PM reportedly says Obama an ‘existential danger’ to settlements
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Live updates (closed)Latest: Trump, Pence to address Israelis via satellite at Jerusalem rally

Netanyahu denies he called Obama a ‘danger’ to settlements

PM says past US presidents, before leaving office, pushed initiatives that were 'inconsistent with Israeli interests'

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

  • Hundreds of women from the 'Women Wage Peace' movement take part in a march in support of peace in Jerusalem on October 19, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Hundreds of women from the 'Women Wage Peace' movement take part in a march in support of peace in Jerusalem on October 19, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • US President Barack Obama, right, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a bilateral meeting in New York, September 21, 2016. (AFP/Jim Watson)
    US President Barack Obama, right, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a bilateral meeting in New York, September 21, 2016. (AFP/Jim Watson)
  • Photos of the Succot holiday priestly blessing at the Western Wall, taken from a police helicopter on October 19, 2016 (Police spokesperson)
    Photos of the Succot holiday priestly blessing at the Western Wall, taken from a police helicopter on October 19, 2016 (Police spokesperson)
  • An Israeli soldier closes a gate at a checkpoint in the West Bank village of Yatta, near Hebron, on July 3, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
    An Israeli soldier closes a gate at a checkpoint in the West Bank village of Yatta, near Hebron, on July 3, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
  • Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for Donald Trump, talks with reporters in the spin room following the second presidential debate with democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and republican presidential nominee Trump at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)
    Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for Donald Trump, talks with reporters in the spin room following the second presidential debate with democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and republican presidential nominee Trump at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)
  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a meeting in Tehran, September 9, 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP and JTA)
    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a meeting in Tehran, September 9, 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP and JTA)
  • An aerial view of the Dome of the Rock, left, in the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's old city, and the Western Wall, center, the holiest site for Jews, October 02, 2007. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)
    An aerial view of the Dome of the Rock, left, in the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's old city, and the Western Wall, center, the holiest site for Jews, October 02, 2007. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s developments as they unfolded.

Palestinian woman tries to stab Israelis, is shot

A Palestinian woman attempts to stab Israelis at Tapuah Junction in the West Bank, according to initial reports.

The woman is shot. Her condition is not immediately clear.

No Israelis are injured in the incident.

More details to come.

Female would-be stabber dies of injuries — reports

The would-be attacker at Tapuah Junction has died of her injuries, according to Hebrew media reports.

There is no immediate confirmation from the army.

Police confirm Palestinian woman came at troops with knife

The Israel Police confirms that a woman had approached the Tapuah Junction, brandishing a knife at border policemen.

“After she did not respond to their calls to stop, they shot in her direction and neutralized her,” police say.

8 Jewish worshipers removed from Temple Mount

The Israel Police says eight Jewish worshipers been removed from the Temple Mount after “violating the terms of the visit,” in an apparent reference to praying at the holy site, which is forbidden for Jewish visitors.

Police say 1,115 people have visited the Temple Mount today, 275 of them Jews.

Tens of thousands were at the morning Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall, police say.

Turkey expects up to 400,000 to flee Mosul

A Turkish official says between 100,000 and 400,000 people could flee the fighting in Mosul and make their way toward Syria, Iraq’s Kurdish-administrated region or the border with Turkey.

Kerem Kinik, head of the Turkish Red Crescent organization, tells The Associated Press on Wednesday that the “humanitarian aspect” of the Mosul operation had not been well thought out by the coalition forces.

He warns that with more than 3 million people already displaced in Iraq, officials would struggle to cope with the exodus. Kinik says his organization was working with officials in northern Iraq and the Iraqi Red Crescent to help support humanitarian efforts there. Some 20 Turkish aid trucks had been dispatched to the region.

New camps for up to 20,000 families are under construction by international aid agencies in northern Iraq and could be ready within a week.

The Turkish official says he believes the refugees would mostly be “taken under control” within Iraq, but added that Turkey is prepared for a refugee influx.

