The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Galon lauds High Court for ruling on rabbi
Meretz head Zehava Galon crows “victory” on Facebook after the High Court freezes the appointment of Eyal Karim as IDF chief rabbi over remarks he made that were perceived as condoning rape of non-Jewish women during wartime.
She joins fellow Meretz MKs Michal Rozin and Tamar Zandberg in feting the decision, after the three petitioned the court, and she slams Karim for failing to show at the hearing.
According to the ruling, Karim will have to issue an affidavit on his past and current views on wartime rape and the role of women in the military.
“Rabbi Karim couldn’t bother to show up to the hearing on his issue. It didn’t interest him. But the judges said today would should have been clear to the IDF chief of staff: A man like this cannot have the post of chief IDF rabbi,” she writes.
Karim has also said that it is “entirely forbidden” for women to serve in the army for reasons of modesty, and has opposed women singing at army events as contrary to halacha, Jewish law.
“Now it depends on Rabbi Karim. Will he continue to hide behind stuttered half-explanations or take back his words. This is really a minimal demand. Tens of thousands of women are supposed to be drafted into the army. It can’t be that the army rabbi has a problem with them,” she writes. “There is no room here for elaborate justifications or excuses. It’s just a shame that it took the High Court to explain that to the IDF.”
Tzohar rabbis group comes out against Karim ruling
The Tzohar rabbinical organization, which has worked to break the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on cradle-to-grave religious issues for Jews in Israel, blasts the High Court for ruling against Karim, saying his views on Jewish law should not be under the court’s purview.
“The role of a rabbi in Israel is to adjudicate based on his insights and knowledge of Torah matters,” the group says in a statement. “The decision of who to appoint as IDF chief rabbi should not be based on where he lives or his personal opinions. In our judgment, it would be prudent for the [High] Court to review any intent to nullify his appointment.”
Lapid says Netanyahu can’t submerge submarine issue
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is doubling down on his call for a “thorough investigation” into allegations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his personal attorney David Shimron may have faced a possible conflict of interest in the multi-billion shekel purchase of German submarines.
“I have seen, for three days already, efforts to… make the submarines affair disappear,” he says at the start of the weekly faction meeting. “It won’t work.”
Lapid says the submarines purchases came at the expense of other military equipment such as fortified APCs, saying “it’s the same budget.”
These military purchases must be “the cleanest” and “most transparent,” he says.
“You can’t tell us that ‘it’s okay, the prime minister didn’t know anything.’ If the prime minister didn’t know anything, it’s very much not okay,” he adds.
“This matter must be investigated. Why didn’t Shimron say anything to the prime minister? Why was it hidden from the cabinet and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee? How much money did he get?”
— Marissa Newman
France says possible major terror attack foiled
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says police may have foiled a large-scale terror attack in a series of arrest raids over the last two days.
The arrests of the alleged plotters from France, Morocco and Afghanistan “enabled us to prevent a long-planned terror attack on our soil,” Cazeneuve tells a televised news conference.
He says the investigation would show whether “the foiled attack was a coordinated attack aiming to target several sites simultaneously on our soil.”
Police raids were carried out overnight Saturday to Sunday in the eastern city of Strasbourg and Marseille in the south following an eight-month investigation by security services.
“Credible information made these arrests necessary,” one security source tells AFP.
1905 letter shows Trump’s gramps begged to return to Germany
A handwritten letter has been found in a German archive in which President-elect Donald Trump’s grandfather unsuccessfully fought his expulsion from the country for failing to perform mandatory military service.
Bild newspaper on Monday printed the 1905 letter located by a historian, in which Friedrich Trump wrote Bavarian Prince Luitpold begging the “well-loved, noble, wise and just” leader not to deport him. Luitpold rejected the “most subservient request.”
Trump’s grandfather was born in Kallstadt, then part of Bavaria, and immigrated to the US as a teenager without performing his military service. It was after he’d made his fortune there and tried to resettle in Germany that he was ordered expelled, and returned to the US.
Rhineland-Palatinate state archive spokeswoman Isabell Weisbrod says Friedrich Trump’s birth certificate is also in the archive.
Zionist Union vows Knesset probe into sub affair
The Zionist Union faction says it will seek a special parliamentary inquiry into the submarines affair.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog says the attorney general, state comptroller, and Knesset must all probe the case.
