The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Netanyahu quotes Genesis as evidence of Jewish ties to Hebron
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recites Bible verses referencing Hebron as evidence of the Jewish connection to the West Bank city to protest Friday’s decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to designate the city endangered Palestinian world heritage site.
At the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanayhu reads verses from the book of Genesis that describe the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs as being in Hebron.
“The connection between the Jewish people and Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs is one of purchase and of history which may be without parallel in the history of peoples,” he tells ministers.
After the vote, Netanyahu announced an additional $1 million cut from Israel’s UN membership dues in protest of the decision he called “delusional.”
Coalition leaders postpone discussion of ‘Unified Jerusalem’ bill
Coalition heads unanimously agree to postpone a discussion a bill that would require a special two-thirds Knesset majority on any decision to divide Jerusalem under a future peace deal with the Palestinians.
The bill proposed by Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett is seeking to amend the Basic Law on Jerusalem so that any future vote to divide the city would require the approval of 80 of the 120 MKs to pass, as opposed to a regular majority.
The bill was scheduled to face a vote at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation last week, but the Jewish Home said Netanyahu pulled it from the agenda at the last minute over political considerations.
The Likud in response slammed the Jewish Home’s announcement, saying Bennett proposed the bill without seeking the cooperation of any coalition partners.
Qatar to seek compensation for damages from Arab blockade
Qatar’s government says it is forming a committee to pursue compensation for damages stemming from its isolation by four Arab countries.
Qatari Public Prosecutor Ali Al-Marri says in a press conference Sunday that the committee will handle claims made by private companies, public institutions and individuals.
He gives few details, but said the body would use both domestic and international mechanisms to seek compensation.
Members of the newly formed committee include Qatar’s minister of justice and minister of foreign affairs.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and severed air, land and sea links with Qatar last month, accusing it of supporting extremism. Qatar has denied the allegations, and says the bloc’s ultimatums are an affront to its sovereignty.
French suspect held for planning attack with Belgian pair
A 42-year-old French national appears in court on suspicion of plotting an attack with multiple weapons alongside two Belgian brothers who were up on terror charges in Brussels this week, according to judicial sources.
According to a source close to the inquiry, the man — whose name was not given but who was known to the authorities for being radicalized — was arrested near the northern city of Lille.
Paris prosecutors have opened an inquiry on grounds of terrorist conspiracy.
The suspect is believed to be connected to Akim and Khalid Saouti, two brothers who were charged in Brussels last week with belonging to a “terrorist group” and were believed to be planning an attack with a large stash of weapons including Kalashnikov rifles.
Trump hails Syria truce brokered with Russia
US President Donald Trump says a cease-fire in southern Syria brokered by the US and Russia “will save lives” and is calling for further cooperation with Moscow.
In a tweet published shortly after the truce came into effect this afternoon, Trump writes: “We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”
…We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017
The cease-fire between the Syrian government and the rebels was brokered by Russia, the US and Jordan. Both Jordan and Israel fear that Iranian-backed forces allied with the Syrian government will establish a lasting presence along their borders.
Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to the cease-fire on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg last week.
Several cease-fires have been declared over the course of Syria’s six-year-old civil war. None has lasted very long.
Iraq PM declares victory in ‘liberated’ Mosul
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declares victory in the “liberated” city of Mosul, his office says, after a grueling nearly nine-month battle against the Islamic state group.
PM Al-Abadi arrives in Mosul to announce its liberation and congratulate the armed forces and Iraqi people on this victory pic.twitter.com/bUtkj7z88A
— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) July 9, 2017
Abadi “arrives in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulates the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people on the achievement of the major victory,” his office said in a statement.
Hamas ups Gaza-Sinai border security following Egypt attack
The Hamas terror group says it will increase security along the Gaza-Sinai border in the wake of an Islamic State-claimed attack on Egyptian security forces that killed or injured 26 soldiers in the northern Peninsula over the weekend.
