The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Netanyahu joins Macron at French Holocaust commemoration
French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are honoring the victims of a mass deportation of French Jews to Nazi camps 75 years ago.
French Jewish leaders are giving speeches at an emotional ceremony at the Vel d’Hiv stadium outside Paris, where French police rounded up some 13,000 people on July 16-17, 1942, before they were sent on to camps. Fewer than 100 survived.
Pro-Palestinian and other activists protested Netanyahu’s appearance, criticizing Jewish settlement policy and the blockade of Gaza.
Macron called it a “natural gesture” to invite Netanyahu but insisted in an interview Sunday in the Journal du dimanche newspaper he is “not trying to confuse the subject of the commemoration and Franco-Israeli relations.”
Macron is holding separate talks with Netanyahu later today.
Macron says anti-Zionism the reinvention of anti-Semitism
French president Emmanuel Macron condemns anti-Zionism as a new form of anti-Semitism, in what observers says is an unprecedented statement from the leader of France in support of the Jewish state.
“We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism,” Macron says at an event in Paris attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
During a lengthy and introspective speech marking the 75th anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv roundup, a mass arrest of over 13,000 French Jews in July 1942 that was part of the Nazi effort to eradicate France’s Jews, Macron forcefully denounces Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.
Like several of his predecessors, he accepts France’s responsibility for the deportations, admitting that the Vichy regime actively organized them.
Netanyahu is set to meet Macron at the Elysee palace later this afternoon for the two leaders’ first formal meeting.
— Raphael Ahren
Iran sentences US citizen to 10 years in prison over ‘infiltration’
A United States citizen accused of “infiltration” in Iran has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, a spokesman for the judiciary said on Sunday.
“The person was identified and arrested by the intelligence forces. The court has sentenced the person to 10 years,” deputy judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie says in a televised press conference, adding that the unnamed individual had appealed the sentence.
Ministers unanimously back bill that could stymie Jerusalem withdrawal
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously backs a bill that seeks to make it more difficult to give up sections of Jerusalem in a future peace deal.
The basic law currently requires the consent of at least 61 MKs, a majority in the 120-member Knesset, for handing over sovereign control of any part of the capital to foreign governments or agencies, including the Palestinians.
The bill would raise that to an 80-MK minimum, or fully two-thirds of the Knesset, a threshold that likely makes it all but impossible for a future Israeli government to obtain the Knesset’s approval for withdrawing from Jerusalem.
The bill was advanced two weeks ago by Jewish Home lawmakers at the behest of Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
“We will prevent a situation like in 2000 when [then-prime minister] Ehud Barak wanted to hand over the Temple Mount and two-thirds of the Old City to [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat” at the Camp David talks, Bennett says in a Twitter post.
Ministers okay bills to criminalize the hiring of prostitutes
A key ministerial panel approves two private bills criminalizing prostitution hire, but will hold off on advancing the proposed legislation until the Justice Ministry presents its own version of the proposal.
The vote to extend coalition support to the anti-prostitution proposals — one by Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and Meretz MK Zehava Gal-on, the second by Yesh Atid MK Lavie — marked the first time the government signaled its willingness to combat the phenomenon through legislation, after nearly a decade of efforts by female lawmakers to spearhead legislation to criminalize purchasing sex services.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation also votes to give coalition backing to an initiative to monitor suspected abusive spouses by forcing them to wear electronic tracking tags, following a spate of murders of women this year, allegedly by their spouses. That bill — presented by Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie and backed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan — would allow courts to order the tags placed on a suspect after a complaint of domestic violence has been lodged against them, even without a full trial and conviction.
— Marissa Newman
Christian father charged with murdering daughter for dating Muslim
Prosecutors file charges against a man accused of stabbing to death his teenage daughter after she revealed that she planned to join her Muslim partner and convert to Islam.
An indictment was filed at Lod District Court against Sami Kara, 59, over the slaying of Henriette Kara, 18, who was found with multiple stab wounds in an apartment in the central city of Ramle last month.
The court papers reveal the strained relationship Kara had with her parents — reportedly from a Christian Arab family — who strongly opposed her relationship with her partner, who was under arrest at the time of her death. Her partner was not named in Hebrew media reports nor were the circumstances of his arrest given.
