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Shaked says no Palestinian state while Jewish Home in coalition

Justice minister rejects Netanyahu statements in support of Arab Peace Initiative; PLO Secretary General Erekat says pro-peace comments worthless without action

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

  • Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) meets with IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (L) on May 31, 2016 (Ariel Harmoni/Defense Ministry)
    Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) meets with IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (L) on May 31, 2016 (Ariel Harmoni/Defense Ministry)
  • PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat in his Ramallah office, November 23, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
    PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat in his Ramallah office, November 23, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
  • President Reuven Rivlin speaks during the Yediot Ahronot newspaper's conference "Fighting the Boycott" discussing issues and ways to fight the BDS movement, at the Jerusalem Convention Center, on March 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    President Reuven Rivlin speaks during the Yediot Ahronot newspaper's conference "Fighting the Boycott" discussing issues and ways to fight the BDS movement, at the Jerusalem Convention Center, on March 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • This photograph released by the Gaza Strip Interior Ministry purports to show a gallows prepared for the execution of Hani Abu Aliyan, a 28-year-old convicted of killing two people, in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP/Gaza Interior Ministry)
    This photograph released by the Gaza Strip Interior Ministry purports to show a gallows prepared for the execution of Hani Abu Aliyan, a 28-year-old convicted of killing two people, in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP/Gaza Interior Ministry)
  • Newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman alongside IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott during a ceremony welcoming him to the ministry, May 31, 2016. (Ariel Harmoni/Ministry of Defense)
    Newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman alongside IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott during a ceremony welcoming him to the ministry, May 31, 2016. (Ariel Harmoni/Ministry of Defense)
  • Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along side advocate Yossi Cohen (right) in the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along side advocate Yossi Cohen (right) in the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Fomer intel chief to head Knesset defense committee

Likud MK Avi Dichter, a former director of the Shin Bet security agency, is elected chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The committee voted unanimously to appoint Dichter to the position, considered one of the most influential in the legislature.

The committee deals with “the foreign affairs of the state, its armed forces and its security,” according to the Knesset website. As part of its work the committee also oversees the annual IDF budget.

Knesset members and IDF officers attend a Foreign Affairs and Defense committee meeting in the Israeli parliament on Thursday, November 15 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Knesset members and IDF officers attend a Foreign Affairs and Defense committee meeting in the Knesset on Thursday, November 15 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Dichter replaces fellow Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who has served as the committee chair since the beginning of the 20th Knesset in May 2015. In a recent cabinet reshuffle following the addition of the Yisrael Beytenu party to the coalition, Hanegbi was appointed Minister without portfolio.

Dichter served as director of the Shin Bet in 2000-2005. He was first elected to the Knesset in 2016 as part of the now-defunct Kadima party.

Afghan officials: Taliban attack buses, kill 9, abduct 35

An Afghan official says the Taliban have attacked several buses on a road in the country’s north, killing nine people and abducting at least 35.

Mahmood Danish, the provincial governor’s spokesman, says the assault took place in northern Kunduz province early Tuesday.

He says the Taliban forced passengers off the buses in the Aliabad district, then killed or abducted them. Danish says the buses were traveling from the capital, Kabul, northeast to Takhar and Badakhshan provinces. It wasn’t immediately clear where the nine were killed.

Hayatullah Quareshi, Aliabad district chief, says the attackers were wearing Afghan army uniforms.

Although no group claimed responsibility for the attack, both Quareshi and Danish blamed the Taliban, who are increasingly active in the area and have been behind mass abductions last year across Afghanistan.

— AP

Avigdor Liberman enters Defense Ministry for first time as boss

Newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is welcomed to the ministry by an honor guard attended by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Liberman was sworn in yesterday after the Knesset approved his appointment 55-43. He was appointed to the position as part of a coalition deal to being his five-seat Yisrael Beytenu into the government.

Despite his having served 17 years as a Knesset member, six years as foreign minister and two years as strategic affairs minister, some have questioned his defense credentials, as he had only reached the rank of corporal during his two years of army service in the Artillery Corps.

Liberman succeeds former chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon as defense minister. Following Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Liberman, Ya’alon announced that he would be resigning from the Knesset and temporarily retiring from politics.

