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Poll: Public unhappy with PM’s handling of train work crisis

Only 25% of public back Netanyahu’s decision to cancel maintenance planned for Shabbat; Jewish, Muslim students at South Carolina high school threatened

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

  • Demonstrators protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to cancel all infrastructure work planned by Israel Railways on Shabbat on outside the Tel Aviv's Savidor train station on September 3, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Demonstrators protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to cancel all infrastructure work planned by Israel Railways on Shabbat on outside the Tel Aviv's Savidor train station on September 3, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • In this file photo taken on Friday, July 10, 2015, Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov gestures at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Ufa, Russia. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)
    In this file photo taken on Friday, July 10, 2015, Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov gestures at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Ufa, Russia. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, August 4, 2016. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, August 4, 2016. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
  • A teenage volunteer for Donald Trump campaigning outside the Republican candidate’s headquarters in Modiin, Aug. 15, 2016. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)
    A teenage volunteer for Donald Trump campaigning outside the Republican candidate’s headquarters in Modiin, Aug. 15, 2016. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Traffic on Ayalon highway runs past the Arlozorov Train Station in Tel Aviv on June 23, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    Traffic on Ayalon highway runs past the Arlozorov Train Station in Tel Aviv on June 23, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, seen next to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz at the weekly cabinet meeting at Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem, September 4, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, seen next to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz at the weekly cabinet meeting at Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem, September 4, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • Worshippers gather around the tomb of Mother Teresa inside the Mother house in Kolkata, India, in Kolkata, India, on September 3, 2016. (Bernat Armangue/AP Photo)
    Worshippers gather around the tomb of Mother Teresa inside the Mother house in Kolkata, India, in Kolkata, India, on September 3, 2016. (Bernat Armangue/AP Photo)

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

Turkish jets destroy Kurdish rebel targets – state media

Turkish warplanes destroy 10 Kurdish rebel positions in the restive southeast as Ankara steps up its fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), state media reports.

Jets bombed four PKK targets in the Cukurca district of the southeastern province of Hakkari close to northern Iraq on Saturday evening, security sources tell state-run Anadolu news agency.

The bombing took place after a bloody 48 hours during which at least 22 Turkish soldiers and a village guardsman were killed in clashes and an attack blamed on PKK militants.

Syrian people flee clashes between Turkish soldiers and Islamic State group fighters, 20 km west of the Turkish-Syrian border town of Karkamis, in the southern region of Gaziantep, on September 3, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)

Syrian people flee clashes between Turkish soldiers and Islamic State group fighters, 20 km west of the Turkish-Syrian border town of Karkamis, in the southern region of Gaziantep, on September 3, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)

Twelve soldiers were killed in two separate clashes in the Cukurca and Semdinli districts in Hakkari, the provincial governor’s office said, while in Van province, eight soldiers died during fighting between soldiers and militants.

The village guard — killed in an attack in Mardin in the southeast on Friday — was part of a group of local residents who cooperate with Turkish security forces against the PKK, listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

— AFP

Pope Francis proclaims Teresa a saint

Nuns walk past a giant portrait of Mother Teresa hanging on the facade of the building of Missionaries of Charity, the order set up by Mother Teresa, in Kolkata, India, on September 3, 2016. (Bikas Das/AP Photo)

Nuns walk past a giant portrait of Mother Teresa hanging on the facade of the building of Missionaries of Charity, the order set up by Mother Teresa, in Kolkata, India, on September 3, 2016. (Bikas Das/AP Photo)

Pope Francis proclaims Mother Teresa a saint, hailing her work with the destitute of Kolkata as a beacon for mankind and testimony of God’s compassion for the poor.

The revered nun’s elevation to Roman Catholicism’s celestial pantheon came in a canonization mass in St Peter’s square presided over by Pope Francis in the presence of 100,000 pilgrims.

“For the honour of the Blessed Trinity… we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata) to be a Saint and we enroll her among the Saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” the pontiff said in Latin.

Francis said that even though the nun had been declared a saint, she would always be Mother Teresa to the Catholic family.

— AFP

Traffic now ‘flowing as normal’ after train construction induced jams

Israeli traffic is returning to normal following a morning marked by jams and congestion in light of an ongoing spat between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, police say.

“Traffic is flowing as normal on all intercity roads across the country,” a statement reads.