“There is no alternative to exposing the entire case to daylight,” says Herzog, later adding: “The person who is afraid of daylight is Bibi Netanyahu.”
The case “raises serious questions,” says Herzog.
“It’s time that you face the public and be accountable,” he says, addressing the prime minister.
Germany blames Russia, Iran for Aleppo suffering
Germany says Russia and Iran are partly responsible for the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people besieged by Syrian government forces in Aleppo.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert says the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad wouldn’t be able to continue pounding the city without the help of its foreign allies.
Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Monday that “it’s obviously the Russian and Iranian support for the … Syrian regime which has caused a dramatic worsening of the situation for the population.”
He acknowledged that Germany has few options other than to keep raising the issue in public.
Asked whether Germany would consider seeking sanctions against Russia and Iran over their actions in Syria, Seibert said that “all options must remain on the table.”
Trump Twitter tirades to continue unabated, aide assures nation
Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to Donald Trump, says the president-elect will continue to use his Twitter account to “cut through the nonsense” and draw attention to his plan for the country.
Trump tweeted nine times this weekend, twice about his transition plans. The other tweets complained about a skit on “Saturday Night Live,” the cast of the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” Sen. Harry Reid and his fraud case with Trump University.
The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
I have always had a good relationship with Chuck Schumer. He is far smarter than Harry R and has the ability to get things done. Good news!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
When CNN’s Chris Cuomo noted that most of his tweets didn’t draw attention to his plan for the country, Conway asked: “Why do you care?”
She said Trump isn’t focused on division: “This network and other people will always be focused on divisions. How about accepting the election results, Chris, and letting him form a government?”
Liberman on settlements: Build, baby, build, but only after Trump sworn in
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says that as a “pragmatic right-winger” he must “admit and confess, that in the past eight years, we haven’t built enough” in the settlements.
The defense minister also appears to walk back comments that he was willing to freeze construction outside of the blocs in exchange for increased building in the more populated areas.
He says comments last week about a 2004 understanding between George W. Bush and then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, in which the United States acknowledged that the settlement blocs will remain under Israeli sovereignty in a future peace agreement, was merely “an example,” and he won’t necessarily seek a moratorium in non-mainline settlements.
He attributes limited construction until now to “a failure to formulate a policy” vis-a-vis Washington on settlement construction.
Liberman urges Israeli officials to wait patiently until Donald Trump enters the White House, and says Netanyahu must reach new agreements with the president-elect on West Bank building.
He says that Israel must open a “blank” and “new page” with Washington.
Liberman also rails against the so-called Regulation Bill, which his party members supported in its preliminary reading last week.
The legislation does not help the settlement movement, “it harms the settlements,” he says. “It’s simply unnecessary.”
Liberman also says that the bills are compromising the government’s ability to find another solution to the impending demolition of the Amona outpost.
“I very much am in favor of the residents of Amona, and that’s why I won’t lie to them,” he says, emphasizing that the regulation bill won’t stop the court-ordered razing.
— Marissa Newman
In first, IDF nominates member of Ethiopian community for colonel rank
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot nominates Lt. Col. Avraham Yitzhak to take over as chief medical officer of the army’s Southern Command, putting him on the path to becoming the first Israeli of Ethiopian heritage in the IDF to hold the rank of colonel.
Yitzchak, who was born in Ethiopia and moved to Israel in 1994, is one of 28 new nominations the army has announced. They are all subject to final approval by the defense minister.
In addition, six women have also been tapped for colonel-level positions. Three of them will receive promotions for their proposed positions, while the rest are already colonels.
Lt. Col. Liron Donal will take over as commander of the Home Front Command’s Dan District, which includes Tel Aviv and the surrounding suburbs. She will be the first woman to lead a Home Front Command district.
Lt. Col. Olga Polyakov will go up in rank to colonel and become chief medical officer for the Home Front Command. Col. Orli Stern will lead the Logistics Directorate’s building and engineering department. The unnamed-for-security-reasons Col. M. will run Military Intelligence’s human resources department.
The other two women — Col. Noa Zumar and Lt. Col. Tali Freed — will take positions in the army’s legal system.
Lt. Col. Carmel Wahabi, a Druze Israeli, will also preside in the army’s judiciary.
— Judah Ari Gross
Queen and the Trump? It could happen
Queen Elizabeth II could host Donald Trump within months of him becoming United States president, with the British government confirming that it is considering a state visit next year.