UN envoy welcomes Netanyahu’s statements on Arab Peace Initiative

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov welcomes statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in support of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

“This can help advance negotiations on achieving a two-state solution. It follows the call by the president of Egypt to Israelis and Palestinians to continue their historic step toward peace taken by Israel and Egypt 37 years ago,” Mladenov says in a statement.

“This opportunity should not be missed and must be followed up with concrete and timely action,” he adds.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov talks during a press conference in Gaza City, September 17, 2015. (AP/Adel Hana)

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov talks during a press conference in Gaza City, September 17, 2015. (AP/Adel Hana)

Speaking yesterday after Liberman was sworn in as defense minister, Netanyahu said, “The Arab Peace Initiative contains positive elements that could help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in our region since 2002.″

UK Jews slam Labour move to re-admit member suspended for anti-Semitism

Board of Deputies of British Jews questions the Labour Party’s decision to re-admit Jackie Walker, who was suspended from the British party for claiming that Jews were “chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade.”

“We find it remarkable that Jackie Walker has been readmitted to the Labour Party without any disciplinary sanctions and by a process completely lacking in transparency. We are very disturbed by the way she has reacted with unrepentant and defiant statements. Her position promotes the myth that Jews played a leading role in the slave trade,” says Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush.

“Ms Walker also appears to think that Jews are somehow undeserving of the solidarity that minorities should generally rightly expect when they face racism. It is unhelpful and regrettable to suggest that the victimhood of one diminishes the victimhood of the other, whether that is racism against black people, anti-Muslim hatred or, as in this case, antisemitism,” he adds.

Senior British Labour party activist Jackie Walker, 2016 (screenshot: YouTube)

Senior British Labour party activist Jackie Walker, 2016 (screenshot: YouTube)

Walker, vice chair of Momentum, a hard-left group loyal to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was suspended earlier this month after her comments were brought to the party’s attention by The Jewish Chronicle. She was allowed back into the party this week following an investigation, a Labour spokesperson said.

In a post to her Facebook page in February comparing the African slave trade to the Holocaust, Walker wrote: “As I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews,” the Jewish Chronicle reported earlier this month.

EU court adviser: Employers can ban Muslim headscarf

A senior adviser to the European Court of Justice says a European Union business may legitimately prohibit an employee from wearing a Muslim headscarf on the job, provided the ban is based on a general company rule prohibiting visible political or religious symbols in the workplace, and not on prejudice against a particular religion.

Advocate General Juliane Kokott issued the opinion Tuesday after a Belgian court asked for clarification on what is prohibited by EU anti-discrimination laws.

A woman wearing a Muslim headscarf walks past a H.Stern jewelry store in Jerusalem on April 23, 2013. (Nati Shohat/Flash90).

A woman wearing a Muslim headscarf walks past a H.Stern jewelry store in Jerusalem on April 23, 2013. (Nati Shohat/Flash90).

In the Belgian case, Samira Achbita was fired as a receptionist by a security company after she insisted she should be allowed to work wearing an Islamic headscarf. She has lost her discrimination lawsuit in two Belgian courts and is now before the country’s Court of Cassation, which sought the EU court’s opinion.

— AP

European Parliament lawmaker from Britain calls Israelis ‘a rash’

The European Jewish Congress is demanding action be taken against a British lawmaker at the European Parliament who compared Israelis to a skin disease.

“We can give you a list of all the things we attempted to do, the Israelis are all over this place like a rash,” MEP Martina Anderson from Northern Ireland said last week during a meeting at the parliament in Brussels on May 25.

EJC President Moshe Kantor on Monday called on European Parliament President Martin Schulz to take disciplinary action against her.

“Once again we hear deeply offensive statements about Jews from a European public figure and we demand action,” Kantor said in a statement. “The comparison of Israelis, or more precisely Jews, to a disease is incitement and has its roots in neo-Nazi and far-Right discourse.”

Anderson represents the Sinn Féin party, which favors independence for Northern Ireland from Britain and that used to be affiliated with the now-disbanded IRA terrorist group, whose full name was the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

She is a former convicted terrorist with the IRA.

