The Times of Israel liveblogged events on Wednesday as they unfolded.
Opposition sees first Knesset vote win
A bill submitted by the opposition and expected to fail passed by a single vote at the Knesset plenum, marking a first loss for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition since its establishment more than two months ago.
The bill, submitted by Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar, enables people whom the Tax Authority opened a file against in preparation for confiscation of their assets to manage the file only in a Tax Authority office near their home.
The coalition said it would oppose the proposal, which was also rejected by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. When the bill passed the vote, 46-45, opposition MKs in the plenum applauded.
Elkin fires back at court in defense of PM
Minister of Diaspora Affairs Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) rejects criticism voiced yesterday by Supreme Court Justices Hanan Melcer and Elyakim Rubinstein on Netanyahu’s holding several ministerial positions.
Elkin tells Israel Radio that “it’s bizarre that Melcer woke up more than a decade after Basic Law: The Government was amended and decided to establish new norms.”
Since the law was amended, he said, several prime ministers have held ministerial position and High Court of Justice justices never saw anything wrong with the practice. “In a well-functioning democracy the Supreme Court should interpret the law, not legislate itself or run the country,” Elkin says, adding that if Melcer’s statements become a ruling, the existing law may require clarifications.
Yesterday, Melcer and Rubinstein criticized the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding the foreign affairs, communications, health and regional cooperation portfolios, while the ministries are headed in practice by deputy ministers and in one case by a minister without portfolio.
The justices spoke at a hearing devoted to a petition by Yesh Atid on the issue. Their critical comments were picked up by the media and understood by the government as an expression of disagreement but legally they do not bind the government.
Ministries add French to hotlines for immigrants
Un signe de l’epoque: As of the beginning of the month, the Health Ministry and Immigrant Absorption Ministries added French to their Health Hotline and Medical Translation Hotline, respectively, in addition to existing languages Hebrew, English, Russian, Arabic and Amharic.
The move aims to facilitate the experience of new immigrants from France.
Israel has seen an uptick in the arrival of French immigrants following a year in which the country was hit by several terror attack, not all of them targeted against Jews. The Jewish state expects this summer to mark a record in the number of French immigrants arriving.
Greece to file ‘credible’ reform plans tomorrow
Greece will submit “credible” reform plans to the eurozone tomorrow as demanded by leaders of the currency union at their latest emergency summit, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said.
“The Greek government… will tomorrow file new concrete proposals, credible reforms, for a fair and viable solution,” he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg today.
‘Hannibal Protocol killed a soldier’
The Hannibal Protocol that was declared toward the end of last summer’s war with Gaza claimed the life of an IDF soldier, Professor Asa Kasher
Speaking at the Tzohar Rabbis Conference on Society and State, Kasher says the protocol resulted in a death of the soldier because of troops’ misunderstanding. “I have solid ground [to say what I say]. I don’t want to say where and when but this happened.”
Kasher says the Hannibal Protocol, launched when a soldier is missing and suspected kidnapped, is a top secret procedure and 99 percent of those who speak and write about don’t know what it entails. “We will not reveal to the enemy what the protocol calls for but I will say there is an absolute prohibition to kill a soldier who was kidnapped as the adage goes, ‘better a dead soldier than a kidnapped soldier.'”
“This is patently false. [Soldiers] can maybe shoot at the direction of terrorists but never to fire in order to kill the terrorists and the soldier,” Kasher adds.
Kasher; a professor of philosophy, wrote the IDF’s code of ethics.
Social subsidies paid out early for Eid al-Fitr
The National Insurance Institute will advance payments of unemployment and child subsidies by a few days, in order to help the Muslim population prepare for Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
Minister of Welfare and Social Services Haim Katz and director general of the National Insurance Institute Prof. Shlomo Mor Yossef decided to bring unemployment payments forward from July 17 to July 14, and child subsidies from July 20 to July 14.
The holiday will be celebrated July 17 or July 18.
US, UAE launch anti-IS online center
The US and Emirati governments launch a new Mideast digital communications center focused on using social media to counter the Islamic State group’s propaganda efforts online.
IS supporters have deftly harnessed social media to spread the group’s slickly produced Hollywood-style film clips and other messages aimed at recruiting and drawing support from plugged-in young Muslims.
The Obama administration has urged Arab allies to do more to combat the media blitz, characterizing the fight on the communications front as a key pillar in the overall effort to defeat the group.
The new Sawab Center is one of the most concrete responses to that call yet in the region. Named for the Arabic word for “the right or proper way,” it will be based in Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, a key American ally and a member of the US-led coalition against the IS group.