A snapshot of heavy traffic north of Tel Aviv at 7:20 a.m. on September 4, 2016. (screen capture: Google Maps)

A snapshot of heavy traffic north of Tel Aviv at 7:20 a.m. on September 4, 2016. (screen capture: Google Maps)

Some 150 train departures on the Haifa-Tel Aviv route, the country’s busiest, were canceled for Sunday, affecting an estimated 150,000 travelers and commuters, including thousands of soldiers returning to their bases after weekends home.

Trains will resume operating on the line only at 7 p.m. Israel Railways said, after planned repair work to the rail line was ordered frozen by Netanyahu on Friday evening when Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism complained over the violation of the Jewish Sabbath, threatening to topple the coalition if it was not prevented.

Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop visits Yad Vashem

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as part of a visit to Israel.

Bishop toured the Holocaust History Museum, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, and visited the Children’s Memorial. She also signed the Yad Vashem Guest Book.

Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, during a visit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, August 4, 2016. (Issac Harari/Flash90)

Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, during a visit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, August 4, 2016. (Issac Harari/Flash90)

Earlier, she met with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Pope admits he finds it hard to say ‘St. Teresa’

Even Pope Francis is finding it hard to call Mother Teresa “St. Teresa.”

Deviating from his homily Sunday, Francis acknowledged it’ll be hard for admirers to make the switch since Mother Teresa’s saintliness is “so close to us.”

Pope Francis leaves St. Peter's Square at the Vatican at the end of a jubilee audience for workers and volunteers of mercy, September 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis leaves St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican at the end of a jubilee audience for workers and volunteers of mercy, September 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

As the crowd erupted in applause, he said: “So tender and rich that spontaneously we will continue to say Mother Teresa.”

— AP

Trembling after Italy, Israeli cabinet briefed on earthquake readiness

The cabinet was briefed by Defense Ministry National Emergency Authority director Bezalel Treiber on the preparedness of the Israeli home front for emergencies and earthquakes, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Treiber briefed ministers on the progress that has been made by the various ministries and bodies and on the main gaps that exist in the field.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that an additional meeting be held in which all ministers present the progress that their ministries have made regarding emergency preparedness as well as plans to close the gaps, a statement from the PMO says.

He also asked the professional bodies to send a delegation to Italy in order to study the main lessons from the recent earthquake and present them to the cabinet.

Syrian troops advance near Aleppo, trying to impose siege

Syrian pro-government forces backed by airstrikes launch a wide offensive in the northern city of Aleppo, capturing areas they lost last month and almost besieging rebel-held neighborhoods, state media and opposition activists say.

The push comes a month after insurgents captured several military academies south of Aleppo and opened a corridor into rebel-held parts of Syria’s largest city and onetime commercial center. Since then, government forces and their allies have been trying to recapture the area.

Syrian Civil Defense members, known as the White Helmets, search for survivors amid burning vehicles belonging to people fleeing in northern Hama, after they were reportedly targeted by a Syrian government forces air strike on September 1, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/Omar haj kadour)

Syrian Civil Defense members, known as the White Helmets, search for survivors amid burning vehicles belonging to people fleeing in northern Hama, after they were reportedly targeted by a Syrian government forces air strike on September 1, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/Omar haj kadour)

State news agency SANA quotes an unnamed military official as saying that troops have captured the Armament Academy and are “continuing their advance in the area to impose almost a total siege on the gunmen in Aleppo.”

— AP

Russian court orders Jewish nonprofit dissolved

A Russian court dissolves a Jewish community association in a move that critics said was part of a larger crackdown on grassroots organizations but that others said was procedural.

The Cherepovets City Court struck the association known as The Jewish Community of Cherepovets off the register of nonprofit organizations, citing repeated failures to file the financial activity reports required by law of such organizations, the Interfax news agency reports.

The ruling comes amid a crackdown in Russia on nongovernmental organizations with foreign ties, as per a law adopted by the Russian parliament in 2012 that requires NGOs to register as “foreign agents” with the Ministry of Justice if they engage in “political activity” and receive foreign funding.

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, the Chabad-affiliated body responsible for dozens of the country’s Jewish congregations, said in a statement Thursday that the dissolution was “a technical issue” as the Jewish association in Cherepovets, which was founded in 2005, had for a while existed only on paper.

“Community activities became more and more nominal. The reason for the closure was that the community ceased to provide reports on their activities,” said Boruch Gorin, a senior aide to Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar.

— JTA

Italian soccer star to miss Israel game

Italian striker Andrea Belotti withdraws from tomorrow’s opening World Cup qualifier match to be held at the International Stadium in Haifa, according to the Italian football federation.