— JTA

Sara Netanyahu’s lawyer rejects court ruling that she abused worker

Yossi Cohen, a lawyer representing Sara Netanyahu, rejects the decision by the Jerusalem District Labor Court awarding Guy Eliyahu, a former employee of Prime Minister’s official residence, NIS 120,000 ($31,000) in damages for abuse at the hands of the prime minister’s wife.

“The real abusive treatment is that of Judge Proginin, who, as expected, again blatantly ignored the testimony of Mrs. Netanyahu,” Cohen says following the court decision.

“The court case has been handled in a one-sided manner and Mrs. Netanyahu was not allowed to bring witnesses that would have discredited the false and deceitful claims of Guy Eliyahu. We intend to appeal this biased and unjust decision,” he adds.

Former Prime Minister's Residence employee Guy Eliyahu speaks with the media as he arrives for his lawsuit against the Prime Minister's Office at the regional Labor court in Jerusalem, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former Prime Minister’s Residence employee Guy Eliyahu speaks with the media as he arrives for his lawsuit against the Prime Minister’s Office at the regional Labor court in Jerusalem, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Judge Dita Proginin ruled Sara Netanyahu had mistreated Eliyahu with verbal abuse and unreasonable demands.

 

David Blatt returns to European basketball with reported Turkey signing

Israeli American basketball coach David Blatt, fired last season as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is reportedly set to sign to coach the Turkish basketball team Darüşşafaka Doğuş.

Blatt has already reached an agreement for a several-year contract with the team, and won’t be returning to the NBA, the Israeli sports website One reported on Tuesday.

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt calls a play during the first half of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, in Cleveland, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt calls a play during the first half of Game 6 of basketball’s NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, in Cleveland, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP/Tony Dejak)

After he was fired in January, Blatt said he wanted to remain in the NBA, as opposed to returning to coaching in Israel and the European leagues, where he led Maccabi Tel Aviv to five national titles and the 2014 Euroleague championship. He also guided the Russian national team to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Should Blatt get the job, he will coach the Israeli forward Omri Casspi, another Maccabi alum.

— Marissa Newman

 

UN representative condemns Hamas executions

A United Nations representative condemns the Tuesday execution by Hamas of three Palestinian men convicted of murder.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says the incident occurred “despite serious and widespread concerns that international fair trial standards were not respected.”

The Hamas Interior Ministry in Gaza announced in a press release that two of the men were charged with murder during separate robberies, and were sentenced to hang. The other executed man, charged with murdering someone who had accused him of owing a financial debt, was sentenced to death by firing squad. The sentences were passed down between the years of 2011 and 2014.

This photograph released by the Gaza Strip Interior Ministry purports to show a gallows prepared for the execution of Hani Abu Aliyan, a 28-year-old convicted of killing two people, in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP/Gaza Interior Ministry)

This photograph released by the Gaza Strip Interior Ministry purports to show a gallows prepared for the execution of Hani Abu Aliyan, a 28-year-old convicted of killing two people, in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP/Gaza Interior Ministry)

Tuesday’s executions are scheduled to be the first in a series of such measures. On May 22, Hamas official Khalil al-Haya announced that a total of 13 executions were planned, mostly connected to murders during robberies.

— with AFP

Ex-Miss Turkey gets suspended sentence for insulting Erdogan

An Istanbul court convicts a former Miss Turkey of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through social media postings and gives her a 14-month suspended sentence.

The court finds 27-year-old model Merve Buyuksarac guilty of insulting a public official but immediately suspends the sentence on condition that she does not re-offend within the next five years.

Her lawyer, Emre Telci, says he will file a formal objection to the verdict and appeal her case at the Strasbourg, France-based European Court of Justice.

Buyuksarac, who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2006, was briefly detained last year for sharing a satirical poem on her Instagram account in 2014. Prosecutors deemed it to be insulting to Erdogan, who was still prime minister at the time. She has denied insulting Erdogan.

Bahrain upholds death sentences in attack on police

A Bahraini appeals court has upheld death sentences for three Shiites convicted of killing three policemen in a bombing in the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom in 2014, a judicial source says.

The court also upheld life sentences for six other defendants convicted over what was the deadliest attack on security forces since a Shiite-led uprising was crushed in 2011.

A seventh defendant previously sentenced to life in jail did not appeal because he remains at large, the judicial source says.

A policeman from the United Arab Emirates was among the three officers killed in the Shiite village of Diah in March 2014.