— Stuart Winer
Right-wing activists, Muslims scuffle outside Temple Mount
Police break up an altercation between members of the right-wing Zionist group Im Tirtzu and Muslim worshipers outside the Temple Mount, hours after Israel partially reopened the complex for prayer.
In a video posted to the group’s Facebook page, Im Tirtzu activists say they came to the Jerusalem holy site to support Israeli security forces stationed there, and reject reports that the bolstered security measures at the Temple Mount were keeping Muslims from praying at the site.
After the presenter says Muslims “shouldn’t care about metal detectors here,” a Palestinian man approaches the activists, angrily telling the Im Tirtzu members that he and other worshipers took issue with the new measures.
Police stationed nearby break up the scuffle.
A Times of Israel correspondent at the scene earlier said the activists had shouted “Israel is not afraid” at the entrance of the site.
The Temple Mount has been closed since Friday, when three Arab Israeli terrorists opened fire at a group of police officers, killing two of them, using guns that had apparently been stashed at the site.
— with Avi Issacharoff
Iran president’s brother arrested on financial crime charges
The brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Hossein Fereydoun, has been arrested on financial crime charges, the judiciary says.
“Multiple investigations have been conducted regarding this person, also other people have been investigated, some of whom are in jail,” deputy judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie says in a televised press conference.
“Yesterday, bail was issued for him but because he failed to secure it he was referred to prison,” Ejeie says about Fereydoun, Rouhani’s special aide.
Knesset committee members call for freezing submarine deal
Twelve members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee are calling for a freeze on a controversial submarine purchase while several high-level figures involved in the deal are being investigated for suspected corruption.
The demand of the 12 lawmakers plus MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Union), a member of a joint defense budget committee, comes after the disclosure that Netanyahu’s associates transferred the authority to execute the deal from the Defense Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The letter calls for the naval agreement to be put on hold until the completion of the police’s investigation.
Among the lawmakers who signed the letter to committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud) were coalition MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) as well as opposition members from the Zionist Union, Yesh Atid and Meretz parties.
Investigators suspect bribes were paid out in connection with a decision by Netanyahu to buy three submarines from the German company ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition from the Israeli Defense Ministry.
Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case.
— Jacob Magid
Hebron shooter Elor Azaria expected to be released to house arrest this week
IDF soldier Elor Azaria, convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a disarmed and wounded Palestinian stabber last year, is expected to be released to house arrest in the coming days, reports in Hebrew-language media say.
For over a year, Azaria has been confined to base after being released from military house arrest shortly after the fatal shooting on March 24, 2106.
In February, Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in prison. However, both the defense team and the prosecution filed appeals on the case, with Azaria’s attorneys seeking to get the conviction overturned entirely and prosecutors trying to get the soldier a harsher punishment.
The two sides failed to reach a mediation deal, forcing the court to rule on the appeals. No date has yet been set for the court to render its decision in the divisive case, which has revealed deep rifts in Israeli society.
Azaria’s term of military service ends on Thursday, meaning that if a verdict is not reached by then, he will no longer be able to remain confined to a military base.
According to the Ynet news site, military prosecutors are not expected to request Azaria be incarcerated in a civilian prison, and therefore the judges will likely release him to house arrest.
Safed woman believed trapped inside burning building
A woman is believed to be trapped inside a burning residential building in the northern city of Safed.
According to reports, six firefighting crews are battling a brush fire that broke out in the city’s Canaan neighborhood.
The blaze has damaged nearby property and several cars.
— חדשות 10 (@news10) July 16, 2017
Poll shows Trump losing public support
Public support for US President Donald Trump is dropping, a new poll shows, as he faces multiple setbacks over his stalled agenda and efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Nearly six months since he took office, Trump is facing a declining approval rating that has dropped from 42 percent in April to 36 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll of 1,001 adults. Similarly, his disapproval rating has jumped five points to 58 percent.
A total of 48 percent of respondents said they “disapprove strongly” of the president’s performance in office — a low threshold never reached by ex-presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both Democrats, and only reached once by George W. Bush, during his second term.
