The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
Former Mossad chief: Punish Trump for intel leak
A former Mossad chief says Israel should punish the US for President Donald Trump leaking intelligence to the Russians, because his acts could endanger Israeli sources.
“We need to punish the Americans, it’s possible, so that we don’t put Trump in a position where he is again tempted, we need to abstain from transferring information to him, or to only give him partial information so that he can’t endanger any source,” says Danny Yatom, who headed the Israeli spy agency between 1999 and 2001.
Even though it is Trump’s right to declassify information, if he keeps doing it Israel wills “stop sharing in the future,” Yatom estimates, speaking in an interview with Radio 103 FM.
Yatom also says he is “sure that the Mossad will do all in its power so that the source can keep giving information, but would try to extract him if need be.”
Kremlin tight-lipped on Trump info-sharing
The Kremlin isn’t commenting on the details of the classified information that US President Donald Trump shared with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador last week.
The White House defended Trump discussing with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak an Islamic State group terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.
Speaking to Russian news agencies on Wednesday Yuri Ushakov, an aide to President Vladimir Putin, would not comment the contents of last week’s talks among Trump, Lavrov and Kislyak.
Ushakov said “any contacts” with the US president are “important” but he would not reply to the question whether the classified information that Trump reportedly shared with Lavrov and Kislyak was valuable for Russia.
Dollar sinks amid Trump crisis instability fears
The dollar is sinking with a fresh crisis in the White House fueling concerns that US President Donald Trump’s economy-boosting agenda could be run off-track.
While the Oval Office has furiously denied any wrongdoing, there is a growing sense of crisis that even raised questions over a possible impeachment, throwing into doubt Trump’s plans for tax cuts, big spending and red-tape slashing.
The dollar took a beating in New York and extended the losses today. The euro briefly broke above $1.11 to levels not seen since Trump’s election win in November, while the yen is also piling pressure on the US unit. The dollar bought 112.52 yen, well down from recent peaks above 114 yen seen last week.
One of first Soviet cosmonauts, Viktor Gorbatko, dies
Soviet cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko, a colleague of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, died Wednesday at the age of 82, Russia’s space agency says.
Gorbatko was among the eight young pilots chosen in 1960 from 3,000 candidates in the Soviet manned flight program to train for the country’s first space mission.
Trained alongside Gorbatko and others, it was eventually Gagarin who made the first human space flight, circling the Earth in 1961. Gorbatko followed several years later on three occasions: in 1969, 1977 and 1980.
According to the Roscosmos space agency, he will be buried at the military cemetery outside Moscow on Friday.
Putin dismisses furor over Trump intel-sharing as ‘political schizophrenia’
Russian President Vladimir Putin is dismissing the ongoing scandal around US President Donald Trump sharing classified intelligence with Russian officials as “political schizophrenia.”
Trump came under fire earlier this week after it was revealed that he shared the sensitive intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak.
Speaking at a joint news conference with the visiting Italian prime minister, Putin says he had “no other explanation” as to why Trump came under attack other than “political schizophrenia.” Putin even suggested that Russia share the records of last week’s talks between Trump and Lavrov with the US Congress, if the White House approved.
Putin jokes that that he would reprimand Lavrov because “he hasn’t shared those secrets with us.”
Iran’s Khamenei urges massive vote to bolster regime
Iran’s top two presidential candidates launched a final day of election campaigning today as the supreme leader called for a massive turnout to bolster the regime against its “enemies.”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggests Iran’s foes would be deterred from pursuing regime change if they saw voters flock to the ballot boxes in Friday’s poll.
“American, European officials and those of the Zionist regime are watching our elections to see the level of participation,” he says in quotes carried on his Telegram messenger account.
“The Iranian nation has enemies. Faced with the enemy, the people should show its determination and calm,” he said.
Turnout is all-important to the Iranian regime, which uses regular elections to demonstrate the legitimacy of its Islamic system.