He was the first foreign officer killed since Saudi-led troops and police were deployed to Bahrain to support its crackdown on the Arab Spring-inspired protests.

— AFP

Brazilian Jewish politician Gerson Bergher dies at 91

One of Brazil’s most prominent Jewish activists, Gerson Bergher, dies at age 91.

A former president of the Brazilian Zionist Organization, Bergher, who served as a politician in Brazil for many years, died Monday in Rio. He reportedly began his political career based on advice to do so by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion.

Bergher had a longtime and openly pro-Jewish and pro-Israel political career as a member of both the Rio state assembly and the Rio city council. In the 1990s and 2000s, as council president, he served as acting mayor a few times. In 2014, he began his latest term in the assembly.

Brazilian Jewish politician Gerson Bergher. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Brazilian Jewish politician Gerson Bergher. (Screenshot from YouTube)

“Bergher was the dean of politicians of the Jewish-Brazilian community and a loyal activist of the Zionist movement in Brazil,” Israel honorary consul and former president of the Rio Jewish federation Osias Wurman says. “He idealized the Holocaust memorial to be built soon.”

— JTA

Iran appeals to US to ease up on European finances for trade

Iran’s foreign minister appeals to the United States to refrain from “retribution” against European banks that want to do business with his country as it opens up to global trade ties.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States should “do far more … (and) provide assurances to the banks that this will not take place.”

Zarif was speaking during a news conference in Helsinki with Finnish counterpart Timo Soini at the start of a regional tour of Finland, Sweden and Latvia.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini shake hands at a press conference in Helsinki, May 31, 2016. (Vesa Moilanen/ Lehtikuva via AP)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (left) and Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini at a press conference in Helsinki, May 31, 2016. (Vesa Moilanen/ Lehtikuva via AP)

Earlier this month, European financers complained to US Secretary of State John Kerry during a visit to London they fear that doing business in the Islamic Republic would trigger US sanctions.

— AP

Rivlin says West Bank settlement of Ariel ‘inseparable’ from Israel

President Reuven Rivlin says that the West Bank settlement of Ariel will forever remain under Israeli control during a meeting with representatives of Ariel University in his office in Jerusalem,

“It’s obvious to everyone that Ariel would be an inseparable part of Israel in any future accord,” the president says.

With a population of some 20,000, Ariel is the fourth-largest settlement (after Modiin Illit, Beitar Illit and Ma’aleh Adumim) and is situated in the heart of the northern West Bank.

Liberman and Ya’alon to meet for ‘orderly handover’

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon agrees to hold a handover meeting with his successor Avigdor Liberman, who began the job today.

Liberman called Ya’alon on Tuesday, requesting to “convene an orderly handover meeting,” according to a Defense Ministry statement, which says that Ya’alon agreed to attend.

The date of the meeting was not immediately announced.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon during a session in the Knesset, June 2009 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon during a session in the Knesset, June 2009 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The call came weeks after Ya’alon quit his Defense Ministry and Knesset posts, accusing the country’s leadership of having lost its way, after weeks of a public spat with Benjamin Netanyahu and amid reports that Liberman would soon be given the position as part of a coalition-expanding agreement.

Saeb Erekat slams Hamas executions

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, threatens Hamas, saying those responsible for the execution of three men in Gaza would be held responsible under Palestinian law.

Erekat calls the men who carried out Tuesday’s executions Hamas’s “militia,” and said the group has no legal right to carry out such measures. Hamas says it tried and found all three men guilty of murder.

Under Palestinian law, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must sign off on any execution. In disregarding the law, Hamas claimed that the executions were needed to preserve “security and stability” in the Strip, and asserted that the protestations by Fatah officials after it announced its plans for the executions were aimed at sowing chaos.

— Dov Lieber

Canadian who attacked army recruiters charged with terrorism

A Canadian man who stabbed soldiers at a recruiting center in Toronto in March has been formally charged with terrorism, federal police say.

Ayanie Hassan Ali, 27, was charged in a stabbing attack at a Canadian Armed Forces recruiting center in Toronto on March 14, 2016. (Toronto Police Service)

Ayanie Hassan Ali, 27, was charged in a stabbing attack at a Canadian Armed Forces recruiting center in Toronto on March 14, 2016. (Toronto Police Service)

Ayanie Hassan Ali, 27, faces attempted murder, assault and weapons charges “for the benefit of a terrorist group,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police say in a statement.