Royal officials say that the government is responsible for organizing state visits, and a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May says that the proposal was “under consideration.”
The world’s longest-reigning monarch would host the new president and his wife Melania at her Windsor Castle residence, according to a report in The Sunday Times, citing government ministers.
Trump told May that he was a “big fan of the queen” when the pair spoke by telephone following his victory, and is also reported to have told British politician and ally Nigel Farage that his late mother Mary would be “chuffed to bits when I meet the queen.”
Britain is keen to build bridges with Trump after many leading government figures criticized the president-elect during his divisive but successful election campaign.
Sick of ‘judgy’ Obama, Hungary PM calls Trump win ‘fun’
Hungary’s right-wing prime minister says watching Donald Trump win the US presidential election was the “most fun” he had had in a long time.
Viktor Orban says he has “high hopes” for upcoming changes in the US. Trump’s election, he says, could mark an “important crossroads.”
While in Serbia, Orban said “we have had enough of lecturing” and “not being able to express our opinion because we are afraid that we will be morally judged.”
He relays his hope that “we will get rid of that now.”
Orban in the past had praised Trump’s tough position on migration.
Orban’s own government has faced criticism for building a barbed-wire fence along its border with Serbia to stop migrant influx.
Netanyahu to opposition: Simmer down, I’m not going anywhere
A grinning Netanyahu dismisses allegations against him at a Likud faction meeting, telling fellow lawmakers, the gathered press and the wider public they should stop trying to torpedo his rule via allegations of a conflict of interest regarding a multi-billion shekel submarine deal with a German firm.
“You can calm down, I’ll be here a long time,” he says, apparently addressing opposition Knesset members.
He then seems to challenge them to a duel of democracy.
“Present your positions to the public, we will present our positions and achievements and the public will decide. That’s how democracy works,” he says.
New elections are not scheduled for another three years.
Syrian arrested in alleged German bomb plot released
German prosecutors say a man who was arrested last month as a suspected accomplice in a Syrian compatriot’s alleged bomb plot has been released.
The 33-year-old, identified only as Khalil A., had been accused of helping main suspect Jaber Albakr plan what authorities believe was an intended attack using homemade explosives on one of Berlin’s airports. Police found explosives hidden at Khalil A.’s apartment in Chemnitz.
However, federal prosecutors said Monday that the investigation hadn’t produced evidence to substantiate the case against Khalil A. He was released on Sunday.
Albakr was arrested with the help of three other fellow Syrians in Leipzig nearly two days after he evaded police in Chemnitz. He strangled himself in his jail cell a few days later.
Court tells cops to explain why they didn’t throw book at accused officer
The High Court has given the police and the Public Security Ministry 45 days to explain why they should not have taken administrative action against a top anti-graft officer accused of sexual harassment.
Roni Rittman, 51, was accused of two instances of sexual harassment, including kissing a female subordinate against her will six years ago. He has denied the allegations against him and said that a senior officer in the Israel Police’s intelligence unit was trying to frame him.
During the course of the investigation, Rittman, who heads the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, was put on mandatory leave but returned to work in late December after police chief Roni Alsheich said there was insufficient evidence to take action.
A female officer had petitioned the High Court to have Rittman removed from his post, leading to the decision today.
Her lawyer calls the decision “very significant,” the Ynet news website reports.
The voters are alt-right? Trump favorability rises after election
Hamilton Shmamilton. A new poll shows Donald Trump’s favorability rating is rising like one of his towers, spiking nine points since the election earlier this month, according to a Politico/Morning Consult survey.
The poll shows 46 percent have a “very favorable or somewhat favorable” opinion of Trump, compared to 12% who are not such big fans and 34% who really don’t like the president-elect.
Just before the election, those numbers were flipped, with 61% having a very unfavorable opinion of Trump and only 37% finding him favorable.
The poll was held on November 16-18, according to Politico.
Obama’s favorbaiulity rating is also up a bit according to the poll, from 50% to 54% so make what you will of that.
And (almost) everybody agrees Steve Bannon was a poor choice for chief White House strategist, with only two in 10 respondents saying it was a “strong” pick.
India train crash death toll rises to 146 as search for victims ends
Indian officials have officially ended the search for victims in the country’s deadliest train accident in years, setting the death toll at 146.
