months on the streets of Rio, she was rescued by Jewish volunteers in May thanks to a rapid response initiated on Facebook. Soon after being taken to an upscale Jewish elder home, she decided to leave. She was then given a one-way ticket to Lima by a local Jewish-owned travel agency.

– JTA

Erekat renews call for UN investigation into ‘extrajudicial killings’

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat renews a call for the UN to open an investigation into Israeli “extrajudicial killings” after the IDF shot dead a Palestinian teenager and injured several others who were initially suspected of being involved in a rock throwing attack early Tuesday, but were later found not to have been involved.

“We condemn in the strongest terms this brutal attack,” Erakat says in a statement.

“This cold blooded assassination reaffirms our calls to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, to initiate an immediate extensive investigation into Israeli extrajudicial killings of Palestinians; particularly children. The international community has the responsibility to stop allowing Israel’s impunity for the crimes it commits against the occupied land and people of Palestine, he says.

Israel returns ancient sarcophagus covers to Egypt

Two ancient Egyptian sarcophagus covers have been delivered to Cairo’s Egyptian Museum after they surfaced at an auction in Israel.

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anani says the colorful wooden covers, decorated with hieroglyphics and illustrations, were recovered after they went on sale in 2012 and arrived at the museum Tuesday following cooperation between the two countries and Interpol.

This undated photo released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry shows a part of sarcophagus cover in Israel. Israel's Antiquities Authority says the colorful sarcophagus covers date back as early as the 16th and 10th centuries BCE. (Israeli Foreign Ministry via AP)

This undated photo released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry shows a part of sarcophagus cover in Israel. Israel’s Antiquities Authority says the colorful sarcophagus covers date back as early as the 16th and 10th centuries BCE. (Israeli Foreign Ministry via AP)

He says the covers will be restored and put on display in the Cairo museum or a new Grand Museum currently under construction near the Giza Pyramids.

El-Anani says it is still unclear how the rare artifacts made their way to Israel, but that Egypt would continue to repatriate any antiquities that have left the country illegally.

— AP

US warns Brexit will have ‘significant repercussions’ on international markets

US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen warns that a British vote to break with the European Union could rile international markets and have an impact on economic growth.

Two days before Thursday’s Brexit referendum, she tells a Senate panel that the issue was one of a number of important risks facing the US and the global economy.

“One development that could shift investor sentiment is the upcoming referendum in the United Kingdom,” she says.

“A UK vote to exit the European Union could have significant economic repercussions.”

Yellen counted the risks from the Brexit vote as one reason why the Fed will continue to move very cautiously on raising interest rates and tightening US monetary policy.

–AFP

US says only 1/3 of Fallujah cleared of Islamic State

The US-led coalition says Fallujah is approximately one-third “cleared” of the Islamic State group, days after the Iraqi government declared victory in the city west of Baghdad.

US Army Col. Christopher Garver, the Baghdad-based spokesman for the coalition, says other parts of the city are “contested,” with clashes underway between Iraqi security forces and IS fighters.

Garver says most of the cleared terrain is in the south of the city and “clearing operations continue outward from the city center.”

Iraqi government forces patrol the center of the city of Fallujah on June 18, 2016 as they hunt down holdout jihadists after retaking the Islamic State (IS) group's last remaining major hub in Iraq. (Stringer/AFP)

Iraqi government forces patrol the center of the city of Fallujah on June 18, 2016 as they hunt down holdout jihadists after retaking the Islamic State (IS) group’s last remaining major hub in Iraq. (Stringer/AFP)

Iraqi commanders on the ground have said 80 percent of the city is under their control.

Fallujah is the last bastion of the Islamic State group in the sprawling western Anbar province. IS still controls pockets of territory in Iraq’s north and west, including Mosul, the country’s second largest city.

— AP

Republican Jewish Coalition against ‘anti-Israel’ Democrats

The Republican Jewish Coalition launches a campaign against prominent Democrats it describes as “the anti-Israel voices in today’s Democratic party.”

The group is rolling out a series of videos targeting members of Democratic Party’s platform committee. Videos have so far been released about Arab-American Institute President James Zogby, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and racial justice activist Cornel West.