According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, Hamas Deputy Interior Minister Tawfiq Abu Naim says that the group is tightening the border “to prevent any cases of wanted fugitives attempting to sneak into Gaza from Egypt.”
IS has been leading a deadly insurgency that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his supporters.
On Friday, the jihadists had attacked several Sinai checkpoints with car bombs and heavy gunfire in a coordinated assault, for which IS later claimed responsibility in a statement.
The military said the attack killed or wounded 26 soldiers, without providing a death toll.
— with Agencies
Liberman denies ‘breakthrough’ in Hamas prisoner exchange talks
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman denies reports of a “breakthrough” in talks with Hamas over returning Israeli citizens and bodies of soldiers held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.
“We have no contact with Hamas. There’s an ongoing effort to release our soldiers and civilians held in Hamas captivity,” Lieberman says in an interview with Galey Israel radio. “And there’s no breakthrough.”
“We don’t negotiate with terror organisations,” he says, calling the weekend reports in Arab media “psychological warfare” by Hamas.
On Saturday, the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reported that Israel and Hamas were on the brink of an initial deal in which Hamas would provide information on the missing Israelis in return for the release of groups of Palestinian prisoners.
Nearly 500 police hurt in G20 clashes
Nearly 500 police officers were injured in clashes with protesters during the G20 summit, officials say, after fresh riots broke out overnight.
Violence continued to rage after G20 leaders returned home yesterday, with far-left protesters setting fire to a number of vehicles into the early morning hours, according to police.
Demonstrators gathered after the close of the summit in the Schanzen district, a stronghold for radicals which was the site of multiple confrontations since Thursday.
Armed with glass bottles and targeting vehicles, many of which they set on fire, the protesters were pushed back by officers, using water cannons and tear gas, police said on Twitter.
At a news conference, the head of operations for Hamburg police, Hartmut Dudde, said 476 officers had been injured since Thursday in a deployment of more than 20,000 officers, and 186 people were detained. No accurate number for protesters injured was available.
Labor reports hacking attempt day before party’s final leadership vote
Police are reportedly investigating an attempted cyber attack on the Labor party website, ahead of the party’s runoff leadership vote Monday.
According to Channel 10, the party yesterday identified an attempt to hack its website. Labor officials immediately reported the incident to police who briefly took down the party website and the IP address of the suspected hacker was obtained by authorities.
A spokesperson from the Labor party tells the TV station that tomorrow’s vote will proceed as planned.
Abbas, Sissi meet in Cairo amid likely Gaza shakeup
The leaders of Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are meeting today amid signs of a rapprochement between Cairo and the Hamas terrorist group that could shake up Gaza’s political landscape and sideline the PA president.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi are holding talks in the Egyptian capital.
Officials close to Abbas say the PA leader had requested the meeting to seek clarifications on what appears to be an emerging power-sharing agreement between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and an exiled Abbas rival, former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan.
Under the deal — parts of which have been confirmed by other parties involved — Hamas would retain control over Gaza’s security, while Dahlan would eventually return to Gaza and handle its foreign relations.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Trump’s Mideast peace envoy Greenblatt returning to Israel
US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Jason Greenblatt, is due to arrive in Israel tonight to advance the administration’s goal of restarting negotiations.
He is set to meet with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tonight and with Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow.
“While the primary purpose of his trip is to meet with the ambassador now that the ambassador is on the ground and fully installed in his position, Greenblatt will also likely be taking meetings relevant to both the Israelis and the Palestinians,” a senior White House official tells The Times of Israel.
“This trip is an interim visit, as talks continue about potential next steps. President Trump has made it clear that working towards achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is a top priority for him,” the official says.
— Raphael Ahren
Muslim leaders rally in Berlin against terrorism
Around 30 Muslim leaders from across Europe gather for a rally against terror in Berlin at the site of a deadly truck attack in December, claimed by the Islamic State group.
The event, which attracted a few hundred participants, was part of a “March of Muslims Against Terrorism” by imams who set off by bus from Paris yesterday.
