The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
Bennett warns ‘chasm growing’ between Israeli and US Jews
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett sounds alarm over growing gaps between Jews in Israel and the diaspora, as well as the future of Jews living outside the Jewish state.
“If there is one thing that keeps me up at night, it’s not Iran, it’s the future of the Jewish people in the diaspora,” Bennett says at the American Jewish Committee Global Forum in Jerusalem. “If we don’t act soon, we’re going to be losing millions of Jews to assimilation.”
Bennett also expresses concerns over the growing divide between Israelis and American Jews on a number of issues, with an AJC poll released Sunday showing sharp differences on US President Donald Trump, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall.
“I think this is one of the greatest challenges of our generation. It’s got to be at the top of our list. There’s an Atlantic-Jewish chasm growing between Israelis and Jews in the United States,” warns Bennett.
“The AJC poll reflects that the Israeli population is gradually going more rightward and becoming more traditionally Jewish, whereas American Judaism is more left and liberal. That’s a fact. I don’t know how to whitewash that, but it should not be a reason to fall apart,” he adds.
FIFA rejects Palestinian proposal for stronger stance on human rights
FIFA member federations reject a Palestinian proposal to amend world football’s statutes with a stronger stance against human rights abuses.
FIFA members vote 156 to 35 against the motion which was formally supported by the Iraq and Algeria football bodies.
Palestinian football federation president Jibril Rajoub had said FIFA lacked any ability to sanction a nation for human rights abuses.
FIFA advises voters it already fulfilled all commitments to human rights in reforms passed over the past three years.
Netanyahu thanks Bulgaria’s PM for sticking up for Israel at EU
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov, who he thanks for sticking up for Israel at the European Union.
“I want to thank you for your consistent defense of Israel in international forums, including in the EU,” Netanyahu tells Borissov at the Prime Minister’s Office. “It’s time that all of Europe’s leaders understood that Israel is the one that defends the interests, our common interests in the Middle East, both in terms of security and in many, many other ways.”
Netanyahu expresses his gratitude to the premier for his efforts to combat anti-Semitism and terrorism.
“We appreciate your efforts against anti-Semitism, and our common battle against radical Islam and the terrorism it espouses that claimed a tragic cost of lives, Israelis and Bulgarians, on the soil of Bulgaria,” he says.
Five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver were killed in a 2012 bombing at the Black Sea resort of Burgas. Both Israel and Bulgaria have blamed the attack on the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
Renowned Iranian human rights lawyer arrested
TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian award-winning human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on Wednesday, her husband says in a Facebook post.
“A few hours ago Nasrin was arrested at home and transferred to Evin,” Tehran’s notorious prison where many political prisoners are held, her husband Reza Khandan writes.
Sotoudeh, 55, one of the few outspoken advocates for human rights in Iran, recently represented several women arrested for protesting against the mandatory wearing of headscarves.
Tehran police said in February that 29 women had been detained for posing in public without their headscarves in the previous weeks.
Khandan’s Facebook message was defiant, saying: “I once told interrogators in the interrogating room: ‘Of all the things the authorities should do for their country, you only know one and that is arresting people.'”
Sotoudeh won the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov rights award in 2012 for her work on high-profile rights and political cases, including juveniles facing the death penalty in the Islamic Republic.
FIFA opens disciplinary proceedings against Palestinian soccer chief
FIFA decides to open disciplinary proceedings against Palestinian Football Association head Jibril Rajoub for alleged incitement ahead of the soccer friendly between Argentina and the Israel in Jerusalem, which was cancelled earlier this month, the Israel Football Association says.
FIFA also rejects a motion by Rajoub for the world soccer organization to change its regulations to take a stronger stance on human rights.
“The ritual repeats itself every time, when Rajoub tries to lead decisions at FIFA against our soccer and the State of Israel,” IFA head Ofer Eini says in a statement. “Thanks to proper and intelligent work we are succeeding to explain to our friends in FIFA what truly hides behind the supposedly innocent proposals of someone who has crossed every red line.”
“Israeli soccer will continue to be part out the international community and the State of Israel will continue to enjoy great sympathy at the world football association,” Eini adds.
The IFA last week filed a complaint against Rajoub and the Palestinian Football Association over Rajoub’s conduct ahead of the Argentina match, which included calls for posters and jerseys of star Lionel Messi to be burned, as well as a threat to thwart Argentina’s bid to host the World Cup in 2030.
HRW says Israeli response to Gaza clashes may be a war crime
Human Rights Watch says Israel’s response to deadly clashes on its border with the Gaza Strip may amount to a war crime.
“Israel’s use of lethal force when there was no imminent threat to life has taken a heavy toll in life and limb,” charges Sarah Leah Whitson, the group’s Middle East director.