The center released YouTube videos and Twitter messages today in Arabic and English announcing its launch.
Anwar Gargash, the Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, and Richard Stengel, the US undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, say the center’s aim is to support coalition efforts, challenge IS propaganda and “amplify moderate and tolerant voices from across the region.”
“Recent tragic events in the Middle East region and beyond have demonstrated once again the stark contrast between Daesh’s vision for the future and that of civilized people,” the diplomats say in a joint statement announcing the launch. Daesh is another name for the Islamic State group.
18 die in Arab-Berber violence in Algeria
Fifteen people wounded in clashes between Berber and Arab communities in southern Algeria have died of their injuries, raising the death toll to 18, the national news agency APS reports.
The agency, citing hospital and local officials, says dozens of other people were hurt in Tuesday’s violence between Chaamba Arabs and Mozabite Berbers in the M’zab region on the edge of the Sahara desert.
Don’t honor Nazi minister, WJC tells Hungarian city
The World Jewish Congress has called on a central Hungarian city to abandon plans to honor a government minister who supported the Nazis.
Balint Homan served as Minister of Religion and Education under Nazi-allied World War II Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy and the Arrow Cross regime from October 1944 to March 1945 during which up to 15,000 Hungarian civilians, mostly Jews, were killed and 80,000 deported to Nazi concentration and death camps.
Municipal leaders in Székesfehérvár, which with a population of 100,000 is one of Hungary’s largest cities, are planning to erect a life-size bronze statue in honor of Homan. It will be funded in large part through a grant from the Hungarian Justice Ministry, according to WJC.
“Seventy years after the end of World War II, it is inconceivable and wrong for a city to erect a statue in honor of a known anti-Semite and a key figure in the persecution of Hungarian Jews before and during World War II. Homan was an outspoken supporter of Nazi Germany and the fascist Arrow Cross regime in 1944, and he remained unrepentant until his death,” said WJC President Ronald Lauder in a statement.
Andras Heisler, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities and a WJC vice president, called Homan “an emblematic figure in the humiliation and deportation of Hungarian Jews,” and “an anti-Semite who does not deserve to be honored.”
Homan was charged with war crimes in 1946 and sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 1951.
Hamas continues to help IS in Sinai
Several days after last week’s major terror attack in the Sinai Peninsula, Hamas continues to take Islamic State’s wounded for treatment in Gazan hospitals. The wounded are taken through tunnels connecting Gaza and Sinai and controlled by the military wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades.
The Gaza group is making effort to hide from Egypt the fact that it is transferring IS fighters for treatment. Most of the wounded were hurt during the massive attack by Islamic State fighters on Egyptian army positions. According to several sources, the military wing’s leader, including Mohammed Deif, Marwan Issa and others, are all aware of the cooperation with Islamic State and receive constant updates.
Last week, immediately after the large-scale IS attack in Sinai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, revealed that according to Israel’s intelligence, senior officials in the military wing of Hamas support IS people in Wallayat Sinai, the “Sinai Region” wing of the terror group.
Mordechai named Wa’il Faraj, a commander in the Qassam Brigades, as one of those who smuggled wounded IS fighters from the Sinai to Gaza. But Mordechai was discussing the situation before the attack. It is now known that the military continued to smuggle wounded fighters after the attack and after Israel’s accusations on the issue.
Intelligence estimates in Egypt and Israel say that the number of IS casualties at the hands of Egyptian soldiers reached 250 and that the movement failed in its main goal – taking over territory in the northeastern Sinai. A Times of Israel inquiry found that Egypt had previous knowledge on Islamic State’s intention to carry out a wide-scale attack against the Egyptian army.
Additionally, Egypt is well aware that the military wing of Hamas is collecting intelligence on the Egyptian army’s deployment along the Gaza Strip border, in order to examine the possibility of continuing to smuggle arms and fighters from Sinai and to Sinai.
— Avi Issacharoff
Erlich at Wimbledon semis for first time since ’03
For the first time since 2003 Yoni Erlich, 38, will participate in the Wimbledon semifinals. Erlich and his German partner Philipp Petzschner have defeated the duo ranked second in the championship, Croatian Ivan Dodig and Brazilian Marcelo Melo.
Erlich and Petzschner will play against Jimmy Murray, Andy Murray’s brother, and his partner, Australian John Pearce.
Erlich said he was “happy to be again at the semifinals.”
“We came sharp, we saw were in control even after the first point despite losing the first round,” he said. “We have good chemistry and we felt good with each other from the beginning. The semifinals won’t be easy. I played against Murray and Pearce several times. Everyone will come hungry and whoever loosens up first will have the advantage.”