AP

Iraqis wait at a checkpoint on October 18, 2016 near the town of Qayyarah, south of Mosul, during Iraqi forces' operation to recapture the city from the Islamic State group. (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

Iraqis wait at a checkpoint on October 18, 2016 near the town of Qayyarah, south of Mosul, during Iraqi forces’ operation to recapture the city from the Islamic State group. (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

Police confirm would-be stabber, 19, shot dead

Police confirm the would-be stabber at the Tapuah Junction was shot dead.

They say she was a 19-year-old resident of the West Bank town of Asira ash-Shamaliya.

In a statement, police say border policemen spotted the woman approaching the checkpoint and shot in the air while ordering her to halt. Police say the woman refused to stop and took out a knife. Police subsequently opened fire and killed her, the statement says.

Police at the site of a stabbing attempt at the Tapuah Junction in the West Bank. October 19, 2016 (Israel Police)

Police at the site of a stabbing attempt at the Tapuah Junction in the West Bank. October 19, 2016 (Israel Police)

In new book, Hollande says Obama abandoned him on Syria

Normally a man of consensus and caution, President Francois Hollande’s frank comments in a new book written by two journalists is causing shockwaves in France.

“A President Shouldn’t Say That …” has exposed the inner workings of Hollande’s troubled presidency and his views on Islamic veils, Barack Obama and his private life.

In the book, Hollande criticized his political rivals as well as other state leaders — including President Barack Obama. In a 2015 interview recounted in the book, he explained he felt abandoned by his US ally in August 2013 when Obama informed him at the last minute he would not agree on an immediate military intervention in Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s government.

President Barack Obama, left, meets with President Francois Hollande of France in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, November 24, 2015. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

President Barack Obama, left, meets with President Francois Hollande of France in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, November 24, 2015. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

“I don’t know what would have happened if we had carried out strikes … What I can say is that we did not carry out strikes, and there’s Daesh,” says Hollande, who used the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. Hollande suggested that IS might have been weakened by such strikes. Since 2013, extremists with links to IS have repeatedly attacked France, with deadly consequences.

AP

Aid group says 5,000 fled Mosul area, warns of disease outbreak

Save the Children says on Wednesday that 5,000 people have arrived at the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria from the Mosul area in the last 10 days, with 1,000 more waiting to enter at the border.

The group says the camp was ill-equipped to receive the refugees, saying it is “littered with waste and feces, with a looming risk of outbreaks of disease.” It says there are just 16 latrines shared by more than 9,000 people, many of whom only have access to dirty, untreated water.

Tarik Kadir, head of Save the Children’s response to the Mosul crisis, says that “conditions there are among the worst we’ve seen, and we expect thousands more people to be on their way soon.”

Mosul, which fell to the Islamic State group in 2014, is still home to more than a million civilians.

AP

Obama half-brothers disagree on attending debate

President Barack Obama’s half-brother says he doesn’t agree with the decision by another half-brother to attend the final presidential debate as a guest of the Donald Trump campaign.

Mark Obama Ndesandjo says, “I love my brothers, but no one member represents the Obamas.”

The Trump campaign said Obama’s Kenyan-born half-brother Malik would be in the audience for the showdown Wednesday between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The three men share the same father but have different mothers.

Ndesandjo is an American businessman who has lived in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen for about 15 years.

In an email to The Associated Press, he says: “Others in my family and I do not support my brother Malik’s position on Mr. Trump.” Malik Obama supports Trump’s candidacy.

AP

In this Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 file photo, Malik Obama, half-brother of President Barack Obama, poses for photographs after speaking about the then upcoming US elections to a reporter in the village of Kogelo where he lives in western Kenya. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

In this Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 file photo, Malik Obama, half-brother of President Barack Obama, poses for photographs after speaking about the then upcoming US elections to a reporter in the village of Kogelo where he lives in western Kenya. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

Khamenei says nuke deal a slippery slope for Iran

Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei warns in a speech Wednesday the nuclear deal presents a slippery slope which will see an uptick in US demands, culminating in calls to reduce the missile stockpile, halt terrorism support, impose human rights, and minimize religion in government.

