search
Live updates (closed)

‘Saudi to let IAF use airspace in return for progress in peace talks’

Security officials said to closely share intelligence on Iran; Bennett announces he will go to DC, calls on other party leaders to do likewise

  • The coffin of Danish filmmaker Finn Noergaard is carried out of the Grundtvigs Kirke church during his funeral ceremony in Copenhagen on Febuary 24, 2015. (photo credit: Niels Ahlmann Olesen/Scanpix Denmark/AFP)
    The coffin of Danish filmmaker Finn Noergaard is carried out of the Grundtvigs Kirke church during his funeral ceremony in Copenhagen on Febuary 24, 2015. (photo credit: Niels Ahlmann Olesen/Scanpix Denmark/AFP)
  • Incoming UK ambassador to Israel David Quarrey (photo credit: Courtesy/FCO)
    Incoming UK ambassador to Israel David Quarrey (photo credit: Courtesy/FCO)
  • Leader of the Labor Party and Zionist Union list Isaac Herzog on February 8, 2015 (Photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Leader of the Labor Party and Zionist Union list Isaac Herzog on February 8, 2015 (Photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Former IDF chief of general  staff, Lt. Gen. (res.) Benjamin (Benny) Gantz addresses the Jewish Agency Board of Governors in Jerusalem, Tuesday, February 24. photo credit: David Schechter/Jewish Agency)
    Former IDF chief of general staff, Lt. Gen. (res.) Benjamin (Benny) Gantz addresses the Jewish Agency Board of Governors in Jerusalem, Tuesday, February 24. photo credit: David Schechter/Jewish Agency)

The rift between the US and Israel regarding the progress of nuclear talks with Iran seems to be deepening. After comments from Secretary of State John Kerry dismissing criticism of the talks in Geneva were viewed in Israel as directed personally at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jewish Home Naftali Bennett announced he was traveling to Washington next week and called on leader of all parties to do the same.

Earlier on Tuesday, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog dismissed Likud minister Yisrael Katz’s call that he join Netanyahu in Washington next week. Herzog insisted that Netanyahu’s trip was “playing politics” and that he had no intention of playing along.

Meanwhile an astounding report reveals the level of cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia when it comes to their shared adversary, Iran. According to an EU official, the Saudis told Israel that in return for some progress in peace talks with the Palestinians, they will allow IAF jets to fly in Saudi airspace.

The Times of Israel blogged events as they unfolded.

‘Israel’s future is not a reality show’ — Yachimovich

Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog dismisses Yisrael Katz’s call that he join Netanyahu on his trip to Washington next week.

“Netanyahu’s spin on who goes to Washington must stop. My strong position against Iran’s nuclear program is known to every Israeli or American politician, including the US president, and I know how to voice it clearly and unequivocally, from here – not from there,” Herzog’s campaign managers wrote on Facebook.

Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich is even harsher. Speaking on Army Radio, Yacimovich calls on Netanyahu to cancel his speech scheduled for next week and says that “Netanyahu must be reminded that the reason for the trip is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, not an election speech.”

“In his stubbornness Netanyahu is causing irreversible damage to the state. He must remember this is not a reality show with Moshik Galamin, not an electioneering clip, and not anymore material for election spins, but the future of the country.”

‘Ex-Blair assistant to be next UK envoy to Israel’

The next British ambassador to Israel will be David Quarrey, the most senior Foreign Office adviser on Middle East policy and formerly an assistant to Tony Blair.

On his appointment, Quarrey said “I am delighted to be appointed as British Ambassador to Israel. It is a great privilege to have this opportunity to deepen our already thriving economic, science and technology ties with Israel, cooperate against shared security threats and work for progress towards peace.”

A source quoted by the UK website Jewish News Online says that Quarrey has a “reputation for being fair and balanced when it comes to the Middle East.”

David Quarrey, the next British ambassador to Israel. (photo credit: UK government)

David Quarrey, the next British ambassador to Israel. (photo credit: UK government)

‘#BibiSpeaks4Me’ rally planned for March 3rd

An American pro-Israel NGO is planning to hold a rally in Washington under the title “#BibiSpeaks4Me” on March 3rd, the day Prime Minister Netanyahu is scheduled to address Congress.

Organizers say at least 1,000 people have so far promised to attend the rally. Opposing groups are expected to hold a counter-rally, under the title “Israel is a war criminal.”