U2’s Bono hails Peres as voice of peace
Bono, the lead singer of U2, dedicated a song to former president Shimon Peres during a concert in Toronto this week.
As the band was playing its greatest hits, just before starting to play “One”, Bono turned to the audience and dedicated a song to Peres, who was present and watching the concert.
Bono said: “We understand President Peres, that you have tried to be the voice of reason. And you’ve dedicated a lot of your life… to try and bring peace in this really dangerous region. And we wish you and your family safe.”
The former president, Bono said, is “somebody who is active as the voice of reason in a region where the loudest voices are often the bellicose ones. We wish that you who worked so hard for that incredible Oslo Accord that you don’t give up on the two-state solution.”
Earlier, before the song “Pride (In the Name of Love),” Bono entreated the crowd to give love to Israel, and the Palestinians, and everyone in the Middle East that needs it.
After the show, Bono and the former president met backstage. The singer told Peres that U2’s job was easy – they only sing about peace, while Peres realizes it.
Peres returned the compliment, calling Bono “a voice for hope and peace.”
Coalition jets carry out 25 sorties against IS
The United State and its allies in the coalition fighting Islamic State bombed 25 IS targets in Syria and in Iraq, Reuters reports.
Fourteen of the attacks took place in Iraqi cities, including Fallujah and Mosul and 11 others in IS bases near the Syrian cities of Hasakeh, Raqqa, Kobani and Tel Abyad.
Kirchner evokes Shylock in talk of Argentina’s financial woes
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner made an anti-Semitic remark during a visit to a high school that has infuriated the Jewish community in Argentina.
Last week, Kirchner said that in order to understand the economic situation in the country, pupils should read Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, a play by the Bard where Jews are described as scheming, vindictive, greedy money-lenders.
According to Haaretz, Israeli officials are aware of the comments, but have so far avoided responding to the incident.
Kirchner toured Lugano on Thursday, a poor neighborhood of Buenos Aires which was instrumental in helping Kirchner’s preferred mayoral candidate. She then tweeted the main points of her speech. Kirchner has more than 2 million followers on Twitter.
In one of her tweets, she recounted how she asked children she met which Shakespeare play they were reading. The answer: Romeo and Juliet. “I said, have you read The Merchant of Venice to understand the vulture funds. They all laughed,” she tweeted.
“No, don’t laugh. Usury and the bloodsuckers were immortalized by the best literature for centuries,” she wrote in another tweet.
Cuando pregunté que obra de Shakespeare estaban leyendo, me dijeron Romeo y Julieta…
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) July 2, 2015
Le dije, tienen que leer El Mercader de Venecia para entender a los fondos buitres. Risas de todos…
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) July 2, 2015
No, no se rían. La usura y los chupasangre ya fueron inmortalizados por la mejor literatura hace siglos…
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) July 3, 2015
Vulture funds are funds that deliberately invest in companies or properties that perform poorly and may therefore be undervalued. They buy the debts cheaply, then sue the debtors, usually governments, for a higher price.
Argentina is trying to pay back debts to several such American-owned funds.
Kirchner’s connection between the funds and the play evokes a well-known anti-Semitic trope: that Jews control the world’s finances. By extension, her words could be understood as implying Argentina’s financial woes are the fault of the Jews.
The umbrella organization of Argentine Jews issued a statement expressing disdain with Kirchner’s comments.
She did not apologize. Instead, on July 5 she posted two tweets showing the program notes and an invitation from the Israeli Embassy in Spain to a production of the play by Habima, Israel’s national theater.
“The piece? The Merchant of Venice. The company producing? Habima, Israel’s national theater,” she tweeted. And in a consecutive tweet: “Who’s inviting? The Israeli Embassy in Spain. Notably, in Israel they like good literature and the best theater.”
“Goodness. Someone deserves the donkey’s head, as Shakespeare did in A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” she wrote.
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) July 6, 2015
Quién invitaba? La Embajada de Israel en España. Se nota q en Israel les gusta la buena literatura y el mejor teatro pic.twitter.com/IKk2eG5D0v
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) July 6, 2015
¿No lo leíste? Leelo, vale la pena, te vas a divertir. Es una muy buena comedia. Es Shakespeare.
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) July 6, 2015
Bennett supports death penalty for terrorists
Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett lent his support to a bill that would legislate the death penalty for convicted terrorists.
The bill, initiated by Yisrael Beytenu and one of the party’s campaign points before the election, will be brought to the ministerial committee on legislation next week. It was submitted by Sharon Gal, a newcomer to the party.
Likud officials are still debating whether to support the bill.