“We have, time and again, told [Iranian authorities] that if you surrender in the nuclear [case], they [Americans] will bring up the issue of the missiles. If you back down further, they will pick on the issue of support for resistance,” Khamenei says, according to Press TV.

“If you keep backing down even further, they will bring up human rights. Then, if you accept their standards, they will go for eliminating the religious standards in [our] government,” he says.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a meeting in Tehran, September 9, 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP and JTA)

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a meeting in Tehran, September 9, 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP and JTA)

620 Syrian rebels quit besieged town near Damascus

Around 620 rebels and their families began evacuating a besieged town southwest of the Syrian capital on Wednesday under a deal with the government, a local official tells AFP.

“The buses of rebels have begun moving,” says Hassan Ghandour, a member of the local committee overseeing the deal in Moadamiyet al-Sham.

He says the buses held rebels as well as their family members and would head to Idlib province, northwest of Damascus.

AFP

Austrian politician fined for calling presidential candidate a ‘Nazi’

An Austrian appeals court has found a politician guilty of defaming right-wing presidential candidate Norbert Hofer by suggesting he is a Nazi and fined him thousands of euros.

Hofer took Social Democrat Ingo Mayr to court after Hofer won about a third of the vote in the first round of elections in April. Among other things, Mayr had said that a third of the electorate “chose a Nazi.”

Wednesday’s verdict overturns an earlier court ruling in favor of Mayr and carries fines totaling 5,550 euros ($6,100),

Hofer narrowly lost to left-leaning candidate Alexander Van der Bellen in a May runoff that Austria’s highest court annulled after Hofer’s Freedom Party objected that the vote was marred by major irregularities. The two face off again December 4.

AP

Presidential candidate Norbert Hofer of Austria's far-right Freedom Party waves to supporters during the final election campaign event in Vienna, Austria, on May 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Presidential candidate Norbert Hofer of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party waves to supporters during the final election campaign event in Vienna, Austria, on May 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

18 pro-Israel parliamentarians tour Hebron

Eighteen pro-Israel parliamentarians from Europe, Central America, and South Africa tour the West Bank city of Hebron.

During the tour, organized by Foundations Allies Israel, the lawmakers visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Tel Rumeida, and the Hebron museum in Beit Hadassah.

South African MP Kenneth Meshoe is quoted by the organization in a Hebrew-language statement as saying that calling Hebron occupied is no less ridiculous than saying Arab leaders are occupiers of Arab countries.

18 pro-Israel parliamentarians visit Hebron on October 19, 2016 (Avi Hayoun/Courtesy)

18 pro-Israel parliamentarians visit Hebron on October 19, 2016 (Avi Hayoun/Courtesy)

Russia tells US-led coalition not to ‘drive terrorists’ to Syria

Russia warns the US-led coalition Wednesday against driving jihadists from Iraq to Syria, in the offensive to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State jihadist group.

“It is necessary not to drive terrorists from one country to the other but to destroy them on the spot,” the chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov says in a statement.

He says Russia was focusing on “possible attempts by fighters to break out of Mosul” and “freely leave the city in the direction of Syria.”

“We hope that our partners in the international coalition realize what freely roaming large IS gangs in the Middle East can lead to.”

AFP

Czechs arrest Russian hacker sought by United States

Czech police have arrested a Russian hacker suspected of cyberattacks in the United States, officials say on Wednesday.

Police say an international warrant on the man, who was not named, was issued by Interpol and that officers cooperated with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation on the case.

Police spokesman Jozef Bocan says the man was arrested in a Prague hotel, and that after the arrest he collapsed, received first aid treatment and was hospitalized.

Another police spokesman, David Schoen, tells The Associated Press the arrest took place on October 5 and that police delayed releasing information about it for “tactical” reasons.

Police video from the arrest, obtained by the AP, identifies the man only as Yevgeniy N.

Prague’s Municipal Court will now have to decide on his extradition to the United States, with Justice Minister Robert Pelikan having the final say.

AP

Trump needs ‘comeback,’ campaign manager admits

Donald Trump’s campaign manager acknowledges that the Republican presidential nominee needs a “comeback” in the final weeks of the campaign.