Palestinian nabbed at Gaza border with rare coins from 4th century BCE
Security forces nab a Palestinian man attempting to smuggle rare 4th century coins from the Gaza Strip into Israel, a statement from the Defense Ministry says.
During a search of the man at the Erez Crossing, border guards uncovered four rare, precious coins, believed to date back to the Alexander the Great-era.
The suspect is detained for questioning.
The Defense Ministry statement says authorities believe the coins were likely smuggled into Gaza from Egypt, and were en route to Israel where they would be sold on the black market.
Macron urges resumption of Mideast talks based on two states
French President Emmanuel Macron calls for a resumption of long-stalled Middle East peace talks based on a two-state solution.
“France is ready to support all diplomatic efforts towards this end,” Macron said after talks with Netanyahu, adding that Israelis and Palestinians should be able “to live side by side within safe and recognized borders with Jerusalem as the capital.”
Egypt bombs Islamic State convoy along Israel border — reports
The Egyptian Air Force earlier today struck a convoy of Islamic State vehicles near the Egyptian-Israeli border, Cairo says according to reports in Hebrew-language media.
The vehicles were said to have been transporting ammunition and explosives.
Egypt has struggled to quell the jihadist group based in the Sinai Peninsula and smaller militant groups in the mainland since the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his supporters.
Macron assures Israel of French ‘vigilance’ in enforcing Iran nuclear pact
French President Emmanuel Macron assures Netanyahu of his “vigilance” regarding the 2015 nuclear accord reached by Western powers with Iran.
Netanyahu “expressed his concerns regarding the Iranian regime,” Macron tells reporters in Paris with Netanyahu at his side. “I assured him of our vigilance, in particular over the strict implementation of the accord… in all its provisions.”
Palestinian minister rejects new security measures at Temple Mount
The Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Jerusalem says arrangements at the Temple Mount need to return to how they were before Friday’s terror attack in which 2 police officers were killed.
Adnan al-Husseini says the Palestinians will not accept Israeli security measures for entrance to the holy site. Though he acknowledged that there was violence, he says it “shouldn’t be an excuse for making changes.”
Israel reopened the compound earlier today after new security measures were imposed, including metal detectors at the entrance gates and additional security cameras.
On Friday, Israel closed the Temple Mount after an attack by three Arab Israelis who opened fire from the sacred site and killed two police officers before being shot dead.
— with AP
Syria says shells hit Russian embassy compound
Syrian state media says shells have hit the Russian embassy in Damascus causing material damage.
State news agency SANA says two shells were fired at the Russian embassy Sunday, one hitting the compound while the other fell nearby.
Syrian rebels in the suburbs of the capital have previously struck the Russian embassy. Moscow is a strong supporter of President Bashar Assad and has been involved in the six-year war since September 2015.
The attack in Damascus came hours after a bomb exploded near a hospital in the rebel-held northwestern city of Idlib wounding five people, including children, according to local NGOs.
— with AP
Israel allows 600 worshipers on Temple Mount under new security measures
Israel has permitted some 600 Muslim worshipers on the Temple Mount throughout the day under the new security measures enacted in the wake of Friday’s deadly terror attack, according to Channel 2 news.
While that comparatively small number of worshipers actually entered the site, others stayed outside in protest of new metal detectors set up at the entrances.
Explosion heard during IDF drill near Gaza border
An explosion is heard in the southern community of Kissufim in what the army says is part of an ongoing military drill.
In a statement, the IDF says the drills — one near Kissufim and the other near the city of Ashkelon — were planned in advance as part of the army’s 2017 schedule, and that the exercises are intended to maintain the army’s preparedness.
The exercises in both locations are expected to conclude by Wednesday evening.
US calls on Iran to immediately release detained Americans
The US calls on Iran to immediately release American citizens and other foreigners detained on “fabricated” national security charges.
A State Department official issues the statement after an Iranian spokesman said an unidentified US citizen had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for alleged “infiltration” of the country.
“We call for the immediate release of all US citizens unjustly detained in Iran so they can return to their families,” the official says, without making specific reference to a person.
