The Times of Israel is liveblogging Thursday’s events as they unfold.
Russian diplomat: There were contacts with Trump campaign
A top Russian diplomat says Moscow had contacts with the campaign of Donald Trump ahead of his election as US president.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov is quoted as telling the Interfax news agency Thursday that “there were contacts” with influential people in Trump’s circle. “I don’t say that all of them, but a whole array of them, supported contacts with Russian representatives.”
The report did not give further details.
Trump’s relations with Russia were one of the most contentious issues of the campaign, especially in light of his favorable remarks about President Vladimir Putin as a strong leader, and persistent contention by his opponents that Russia was responsible for hackers purloining emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff.
Attack at Turkish government building wounds 3
Kurdish militants attacked a government building in southeast Turkey on Thursday, wounding at least three people including a district governor, officials say.
The state-run Anadolu Agency says the office of the district governor in the town of Derik, near the border with Syria, was attacked with rocket launchers. But a subsequent statement by the regional governor’s office says an improvised explosive device was used. It didn’t elaborate.
The district governor, Fatih Safiturk, was wounded in the attack, officials say. There is no immediate official information on his condition, but Haber Turk television station said he was slightly wounded.
Anadolu says the attack was carried out by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a three-decade-long insurgency against the Turkish state and is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its Western allies. Kurdish militants, however, haven’t immediately claimed responsibility.
Turkey explosion: Blast heard near Governor's office in Mardin: https://t.co/bycoV7GMTL
— News Bharati (@NewsBharati) November 10, 2016
The security forces launched an operation to catch the assailants, the agency said, without providing details.
A fragile peace process between the government and the PKK broke down last year, leading to renewed violence in Turkey’s mainly-Kurdish southeast region. At least 700 state security personnel and thousands of Kurdish militants have been killed since then, according to Anadolu.
Turkey has been rocked by a series of deadly bomb attacks in the past 18 months, carried out by the PKK or Islamic State group extremists.
Hamas warns Trump over Jerusalem
Hamas political head Khaled Mashaal is warning US President-elect Donald Trump that any moves to change the situation in Jerusalem would be “playing with fire.”
Trump has suggested he will move the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognize it as Israel’s capital.
“We say to Trump that there is no stability in the region without justice for Palestine,” says Mashaal.
Speaking at a political event in Turkey, Mashal says that Jerusalem is the “key to peace or war.”
“It is our responsibility to seize and liberate Jerusalem as well as the entire land of Palestine,” he says.
— Dov Lieber
Defense Ministry orders hundreds of ‘Trophy’ tank defense systems
The Defense Ministry is ordering hundreds of “Trophy” protection systems to ensure every IDF Merkava tank and Namer armored personnel carrier has active protection.
The ministry says that the deal, worth hundreds of millions of shekels, will ensure that its armored vehicles have the most advanced defenses in the world.
The system, made by the Israeli defense technology company Rafael, detects incoming anti-tank rockets and detonates them before they can pierce a tank or APC’s armor.
Trophy “is considered the best active protection system of its kind in the world, and is the only operational, combat-proven APS,” the ministry says, crediting it with saving “countless lives” during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
Eastern Aleppo down to ‘last food rations’ — UN
The last remaining food rations are currently being handed out in Syria’s rebel-held eastern Aleppo and there will be nothing left to distribute next week without a resupply, the UN says.
United Nations aid convoys have not reached the besieged eastern part of Aleppo since July, when regime forces cut off the last supply route.
“The reports we have now from within East Aleppo is that the last food rations are being distributed as we speak,” the head of a UN-backed humanitarian taskforce for Syria, Jan Egeland, tells journalists.
Egeland insists that, with winter approaching, the need to avoid mass starvation would force all sides — including the regime, its key ally Russia and the rebels — to grant humanitarian access.
“I don’t think anybody wants a quarter of a million people to be starving in east Aleppo,” Egeland says, referring to the number of civilians the UN says are living under siege.
While the UN has mostly blamed President Bashar Assad’s government for blocking access to the battleground area, rebel commanders have reportedly also failed to provide essential security guarantees.