Ali is alleged to have stabbed a soldier in the arm without provocation after entering a government building in mid-March. Police say he then sought to wound a second soldier before he was subdued.

The suspect was overheard saying at the scene of the attack, “Allah told me to do this, Allah told me to kill people,” Toronto police chief Mark Saunders told reporters the next day.

— AFP

Erekat slams Netanyahu’s comments as ‘public relations strategy’

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, slams statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in support of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, calling them a “new public relations strategy.”

In a statement released by the PLO “Negotiations Affairs Department,” Erekat says Netanyahu is making false overtures towards peace in order “to shield Israel from having to adhere to the will of the international community and distract from its continued settler-colonial policies and rejectionist positions.”

“We are used to Netanyahu and his government’s inconsistencies and contradictions between words and actions,” Erekat says. “Peace must translate words into action by, first and foremost by ending the manufacture of facts on the ground, the cessation of settlement, ending the Judaization of Jerusalem, stopping extrajudicial executions, halting all demolition of homes, releasing the detention of bodies, lifting the siege, recognition of the 1967 borders, and to respect and implement the signed agreements.”

Speaking yesterday after Liberman was sworn in as defense minister, Netanyahu said, “The Arab Peace Initiative contains positive elements that could help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in our region since 2002.″

Erdogan warns Germany genocide vote could harm ties

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warns Germany against the adoption of a parliamentary resolution recognizing the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as “genocide,” saying it would harm the countries’ relationship.

“If (Germany) falls into such a game, that would harm our future ties — the diplomatic, economic, political, commercial and military ties between the two countries,” Erdogan tells reporters in the western province of Izmir ahead of an African tour.

“I believe all of these would be reconsidered.”

The German lower house of parliament is set to vote on Thursday on the resolution over the slaughter, with the text carrying the contentious word “genocide” to the dismay of Ankara.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million were killed between 1915 and 1917 in a targeted campaign of genocide by top Ottoman officials to wipe out their people from Anatolia.

Modern Turkey insists comparable numbers of Armenians and Turks died in a collective tragedy when Armenians sided with invading Russian troops in World War I.

— AFP

Liberman: No more wars of attrition

Avigdor Liberman tells IDF top brass that as defense minister he will work to prevent unnecessary wars and end “wars of attrition.”

Speaking to generals in his first official address after being sworn in as defense minister yesterday, Liberman laid out his vision for the IDF, putting particular focus on what he called “the people’s army” and the relationship between the military and civilian society.

“In a democratic society, matters of war and peace must express the will and enjoy the support of the majority of the people,” he said. “We cannot engage in unnecessary conflicts. As Israeli society, we are only allowed to fight unavoidable wars,” he said.

Newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman alongside IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott during a ceremony welcoming him to the ministry, May 31, 2016. (Ariel Harmoni/Ministry of Defense)

Newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman alongside IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott during a ceremony welcoming him to the ministry, May 31, 2016. (Ariel Harmoni/Ministry of Defense)

In an apparent continuation of statements he made last night supporting the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, Liberman tried to ease worries that he would be a irresponsible defense minister.

“I’ve said this before: when there is a clash of values between the unity of the people and territorial integrity, the people are more important.”

Justice Minister Shaked: No Palestinian state with us in coalition

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked rejects statements made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in support of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, saying that a Palestinian state will not be established with her Jewish Home part in the coalition.

“I will say the obvious: As long as we are in the government, there will be no Palestinian state, there will be no settlement evacuations and we will not give any land to our enemies,” Shaked says during a tour of the West Bank Binyamin region.

Speaking yesterday after Avigdor Liberman was sworn in as defense minister, Netanyahu said, “The Arab Peace Initiative contains positive elements that could help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in our region since 2002.″

‘Never react to provocations,’ Pope Francis tells Israeli musician

Asked how to avoid religion-based divisions between people, Pope Francis tells an Israeli musician to “never react” to provocations.

The pontiff was speaking to Ofir Jacoc during a Vatican meeting with international artists active on YouTube.