Kellyann Conway says that Trump has pulled off comebacks several times before. It’s a rare acknowledgement by the confident billionaire’s campaign that he could ultimately fall short. She speaks to Fox News on Wednesday ahead of the third and final presidential debate.

Conway’s comment comes amid a string of battleground state polls showing Clinton ahead.

Conway says she doesn’t understand why Hillary Clinton hasn’t been able to “put him away” given her experience and her campaign’s “endless amounts of money.” She says, “What is her problem, already?”

AP

Israeli backpacker said killed on India trek

An Israeli backpacker was killed on a trek in India, Channel 10 reports.

The hiker’s body has been retrieved and his family was awaiting approval to airlift his remains to Israel for burial, the TV report says.

The report does not identify the Israeli hiker.

Over 2 million votes cast ahead of debate

No matter how persuasive Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are at Wednesday night’s debate, it’s already too late for either to win over millions of voters.

Advance voting by mail or in person is now underway in more than 30 states. At least 2.1 million voters have already cast ballots.

More than 45 million people are expected to vote before Election Day, November 8.

In Nevada, site of the debate, absentee ballots were being mailed out Wednesday.

Early balloting so far has shown promise for Clinton in battlegrounds North Carolina and Florida while Trump has generally held ground in Iowa and Ohio.

Early voting is traditionally favored by Democrats and is a key part of the Clinton campaign’s strategy. Trump is counting on a stronger performance on Election Day itself.

AP

5 Palestinians arrested for shooting at soldiers last week

Five Palestinians have been arrested in connection with a West Bank shooting attack on Israeli soldiers on the eve of Yom Kippur, the army announces.

No soldiers were injured in the incident near the village of Ni’ilin last Tuesday.

After opening fire on the troops near the border fence, the suspects, all residents of Ni’ilin, had fled the scene.

Police chopper photos of priestly blessing

Police release photos of the priestly blessing at the Western Wall earlier on Wednesday, captured from a police helicopter patrolling the event.

Photos of the Sukkot holiday priestly blessing at the Western Wall, taken from a police helicopter on October 19, 2016 (Police spokesperson)

Photos of the Sukkot holiday priestly blessing at the Western Wall, taken from a police helicopter on October 19, 2016 (Police spokesperson)

Photos of the Sukkot holiday priestly blessing at the Western Wall, taken from a police helicopter on October 19, 2016 (Police spokesperson)

Photos of the Sukkot holiday priestly blessing at the Western Wall, taken from a police helicopter on October 19, 2016 (Police spokesperson)

Photos of the Sukkot holiday priestly blessing at the Western Wall, taken from a police helicopter on October 19, 2016 (Police spokesperson)

Photos of the Sukkot holiday priestly blessing at the Western Wall, taken from a police helicopter on October 19, 2016 (Police spokesperson)

Israeli hiker killed in India identified

The Israeli hiker who died on an India trek is named as Ariel Frajman, 56, according to Indian media.

Frajman was hiking with his wife and son. He fell into a gorge during a hike in the Himalayas.

119 Czech MPs slam UNESCO Jerusalem resolution

Lawmakers in the Czech Parliament’s lower house condemn this week’s resolution by UNESCO that ignores the deep historic Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem.

In a Wednesday vote, 119 of the 149 lawmakers present approve a strongly worded protest against the step, saying the resolution denies historic links between the Jews and their holy sites, discredits UNESCO and fuels anti-Semitism.

“Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic rejects this resolution, which carries the spirit of hateful anti-Israel, while also ignores not only Jewish but also Christian ties to the holy sites in Jerusalem,” it says.

“The formulations are inconsistent with the mírotvornému [peacemaking] neutral character of the United Nations, UNESCO, discredit and ultimately strengthen the international anti-Semitic tendencies.”

The Czech Republic is one of Israel’s closest allies in the European Union.

AP, Times of Israel staff

The Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem, as seen from the Israeli Air Force's annual fly-by on Independence Day, May 12, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

The Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem, as seen from the Israeli Air Force’s annual fly-by on Independence Day, May 12, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Trump aide doubts claims of widespread vote fraud

Donald Trump’s campaign manager says she doesn’t believe there’s widespread voter fraud in the United States.