“The international community needs to rip up the old playbook, where Israel conducts investigations that mainly whitewash the conduct of its troops and the US blocks international accountability with its Security Council veto, and instead impose real costs for such blatant disregard for Palestinian lives,” she says.
Human Rights Watch calls for a UN inquiry into alleged abuses and says the International Criminal Court should open an investigation. It also says other countries should sanction officials behind alleged human rights violations.
Some 130 Palestinians have died since the weekly clashes began in late March, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. Israel has accused Hamas, the terror strip that rules the Palestinian enclave, of using the violent protests as cover to carry out attacks and breach the border fence.
Netanyahu to Latin America states: Move your embassies to Jerusalem
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with the heads of parliamentary foreign affairs committees from Latin American states, calling on them to urge their governments to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem.
“I’m very glad that Guatemala has moved its embassy. I’m very glad that Paraguay has moved its embassy,” says Netanyahu. “And I ask you, as well as being Israel’s ambassadors, to ask your governments to move their embassies to Jerusalem. So we can say, ‘Next year in Jerusalem’”
He also says he hopes to travel to Guatemala later this year for a meeting of regional leaders. Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to visit Latin America when he traveled to Argentina, Colombia and Mexico in September.
Germany imprisons Syrian who ‘made up’ attack plot
FRANKFURT, Germany — A German court on Wednesday sentences a Syrian refugee to seven years in prison for fighting with the Islamic State jihadist group, but found that he had lied about being part of a terror cell planning an attack in Duesseldorf.
Saleh A. had presented himself to police in Paris in 2016, claiming to be a part of an IS “sleeper cell” planning a gun and suicide bomb assault in the old town center of the western German city of Duesseldorf.
He was then extradited to Germany in September 2016 and remanded in custody.
But during his trial he admitted to lying about the involvement of two alleged co-plotters, and prosecutors came to the conclusion that he had invented the whole terror plot story.
The two suspects, an Algerian and a Jordanian, were cleared of the plot charges and released from custody last year — after spending some 18 months in pre-trial detention.
Archaeologists find ancient rock art in Egypt
CAIRO — Egypt says archaeologists have unearthed 3,500-year-old rock art depicting bulls, donkeys and sheep in the Eastern Desert.
The Antiquities Ministry says Wednesday the discovery in the Wadi Umm Tineidba, by an Egyptian-American mission from Yale University, includes at least three concentrations of rock art.
Mission chief John Coleman Darnielen says the discovery provides evidence for the continuity and interaction of artistic styles of the Eastern Desert and Nile Valley.
Egypt hopes such discoveries will encourage tourism as it struggles to revive its economy after years of unrest.
White House confirms Kushner, Greenblatt to visit Israel next week
WASHINGTON — The White House says US President Donald Trump’s Mideast negotiating team will visit the region next week to promote its as-yet unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and hold talks on deteriorating conditions in the Gaza Strip. The trip comes as officials say the Trump administration is finalizing the plan for possible release this summer.
The National Security Council says Wednesday that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt would travel to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the trip. It says they would discuss “the next stages of the peace effort” and get ideas from regional leaders about “remaining questions the White House peace team has.”
No stop in the West Bank is planned, although the NSC says the itinerary may be expanded.
Shots reported fired near West Bank outpost, no injuries
The army says it received reports of shots fired near the northern West Bank outpost Havat Gilad by an armed man from the nearby Palestinian village of Jit.
It says there were no injuries or damage and the outpost’s security coordinator and rapid response team are searching for the suspects.
Pompeo says North Korea should disarm in 2 years
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States wants North Korea to take major nuclear disarmament steps within the next two years.
Pompeo is laying out an ambitious timeline for denuclearization following President Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un. He says he won’t disclose specific timelines but that the administration is hopeful that “major, major disarmament” steps can occur before the end of Trump’s first term. The term ends in January 2021.
Pompeo is also urging skepticism after North Korean official media said Trump had agreed to a step-by-step approach to denuclearization. Pompeo isn’t being specific but says that “one should heavily discount some things that are written in other places.”
Pompeo speaks to reporters from Seoul, South Korea.
PA bans protests after hundreds oppose punitive measures on Gaza
RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian Authority has temporarily banned public protests, it announces Wednesday, ahead of a planned demonstration in the West Bank opposing punitive measures by the PA against Hamas-run Gaza.
Late Sunday hundreds took to the streets of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, calling for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to end measures against Gaza that critics say harm the two million residents.
Organizers estimated 2,000 people attended, a rare show of opposition to the government in the city.
A statement on official news agency Wafa says Wednesday no permits for protests would be given out during the coming days — citing the Eid Muslim festival which is expected to begin Friday.
“In order to facilitate citizens’ normal life in this period, it is prohibited to grant permits to organize marches or to establish gatherings that would disrupt the movement of citizens and disturb them,” it says.