The 22-year-old Belotti, who won his first cap in Thursday’s 3-1 friendly defeat to France in Bari, has a thigh injury.

Israel face Italy in Haifa before also coming up against Spain, Albania, Macedonia and Liechtenstein in Group G.

— AFP

Chicken shortage expected, ministry warns

The Agriculture Ministry is warning that there will be a shortage of chicken in Israel next week due to the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, or Festival of the Sacrifice.

Due to the festival, which commemorates the willingness of the patriarch Abraham, or Ibrahim in the Muslim tradition, to sacrifice his son and God’s intervention that stopped the slaughter, many of Israel’s Muslim poultry slaughterers will not be able to work, which is expected to lead to a shortage between September 12 and 16, the ministry says.

Thousands of Palestinians pray outside Al-Aqsa Mosque, atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, on the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha in October 2014. (Photo credit: Sliman Khader/FLASH90)

Thousands of Palestinians pray outside Al-Aqsa Mosque, atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, on the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha in October 2014. (Photo credit: Sliman Khader/FLASH90)

The Muslim holiday, which starts the night of September 11, lasts through that night and for the next four days.

Netanyahu’s chief of staff meets with Katz

The prime minister’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz met with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz in an attempt to end a public feud over canceled train construction work on Shabbat, Army Radio reports.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims Katz created the spat between Likud and leaders of ultra-Orthodox parties last week when he ordered the continuation of construction projects over the weekend, ostensibly in order to avoid train delays.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen next to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz at the weekly cabinet meeting at Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem, September 4, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen next to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz at the weekly cabinet meeting at Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem, September 4, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The meeting apparently signals Netanyahu does not intend to fire Katz.

Last night Horowitz accused Yisrael Katz of trying to carry out a “putsch” against Netanyahu. Horowitz said that the political maneuver caused deliberate harm to soldiers and other train passengers.

According to Horowitz, Katz promised the religious parties that there would not be any nonessential work on Shabbat, but suddenly presented 20 projects that he claimed had to be carried out on the weekend.

Trump campaign to open office in West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron

The campaign of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announces it will open an office in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron, its fourth in Israel.

The campaign office will be inaugurated tomorrow at a ceremony attended by Yossi Dagan, the head of the Shomron Regional Council. It will join offices in Jerusalem, Modiin and Tel Aviv. A fifth office may be added later, according to the Trump Israel campaign.

A teenage volunteer for Donald Trump campaigning outside the Republican candidate’s headquarters in Modiin, Aug. 15, 2016. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

A teenage volunteer for Donald Trump campaigning outside the Republican candidate’s headquarters in Modiin, Aug. 15, 2016. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

There are believed to be thousands of American Israelis who are eligible to vote in the US election, according to Israeli news reports. Many come from states with a high number of electoral votes, such as New York and California, or from swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Republicans hope to draw in those voters in an effort to put the swing states in Trump’s column.

Netanyahu accepts Australia visit offer

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts an offer to visit Australia during a meeting with the country’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, currently vising Israel.

“I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our absolute enduring commitment to the State of Israel and our friendship, and invite you to come to Australia. And we’re thinking there’s a little window of opportunity early next year maybe? And the Australian public would warmly embrace you, welcome you and we would look forward to the first visit of an Israeli prime minister ever to Australia,” Bishop told Netanyahu, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, August 4, 2016. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, August 4, 2016. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Netanyahu accepted the invitation telling Bishop: “I just want to greet you and say that your friendship is terrific – Australia, the government’s and yours personally. And we appreciate our friends.”

Earlier, Rivlin – who visited Australia in 2011 as Knesset Speaker – met with Bishop at his residence, welcoming her to Israel and Jerusalem. She also met with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Gazan indicted for acquiring equipment for elite Hamas unit

A Gazan man is indicted by the Beersheba District Court on multiple counts of aiding the Hamas terrorist organization. According to the indictment he imported diving equipment for a Hamas elite naval unit from Egypt and from Israel.

Abd Saqallah, who owns two stores and a sewing factory in the Gaza Strip, purchased the equipment from the Italian firm Cressi. Included in the shipment were hundreds of flippers, scuba masks and wet suits. Wet suits require a special permit to be imported into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas naval commandos, seen in a still image from a propaganda video released by the terror group during Israels Operation Protective Edge, in the summer of 2014. (Screen capture)

Hamas naval commandos, seen in a still image from a propaganda video released by the terror group during Israels Operation Protective Edge, in the summer of 2014. (Screen capture)

Saqallah allegedly imported this gear through smuggling tunnels from Egypt and sold it to Hamas’s Nukhba naval commando unit.