Rescuers in Pukhrayan spent the day using cranes to lift the last of the twisted metal wreckage to check for bodies underneath.
About 2,000 workers were clearing the tracks and checking for damage to the rail line in hopes of resuming traffic through one of India’s busiest railway junctions by Monday evening, railway official Amit Kumar says.
The government has called for an investigation into what caused the accident, promising to punish anyone found responsible.
The passenger train was about midway through a 27-hour journey between the cities of Indore and Patna when it slid off the tracks at 3:10 a.m. Sunday. The impact was so strong that one of the coaches landed atop another, crushing the one below. Passengers were flung from their beds.
Erdan tells Knesset he’ll vote against dismantling broadcaster
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan — formerly the communications minister — says he will vote against any proposal to dismantle the new public broadcaster.
At an hour-long Question Time session in the plenum, Erdan says he “has never hidden my position” and maintained “it’s important to have a public broadcaster in Israel.”
The minister, who spearheaded the government legislation to dismantle the Israel Broadcasting Authority and replace it with the new public broadcaster, says he’s waiting for the recommendations of a committee tasked with deciding whether the government should now reverse the efforts — shuttering the new broadcaster and “rehabilitating” the IBA.
If the coalition decides to close the new broadcaster, “I will vote against it,” he says.
But the minister stops short of criticizing his fellow party members — and the prime minister, who now holds the communications portfolio — who seek to shut down the new broadcaster.
— Marissa Newman
NATO head ‘looking forward’ to work with Trump
NATO’s general secretary says he is “looking forward” to working with Donald Trump’s upcoming US administration.
Speaking at the NATO summit in Istanbul, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says President-elect Trump assured him of America’s “strong support” for the alliance and the security of Europe during a phone call.
Stoltenberg added that Trump pointed out during Friday’s call the “importance of increased defense spending among European allies.”
During the election campaign, Trump had called for increasing contributions from allies.
Stoltenberg says all members had pledged to dedicate 2 percent of their GDP to defense spending at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales.
In response to a question on alleged Russian interference in NATO countries’ domestic affairs, Stoltenberg says: “We have seen them conducting propaganda, we are aware of that, we see it. And my answer is that our response to propaganda is not propaganda. But our response to propaganda is facts.”
Security minister predicts no violence in Amona evacuation
Erdan — who oversees the police — is asked by Zionist Union MK Eitan Broshi how the security forces are gearing up for the evacuation of the Amona outpost by the December 25 court deadline.
The minister replies that he is still holding on to hope that there will be no evacuation.
“I still hope that the Regulation Bill will both pass and will apply to Amona and prevent the evacuation,” he says.
Erdan acknowledges that the legislation may not avert the demolition, but says in such a case he has “no doubt” the police will do their job and the government will comply with the court order.
He says he is familiar with the Amona residents and “the majority or all are law-abiding and will not lift a hand against a policeman.”
“I don’t think that we should expect images similar to what happened in Amona ten years ago,” he says, referring to violent clashes between police and settlers in Amona in 2006 that left over 200 people injured.
— Marissa Newman
Erdan: No need for mosque-muffling measure
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan suggests that the bill to silence mosques overnight is unnecessary, saying existing noise pollution laws — which are largely unenforced — would “certainly” suffice to end the calls to prayer disturbing Israel’s residents.
Erdan says “there is insufficient enforcement,” and says he’s brought up the issue with the police commissioner.
He also urges dialogue between politicians and Muslim leaders to reach agreements to lower the volume on the calls to prayer, rather than imposing the solution through legislation.
He is responding to a question by Zionist Union MK Yael Cohen-Paran.
Erdan is also asked by Likud MK Yehudah Glick about the ongoing ban on lawmakers from visiting the Temple Mount.
“Recently, there has been a change on the subject,” he says. “The Israel Police thinks the visits can resume,” with some restrictions, he says.
— Marissa Newman
Netanyahu tells ministers not to talk to Trump’s people
Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman has sent a letter to ministers instructing them not to make any contact with the nascent Trump administration, the Walla news website reports.
The letter instructs ministers to run any contact through the Prime Minister’s Office or the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
A copy of the letter is tweeted by reporter Tal Shalev.
— Tal Shalev (@talshalev1) November 21, 2016
Earlier this week, the Breitbart website published a letter written by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel to Steve Bannon, who is Trump’s chief strategist, thanking him for his support of Israel.