The gathering in the German capital took place at the Breitscheidplatz square, where a Tunisian who had failed in his attempt to seek asylum plowed a hijacked truck through crowds at a Christmas market, an attack that killed 12 people.
The Islamic leaders held a prayer for the victims, joined by local Muslim, Christian and Jewish representatives.
Imam Hocine Drouiche from the southern French city of Nimes was quoted by German media as saying that the event was meant to send a “message of fraternity against terrorism.”
Royal Jordanian lifts laptop ban on US flights
Jordan’s national airline has joined other Middle Eastern countries in lifting a ban on laptops in airplane cabins after complying with US security guidelines.
Royal Jordanian says it has implemented “enhanced security measures” in line with US Department of Homeland Security requirements. The airline did not describe the new measures.
The US imposed the ban in March over concerns that Islamic State fighters and other extremists could hide bombs inside of laptops.
The ban prohibited laptops from airplane cabins on direct, US-bound flights from 10 cities in the Middle East and Turkey. Royal Jordan operates 16 weekly non-stop flights to Chicago, New York and Detroit.
Several other airlines, including three based in the Gulf, have also lifted the ban in recent days.
IDF solider collapses, dies during water park excursion
An IDF soldier dies after collapsing during a trip to a water park with his unit, the army says.
The 21-year-old soldier was on a trip to the Yamit 2000 water park in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon when he collapsed.
Medical teams from the United Hatzalah emergency response service performed CPR and used a defibrillator on the soldier at the scene before taking him to a nearby hospital for treatment, the organization says.
He arrived at the hospital in critical condition and was pronounced dead a short while later.
His family was notified of his death, the army says.
The circumstances for his collapse and death were not immediately known.
IDF Military Police opened an investigation into the incident, the army says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Tens of thousands at Turkish opposition’s ‘justice’ rally in Istanbul
Tens of thousands of people gather for a rally of Turkey’s main opposition party in Istanbul, the biggest protest event in several years by critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A sea of people filled the vast shoreside square in Maltepe, on the Asian side of Istanbul, for the rally marking the end of a 450-kilometer (280-mile) “justice march” from Ankara to Istanbul by Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, an AFP correspondent says.
— Nil Köksal (@nilkoksalcbc) July 9, 2017
Kilicdaroglu began the 25-day trek to protest the arrest of one of his MPs and it rapidly grew into a major march protesting alleged injustices under Erdogan’s rule.
“Nobody should think this march is the last one. It’s the first step,” Kilicdaroglu tells the crowds who roared back with the word “Justice!”
The rally is by far the biggest by the opposition seen in Istanbul since the mass May-June 2013 demonstrations against Erdogan’s rule sparked by the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park in the city.
Trump announces joint US-Russia cyber task force, is scorned by GOP
US President Donald Trump announces a plan to create a cybersecurity task force to prevent election meddling.
In a tweet, Trump says the joint venture will ensure that “election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.”
The announcement was met with ridicule by top Republican lawmakers.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “its not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.”
Another Senate Republican, Marco Rubio of Florida, said on Twitter that “partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit.'”
John McCain, his voice dripping with sarcasm, tells a CBS interviewer that he is “sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort, since he’s doing the hacking.”
McCain chairs the Armed Services Committee, while Rubio sits on both the Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees.
— with Agencies
10,000 Poles head home after half-ton WWII bomb disarmed
Polish police say an unusually large bomb, left over from World War II, has been removed safely from the eastern town where it recently was unearthed.
About 10,000 people who were evacuated during the removal operation in the town of Bialystok are returning home.
The 500-kilogram (1,102-pound) German ST-500 bomb was found Thursday during a road project. Bomb disposal experts loaded it on a special truck earlier today and were transporting it to a test range, where they plan to destroy it.
Local police spokesman Tomasz Krupa says the removal was successful and Bialystok residents who were evacuated in the morning were cleared to go home.