Kellyanne Conway said “it would not be for me to say” that there was widespread fraud absent overwhelming evidence. She says there’s fraud “here and there,” including past incidents of dead people on voter lists and people voting in multiple places.

Conway’s comments Wednesday on MSNBC appear to undercut Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that massive fraud is rigging the election against him.

Trump also says the media is rigging the election for Hillary Clinton. But Conway says that while some journalists are colluding with the Clinton campaign, it’s “certainly not all, or even most.”

AP

US general says IS leaders ‘abandoning’ Mosul

Islamic State group leaders have been fleeing Mosul as US-backed local forces close in on the jihadists’ last Iraqi stronghold, a US general says Wednesday.

“We are telling Daesh that their leaders are abandoning them. We’ve seen a movement out of Mosul,” US Army Major General Gary Volesky says in a video briefing from Baghdad, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

Volesky predicts that foreign fighters will end up forming a large contingent of jihadists remaining in the city, as they have nowhere else to go.

AFP

Iraqi forces are deployed during an offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants outside Mosul, Iraq, Monday, October 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iraqi forces are deployed during an offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants outside Mosul, Iraq, Monday, October 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Thousands of peace activists rally outside PM’s home

Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists are protesting outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.

The event, organized by the “Women Wage Peace” organization, is the culmination of a two-week march from northern Israel to the capital.

The activists are demanding that Israel resume peace talks.

Some 4,000 people are present at the rally, Channel 2 reports.

PM reportedly says Obama an ‘existential danger’ to settlements

Channel 2 reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told residents of the Amona outpost, which is slated for demolition in December under a High Court of Justice order, that US President Barack Obama poses an “existential danger” to the settlements.

“It isn’t just Amona, in the coming period, between the elections in the United States and the end of Obama’s term, the entire settlement enterprise is in existential danger,” the prime minister is quoted as saying.

PM associates said to prepare blacklist of journalists for public broadcaster

Channel 10 reports that associates close to Netanyahu have presented “Kan,” the new public broadcaster — which Likud lawmakers are now saying they will move to shut down entirely — with a blacklist of journalists they do not want to see employed there.

Meanwhile, Likud MK David Bitan reiterates in an interview with the TV station he will go ahead and lodge legislation to shut down the broadcaster entirely.

The broadcaster is slated to open in April 2017. The nascent operation has hired hundreds of workers in anticipation of its 2017 launch.

Trump, Pence to address Israelis via satellite at Jerusalem rally

The Republican presidential campaign will hold a Jerusalem rally near the Western Wall next Wednesday.

The event — headlined “Strengthening Jerusalem” and pegged to the UNESCO resolution that ignores Jewish historical ties to the capital — will include live speeches by Donald Trump and Mike Pence via satellite.

According to the campaign, Israeli politicians will attend the event.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points toward running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after Pence's acceptance speech during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points toward running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after Pence’s acceptance speech during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

PM denies he called Obama a ‘danger’ to settlements

Netanyahu’s office denies the prime minister said Obama is an “existential danger” to the settlements, as had been reported earlier by Channel 2.

“The prime minister did not make the comments attributed to him, but noted that in the past there were presidents who, at the end of their terms, pushed initiatives that were inconsistent with Israeli interests,” a statement from his office says.

“The prime minister added that he hopes the situation will not repeat itself and he anticipates that the US will not change its longstanding policy, for decades, to prevent anti-Israel decisions at the UN Security Council.”

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Live updates (closed) Latest: Trump, Pence to address Israelis via satellite at Jerusalem rally

PM reportedly says Obama an ‘existential danger’ to settlements

Channel 2 reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told residents of the Amona outpost, which is slated for demolition in December under a High Court of Justice order, that US President Barack Obama poses an “existential danger” to the settlements.

“It isn’t just Amona, in the coming period, between the elections in the United States and the end of Obama’s term, the entire settlement enterprise is in existential danger,” the prime minister is quoted as saying.