Likud to shift blame on housing prices to Lapid

Top Likud MKs and campaign managers are preparing for the publication of the state comptroller’s special report on the cost of housing, scheduled to be released on Wednesday.

The strategy – according to Haaretz – will be to blame Yesh Atid leader and former finance minister Yair Lapid, who was at the time appointed by Netanyahu to head a special housing panel.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz was a member of that committee – and he is likely to lead the smear campaign against Lapid and by extension – the Yesh Atid party.

Media outlets have been playing up the upcoming comptroller report on housing as another blow to the prime minister’s reelection campaign, following last week’s report on spending excesses at Netanyahu’s official residence.

Body found in Dead Sea, likely of man missing since Friday

A body was found near the shoreline of the Dead Sea and taken for identification.

Rescuers believe it is the body of Shay Yaacov Noam, who has been missing since Friday.

Mummy found inside Buddha statue

Scientists find a statue of Buddha with a mummy inside. A CT scan reveals that the body’s organs had been removed, leaving just the skeleton. Chinese scrolls were also found inside the statue.

Read the full story here.

‘Preventing bad Iran deal more important than personal ties with Obama’

Former national security adviser Ya’akov Amidror says that preventing a bad deal with Iran is more important than Prime Minister Netanyahu’s personal ties with US President Barack Obama.

Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror (photo credit: Flash90)

Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror (photo credit: Flash90)

Amidror tells the Bloomberg news agency that Obama’s decision to sign an agreement would essentially mean he is ignoring Israel’s vital security concerns. Such a move would leave a “dent,” Amidror said, in ties between the two countries.

Image from funeral of Denmark shooting victim

Over 1,000 mourners paid their respects to the first victim of the Copenhagen shootings.

Finn Noergaard was shot dead outside the Krudttonden cultural center on February 14 during a seminar on free speech and Islam in the first of two attacks by a gunman who also killed a Jewish man outside a synagogue.

The coffin of Danish filmmaker Finn Noergaard is carried out of the Grundtvigs Kirke church during his funeral ceremony in Copenhagen on Febuary 24, 2015. (photo credit: Niels Ahlmann Olesen/Scanpix Denmark/AFP)

The coffin of Danish filmmaker Finn Noergaard is carried out of the Grundtvigs Kirke church during his funeral ceremony in Copenhagen on Febuary 24, 2015. (photo credit: Niels Ahlmann Olesen/Scanpix Denmark/AFP)

Jordan sends military aid to Lebanon

Jordan delivers heavy military equipment to Lebanon’s armed forces to bolster their fight against jihadist militants crossing from Syria, the army says Tuesday.

The Jordanian military command says a consignment of armored personnel carriers and tank transporters was delivered to Beirut on Monday “to boost its capacity to face threats across the region”.

Jordan is one of several Arab nations to have signed up to a US-led military coalition against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

Amman stepped up its bombing raids on IS in Syria after the jihadists burned alive a captured Jordanian pilot in a grizzly video released earlier this month.

Lebanon’s army has fought several deadly battles against jihadists crossing from the restive border with Syria.

The US embassy in Beirut said earlier this month that Washington has sent $25 million worth of military aid to the Lebanese army.

— AFP

Ex-caretaker files libel suit against PM’s people

Former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence Menny Naftali files a libel suit at the Herzliya Magistrate Court against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s media adviser and campaign manager Nir Hefetz and the attorneys representing Netanyahu in the media: lawyers David Shimron, Yaacov Borovsky, Shulamit Eshbol and Yossi Cohen.

Naftali seeks NIS 500,000 ($126,000) in compensation. He initially threatened the libel suit after Netanyahu’s advisers blamed him for the high expenses at the residence, as revealed by a special state comptroller report last week.

Naftali’s lawyers write that the lawsuit “should be directed at the prime minister” but cannot be directed at him because he is “hiding behind his immunity.” Naftali claims that Netanyahu’s advisers decided to launch a “targeted strike” against him in an effort to paint him as responsible for the expenses at the residence. “The closer we are to elections, the harsher the attacks [by Netanyahu’s advisers] become,” the lawsuit states.

At least 8 killed in Czech restaurant shooting

At least eight people were killed in a shooting spree at a Czech restaurant, local reports and officials say.

More details to follow as they become clear.

Czech police says 9 killed in restaurant shooting

An armed man killed nine people on Tuesday after bursting into a restaurant in the eastern Czech town of Uhersky Brod, state television says.

