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Clinton rips ‘untrustworthy’ Trump’s Israel policy

Russia says timing critical in possible Israeli-Palestinian talks; London police said to foil ‘significant’ Islamic State attack; Israeli forces find weapons hoard in Hebron home

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem, September 15, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem, September 15, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

The Times of Israel covered events as they unfolded on Thursday.

Israeli, Palestinian leaders agree ‘in principle’ to Moscow powwow

Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed “in principle” to meet in Moscow for talks in what the Russians hope will relaunch Mideast peace talks after a more than two-year break.

According to ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow has heard from the offices of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the two agreed to meet in the Russian capital, though it’s not clear when that will happen.

“The most important thing is to pick the right timing,” Zakharova told reporters. “Intensive contacts on this are ongoing.”

— AP

France’s secular laws can accommodate Islam – Hollande

President Francois Hollande insisted Thursday that France’s strict laws separating church and state do not prevent the country’s large Muslim minority from practicing their religion.

In a speech on terrorism and democracy coming in the midst of a debate on the banning of the Islamic burkini swimsuit, Hollande said: “Nothing in the idea of secularism opposes the practice of Islam in France, provided it respects the law.”

Mayors in around 30 French towns last month cited the country’s century-old secular laws in banning head-to-toe swimwear on their beaches, unleashing a furor.

Hollande said secularism was not a “state religion” to be used against other religions.

The state guaranteed “the right to believe or not to believe” as long the demonstration of that belief did “not disrupt public order,” he said.

Asking whether Islam could co-exist with a secular French state, like Christianity and Judaism, he insisted: “My answer is yes, certainly.”

“The question the Republic must answer is: Is it really ready to make place for a religion that it did not expect to be this big over a century ago. There too, my answer is yes, certainly.”

— AFP

Netanyahu open to talks with Abbas if ‘no preconditions’

An official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office tells Walla news that the prime minister is “ready to meet with [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas anytime and anywhere, under the condition that there are no preconditions. That applies to the Russian initiative as well.”

Israeli nabbed leaving Brazil with 6 kilos of coke

Brazilian customs officials arrested an Israeli citizen trying to cross the border with Bolivia carrying nearly six kilograms of cocaine stashed in the fake bottoms of two suitcases.

The man, whose name was not released, was riding in a Bolivian taxi in the city of Corumba on Wednesday evening. He told the officers he was taking the drug to Israel, where it would be sold for $80,000 per kilo, reported the regional newspaper Correio de Corumba.

The Israeli man will be charged with international drug trafficking.

Corumba is located in the central portion of Brazil, thousands of miles away from the capital city Brasilia and largest cities Sao Paulo and Rio.

— JTA

London police foil ‘significant’ Islamic State attack

The London Metropolitan police foiled a “significant” suspected Islamic State attack in the UK and arrested two suspects, the Standard reports.

The two men, aged 19 and 20, from London allegedly planned terror attacks, funded terrorism and failure to disclose information concerning a terror attack.

Jewish leaders concerned over Iranian minister’s visit to Berlin

An alleged visit to Berlin by Iran’s intelligence minister has raised the eyebrows and ire of Jewish leaders in Germany.

Citing Iranian press reports, the American Jewish Committee in Berlin has asked for an official explanation from the German government as to why Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alawi would have been officially invited to Berlin.

“Iran’s secret service supports terror organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, which destabilize the entire Middle East,” Deidre Berger, head of the AJC Berlin office, said in a statement Wednesday, requesting information about the purpose of the meeting and the content of the discussions.

“In Germany, it was the Iranian secret service that took part in illegal efforts to gain nuclear technology and that has been proven to have played a role in the death of Iranian exiled politicians in Berlin,” she added.

There have been suggestions that a visit by Alawi might be a prelude to an official state visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The Iranian leader’s planned visit to Austria was canceled last March following protests over the Islamic Republic’s human rights record.

The Federal Government responded to an official query from Green Party parliamentarian Volker Beck in July, saying that there can be no normalization of relations between Germany and Iran “as long as Iran does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

— JTA

Israeli arrested in Jordan for stealing yacht in Eilat

An Israeli man was reportedly arrested in Jordan and handed over to Israeli custody after stealing a yacht in Eilat, Channel 2 reports.

Gary Johnson flops twice on Aleppo

After Libertarian US presidential candidate Gary Johnson flopped a question on NBC’s “Morning Joe” about Aleppo, a follow up interview posted on YouTube is even more grimace-worthy.

Israel aims to host 2023 basketball World Cup

Israel wants to host the international World Cup of basketball in 2023, Eurohoops reports.