Bannon has been roundly condemned by many Israeli and Jewish groups for his alleged support of the white nationalist alt-right movement.
On Sunday night, Bannon was scheduled to appear at a New York gala hosted by the Zionist Organization of America, where Education Minister Naftali Bennett gave a speech. However, Bannon did not show up at the event.
Last week, Netanyahu instructed his government not to speak publicly about the election, though several ministers have praised Trump in the media for his supposed support for Israeli activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as his promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Rare Anne Frank poem to be auctioned
A very rare handwritten poem by Jewish diarist Anne Frank will go under the auctioneer’s hammer Wednesday, amid a flurry of interest which may push the price well above the 30,000 euros ($32,000) reserve.
“These things are so rare that I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Thys Blankevoort, co-director of the Bubb Kuyper auction house based in the western Dutch town of Haarlem.
“Any document that’s written by Anne Frank is rare,” he tells AFP Monday, adding only about four or five items signed by her had come to light in the past 40 years.
Dedicated to “Dear Cri-cri,” the poem, written in Dutch in black ink on a notebook-size piece of white paper which has slightly discolored with age, is signed “in memory, from Anne Frank.”
Frank wrote the 12-line text, dated March 28, 1942, in a friendship book belonging to the older sister of her best friend only three months before she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam.
The poem is being sold by Jacqueline van Maarsen, Frank’s primary school friend, who over the years has worked to keep her pal’s story alive. Frank also wrote a poem in Jacqueline’s book, but she is too attached to it to sell it, Blankevoort says.
While the first four lines of the text are well-known among such poems “written by girls, for girls,” the auction house has so far not traced the origins of the final four lines.
Trump meeting with Oklahoma, ex-Texas governors for cabinet posts
Ensconced back in his Manhattan high rise, President-elect Donald Trump is meeting with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and former Texas governor and GOP presidential rival Rick Perry.
That’s according to top aide Kellyanne Conway. She tells Fox News on Monday that Perry is a possible contender to lead the Defense or Energy departments and that Fallin is being considered to head the Interior Department.
Both are seen going into Trump Tower.
“We’ve made a couple of deals,” Trump told reporters at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Sunday. He gave assurances that “incredible meetings” would be bringing “incredible people” into the government. “You’ll be hearing about them soon.”
In a separate interview on CNN, Conway says Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is “rumored” to be on the list for secretary of state. Mitt Romney, a former Trump critic, has been discussed as a contender for that job as well.
Conway warns against drawing any conclusions from Trump’s meetings. She said: “Not everyone who consults with the president-elect or meets with him is going to be in his cabinet.”
Trump to have turkey in Florida
President-elect Donald Trump will spend Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is traveling to Mississippi, where his son is stationed, for the holiday.
That’s according to Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump’s transition team.
Pence’s son, Michael, is a Marine who is training to be a pilot.
Miller said Trump will get together with family at his Palm Beach home and take a brief break from transition planning. Asked what Trump will be doing, Miller said, “hopefully eating some turkey.”
IDF calls off rabbi swearing-in after court freezes appointment
The IDF has canceled a ceremony to swear in the new IDF chief rabbi, after the High Court earlier in the day said the nomination of Rabbi Eyal Karim must be frozen until he explains controversial comments he’s made.
The event had been slated for Wednesday. The army says in a statement a new date will be set in the future.
The court ruled earlier that Karim must explain comments that justified raping non-Jewish women and forbade women from serving in the military.
UN: 1 million under siege in Syria
The UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien says the number of Syrians living in besieged areas has more than doubled in the past year to nearly 1 million people.
He accuses the government of isolating, starving, bombing and denying medical attention and humanitarian aid to people in opposition areas “in order to force them to submit or flee.”
He says the number of besieged people rose from 393,700 to 974,080 people. Most of the besieged areas are surrounded by government troops.
O’Brien told the UN Security Council on Monday that “it is a deliberate tactic of cruelty to compound a people’s suffering for political, military and in some cases economic gain, to destroy and defeat a civilian population who cannot fight back.”
He strongly criticized President Bashar Assad’s government for its failure to defend all Syrians — even those who oppose him — and for invoking national sovereignty “to bomb its own people.”
Trump used call from Argentine president to push business deal — report
The Talking Points Memo news site reports that Donald Trump used his position as president-elect to try to push forward a project in Argentina, the second instance of a seeming abuse of power that could raise serious conflict of interest allegations.