Bennett wrote on his Facebook page: A terrorist murderer … must know he ends his life as soon as he takes someone’s life. It is moral and it is correct.”
Bennett called on Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid to support the bill “and send a message that on these issues, there is no coalition and opposition.”
According to the bill, a person convicted of murder under terrorist circumstances will be put to death. Additionally, people convicted in terrorist activity in the West Bank in which innocent citizens died will be put to death.
Currently, only a panel of judges can decide on a death penalty and their decision must be unanimous. The bill seeks to allow a single judge to rule for the death penalty.
Officially, the death penalty is not illegal in Israel. It was only used once in the entire history of the state, when Nazi Adolf Eichmann was brought to trial in Israel, convicted and executed.
Russia vetoes UN resolution calling Srebrenica a genocide
Russia vetoes a UN resolution that would have condemned the 1995 massacre of Muslims at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war as a “crime of genocide,” saying that singling out the Bosnian Serbs for a war crime would create greater division in the Balkans.
Two international courts have called the slaughter by Bosnian Serbs of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys who had sought refuge at what was supposed to be a UN-protected site genocide. But Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin objected to focusing only on Srebrenica, stressing that Bosnian Serbs and Croats had also suffered during the 1992-95 war that killed at least 100,000 people.
Britain drafted the resolution to mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre on Tuesday, but the vote was delayed to address Russian concerns.
The defeated resolution states that acceptance of “the tragic events at Srebrenica as genocide is a prerequisite for reconciliation” and “condemns denial of this genocide as hindering efforts towards reconciliation.”
Wall Street grinds to halt over ‘technical issue’
The New York Stock Exchange stopped trading in the late morning Wednesday because of a technical issue, though shares continued to trade on other exchanges.
The exchange says a technical problem that has suspended trading since late morning is an internal technical issue and not the result of a security breach.
Trading continued on Nasdaq and other exchanges.
The White House says President Barack Obama has been briefed on the technical issue that has halted trading.
Trading exchanges have struggled with technical trouble in recent years. In May 2010, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged hundreds of points in minutes due to mass selling triggered by computerized trading programs. In March 2012, BATS Global Markets, a Kansas company that offers stock trading services, canceled its own IPO after several technical snafus.
Two months later, a highly anticipated IPO of Facebook on the Nasdaq exchange was marred by a series of technical problems, rattling investors unsure if their orders to trade went through. In 2013, trading in options in Chicago was halted due to an outage caused by software problems.
How much garbage can you fit in a house?
Jerusalem Municipality employees removed 7.5 tons of garbage from the home of a Jerusalem hoarder after residents of the building repeatedly complained of a terrible stench coming out of one of the apartments.
City Hall inspectors and a social worker arrived at the apartment, where an elderly lady known to social services lives and suffering from compulsive hoarding. They were astounded by the mounds of garbage they found inside.
Inspectors had made repeated requests to the woman to clean up the house, but she refused to cooperate even when they issued an evacuation order against her, according to Clause 58 of the People’s Health Law.
Six employees took two days to clean the house, and special containers were needed to remove the trash. The apartment contained food stuffs in an advanced state of putrefaction, copious amounts of trash, cockroaches, rodents, and in one of the house’s corners – a molten snake skin. The cleaners needed to wear special protection gear including masks because the stench in the house was unbearable.
After cleaning up the house, a private company was hired to sterilize it from the leftovers. Municipality employees are in touch with the woman and are willing to help her in any way possible, a statement from the Jerusalem Municipality said.
‘No malicious actors involved in NYSE stoppage’
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says President Obama was briefed on the technical problem that has halted trading on the New York Stock exchange by White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco and chief of staff Denis McDonough.
He says Monaco told the president there is no indication that malicious actors are involved.
Earnest said the NYSE has been in close contact with the Department of Homeland Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Treasury Department.
He says that despite indications that this was not a cyber breach, “the administration is keenly aware of the risk that exists in cyber space right now.”
65-year-old woman nearly drowns in Tel Aviv
A 65-year-old woman has been pulled out of the water at a Tel Aviv beach. Magen David Adom paramedics are evacuating her to the Ichilov Medical Center in serious condition, after initial resuscitation at the scene.
Ministry says IDF polluting the environment
The Environmental Protection Ministry accuses the IDF of polluting the environment, Israel Radio reports.
An official at the ministry, Yitzhak Ben David, says the military is ignoring the Environment Protection Law that has been in effect for four years, and that it must decide on environmental procedures for the security establishment.
Soldiers leave large amounts of trash in training areas. The ministry demanded that the security establishment present a protocol on avoiding damage to the environment within three weeks.
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