Toddler dies of electrocution in Negev accident – medics
A one-year-old girl was killed after being accidentally electrocuted, medics say.
The incident occurred near the city of Arad in the Negev desert. The Magen David Adom rescue service says its medics responded to the call and tried to revive the child, but she died.
It is not immediately clear how the accident occurred.
WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning released from prison
Chelsea Manning, the transgender army private jailed for one of the largest leaks of classified documents in US history, was released from prison today, a US Army spokeswoman tells AFP.
Manning “has been released from the United States Disciplinary Barracks” at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, spokeswoman Cynthia Smith says in a brief statement.
Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years prison for the leak, but was released after seven years thanks to a commutation of her sentence by president Barack Obama before he left office.
Bill to install cameras in old age homes advances in Knesset
A Knesset bill that would see security cameras installed in old age homes has passed its first reading.
The bill would see the cameras made obligatory in wards where residents receive nursing care.
It follows a TV expose of an old age home in Haifa where several nurses were filmed violently abusing defenseless patients.
Another large-scale cyberattack underway – experts
Another large-scale, stealthy cyberattack is underway on a scale that could dwarf last week’s assault on computers worldwide, a global cybersecurity firm tells AFP.
The new attack targets the same vulnerabilities the WannaCry ransomware worm exploited but, rather than freeze files, uses the hundreds of thousands of computers believed to have been infected to mine virtual currency.
Following the detection of the WannaCry attack on Friday, “researchers at Proofpoint discovered a new attack linked to WannaCry called Adylkuzz,” says Nicolas Godier, a researcher at the computer security firm.
Instead of completely disabling an infected computer by encrypting data and seeking a ransom payment, Adylkuzz uses the machines it infects to “mine” in a background task a virtual currency, Monero, and transfer the money created to the authors of the virus.
“As it is silent and doesn’t trouble the user, the Adylkuzz attack is much more profitable for the cybercriminals. It transforms the infected users into unwitting financial supporters of their attackers,” says Godier.
The firm believes Adylkuzz has been on the loose since at least May 2, and perhaps even since April 24, but due to its stealthy nature was not immediately detected.
NC senator collapses during race, taken away in ambulance
Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina collapsed during a Washington, DC, race Wednesday morning and was taken away by ambulance.
Tillis, 57, was seen on the ground being administered CPR by bystanders at about 15-20 minutes into the race, which started at 8 a.m. The three-mile race was being held in Anacostia Park in the southeast part of the city.
Tillis at first appeared unconscious but was revived and breathing when taken away by ambulance from the ACLI Capital Challenge Three Mile Team Race. Tillis was participating in the ACLI Capital Challenge race, an annual event in Anacostia Park in the district. He was leading his own team, “Team Tillis.”
New French government unveiled, Le Drian foreign minister
Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron appoints his first government, naming veteran Socialist Jean-Yves Le Drian to foreign affairs and European lawmaker Sylie Goulard as defense minister.
Other key figures during his campaign were given senior roles, with the mayor of Lyon, Gerard Collomb, named as interior minister and centrist ally Francois Bayrou given the justice portfolio. Rightwinger Bruno Le Maire was named economy minister.
Police detain 3 over Lag B’omer flag burning
Police say they have detained three ultra-Orthodox youths, including an 11-year-old boy, for burning an Israeli flag in a Lag B’omer bonfire in Jerusalem earlier in the week.
The other two suspects are 21 and 15, police say, noting that the 21-year-old man was arrested, while the two minors were detained for questioning.
Police say they are continuing the investigation, which was launched following an incident of an effigy of a soldier being burnt.
— Judah Ari Gross
Unmarried couple publicly stoned to death in Mali
An unmarried couple were stoned to death in public in northeast Mali by Islamists, the first such known occurrence since 2012, local officials tells AFP.