Jacob, who came to the meeting as a member of the Anna RF music band, asked Francis “how can the separations disappear” despite how “we as humans divide ourselves with religions.”

“You as a Jew can remember the first pages of the Bible, after the creation immediately one brother kills his brothers,” the pope said. “I was shocked by that. The Bible starts with a crime” born out of “jealousy and envy, the trend to divide,” he said. “So when provoked, you should never react. Is better to look as a fool than react when you are provoked.”

The Israeli Electro Ethnic Reggae band uploaded the fragment of its dialogue with the pope to YouTube.

Gunshots heard in Jaffa; police investigating

Gunshots have been heard on Jerusalem Boulevard in Jaffa, police say.

The source of the gunshots is not yet known, and no injuries have been reported.

Police officers are combing the area to locate those responsible for the apparent gunfire.

Israeli player lauds pope’s planned Soccer for Peace tournament

Pope Francis says in a statement that he is preparing to host the second edition of the inter-religious Soccer for Peace tournament on July 10 in Argentina. First held at the Vatican in 2014, the tournament this year will take place in the pope’s native city, La Plata, which is approximately 30 miles from Buenos Aires.

Eran Zahavi, a soccer player for Maccabi Tel Aviv, was among the first international players to share a video message of support on YouTube for the tournament.

“I would like to express all my support for the game for the peace. I send you from here big regards and all the best,” Zahavi said.

Other players who confirmed their attendance include Iker Casillas of Spain, Javier Mascherano of Argentina, and Eric Abidal and Zinedine Zidane of France.

— JTA

US warns summer’s Europe-bound Americans of terror risks

The US State Department is warning Americans visiting Europe this summer about the potential for terrorist attacks.

Tuesday’s travel alert says major sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants and shopping centers are possible targets.

France is hosting soccer’s European Championship and cycling’s Tour de France, while under an extended state of emergency. Two-and-a-half million visitors are expected in Krakow, Poland, for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day in late July.

The department is telling US citizens to be vigilant in public places or when using mass transportation. They also should be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.

The warning expires August 31.

— AP

US Woman says she was fired from Jewish group for not being Jewish enough

A woman is suing a Jewish non-profit health organization in New York for wrongful termination, claiming she was let go because she was not Jewish enough.

Helaine Dominguez, 69, was the director of medical services for the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services based in New York for almost 12 years until she was fired in 2013. She alleges that her new boss, Avrohom Adler, sought to cultivate a more religiously observant staff, according to the New York Post.

“Immediately after his appointment, Adler began a crusade to ensure that staff in the departments reporting to him were comprised of Orthodox or highly observant Jews,” Dominguez says in a Manhattan federal court claim. He “advanced the careers of younger employees who shared his level of faith.”

Dominguez had gone on leave to care for a son who had stomach surgery, the Post reported. When she returned, she was allegedly told by Adler that the organization was “going in a new direction” and let go.

Dominguez is seeking reinstatement in her job and unspecified damages. The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services did not comment on the case.

— JTA

Man on trial in London Tube stabbing for ‘Syrian brothers’

Prosecutors say a mentally ill taxi driver attacked passengers at a London subway station with a knife in revenge for Western airstrikes on Syria.

Muhiddin Mire went on trial Tuesday on attempted murder charges for slashing the throat of musician Lyle Zimmerman and lashing out at several others at Leytonstone station on December 5.

Somalia-born Mire has admitted to the attack, but denies attempted murder.

A police officer stands guard outside Leytonstone station in north London on December 6, 2015, a day after three people were stabbed in what police are treating as a 'terrorist incident.' (AFP/Leon Neal)

A police officer stands guard outside Leytonstone station in north London on December 6, 2015, a day after three people were stabbed in what police are treating as a ‘terrorist incident.’ (AFP/Leon Neal)

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees told London’s Central Criminal Court on Tuesday that during the attack, Mire said “this is for my Syrian brothers. I’m going to spill your blood.”

Rees said 30-year-old Mire had suffered “delusions of a persecutory, religious and grandiose nature.” A month before the attack, he experienced delusions that he was being followed by British spy agencies.

— AP

Adelson reportedly setting up pro-Trump super PAC

Top aides to Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson are in talks to set up new super PAC to support the Republican candidacy of Donald Trump for president, according to Politico.