According to the report, citing the Argentine press, Trump used a congratulatory call with Argentine President Mauricio Macri to ask him to clear red tape holding up a Trump project in Buenos Aires.
Last week, it emerged that Trump, who is supposed to put his assets in a blind trust, but whose children may be involved with both running the trust and statecraft, met with Indian business partners about a project there in the days after the election.
Rivlin in Mumbai: Terror is terror and Israel stands with India
President Reuven Rivlin, visiting Mumbai, tells the Jewish community there that Israel stands with India in the fight against terror.
“Let us be clear, terror is terror is terror, whatever it likes. And we stand here, we say it clearly, terror will never win, terror will never win,” he says at the Taj Hotel, one of the targets of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.
— Froim Ditza (@Froim) November 21, 2016
“Our values, democracy and freedom are strong, and we are defending (it) with all our might. … we must act and work together … together to share intelligence and best practices to keep our people safe and to protect our brothers, our towns and cities. India and Israel stands shoulder to shoulder,” he says, according to the Economic Times.
The Mumbai leg is the last part of Rivlin’s week-long trip to India.
— Froim Ditza (@Froim) November 21, 2016
Erdogan to Israeli TV: You know how to kill well, just like Hitler
Channel 2 is teasing out bits of Ilana Dayan’s interview with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to be aired on the Uvda program at 9 p.m.
During the extremely rare interview, Dayan asks Erdogan about his comment calling Israel “more barbaric that Hitler” during the 2014 war in Gaza.
“I don’t agree with what Hitler did and I also don’t agree with what Israel did in Gaza,” he’s quoted saying, in a translation of the Turkish into Hebrew into English. “Thus, there’s no place to make a comparison over what is more barbaric. …You killed thousands of people in Gaza and Palestine, and I said you know well how to kill people,” he is quoted saying.
He also chides Dayan for trying to question him about the Israeli raid on the Gaza blockade-busting ship Mavi Marmara in 2010, which led to the deaths of 10 Turks during a brawl with troops and contributed to a deterioration in ties between Jerusalem and Ankara.
He also says he is in constant contact with terror group Hamas and accuses Israel of trying to take over the al-Aqsa Mosque on the flashpoint Temple Mount.
But referencing the recent thaw with Israel, he says he does not want to get bogged down in talking about such things.
Report: Ministers warned away from Trump figures after Bennett tried to meet Bannon
The Haaretz daily, citing a senior source, reports that ministers were told they could not meet with Trump administration figures after some “some unauthorized persons” tried to meet with “senior members of the new administration.”
The paper reports that one of the ministers who tried may have been Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is currently in New York. On Sunday, Bennett spoke at a ZOA gala where top Trump aide Stephen Bannon was supposed to appear.
However, Bannon did not end up showing.
French finalizing guest list for peace confab on rocks
Paris is still finalizing the invitation list for the international peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, David Cvach, the adviser to French President Francois Hollande says.
Cvach tells the Palestinian ambassador to France, Salman al-Harfi, Hollande is still “determined” to hold the conference before the end of the year, the official PA news outlet Wafa reports.
The French adviser says the guest list and the “level of participation” of attendees will be decided by the end of November.
In light of reports that Hollande was facing difficulties to convene the summit due to heavy international opposition, particularly from Israel but also from the United States, Cvach says the US has not informed the French about any new position regarding the confab.
— Dov Lieber
Montreal Hasids to go to court over law nixing synagogues
Hasidic Jews in Montreal’s tony Outremont borough are vowing to go to court after a referendum upheld a bylaw banning new places of worship.
“It’s very disappointing,” Hasidic leader Abraham Ekstein tells the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The bylaw, passed last year, was upheld Sunday by a vote of 1,561 to 1,202.
The basis for the court case, according to Ekstein, will be religious discrimination running counter to rights guaranteed under Canada’s and Quebec’s human rights charters.
While the bylaw prohibits any religion from establishing a new house of worship on a specific upscale street — ostensibly to promote local business activity — Ekstein and others feel the real target was the Hasidic community, which makes up one-quarter of the borough’s population and is growing rapidly.
Argentina’s Macri said to deny talking business with Trump
Reporter Will Carless writes on Twitter that the spokesperson for Argentine President Mauricio Macri is denying that Donald Trump used a congratulatory phone call to try to push forward a business deal, a possible damning conflict of interest.