“These Democrats are attempting to hijack their own platform process and insert language that is unabashedly anti-Israel, effectively undermining official Democratic support for Israel, our closest Middle East ally,” RJC executive director Matt Brooks says in a statement. “Progressive anti-Israel Democrats are doing everything they can to destroy the pro-Israel consensus that has existed for the past 60 years.”

The videos end with the phrase, “Sadly, this isn’t the old democratic party, it’s today’s democratic party,” accompanied by a photo of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Ruderman Prize seeks nominees who excel at including people with disabilities

The Ruderman Family Foundation opens the nomination period for its international Ruderman Prize in “Inclusion,” honoring companies and organizations that operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Five individual $50,000 awards will be awarded. Now in its fifth consecutive year of operation, the prize has been awarded to 25 organizations in Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Mexico, Israel, South Africa, Australia, Canada and Argentina.

Past winners include schools, houses of worship, a dance company, a university, a bakery and an employment service.

“Although people with disabilities are the largest minority group in the world, making up 20 percent of our population, they are amongst the most discriminated and segregated populations,” says Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “In order to attempt to change this injustice, our foundation created the Ruderman Prize in Inclusion to recognize organizations across the globe who have led the way in including people with disabilities in all aspects of life.”

— JTA

George Soros warns Brexit will trigger a plunging pound

Jewish billionaire currency trader George Soros warns that a vote for Britain to leave European Union will trigger a plunge in the pound — without benefits that can come with a devalued currency.

In an op-ed piece in the Guardian, Soros says a decision to leave the 28-nation bloc in Thursday’s vote would cause the sterling to drop quickly. Soros predicts the drop will be more dramatic than when Britain crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in September 1992.

George Soros speaks at the Festival of Economics in Trento, Italy in 2012. (Wikimedia Commons, Niccolò Caranti, CC BY-SA 3.0)

George Soros speaks at the Festival of Economics in Trento, Italy, in 2012. (Wikimedia Commons, Niccolò Caranti, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Soros substantially profited — at the expense of the Bank of England and the British government — when the pound lost 15 percent of its value.

Soros says those who believe a “leave” vote will have no impact on their personal finances are guilty of “wishful thinking.”

— AP

Eritrean refugees in Israel protest Afworki regime

Hundreds of Eritrean asylum-seekers take to the streets near Tel Aviv in support of a UN probe into the African state’s regime, considered one of the world’s most repressive.

Chanting “dictator out!” and “Viva Geneva!” many wearing blue caps with the United Nations crest, the demonstrators are gathering outside the Israel mission of the European Union. They are calling on the EU to support the claims of their compatriots seeking asylum in Europe.

Eritrean migrants protest in front of the European Union embassy in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, calling for the EU to try the Eritrean leadership for crimes against humanity, June 21, 2016.(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Eritrean migrants protest in front of the European Union embassy in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, calling for the EU to try the Eritrean leadership for crimes against humanity, June 21, 2016.(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Earlier this month the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights said the government of Eritrean President Isaias Afworki is guilty of committing crimes against humanity with up to 400,000 people “enslaved” in the country, and should face international justice.

The crimes include systematic enslavement, forcible conscription and other abuses such as rape, persecution and murder, it said.

The UN inquiry was due to report on Tuesday to the Council on Human Rights in Geneva.

“We have come to give our support to this commission of inquiry which has cast light on a fact: Eritrea is a dictatorship where people are killed or disappear,” Bluts Iyassu, one of the event’s organizers, told AFP. “There is no free media and we are forcibly drafted into the army,” said Iyassu, who has been seeking asylum in Israel for three years.

— AFP

Jewish justice joining Argentina’s Supreme Court in landmark appointment

Carlos Rosenkrantz, a Buenos Aires attorney and law professor, as well as a former presidential adviser, will be the first Jewish justice on the Supreme Court of Argentina.

Rosenkrantz, 57, is expected to be sworn in to the nation’s highest court next month after being approved last week by two-thirds of the Senate. He was nominated by the former president, Mauricio Macri.