Saqallah is also accused of selling sports gear to Hamas operatives, including weight training equipment. He allegedly sold them gym equipment worth $30,000 last year and sports clothing worth tens of thousands of shekel to the Nukhba unit.

Mortar from Syria lands in Golan

A motar fired from Syria lands in the Golan, according to the IDF.

No injuries have been reported.

Jewish extremist indicted for firing at Palestinian car

Police say they have arrested a Jewish suspect who fired an air pistol at a Palestinian vehicle in the West Bank shattering the rear window.

Moshe Yanon Oren, 18, from the southern West Bank outpost of Givat Arosi, was detained by the National Crime Prevention Unit on August 28 in a joint police and Shin Bet security service operation, according to a statement.

Oren was indicted for endangering a life.

Uzbek chief rabbi: No worries for Jewish community after death of president

Uzbekistan’s Jews are not worried for their future after the death of the country’s longtime president Islam Karimov, the country’s chief rabbi says.

The Uzbek strongman, who had ruled the Central Asian Muslim nation with an iron fist before he died at the age of 78 last week, “prepared the country well and its security forces are drilled in a case where he would no longer be around to rule,” Rabbi Baruch Abramzaiov tells JTA.

“The president had excellent relations with the Jewish community, in part because he went to school with many of its members and had many friends from its ranks, and this situation is expected to continue,” says Abramzaiov.

Abramzaiov says he is the only rabbi in the country and among very few spiritual leaders catering to the needs of a dwindling community of 13,000 Jews in a country that had 95,000 Jews in 1989.

In this file photo taken on Friday, July 10, 2015, Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov gestures at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Ufa, Russia. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)

In this file photo taken on Friday, July 10, 2015, Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov gestures at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Ufa, Russia. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)

 

— JTA

Syria regime cuts off rebel-held Aleppo, renewing siege

Syrian government troops seized a military academy south of Aleppo city, once again encircling the rebel-held districts in the east and placing them under siege, a monitor says.

“The army took control of the artillery academy, so they control all the academies, and the eastern neighbourhoods are under a full siege,” says Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

— AFP

IS claims gun attack in Danish drug neighborhood

Danish police say they have no evidence that a gun attack in a Copenhagen suburb known for its hashish trade was ordered by the Islamic State group.

The IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency posted a statement Friday saying that the attacker was “a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the operation in response to calls to target coalition states.”

But Copenhagen police officer Michael Anderson said Sunday that they didn’t think “it was an attack ordered by Islamic State.” He declined further comment.

On Thursday, Danish police wounded a gunman accused of shooting two officers and a bystander during a drug raid. Police identified him as Mesa Hodzic, a Danish citizen who “apparently” sympathized with Islamic extremists, but said they didn’t believe this influenced the shooting.

— AP

Israel, PA to upgrade West Bank postal service

Israel and the Palestinian Authority sign an agreement to upgrade the postal service system in the West Bank.

Major General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, head of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein al-Sheik, agree on a Memorandum of Understanding to allow international mail to enter the Authority directly without first going through the Israeli mail service.

COGAT’s Major General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai and the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein al-Sheik sign a Memorandum of Understanding to upgrade the postal service system in Judea and Samaria, September 4, 2016 (COGAT)

COGAT’s Major General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai and the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein al-Sheik sign a Memorandum of Understanding to upgrade the postal service system in Judea and Samaria, September 4, 2016 (Courtesy: COGAT)

The agreement is intended to assist the transfer of international mail to the Palestinian Authority through Jordan via the Allenby Bridge. The memorandum will also improve the direct mail transfer between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Until now all mail entering the Palestinian Authority has first gone through the Israeli Postal services according to Palestinian news service Maan.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed a similar agreement in 2008 but it was never put into practice. This time COGAT says that the memorandum will be put into effect.

Rivlin sends condolences on passing of Uzbek dictator

President Rivlin sends a letter of condolence to the people of Uzbekistan, expressing his condolences on the passing of the country’s president, Islam Karimov.

“On behalf of the citizens of the State of Israel, I send our condolences to the people of Uzbekistan on the death of President Islam Karimov, who has led the country since its independence. Israel stands beside the Uzbek nation at this difficult time,” Rivlin writes.