Palestinian activist goes on trial despite opposition from NGOs, US lawmakers
Prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro is on trial in an Israeli military court this afternoon on accusations of inciting violence, despite opposition from rights groups and several US lawmakers.
The trial began at the Ofer military court in the West Bank, but was adjourned until October 22, after two soldiers testified about the February 26, 2016 demonstration where Amro is accused of “inciting violence.”
Amro is the founder of Youth Against Settlements, a campaign group in the city of Hebron in the West Bank.
In June 2016, he was charged 18 times, some for events dating back to 2010, according to Amnesty International, who said the Israeli charges do not “stand up to any scrutiny.”
Speaking to reporters outside the court, the 37-year-old Amro calls the trial a “joke” and says he has no trust that Israel’s military justice system will treat him fairly.
His lawyer Gaby Lasky told reporters the “Israeli military cannot stop non-violent demonstrations with weapons, so they’re doing it through [the] criminalization of … freedom of speech and freedom of demonstration.”
An IDF spokesman has said evidence would be presented that Amro had “taken part in riots, attacks on soldiers, calls to violence, and prevented security forces from doing their work.”
Last month, for Democratic lawmakers circulated a letter calling for the US to urge Israel to drop the charges against Amro citing free speech.
— AFP & JTA
Ashdod teen dies of electrocution
A 16-year-old is pronounced dead after being electrocuted on the roof of a residential building in the coastal city of Ashdod.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by Magen David Adom paramedics.
According to Channel 2, an initial investigation into the incident revealed the teen was climbing up to the roof of the 20-story building with two friends when he grasped an electric cable with one hand and TV antenna with the other, closing the circuit.
Israel clarifies call to halt anti-Soros campaign
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues a clarification of a statement made by its ambassador to Hungary denouncing a nationwide campaign targeting US billionaire George Soros, which Jewish leaders say is stoking anti-Semitic feelings.
“Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred,” ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachson says in a statement.
“This was the sole purpose of the statement issued by Israel’s ambassador to Hungary. In no way was the statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself,” Nachshon says.
The campaign is the fourth media blitz by the government this year against the EU and Soros for their alleged attacks on Hungary’s hard-line anti-immigration stance.
The row comes shortly before Netanyahu’s planned visit to Hungary next week, the first by an Israeli premier since the EU member’s transition from Communism in 1989.
— Raphael Ahren
High Court rejects petition of Hadassah parents demanding new pediatric cancer ward
The High Court of Justice rejects a petition filed by parents of Hadassah Hospital’s pediatric cancer patients demanding the court approve the opening of a new hemato-oncology department at a rival Jerusalem hospital.
The court sides with the Health Ministry who last month said it would not channel public funds into opening another cancer department at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center when the necessary infrastructure already exists at Hadassah.
Over the last several months, six doctors resigned from Hadassah’s pediatric hemato-oncology unit over a management decision they said was medically unacceptable.
In the wake of the resignations, the hospital management, doctors and the parents of Hadassah’s pediatric cancer patients have been locked in a crisis, trading accusations and counter-accusations.
Abbas said to cut salaries of 37 Hamas lawmakers
The Palestinian Authority cut the salaries of 37 Hamas lawmakers as part of a series of measures to get the terror group to cede control of the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian media reports.
The PA finance ministry earlier informed MPs from Hamas’s Change and Reform bloc who are living in the West Bank they would no longer receive their salaries, First Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian parliament Ahmed Bahar tells the news site Safa.
Bahar calls the measure a “declaration of war” against the Palestinian Legislative Council.
— Dov Lieber
Canned corn recalled over possible plastic contamination
The Shufersal supermarket chain announces a recall of its canned corn over concerns they may contain pieces of plastic.
The store is asking customers with cans of corn with the bar code 7296073244141 that expire on August 17, 2020, to return them to their point of sale for a full refund.
More information is available at 1-800-686868.
Shufersal says it has informed the Health Ministry of the possible contamination and is working to remove the product from store shelves.