“According to our information, there are nine dead on the spot,” Czech television channel Ceska Televize (CT) says. Police spokesman Pavel Benedikt Stransky refuses to confirm the information but says the gunman “has already been subdued.”

— AFP

PA begins implementing Israeli goods’ boycott

Fatah top official Mahmoud al-Aloul, who heads the Palestinian committee responsible for enforcing the boycott on Israeli goods, says that as of Wednesday inspectors will begin destroying Israeli goods found in stores.

The Palestinian boycott will be expanded in the coming days and include additional companies to the brands currently being boycotted. Today, inspectors went from store to store looking for products by Tnuva, Prigat, Elite, Osem and Strauss. Merchants who still stocked products by these brands were ordered to remove them by the end of the day. Some complained that the PA did not formulate a mechanism to compensate them for the Israeli products.

The boycott comes as a reaction to Israel’s refusal to give the Palestinian money from taxes it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf.

Ministry admits Arrow test firings failed

The Defense Ministry says two recent test firings of the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 missiles failed.

A September 9 Arrow 2 test firing failed after the interceptor passed near the target but missed it. The ministry says scientists were working hard to find what went wrong in the experiment.

A more recent Arrow 3 test firing in December did not fail as such — the system’s radar found the target as it should but the control center decided against firing the missile due to “security issues,” Ynet reports.

Czech shooting seems to be an act of ‘deranged individual’

Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has tweeted to say he is on his way to the scene of the shooting in a Czech restaurant and that from available reports, it appears that the incident was not a terrorist attack, but the actions of a “deranged individual,” the UK-based Mirror reports.

Kerry cautious on whether Iran wants deal

The United States will know soon if Iran is willing to seal a deal to assure the world it is not seeking to develop a nuclear bomb, top US diplomat John Kerry said Tuesday.

But fresh from talks in Geneva with his Iranian counterpart, Kerry sounded a note of caution, telling US lawmakers he did not know yet whether a comprehensive agreement was within reach.

— AFP

Poll says Likud and Zionist Union tie at 23

A new Haaretz poll says Likud and Zionist Union would tie at 23 Knesset seats. Compared with the last poll by Camil Fuchs, the pollster working for Haaretz, this means Likud is weakening (from 25 seats in a poll from three weeks ago) and Zionist Union maintains its strength – but also fails to pick up steam.

Yesh Atid, Jewish Home and the Joint Arab List all win 12 seats. For Yesh Atid this means a gain of 3 seats, for Jewish Home a loss of 2. Next come Kulanu with 9 seats, Shas and UTJ with 7 seats each, Yisrael Beitenu with 6 seats, Meretz with 5 and Eli Yishai’s Yachad with 4 seats.

The poll, with 514 respondents, has a margin of error of 4.2%.

Meretz presents diplomatic platform

Few surprises in the diplomatic platform of Meretz, revealed today: Any future deal will be based on the principle of two states, the party says, which will be implemented as part of a regional peace deal as detailed in the Saudi peace offer.

The border between Israel and the Palestinian state will be based on the pre-1967 lines, including agreed land swaps. Meretz wants to advance a halt to construction in the settlements and enforce beyond the Green Line an existing law according to which residents evacuated from their homes receive financial compensation.

Additionally, the party wants to enact a gradual plan to remove the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Nefesh B’Nefesh announces Bonei Zion award winners

The Nefesh B’Nefesh organization announces six immigrants who have been chosen to receive the “Bonei Zion” award.

All six come from English-speaking countries and they were chosen for their “major impact on the State of Israel.”

The winners are Professor Charles Sprung, Director of the General Intensive Care Unit at Hadassah Medical Organization – in the field of Science and Medicine; Jon Medved, Founder and CEO of OurCrowd in the field of Entrepreneurship and Technology; Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, Founder and Executive Director of ITIM in the field of Community and Non-Profit; Chana Reifman Zweiter, Founding Director of Kaleidoscope Mainstreaming Network in the field of Education; Asher Weill, Consultant and Editor of English publications for Limmud FSU for Culture, Sports & Arts; and IDF Staff Sgt. Asaf Stein, PhD for the IDF and National Service Young Leadership Award.