Uzbek leader Islam Karimov chairs the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Tashkent, 24 June 2016. (CC BY 4.0 Kremlin.ru/Wikipedia)

Uzbek leader Islam Karimov at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Tashkent, 24 June 2016. (CC BY 4.0 Kremlin.ru/Wikipedia)

“We in Israel are very pleased with the good relations between our two countries and the cooperation between our two nations in a number of areas. We look forward to continuing to expand and to further enhance the good relations with Uzbekistan in the future.There have been strong Jewish communities in Uzbekistan for thousands of years and our two nations share a rich cultural history. We are proud of the many thousands of Israelis who immigrated here from Uzbekistan from such regions as Samarkand and Bukhara.”

Dubai ruler’s firm plans major new property development

A company controlled by Dubai’s ruler unveils plans for a vast mixed-use development project in the emirate that will create thousands of new homes and hotel rooms.

Developer Dubai Holding said work on the new “Jumeriah Central” district will begin next year along Sheikh Zayed Road, the city’s main artery. It will sit across from the Mall of the Emirates, home to an indoor ski slope.

Journalists and Emirati officials listen to Morgan Parker, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Holding, as he explains over the architectural model of the “Jumeriah Central” development, a US $ 20 billion project, during a press briefing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Journalists and Emirati officials listen to Morgan Parker, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Holding, as he explains over the architectural model of the $20 billion ‘Jumeriah Central’ development project, during a press briefing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

The project is expected to take years to complete at a cost of $20 billion. Plans call for 11,000 residential units, three shopping malls and numerous hotels, offices and entertainment attractions.

Dubai’s property sector has recovered rapidly since the emirate’s debt-fueled 2009 financial crisis, helped by an improving global economy and increased tourism as Dubai prepares to host the 2020 World Expo.

–AP

Turkey says IS driven from Turkish-Syrian border

Turkey’s state-run news agency says Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels have driven the Islamic State group from the last strip of territory it controlled along the Syrian-Turkish border.

The advance effectively seals the extremist group’s self-styled caliphate off from the outside word, shutting down key supply lines used to bring in foreign fighters, weapons and ammunition.

Turkish tanks stationed near the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, September 3, 2016. (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP)

Turkish tanks stationed near the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, September 3, 2016. (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP)

The Anadolu news agency reports that Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army rebels have cleared the area between the northern Syrian towns of Azaz and Jarablus. It says the advance “has removed terror organization Daesh’s physical contact with the Turkish border in northern Syria.” Daesh is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Turkey has launched two incursions into Syria since August 24 in an operation designed to drive IS away from the border and prevent the advance of US-backed Kurdish forces, which are also battling the extremist group.

— AP

Poll: Public unhappy with PM’s handling of train work row

Nearly half of the public blame Prime Minister Netanyahu for the political crisis over cancelled construction work planned to have taken place over Shabbat, according to a Channel 2 poll.

The poll shows that 49 percent of respondents said the prime minister is responsible for the political crisis stemming from the controversy while only 14% say Katz is to blame; 17% think Netanyahu should fire Katz compared to 69% who say he should stay in the job.

Only 25% of the public backs Netanyahu’s decision to cancel the construction work while 63% oppose the move.

Planned rail maintenance was ordered frozen by Netanyahu on Friday evening when ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism complained over the violation of the Sabbath that the work would entail, and threatened to topple the coalition if it wasn’t halted. He has said the construction work was pushed by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, seeking to cause a crisis.

Activists, including two with masks of Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Katz, protest against the decision to cancel all infrastructure work planned by Israel Railways on Shabbat on September 4, 2016. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Activists, including two with masks of Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Katz, protest against the decision to cancel all infrastructure work planned by Israel Railways on Shabbat on September 4, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

Nationalists overtake Merkel party in German state vote

A nationalist, anti-immigration party perform strongly in a German state election in the region where Chancellor Angela Merkel has her political base, overtaking her conservative party to take second place amid discontent with her migrant policies, projections indicated.

The three-year-old Alternative for Germany, or AfD, won about 21 percent of votes in the election for the state legislature in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, according to projections for ARD and ZDF television based on exit polls and partial counting. They put support for Merkel’s Christian Democrats at between 19 and 20 percent, which would be their worst result yet in the state.