Adelson’s team has reportedly been in talks with high level political consultants, including former Republican Governors Association executive directors Nick Ayers and Phil Cox, former Rand Paul campaign manager Chip Englander, and former Mitch McConnell chief of staff Josh Holmes.

Sheldon Adelson, 2014 (Ethan Miller/Getty Images, via JTA)

Sheldon Adelson, 2014 (Ethan Miller/Getty Images, via JTA)

Two weeks ago Adelson reached out to Jewish Republican leaders, calling on them to support the then-presumptive Republican nominee.

“I’m asking for your support” for Trump, Adelson wrote in an email Monday to more than 50 members of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Adelson told them he had met with Trump recently and is “specifically convinced he will be a tremendous president when it comes to the safety and security of Israel.”

Adelson was the top donor of the 2012 presidential race, with his family putting almost $90 million into it, and he has signaled he is willing to be a financial driver again.

Top cop says he held details from public of investigation into PM’s wife

Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich denounces the publication of the police statement that recommended bringing graft charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara.

In a statement, Alsheich says he opposed publicizing the Sunday police recommendation out of fears a potential criminal investigation into the allegations would be eclipsed by public debate.

Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich attends a committee meeting in the Knesset on February 9, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich attends a committee meeting in the Knesset on February 9, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yesterday Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Alsheich clashed over the issue, with each leveling accusations at each other over an apparent attempt to hide details of the police investigation.

The Sunday police statement said that an investigation into the prime minister’s “residences” had been completed and its conclusions were handed over to the state prosecutor. In a highly unusual move, however, the message did not include the name of the person under investigation or whether the police would recommend an indictment.

Police officers questioned over Tel Aviv beating of Arab worker

Five police officers are being questioned under caution over the police beating of an Arab employee of a supermarket in Tel Aviv last week.

The officers are suspected of using excessive force after photos and eyewitness accounts emerged of the violent altercation, the Israel Police says in a statement.

“Only when the investigation is completed will we be able to reach clear conclusions on the nature of the event,” the statement reads.

The police have said the man, identified as Maysam Abu Alqian, 19, from Hura in the Negev, was resisting arrest and attacked officers after they asked him for identification. Another employee who came to Alqian’s aid was also accused of attacking officers.

Rebels says Saudi intercepts missile from Yemen

Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen on Monday night, the military coalition supporting the Yemeni government against rebels says.

It was the second missile launch from Yemen since UN-brokered peace talks began in Kuwait on April 21 between the Huthi Shiite rebels and the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

“From time to time there are breaches of the ceasefire, but we have to focus on finding a political solution for the Yemeni crisis,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir says after a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh.

“We must support a peaceful solution and we support the Kuwait talks.”

The Saudi-led Arab coalition in March last year began air strikes and other military aid in support of Yemeni forces resisting the Huthis. The rebels, who still hold the capital Sanaa, had seized much of the country and are backed by Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran.

— AFP

Jewish groups welcome Facebook, Twitter pledge to crack down on hate speech

Jewish groups are welcoming a pledge by four internet giants to remove online hate speech, though some are questioning the firms’ commitment to act.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft on Tuesday signed a code of conduct with the European Commission that requires them to delete the majority of reported illegal hate speech within 24 hours, The Telegraph reported.

The European Jewish Congress offers an “enthusiastic welcome” to code of conduct” in a statement Tuesday. The World Jewish Congress reacts more coolly in a statement the same day, voicing “skepticism about the commitment of these firms to effectively police their respective platforms.”

YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and others “already have clear guidelines in place aimed at preventing the spread of offensive content, yet they have so far utterly failed to properly implement their own rules,” the CEO of the World Jewish Congress, Robert Singer says in the statement.

— JTA

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Ex-Miss Turkey gets suspended sentence for insulting Erdogan

An Istanbul court convicts a former Miss Turkey of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through social media postings and gives her a 14-month suspended sentence.

The court finds 27-year-old model Merve Buyuksarac guilty of insulting a public official but immediately suspends the sentence on condition that she does not re-offend within the next five years.

Her lawyer, Emre Telci, says he will file a formal objection to the verdict and appeal her case at the Strasbourg, France-based European Court of Justice.