Netanyahu meets with Russian PM
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Jerusalem.
Netanyayu says Israel and Russia share common goals, including destroying the Islamic State.
“Israel, Russia, the US, and many other countries, share the goal of destroying IS and I think that the cooperation between the actors that I mentioned is something that serves all of humanity,” Netanyahu says ahead of the meeting.
Medvedev’s visit is largely focused on the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Jerusalem.
Shin Bet arrests 9 Palestinians planning attacks
The Shin Bet Security Service reveals today that Israeli forces have arrested eight Palestinians from the northern West Bank and one from East Jerusalem on suspicion of planning attacks against Israelis.
They were held in raids carried out between August and October, the Shin Bet says.
The Palestinians were planning to carry out several attacks against the IDF and also smuggle 2 kilograms (3 pounds) of gunpowder into Jerusalem, the Shin Bet says.
— Judah Ari Gross
More than 120 migrants rescued off Cyprus
Cyprus police rescued 123 migrants believed to be Syrians who were left adrift off the island’s northwest coast by a boatman who made off on a jet ski, officials say.
The 42 children, 19 women and 62 men are all in good health, including a woman who gave birth at sea and was admitted to hospital as a precaution, a civil defense statement says.
Police believe that the boat, which was spotted off the coast on Wednesday, had set sail from the Turkish port of Mersin.
Biden to meet with Pence on Thursday
The White House says Vice President Joe Biden will be meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
The meeting will take place Thursday afternoon at the White House. Journalists and photographers won’t be granted access to the meeting.
The vice presidential meeting comes the same day that President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump will meet at the White House. Their wives also plan to meet.
Massive cyberattack said to hit 5 top Russian banks
A massive cyberattack has hit at least five of Russia’s largest banks, Moscow-based internet security giant Kaspersky says.
The country’s largest lender, state-controlled Sberbank, said it had been hacked into on Tuesday but managed to neutralize the attack automatically without disturbing its operations.
Kaspersky says that the distribution of denial attacks (DDoS) began Tuesday at 1300 GMT and targeted “the websites of at least five well-known financial institutions in the top 10” in Russia.
The attacks were still continuing on Thursday. Most lasted around one hour but the longest lasted almost 12 hours, Kaspersky says.
DDoS attacks involve flooding websites with more traffic than they can handle, making them difficult to access or taking them offline entirely.
These attacks saw as many as 660,000 requests being sent per second using a network of more than 24,000 hijacked devices located in 30 countries. More than half the devices were in the United States, India, Taiwan and Israel, Kaspersky said.
Azerbaijan to buy Iron Dome system – report
Azerbaijan is planning on buying Israel’s advanced Iron Dome missile interceptor system, reports say.
A battery of the interceptors is ready to be handed over to the Azerbaijan military, the Walla news site says, quoting Azeri media.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning on visiting Azerbaijan in the coming months amid burgeoning ties with the Central Asian nation.
This would be the first sale of the sophisticated system outside of Israel. It has been very successful in shooting down rockets fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Azerbaijan is embroiled in a conflict with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Medium says IDF resumed search for soldier due to her info
An Israeli medium says that the IDF resumed searches for a solider missing for almost 20 years due to information she provided them.
On Sunday, the army announced it was resuming searches for Guy Hever who in 1997 left his post in the Golan Heights, wearing his uniform and armed with a Galil assault rifle, and hasn’t been heard from since.
The medium, Alin Shlomo, tells Channel 2, that she had passed on information she had through “intuition.”
“They were surprised by the accuracy of my information,” she says.
The military tells Channel 2 in response that it examines all the information it receives and in the case of Shlomo “it did not lead to anything.”
There was no immediate indication that the effort is based on new evidence or testimony. Similar searches have been conducted almost annually, around this time of year, since Hever went missing.
Trump lands in DC on way to Obama meeting
US President-elect Donald Trump has landed in Washington DC ahead of his meeting with President Barack Obama.