“The Islamists dug two holes where they put the man and the woman who lived maritally without being married,” says a local official about the incident. “They were stoned to death.”
The stoning happened in the Kidal region, and the same source tells AFP that members of the public were invited to take part.
“Four people threw stones at them until they died,” the source says.
Another local official confirms the information, saying the Islamists had accused the unmarried couple of violating “Islamic law,” which requires punishment by stoning.
Gravestones toppled at second Philadelphia Jewish cemetery
Gravestones were toppled at a Philadelphia-area cemetery, the second such vandalism in the area this year.
Five headstones were discovered knocked off of their bases at the Adath Jeshurun Cemetery in the Frankford neighborhood of northeastern Philadelphia. The gravestones were not defaced by graffiti, according to the news website Philly.com.
— Dave Schratwieser (@DSchratwieser) May 17, 2017
Police reportedly do not have any suspects. The cemetery, which is more than 160 years old, does not have surveillance cameras, though the groundskeeper, who first noticed the vandalism, lives on the premises.
Police tell the CBS Philadelphia affiliate that it was clear that the stones were pushed over and did not fall due to age or weather.
Genocide-indicted Bashir will be at Saudi summit with Trump – Sudan
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been charged with war crimes and genocide, will attend the same summit in Saudi Arabia as US President Donald Trump, Khartoum’s top diplomat says.
“I can confirm president Bashir will go … to Saudi Arabia,” Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour tells reporters in Geneva. “We look forward (to) normalization of our relations with the US.”
President Rivlin hosts visiting Jordanian sheikhs
President Reuven Rivlin this morning hosted a delegation of Jordanian sheikhs representing different tribes from across Jordanian society.
The president told them that his father translated the Quran from Arabic to Hebrew and about life growing up in Jerusalem, his office says.
“Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom are working together in the understanding that we are destined to live together in this land,” the president says.
“In every group there are extreme elements, but we must seek out that which we share in common, and not that which divides us,” he says.
The sheikhs said they brought a message of peace.
14-year-old arrested in arson of historic Lower East Side synagogue
A 14-year-old boy has been charged with arson in connection with a fire that seriously damaged a historic synagogue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The boy was arrested last night at his home near the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue, the New York Post reports. He was expected to be arraigned later in the day in Manhattan Family Court, according to the newspaper. He has not been named because he is a minor.
Surveillance video showed three teens running away from the building shortly after the fire began on Sunday evening. Police reportedly spoke with friends of the teen who were with him at the time of the blaze, and they said he started the fire.
The fire burned for several hours and took at least two hours for firefighters to bring under control. The building was empty at the time; two firefighters were injured putting out the blaze.
Rebels say 23 Yemeni civilians killed in suspected Saudi-led coalition raid
A suspected raid by the Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen killed 23 civilians on Wednesday, including women and children, near the southwestern city of Taez, Shiite Huthi rebels say.
A military source with loyalist forces confirms the raid, saying 20 civilians had died, and said it appeared to have been the result of a “mistake.”
Paratrooper seriously wounded in jump accident
An IDF soldiers is in serious condition after an accident during a parachuting exercise in northern Israel, the army says.
The soldier was taken by helicopter from the Mahanayim Base in northern Israel to a hospital with a head wound.
His family has been notified.
The army does not specify the nature of the accident, but says it does not appear as though it was caused by a problem with his parachute.
— Judah Ari Gross
Trump’s envoy set to arrive to iron out final details of visit
US President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt is set to arrive in Israel tomorrow ahead of Trump’s visit next week.
Greenblatt is set to coordinate the content of the meeting, Channel 2 says, amid disputes over a planned Trump visit to the Western Wall and a US refusal to allow Israeli officials to accompany him to the holy site.
Trump is due to arrive on May 22.
The report said both Israel and the US were eager to put the disputes behind them — including a report that Trump apparently leaked Israeli intelligence to the Russians — and demonstrate the warm relations between the two allies.