AfD member Alexander Gauland, left, and Leif-Erik Holm, top candidate of the AfD, toast at the gathering of the AfD (Alternative for Germany) party in Schwerin, Germany, September 4, 2016. ( AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

AfD member Alexander Gauland, left, and Leif-Erik Holm, top candidate of the AfD, toast at the gathering of the AfD (Alternative for Germany) party in Schwerin, Germany, September 4, 2016. (AP/Michael Sohn)

The center-left Social Democrats, who lead the outgoing state government, were expected to be the strongest party with about 30 percent support.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, an economically weak region in Germany’s northeastern corner, is home to 1.6 million of the country’s 80 million people and is a relative political lightweight. It is, however, the state where Merkel has her parliamentary constituency, and Sunday’s vote was the first of five regional votes before a national election a bit more than a year away.

National AfD leader Frauke Petry celebrated “a blow to Angela Merkel.” Local AfD Leif-Erik Holm told supporters: “Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship today.”

Obama: Young Americans ‘completely reject’ Trump on immigrants

Barack Obama says that young Americans “completely reject” Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump’s tough line on immigration and that most Americans share their stance.

“There’s a long tradition in the United States of inclusion, immigration, diversity,” the president says in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN but recorded before he left for the Group of 20 summit meeting in China.

“I don’t think that’s going to change because Mr Trump’s got a little more attention than usual,” adds Obama. He reiterates that he felt certain the 70-year-old real estate mogul would not succeed him as president next January.

“If you look at the current polls,” Obama says, “he’s been able to appeal to a certain group of folks who feel left out or worried about the social change, who have legitimate concerns around the economy and (are) feeling left behind. But that’s not the majority of America.”

“And if you talk to younger people, the next generation of Americans, they completely reject the path” taken by Trump.

–AFP

South Sudan leader ‘consents’ to extra UN peacekeepers

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has agreed to the deployment of a regional protection force to beef up the UN’s large UN peacekeeping mission, a joint statement from the UN and the government says.

“The transitional government of national unity gives its consent for the deployment of the regional force,” says the statement, which was read out to the media by South Sudanese Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomoro.

Internally displaced people recently arrived in Wau, South Sudan, due to armed clashes in surrounding villages, waiting to be registered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Food Programme (WFP) on May 11, 2016 (AFP PHOTO / ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN)

Internally displaced people recently arrived in Wau, South Sudan, due to armed clashes in surrounding villages, waiting to be registered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Food Programme (WFP) on May 11, 2016 (AFP/Albert Gonzalez Farran)

–AFP

Israel Railways resumes full service after work closure

Israel Railways resumes its full services following a day of closures stemming from a political crisis that resulted in construction work planned for Shabbat being pushed off until this morning.

The Tel Aviv to Haifa line was one of the last routes to be reopened and signaled the return of normal services.

Traffic on Ayalon highway runs past the Arlozorov Train Station in Tel Aviv on June 23, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Traffic on Ayalon highway runs past the Arlozorov Train Station in Tel Aviv on June 23, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“I thank all of the technical teams and the railway workers who worked from Saturday night to carry out the infrastructure work thoroughly, efficiently and with professionalism,” said Israel Railways CEO Boaza Tzafrir, according to Walla news.

The Tel Aviv to Binyamina line was down for 24 hours.

Jewish, Muslim students at South Carolina high school threatened

A high school in South Carolina will have extra security measures in place when students return after the Labor Day weekend after Jewish and Muslim students were threatened on social media.

A student reported “extremely vulgar” threats to the Spartanburg County Sherriff’s Office on Friday night, according to local media. The threats targeted Jewish and Muslim students at Byrnes High School.

The threats said Byrnes High School would be attacked Tuesday and included pictures of a person in a gas mask and a knife with a swastika on the handle, according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office took screenshots of the threats on Facebook posts.

Law enforcement told local media they would patrol the school over the weekend and make sweeps of the campus. There are 12 schools in the district, and each will have additional security.

“I was very alarmed when I saw the post and how vile some of the language was and how direct the threats were, and not only against our students but families of our students, and in today’s culture, the discourse that is going on and what’s happened in our own country and in other countries, we’re taking it very seriously,” Dr. Scott Turner, the district’s superintendent, said Saturday night during a news conference, according to reports.

— JTA

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Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop visits Yad Vashem

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as part of a visit to Israel.

Bishop toured the Holocaust History Museum, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, and visited the Children’s Memorial. She also signed the Yad Vashem Guest Book.

Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, during a visit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, August 4, 2016. (Issac Harari/Flash90)
Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, during a visit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, August 4, 2016. (Issac Harari/Flash90)

Earlier, she met with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.