Jewish women removed from Temple Mount for harassing Muslims
Police say a small group of female Jewish residents of the Old City tried to rile up the scene outside the Temple Mount, reportedly throwing open water bottles at Muslim worshipers waiting to enter the holy site.
The instigators were removed from the area by police.
“There’s no hubbub,” a police spokesperson says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Brush fire in Golan Heights forces evacuation of IDF, UN outposts
IDF soldiers and UN peacekeeping forces are evacuated from their posts in the Golan Heights after a large brush fire breaks out in the area.
Firefighters are working to put out the fire raging near the kibbutz of Metzar.
There are no reports of injuries or damage.
Rivlin slams Arab leaders for ‘feeble’ response to Temple Mount attack
President Reuven Rivlin calls the response of Israel’s Arab leadership to Friday’s deadly attack on the Temple Mount, “feeble and outrageous.”
“The silence and feeble reactions of some of the Arab political leadership is outrageous. Terrorism must be condemned unconditionally,” he says, at the graduation ceremony of the National Security College.
“Anyone who doesn’t denounce terrorism, is cooperating with it,” he says.
Rivlin praises Jordan’s King Abudullah and PA President Abbas for condemning Friday’s attack in which two Israeli police officers were killed at the holy site.
State opposes adoption by same-sex couples
The state informs the High Court of Justice that it is against permitting same-sex couples to adopt children in Israel.
The official position of the Social Affairs and Justice Ministries was made public ahead of a High Court hearing scheduled for later this week to discuss Israel’s adoption policies.
Currently, same-sex couples and common-law marriage families are not permitted to adopt children in Israel.
Netanyahu says increased security at Temple mount to stay
Netanyahu says the increased security measures imposed on the Temple Mount in the wake of a deadly terror attack will stay in place for the foreseeable future.
Speaking to journalists in Paris, Netanyahu says the metal detectors placed at the entrance gates and the additional security cameras placed throughout the complex would prevent additional attacks.
He denies the measures amount to a change in the status quo at the holy site, saying it “wasn’t right” to change longstanding rules.
Netanyahu adds that the move could dampen Israel’s ties with some Arab countries.
Israel on Friday closed the Temple Mount after an attack by three Arab Israelis who opened fire from the sacred site and killed two police officers before being shot dead.
Citing Iran, Netanyahu comes out against Syria ceasefire deal
Netanyahu says he opposes the open-ended ceasefire in southern Syria brokered by the United States and Russia, saying it does not sufficiently address Iranian military ambitions in the area.
The prime minister tells journalists in Paris the agreement perpetuates Iranian plans to set up a disruptive long-term presence on Israel’s northern border.
Netanyahu says he brought up the issue with French President Emmanuel Macron earlier today.
Scuffles break out outside Temple Mount
A number of scuffles break out at the entrance to the Temple Mount, after the government imposed increased security measures at the holy site in the wake of Friday’s deadly terror attack.
Dozens of Muslim men physically blocked worshipers at Lions’ Gate from approaching the newly-installed metal detectors.
Footage screened on Channel 2 news showed police and soldiers forcibly detaining protesters, including some security personnel who appeared to be punching and kicking worshipers as they were detaining them.
Syria war has killed more than 330,000, monitor says
More than 330,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since it started six years ago, around a third of them civilians, a monitor says.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it has documented the deaths of 331,765 people across Syria since the conflict erupted in mid-March 2011 with anti-government protests.
Included in the overall death toll are 99,617 civilians, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman tells AFP, adding that the figures were for the period between March 15, 2011 and July 15, 2017.
A total of 18,243 children and 11,427 women were among the civilians killed, the Observatory says.
The figures were the latest provided by the Observatory since March, when it said 320,000 people, including 96,000 civilians, had been killed.
Netanyahu lawyer released from house arrest
Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, is being released from house arrest after being questioned in the corruption investigation into a multi-million dollar purchase of submarines from Germany.
According to reports, Shimron is preparing to travel abroad for a vacation.
Shimron is one of six associates close to Netanyahu that are suspected of attempting to sway the deals in favor of the German shipbuilder ThyssenKryupp.
The prime minister is not a suspect in the case.