It also says that officials had completely ruled out any possibility of a three-way meeting between Trump, Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas during the trip.
Palestinian gets 25 years for stabbing and wounding 4
A military court has sentenced a Palestinian man to 25 years in prison for stabbing and wounding four people in Rishon Lezion in November 2015.
Under a plea deal, Imad Tardeh confessed and was also to pay the vicitms NIS 220,000 ($60,000) in compensation, the army says.
Tardeh, a resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, had infiltrated into Israel in order to carry out the attack, the army says.
— Judah Ari Gross
MK thrown out of Knesset for taunting Arab lawmaker with candy bar
Bad-boy lawmaker Oren Hazan (Likud) was ejected from the Knesset for taunting an Arab MK with a candy bar.
Hazan waved a Tortit chocolate wafer at Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, in reference to Palestinian hunger strike leader and convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who was recently apparently filmed secretly eating one of them while on a hunger strike.
The candy bar had been planted in his cell by the Israeli prison authorities.
Odeh had taken part in a day-long solidarity hunger strike with Palestinian security prisoners.
Netanyahu to offer Yariv Levin communications ministry
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will offer current Tourism Minister Yariv Levin the communications portfolio, Channel 2 says.
Netanyahu was communications minister but stepped down amid a graft probe into reports he tried to do a quid pro quo deal with a major newspaper for better coverage.
He temporarily appointed Tzachi Hanegbi to the post for a period of three months that expires in a four days.
But Channel 2 says the move indicates he was not happy with Hanegbi’s performance.
No politician treated ‘more unfairly,’ Trump says
US President Donald Trump gave vent to frustrations over his mounting political problems today, declaring that no president in US history had been treated “more unfairly.”
During a commencement address at the US Coast Guard Academy, Trump urged graduating cadets to follow his example and “fight, fight, fight. Never ever, give up. Things will work out just fine.”
“No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down,” he says.
Muslim ban architect to write Trump’s Saudi and Israel speeches
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, the man said to be behind the US administration’s much-panned and unsuccessful immigration ban on people from seven Muslim nations, will reportedly write President Donald Trump’s speeches in Saudi Arabia and Israel, The Hill reports.
Yesterday, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster laid out a detailed itinerary for the “historic trip,” due to start late this week, and confirmed that Trump would address a gathering of Muslim leaders on his “hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam.”
“He will meet and have lunch with leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries, where he will deliver an inspiring, direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam,” McMaster said.
In Israel, Trump was due to make his speech at the desert fortress of Masada, but later opted for the Israel Museum due to logistical reasons.
Other advisers giving input for the speeches include McMaster, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, The Hill reports.
Senate intel panel wants Comey to appear
The Senate intelligence committee wants former FBI director James Comey to appear before the panel in both open and closed sessions.
The committee says that it is also asking Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to give the committee any notes that Comey might have made regarding discussions he had with White House or Justice Department officials about Russia’s efforts to influence the election.
Comey wrote a memo after one February meeting at the White House stating that President Donald Trump had asked him to shut down the FBI’s investigation of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey’s memo — an apparent effort to create a paper trail of his contacts with the White House — would be evidence that president has tried to influence the investigation.
Belgian regional parliament bans ritual animal slaughter
The parliament in Belgium’s Wallonia region today banned the slaughter of animals without first stunning them despite opposition from Jewish and Muslim communities defending their rituals.
With 66 votes for and three abstentions, the parliament in Namur, the main city of southern French-speaking Wallonia, adopted a ban that will generally take effect in June 2018, though ritual slaughter will be exempted until September 2019.
The ban on slaughter without first stunning or anesthetizing the animals does not apply to imports of kosher or halal meat into the Wallonia region.
‘No disruption’ in ally relationships: Mattis
Pentagon chief James Mattis says there has been “no disruption” in relations with allies since reports emerged that President Donald Trump divulged classified intelligence to Russian officials.