— POLITICO (@politico) November 10, 2016
Obama invited Trump to an Oval Office meeting. Michelle Obama is also set to meet with Melania Trump.
Israel sees Trump keeping low profile in peace process – report
The Foreign Ministry expects that, as president, Donald Trump will reduce the US role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Haaretz reports.
“As part of his minimal interest in foreign affairs, Trump doesn’t see the Middle East as a good investment and it’s reasonable to assume he will seek to reduce American involvement in the region,” says a ministry briefing sent to Israeli diplomats around the world, Haaretz says.
The briefing says that based on Trump’s statements during the campaign it appears he doesn’t have a coherent policy on the issue.
Trump at White House to meet with Obama
President-elect Donald Trump arrived at the White House today for his first meeting with President Barack Obama, a symbolic start to the transition of power to the nation’s 45th president.
Obama was harshly critical of Trump throughout the campaign, blasting him as unfit to serve as a commander in chief. Trump spent years challenging the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency, falsely suggesting Obama may have been born outside the United States.
If Trump makes good on his campaign promises, he’ll wipe away much of what Obama has done during his eight years in office. The Republican president-elect, who will govern with Congress fully under GOP control, has vowed to repeal Obama’s signature health care law and dismantle the landmark nuclear accord with Iran.
First lady Michelle Obama was meeting privately in the White House residence with Trump’s wife, Melania, while Vice President Joe Biden prepared to see Vice President-elect Mike Pence later Thursday.
Trump traveled to Washington from New York on his private jet, breaking with protocol by not bringing journalists in his motorcade or on his plane to document his historic visit to the White House. Trump was harshly critical of the media during his campaign and for a time banned news organizations whose coverage he disliked from his events.
Ya’alon meeting with Lapid
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon is hosting Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid in his Tel Aviv office for a meeting, The Times of Israel learns.
Ya’alon, a former IDF chief of staff and Likud MK, quit political life earlier this year over a falling out with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but declared his intention to run in the next election and to “lead the country.”
Lapid has repeatedly indicated his wish for Ya’alon and other former military figures to join his centrist party.
— Raphael Ahren
Liberman slams Arab MK for attending Arafat memorial
Defense Minister Avidor Liberman has slammed Joint (Arab) List Party chair Ayman Odeh for taking part in a memorial to Yasser Arafat after he boycotted the funeral of former president Shimon Peres.
“He is not prepared to come to the Peres funeral in Jerusalem, but to speak at the Arafat memorial in Ramallah, yes,” Liberman fumes on his Facebook page.
Liberman says he will continue to work to try and make sure Odeh will not be an Israeli MK in the future, but rather “a member of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.”
Liberman has been leading a boycott of the Arab party since the Peres funeral.
PA’s Abbas says he knows who killed Arafat
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says he knows who killed Yasser Arafat as he marked the 12th anniversary of the former leader’s death but stopped short from giving a name.
Speaking in front of thousands, Abbas says “you ask me who killed him, I know — but my testimony alone is not enough.”
“A commission of inquiry is digging into that, but you’ll find out at the earliest opportunity and be amazed when you know who did it.”
“I do not want to mention names, because these names do not deserve to be remembered,” he adds.
Arafat died on November 11, 2004, at a hospital near Paris from unknown causes at the age of 75.
The Palestinians have long accused Israel of poisoning him, charges the Israeli government firmly denies. His body was exhumed in 2012 for tests but a subsequent French investigation found no proof of poisoning.
German police probe list of Jewish addresses on Facebook
German police launched an investigation today after the addresses of Jewish institutions were published on Facebook by neo-Nazis on the anniversary of the 1938 pogroms against Jews.
A map pointing out locations of almost 70 synagogues, Jewish kindergartens, schools, memorials, businesses, restaurants and cemeteries was posted on the Facebook page of a far-right Berlin group, reports the Tagesspiegel daily.
The words “Jews among us!” appeared in the Gothic font used by Nazis on the map published on Wednesday, November 9, the day which marks the pogroms known as “Kristallnacht” or “Night of the Broken Glass.”