Despite the ban, organizers vow to go ahead with fresh anti-government protests on Wednesday night.
“The (Israeli) occupation is the main culprit responsible for the blockade on Gaza, but President Abbas is making things worse by also imposing collective punishment on families there,” campaign activist Fadi Quran says, vowing to take to the streets.
Netanyahu says ‘totally clear’ he did nothing wrong in subs probe
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it is now “totally clear” he acted properly in the purchase of naval vessels and submarines from a German shipbuilder that lie at the heart of a major corruption investigation.
Netanyahu provided testimony for the first time yesterday in the so-called Case 3000. He is a not a suspect in the case though a number of his close associates and former aides have been implicated.
“Over many months we heard all types of fabricated stories about me and [saw] all types of pictures that show me getting on and off submarines,” Netanyahu says in a Facebook video. “Allegedly I made decisions here for outside considerations.”
“Yesterday it become totally clear that my considerations regarding the submarines and naval vessels were completely practical and as always were for Israel’s security,” he adds, saying he expects to hear apologies from the media and politicians who accused him of wrongdoing.
Zionist Union leader says Netanyahu ‘proud’ of subs case
After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu releases a video saying it is “totally clear” he did nothing wrong in the so-called submarines affair, head of the opposition Zionist Union faction Avi Gabbay says Netanyahu is proud of the case.
“The prime minister has become proud of the submarine affair. Two possibilities: This is the biggest corruption scandal ever here or the biggest administrative farce ever here,” Gabbay tweets. “There are no other possibilities.”
Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case, which involves alleged corruption in the purchase of naval vessels and submarines from a German shipbuilder, though a number of his close associates and former aides have been implicated.
Netanyahu meets with US Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at his office in Jerusalem, touting the cooperation between the two countries on internal security.
“We have no better ally than the US, that is clear,” Netanyahu tells Nielsen. “I think you have no better ally than Israel.”
IDF releases helmet cam footage of troops arresting suspected soldier killer
The army releases additional footage from the arrest of a Palestinian man suspected of killing an IDF soldier last month during a raid in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The video was filmed by a camera attached to one of the arresting soldiers’ helmets.
The footage shows soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit entering the refugee camp on June 6 on a mission to arrest Islam Yousef Abu Hamid, 32, who is suspected of killing one of their comrades, Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky.
On May 24, Lubarsky’s unit entered al-Am’ari in search of a group of terrorists suspected of carrying out shooting attacks on nearby highways. During the raid, Hamid allegedly dropped a large stone slab on the special forces soldier’s head from the roof of a three-story building, fatally wounding him.
This morning, the Shin Bet security service revealed that Hamid had been arrested on June 6.
— Judah Ari Gross
Report: US peace proposal won’t be the ‘Bibi plan’
The US proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace won’t be the “Bibi plan,” Channel 10 reports, citing US officials familiar with the Trump administration’s peace efforts.
“Our peace plan won’t be the Bibi plan. It will be fair, balanced, realistic and fitting,” the report quotes a US official as saying.
The sources tell the network that there will be parts of the plan that both Israel and the Palestinians won’t like.
The report comes after the White House earlier today confirmed the US peace team will travel to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia next week to promote their peace plan.
2 convicted in Germany for drawing giant swastika on roof
BERLIN — Two men are convicted of violating German laws against displaying Nazi-era symbols for etching a giant swastika into the dirt on the roof a house and leaving it there for months.
The dpa news agency reports that the two defendants, aged 30 and 31, are convicted Wednesday by an administrative court in the southern city of Augsburg and each fined about 5,000 euros ($5,885).
The younger man, not identified in line with privacy laws, tells the court that he used a high-pressure water jet to draw the swastika as a “stupid joke” at a garden party.
The homeowner says he hadn’t bothered to remove it for several months, until police started investigating the case in January.
The judge says there was no evidence the two had neo-Nazi leanings.
Qatar pledges 10,000 jobs, $500 million in investment for Jordan
DOHA, Qatar — Qatar pledges Wednesday to create 10,000 jobs for Jordanians on the territory of the energy-rich Gulf state, as well as invest $500 million in the kingdom hit by anti-austerity protests.
The announcement comes two days after Qatar’s rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates made a $2.5-billion pledge to Jordan in conjunction with Kuwait.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed al-Thani visits Amman on Wednesday, where he meets Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
“Ten thousand jobs will be provided in Qatar to the Jordanian youth to help them achieve their aspirations and contribute to supporting the economy of their homeland,” his ministry says in a statement.
The ministry also announces $500 million will be earmarked to support infrastructure and tourism projects in Jordan.
Mass protests against price rises and a proposed tax hike have rocked Jordan in recent days as the government pushes austerity measures to slash the country’s debt in the face of an economic crisis.