Argentine Jewish law professor Carlos Rosenkrantz (US Embasssy in Argentina/Wikipedia CC BY 2.0)

Argentine Jewish law professor Carlos Rosenkrantz (US Embasssy in Argentina/Wikipedia CC BY 2.0)

The Buenos Aires native has been teaching law theory at the University of Buenos Aires since 1990 after earning his law degree from the school seven years earlier. He also works at his own law firm, Bouzat, Rosenkrantz & Associates.

Rosenkrantz was an adviser to then-President Raul Alfonsin during the constitutional reform convention in 1994. He was global law professor at the New York University law school from 1996 to 2007.

Just weeks after his nomination last December, the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires wrote in a public letter supporting his candidacy that his appointment “would constitute a significant step in building a judiciary that reflects the diversity and plurality of our people,” pointing out that “Rosenkrantz would be the first Jewish judge to integrate the Supreme Court.”

In a biography on his own webpage, Rosenkrantz describes himself as a “son of a Jewish father with Polish roots and a Catholic teacher.”

— JTA

Husband of slain UK lawmaker says she died for her views

The husband of slain British lawmaker Jo Cox says he believes she was killed because of her “strong political views.”

Jo Cox, a Labour lawmaker who had championed the cause of Syrian refugees, was stabbed and shot to death outside a library in her constituency Thursday. The suspect gave his name in court as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”

Flowers surrounding a picture of Jo Cox during a vigil in Parliament Square in London, England, June 16, 2016. (JTA/Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Flowers surrounding a picture of Jo Cox during a vigil in Parliament Square in London, England, June 16, 2016. (JTA/Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Her death brought a shocked pause in campaigning for Britain’s EU referendum.

In a televised interview Tuesday, Brendan Cox said his wife “was very worried that the language was coarsening, that people were being driven to take more extreme positions.”

He said “she had very strong political views and I believe she was killed because of those views.”

— AP

NATO chief says ‘essential’ to step up Israel cooperation

Ahead the first official Israeli mission at NATO headquarters in Brussels, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says Israel has been an active alliance partner for 20 years and now it was “essential” to step up cooperation and go a step further.

“Violence in North Africa and in the Middle East is a clear threat to all our nations…. It is vital that countries which share the same values … stand together against hate and terrorism,” Stoltenberg tells reporters alongside Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at NATO headquarters.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference during a defense ministers meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on February 5, 2015. (AFP Photo/John Thys)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference during a defense ministers meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on February 5, 2015. (AFP Photo/John Thys)

Rivlin says opening the mission “will help Israel and NATO in strengthening our cooperation and our good relations. It will help us share best practices and information.”

“In the Middle East, the winds of hatred blow stronger than ever (and) events in one region affect the rest of world,” he says.

The move had been discussed for several years but was held up by opposition from Turkey, a key NATO member which is reportedly on the verge of normalizing ties with Israel, once its close regional ally.

Pope on death penalty: ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is absolute

Pope Francis is amplifying his opposition to capital punishment, saying it’s an offense to life, contradicts God’s plan and serves no purpose for punishment.

In a video message to an anti-death penalty congress in Norway, Francis says, “The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty.”

Francis has gone beyond his predecessors and traditional Catholic teaching in saying there is simply no justification for the death penalty today. He said Tuesday that rather than rendering justice, it fosters vengeance.

Church teaching allows for recourse to capital punishment when it is the only way to defend lives “effectively” against an aggressor.

Francis says, “It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal.”

Suspect linked to killer of French police couple released

Investigators release a man held briefly Tuesday for his links to the jihadist killer of a police commander and his partner, saying they would not charge him at this stage.

The 41-year-old convicted jihadist had been arrested in Les Mureaux, a town west of Paris, where police carried out six raids looking for associates of Larossi Abballa, shot dead by police after he killed the couple on June 13.

“There are no charges against him at this stage,” the Versailles prosecutor tells AFP, adding: “The investigation continues.”

The man, a Moroccan, was convicted in 2007 and jailed for eight years for his role in bombings claimed by Al-Qaeda that killed 33 people in Casablanca, Morocco, in 2003. He was stripped of his French nationality in a move that was upheld earlier this month.