The Israeli Basketball Federation announces that it filed the paperwork with FIBA to throw its name in the hat.

IDF finds weapons cache in Hebron, arrests suspect

Israeli security forces find arms, components for building bombs and fake Israeli ID cards in a home in the West Bank city of Hebron, Army Radio reports. One suspect is arrested and two others are taken in for questioning.

Clinton: Hunting down IS leader should be US’s ‘top priority’

Hillary Clinton called Thursday for the United States to track down and kill Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as it did Osama bin Laden, insisting her Republican rival Donald Trump has no plan to defeat the jihadists.

“We should make it a top priority to hunt down the leader of ISIS,” the democratic White House hopeful told reporters on a tarmac in White Plains, New York.

“Getting al-Baghdadi will require efforts at the top levels, but it will send a resounding message that nobody directs or inspires attacks against the United States and gets away with it.”

Clinton and Trump have clashed repeatedly over foreign policy, but their battle rose to a new level Wednesday night when the two were separately grilled over their national security credentials.

Clinton, holding an impromptu press conference on a New York tarmac before flying to a campaign event, castigated the brash billionaire for failing to formulate a strategy to defeat IS extremists.

“One thing you didn’t hear from Donald Trump last night is any plan to take on ISIS, one of the biggest threats facing our country,” Clinton said, using an acronym for the group.

When asked at the forum about how he would stop the spread of global terrorism, “Trump’s answer was simply, ‘take the oil,'” Clinton added.

“He says his plan is still a secret, but the truth is he simply doesn’t have one. And that’s not only dangerous, it should be disqualifying.”

Instead of laying out a Middle East strategy, Trump “bizarrely” praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggested the strongman is a stronger leader that US President Barack Obama, she said.

“Now, that is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country as well as to our commander in chief, it is scary,” Clinton said.

The New York real estate mogul’s campaign swiftly shot back, with Trump spokesman Jason Miller calling Clinton’s attacks “unhinged and dishonest.”

“These are the desperate attacks of a flailing campaign sinking in the polls, and characteristics of someone woefully unfit for the presidency of the United States,” Miller added in a statement.

— AFP

Police report ‘active shooter’ in Texas school

Police in the West Texas town of Alpine say there’s an “active shooter” situation and schools have been locked down amid the search for a suspect.

Police dispatcher Scarlet Eldred had no immediate information on whether anyone was hurt in the unspecified incident shortly before 9 a.m. Thursday. Eldred says police were seeking an “active shooter.”

She didn’t immediately provide additional information, other than the person was a male.

The Alpine Independent School District website says the town of about 5,900 residents has three schools — elementary, middle and a high school.

Alpine is 220 miles southeast of El Paso.

— AP

Anti-animal abuse protest takes place in Tel Aviv

Hundreds of people are taking part in a protest against animal abuse in central Tel Aviv. Participants are marching in silence down Rothschild Boulevard to HaBima Theater.

Bus hits girl on bike in central town

A bus hit a 9-year-old girl on a bike in the central town of Kadima. The girl was hospitalized in serious condition, police say. Investigators have launched a probe into the accident.

Clinton skewers Trump over Israel policy

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lambastes opponent Donald Trump in a Channel 2 interview that airs today. She criticizes Trump’s flip-flopping on Israel, saying “there is no rhyme, no reason to his comments on Israel” and says his only experience regarding Israel is marching in the Israel Day parade in New York City.

“There is no rhyme or reason to his comments on Israel,” Clinton tells Channel 2. “They’re ill-informed, he might have people whispering in his ears, ‘say this, maybe that will be popular with some people.’ He has no grounding, he has no feeling.”

“The best I can tell, his only experience is marching in the Fifth Avenue Israel Day parade,” she jabs.

Clinton calls Trump a “very untrustworthy spokesperson about where he stands from day-to-day on Israel.”

“His understanding of the broader dangers of the region should alarm any Israeli, no matter where that person is on the political spectrum,” she says.

“Using nukes against ISIS? Not caring whether other countries in the region — including Saudi Arabia — get nuclear weapons? Giving a full carte blanche to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to do whatever he seems to want to do right on Israels’ doorstep? Not knowing the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas? How does that in any way help Israel?”

Ex-Shin Bet chief welcomes possible Netanyahu-Abbas talks

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chair and former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter welcomes the possibility of a meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu, while deriding the demand of preconditions to the talks as “not serious” and “unacceptable” to Israel.

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Israel aims to host 2023 basketball World Cup

Israel wants to host the international World Cup of basketball in 2023, Eurohoops reports.

The Israeli Basketball Federation announces that it filed the paperwork with FIBA to throw its name in the hat.