“A criminal complaint was filed over suspicion of incitement,” a police spokeswoman tells AFP, adding that Berlin officers were investigating.
Bernie Sanders doesn’t rule out a 2020 White House run
Bernie Sanders is leaving open the possibility of another presidential bid, saying today in an interview that he wants to focus on helping the party rebuild its base after Donald Trump’s victory.
“Four years is a long time from now,” said the 75-year-old Vermont senator, noting that he faces re-election to the Senate in 2018. But he added: “We’ll take one thing at a time, but I’m not ruling out anything.”
Obama says Trump meeting ‘excellent’
President Barack Obama says his White House meeting with President-elect Donald Trump was “excellent” and wide-ranging.
Obama says that he was “encouraged” by the conversation, which lasted more than an hour.
Trump said he very much looks forward to dealing with Obama in the future, calling it a “great honor.”
Anti-Trump protest planned for Tel Aviv
A “peaceful protest” against US President-elect Donald Trump will be held Friday afternoon outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, its organizer Ilana Fass tells The Times of Israel.
“It’s a rally for all nationalities, who are coming out to support America in this time of need and to make a statement that the man who won, needs to be different than the man who ran,” the US-born Fass says.
The demonstration will kick off at 1 p.m. on Friday, which is a half-day for most Israeli businesses.
Fass, who voted for Clinton, has asked for and received special permission from the police to host the rally on the beach promenade outside the embassy, which is considered a sensitive location in terms of security.
“His presidency can’t be based on the same values and the same rhetoric he used to run. Otherwise, we as Americans cannot accept him as our president,” she says.
Fass says she anticipates that a few dozen people — “maybe 50” — will attend the event.
— Judah Ari Gross
Obama, Trump meeting focused on transition
The first meeting between President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump is focusing on the transition to the White House.
The two “spent a large portion of meeting discussing properly staffing and organizing the White House,” Obama’s spokesman Josh Earnest says in a briefing to reporters after the meeting.
The meeting is being portrayed in a positive light, but that does not mean that the two men’s differences have been resolved, says Earnest.
It “doesn’t mean they agree on all issues, they have deep disagreements… what they did agree on is a smooth transition,” he says.
“I can tell you with full confidence that they didn’t [agree] and they didn’t try. They sought to lay foundation for smooth transition from the Obama presidency to the Trump presidency.”
This was the first meeting between Obama and Trump.
Rivlin hosts Rabin memorial
President Reuven Rivlin hosted a candle-lighting event today to mark the start of commemorations of the 21st anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
Rabin was was gunned down by Yigal Amir, an extremist Jew, on November 4, 1995, amid national tensions over peace efforts with the Palestinians.
Rivlin says Israel has an obligation to learn a lesson from the killing of a prime minister.
“We have a responsibility to our children’s and grandchildren’s generations to find a way to be sure this fatal blow to the Israeli democracy that took place here 21 years ago, (is turned} into a lesson that needs to be learned again and again,” he says.
“We have no other country beside this great land, and we have no other people beside this great nation; and we have no other way to build this state but as a Jewish and democratic state,” the president says.
Israel is holding a series of official events around the Hebrew date of the assassination, that falls next week.
Macedonian police say Islamist attacks foiled
Macedonian police say that Islamist terror attacks have been foiled in the Balkan country, as they announced the arrest of two citizens in a wider regional crackdown.
Mitko Cavkov, chief of public security, did not give details of the planned attacks, but his announcement follows reports of another strike planned at an Albanian football stadium this weekend during a match against Israel.
Since Saturday, 13 people have been arrested in neighboring Albania and Kosovo accused of plotting attacks and recruiting for the Islamic State (IS) group.
Macedonia said one of its citizens had been arrested in Kosovo on Tuesday and another was detained in Skopje. Their alleged aim was “to commit terrorist acts on Macedonian territory,” said Cavkov.
“We have intelligence that shows these people are radical Islamists” with links to the IS group, he tells reporters.
Albanian football officials said Tuesday that the country’s 2018 World Cup qualifier with Israel on Saturday would be moved to a different stadium for “security reasons”.