Police officer Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and civil police employee Jessica Schneider were stabbed to death at their home in Magnanville, also west of the French capital. Abballa, 25, killed Salvaing before taking Schneider hostage and slitting her throat. Her three-year-old son who was in the house was traumatized but unharmed.

Girl, 11, killed when tree falls on cabin at Jewish camp in Indiana

An 11-year-old girl was killed when a tree fell on a cabin at a Jewish camp in Indiana.

The accident occurred early Tuesday morning at Camp Livingston in Bennington, which serves campers from various midwestern cities, including Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky.

A healthy tree was struck by lightning during a severe storm and fell on a cabin where campers were sleeping, the camp says in a statement. The camper was seriously injured and died of her injuries after emergency services arrived. No other campers or staff were injured, according to the statement.

A sign for Camp Livingston, a Jewish summer camp in Bennington, Indiana. (JTA via Twitter)

A sign for Camp Livingston, a Jewish summer camp in Bennington, Indiana. (JTA via Twitter)

Grief counselors from Cincinnati arrived at the camp hours later to assist campers and staff in dealing with the news, according to camp officials. Every child at camp was also scheduled to call home on Tuesday.

One of the dead girl’s siblings also is at the camp, WKRC Cincinnati reports. The girl is from Columbus, according to the news station.

— JTA

Egypt court overturns freeze of football star’s assets

An Egyptian court on Tuesday overturned a freeze on the assets of former football star Mohamed Aboutrika, imposed on suspicions he financed the banned Muslim Brotherhood, a judge says.

In 2015 a government committee blocked the assets of the former player for Cairo-based club Al-Ahly and Egypt’s national team, two years after he retired.

On Tuesday an administrative court reversed the decision, one of the judges, who did not want to be named, tells AFP.

Aboutrika, one of the most successful African footballers of his generation, had publicly endorsed the presidential bid of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in 2012.

Morsi went on to become Egypt’s first democratically elected president, only for the army to oust him one year later and ban the Brotherhood as a “terrorist” organisation.

Aboutrika’s lawyer, Mohamed Osmane, confirms the decision, saying the freeze had included “all of his assets, bank accounts, properties”.

— AFP

Netanyahu and Putin talk on the phone

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke this afternoon with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone conversation, according to a joint statement released by the two.

The two leaders discussed the Netanyahu’s recent visit to Moscow as well as issues related to cooperation between Israel and Russia, the statement says. Also discussed were issues related to states in the region and the Palestinian Authority.

The visit, at the beginning of June, marked 25 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Russia.

During their meeting in the Kremlin the two leaders discussed a range of bilateral issues, chief among them the so-called deconfliction mechanism set in place last year to ensure Israeli and Russian aircraft do not clash over Syria. The two are also believed to have discussed Russia’s reported delivery of advanced weaponry to Iran, including the S-300 air defense systems.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on June 7, 2016 (Haim Zach / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on June 7, 2016 (Haim Zach / GPO)

Police receive false report of explosion at Eilat mall

Police say a report they received of an explosion at the Ice Mall in the southern city of Eilat was false.

“After searching the site and carrying out a full security assessment, at this stage it seems that it was a false alarm,” a police statement said.

Police forces are continuing to monitor the situation.

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Live updates (closed) Latest: Police receive false report of explosion at Eilat mall

17 bids for Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project – Jordan

Jordan says that 17 international firms have launched tenders for the construction of a canal linking the Red Sea to the shrinking Dead Sea.

The ambitious project has been in the works for more than a decade and aims to provide much-needed water to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. It moved closer to reality in December 2013 when Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed a water-sharing deal.

Jordan’s water and irrigation ministry did not name the firms who tendered, but said that each would be examined by a technical committee.

The Jordanian bank of the Dead Sea. (CC BY jemasmith, Flickr)
The Jordanian bank of the Dead Sea. (CC BY jemasmith, Flickr)

The first phase of the project — with an estimated cost of $900 million — involves building a conveyance system to transfer 300 million cubic meters (10.6 billion cubic feet) of water each year from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

The ministry says it would also see the construction of a desalination plant with a capacity of 65-85 million cubic meters a year.

— AFP