The information apparently came from Israel.
“We always have safeguarded information from our allies and there’s nothing that has caused them to, we’ve received no questions at all,” Mattis says.
“We maintain steady military relations with our friends, our partners, our allies. There has been no disruption whatsoever, everything is quite steady and it’s a stable situation going forward, including into NATO,” he adds, referring to the upcoming alliance meeting in Brussels.
Netanyahu preparing package of economic incentives for Palestinians
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing a wide-ranging package of economic incentives for the Palestinians ahead of the visit of US President Donald Trump, Channel 2 reports.
Netanyahu plans to bring them to the Cabinet for approval on Sunday ahead of the May 22 visit, the report says.
Toward this, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met today with his Palestinian counterpart Shukri Bishara to get a sense of the issues that Palestinians would most like to see addressed, the report says.
The package is set to include the opening of the Allenby Crossing to Jordan, the expansion of industrial zones and improved transfer of taxes that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.
Leaked intel reportedly gathered by IDF and about ISIS activities in Syria
The source of the information US President Donald Trump apparently leaked in his meetings with the Russians was gathered by Israel’s military intelligence, Channel 1 reports.
The intelligence reportedly relates to Islamic State activities in Syria, the report says.
The intelligence was said to be the basis for the airline laptop ban from Middle Eastern countries.
US extends Iran nuke sanctions relief, adds other sanctions
The Trump administration is extending the sanctions relief for Iran that was granted under the Obama-era nuclear agreement, while imposing new economic penalties over Iranian ballistic missile activity.
The State Department says it is telling Congress it will continue to waive sanctions on Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. The decision comes just before the Obama administration’s last six-month waiver expires.
By pairing the waiver of old sanctions with an announcement of new ones, the Trump administration is trying to show it is being tough on Iran even as it adheres to the nuclear deal for now. President Donald Trump has said he’s reviewing the deal’s future.
The new sanctions target Iranian military officials and others accused of supplying Iran with materials for ballistic missiles.
Judge dismisses lawsuit against LA synagogue’s Yom Kippur chicken ceremony
A federal judge in Los Angeles has dismissed a lawsuit against a synagogue for holding a kapparot ceremony, a pre-Yom Kippur ritual in which a chicken is swung by its legs and then slaughtered.
District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. ruled in favor of the Chabad of Irvine’s request to dismiss the lawsuit filed in late September on behalf of the Virginia-based United Poultry Concerns against Chabad, the Orange County Register reports.
The suit claimed that the practice violates the state’s unfair competition law. But Birotte wrote in his decision, which was released Friday, that the kapparot ceremony is a religious ritual supported by donations, not a “business act” covered by the unfair competition law.
A 2015 lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court that called for an end to the practice based on animal cruelty is still pending.
New US envoy’s second day on job — an Aerosmith concert
On new US Ambassador David Friedman’s first day on the job, he went to the Western Wall to pray. On his second, he was in Tel Aviv at an Aerosmith concert.
Channel 2 showed pictures of Friedman in casual clothes at the concert in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon park.
This comes a day after Friedman ran into Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, who was also visiting the Western Wall.
Apparently, he hooked him up with tickets.
Netanyahu urges visiting Costa Rican FM to support Israel at UN
In a meeting with Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister González Sanz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls on the Central American nation to support Israel at the United Nations.
“I am very pleased that we have the opportunity to meet and strengthen the friendship between Costa Rica and Israel,” the prime minister tells Sanz according to a press release from Netanyahu’s office.
He tells Sanz the stagnated peace process is due to the Palestinians’ refusal to accept the existence of a Jewish state.
Netanyahu urges Costa Rica to vote against future anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.
Sanz in response tells Netanyahu that San Jose is interested in strengthening ties with Israel, and would consider changing its voting pattern at the world body.
Netanyahu and Sanz discuss increasing bilateral cooperation in the areas of tourism, homeland security, water and agriculture.