“They didn’t talk about the (Trump) tower at all. It’s absolutely untrue,” Carless says on Twitter, quoting the Argentine president’s residence Casa Rosada.
“They didn’t talk about the (Trump) tower at all” spokesman for Argentina’s president just told me. “It’s absolutely untrue” https://t.co/ggz6uF2NdS
— Will Carless (@willcarless) November 21, 2016
Polish PM involved in Jerusalem pile-up
A car carrying Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo is involved in a five-car pile-up in Jerusalem, including a police car and ambulance.
Three people are treated for light injuries, according to the United Hatzolah rescue service.
Szydlo is in the country with several other ministers for government to government talks. She is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem Tuesday.
It’s not immediately clear if any government officials are among those hurt.
Polish PM not hurt in crash
The Magen David Adom rescue service says Polish Prime Minister Beata Szyldo was unhurt, though the car she was driving in was involved in the crash.
A spokesperson confirms three people were hurt in the crash.
UN: Over 126 Syrian healthcare facilities attacked this year
The World Health Organization says 126 health care facilities in Syria were attacked between January and September — and that 11 hospitals were attacked in November alone, some more than once.
The WHO’s Syria director, Elizabeth Hoff, tells the UN Security Council on Monday that this month’s attacks had left rebel-held eastern Aleppo with all eight of its hospitals either “out of action or … barely functioning.”
Hoff, who spoke by video from Damascus, denounces the “the militarization of health care facilities by several parties to the conflict, the targeting of health care personnel, and the denial of medical and surgical supplies in many areas.”
She urges the council to ensure that combatants have the coordinates of all convoys and health facilities, to help end attacks on hospitals and health workers, and “to use every last ounce of your influence to bring an immediate end to the suffering in Syria.”
Erdogan says softballs not so soft
An Israeli TV interview with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — the first in 13 years according to host Ilana Dayan — begins on the “Uvda” program, with a couple softball questions about what the leader was thinking during the July 15 coup.
Dayan says she will transition into harder questions, and Erdogan — constantly criticized for clamping down on the free press in Turkey — shoots back that the first ones were not so easy.
‘Normalization is progressing’ Erdogan says
Asked about the detente with Israel, Erdogan says it will take a long time, and goes through the various demands that Israel met to pave the way for the thaw in relations.
“I think we’ve progressed in normalization,” he says.
He is then asked about weapons getting into Gaza and he answers that its a two-way street and Israel needs to ensure its weapons are not deployed over Gaza.
He tells Dayan that he had helped brokered a deal between Ehud Olmert and Syria’s Bashar Assad in 2008 to reach peace in return for Israel withdrawing from the Golan Heights, but the deal was torpedoed once Operation Cast Lead against Gazan-based fighters began.
Erdogan dismisses talk of asking Hamas to return soldiers’ bodies
Erdogan tells Israeli TV that an attack on Hamas is an attack on him and downplays the effectiveness of Palestinian weapons against Israeli ones.
Dayan tells him that Hamas targets civilians so how can he back them.
Avoiding the question, he answers that Israel is holding “thousands of Palestinians” in prisons and so a solution is needed first.
Asked if Hamas should be party to a peace deal, he answers that it hasn’t worked with just Abbas, so they should bring Hamas to the table too.
He answers in the affirmative when asked if he would be willing to broker peace talks, but says Israel is not willing.
He also calls for new Palestinian elections, saying Abbas’s Fatah party has been ineffective.
Dayan asks Erdogan if he will help return the bodies of Israeli soldiers being held in Gaza.
He doesn’t seem to know what she is talking about, and then says if he got involved, Hamas will just ask for more in return.
Turkish leader: I know Hitler comparison is offensive, but it fits
Dayan asks Erdogan about his comments calling Israel more barbaric than Hitler. He says they are both bad.
She then asks if he understands why Israeli Jews in particular would be troubled by it and he says he is aware it’s offensive, but defends the comments, given what Israel is doing in Gaza.
We don’t jail journalists over reporting, Erdogan claims
Asked about the lack of press freedom in Turkey, Erdogan tells Dayan that no journalist is jailed because of their reports, but being a journalist doesn’t guarantee unlimited free speech.
He accuses journalists of being able to attack government figures without end, but then crying when they are prosecuted.
“Can there be a thing like that?” he asks.