Former Israeli basketball star and goodwill ambassador Tal Brody with Michigan State Representative Rudy Hobbs at a reception hosted at the home of Yoav Suesskind in Tel Aviv, November 12, 2012. (photo credit: courtesy of Project Interchange)

Former Israeli basketball star and goodwill ambassador Tal Brody with Michigan State Representative Rudy Hobbs at a reception hosted at the home of Yoav Suesskind in Tel Aviv, November 12, 2012. (photo credit: courtesy of Project Interchange)

Former basketball player Tal Brody will be given the organization’s lifetime achievement award for “dedicating his life to shaping and impacting Israel through sports.”
Brody led Maccabi Tel Aviv to win the European championship in the late 70’s. For a decade later, he captained Maccabi Tel Aviv to new records and championships, resulting in his number and jersey being officially retired and inducted into the Jewish Hall of Fames of America and Israel.

Gantz says Palestinian ICC bid is ‘ridiculous’

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz said Palestinian efforts to pursue war crimes charges against Israel were “ridiculous.” Speaking to the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency during an event in his honor, Gantz said “Militaries from around the world come to us to learn how to conduct urban warfare. That we are being brought before the International Criminal Court is ridiculous.”

In one of his first public appearances as a civilian since stepping down last week, Gantz said that he has “confidence in the capabilities of the IDF and in the leadership of my successor, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot.

“If you were to ask yourselves where is the best place to be an Arab in the Middle East, the answer would be Israel. Israel is an outpost of the democratic, liberal world in a region in which those values are lacking. In the midst of the regional storm around us, Israel is a stable rock.”

Former IDF chief of general  staff, Lt. Gen. (res.) Benjamin (Benny) Gantz addresses the Jewish Agency Board of Governors in Jerusalem, Tuesday, February 24. photo credit: David Schechter/Jewish Agency)

Former IDF chief of general staff, Lt. Gen. (res.) Benjamin (Benny) Gantz addresses the Jewish Agency Board of Governors in Jerusalem, Tuesday, February 24. photo credit: David Schechter/Jewish Agency)

French woman kidnapped in crisis-hit Yemen

A French woman working in Yemen was kidnapped as President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi struggled to reassert his authority in the crisis-hit Arabian Peninsula nation.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said meanwhile that Iran had contributed to the collapse of the government’s authority in Yemen, where a Shiite militia has seized the capital Sanaa.

The French woman, who was working for an international organisation in Sanaa, was abducted on Tuesday morning, France’s foreign ministry said, urging all French citizens “to leave the country as fast as possible”.

Western nations including Britain, France and the United States closed their embassies in Yemen this month and urged their citizens to leave over security concerns.

— AFP

Netanyahu opposed interim agreement and he’s all for it – Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry makes a direct reference to Netanyahu after returning from Geneva talks with Iran, attacking Netanyahu’s criticism of the Iran deal that was being hammered out between world leaders and Iran.

“I don’t know anybody who has seen the interim agreement and doesn’t want to see it extended, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who opposed it vehemently and called it ‘the deal of the century’ for Iran,” Kerry says.

Leaders of small parties to join Ch. 2 debate

A new Channel 2 poll finds Likud weakening slightly to 22 Knesset seats, with Zionist Union at 24 seats. Jewish Home, Yesh Atid and the Joint Arab List all win 12 seats.

Kulanu, Shas and United Torah Judaism all win seven seats in the new poll, Meretz and Yisrael Beitenu both win six seats and Yachad enters the Knesset with 5 MKs.

The Channel 2 poll showed results slightly different from a Haaretz poll published earlier, which put Likud and Zionist Union at a 23 seat tie.

Channel 2 also reports that leaders of the smaller parties in the Knesset will take part in a debate on Thursday at 8 p.m. Israel time. Taking part in the debate will be Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon, Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman, Shas leader Aryeh Deri, Meretz leader Zahava Galon and the Joint Arab List leader Aiman Uda.

In fact, among leaders of parties polling below 20 Knesset seats, the debate will feature all parties except United Torah Judaism.

‘Saudis will let IAF use airspace to attack Iran; just want progress in peace talks’

Saudi Arabia will let Israeli fighter jets use the peninsula’s airspace should an attack on Iran be necessary. All it wants in return is some progress in peace talks with the Palestinians, Channel 2 reports, citing an unnamed senior European source.

Israel and the kingdom also share intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program at a very intimate level, the station reports.

While critics of Netanyahu say he is leveraging his differences with the US on Iran for political goals, the report says the Saudis are no less worried by details coming out of the Geneva talks than Israeli security officials. “The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran,” the TV report says.

Israel has its own ways of learning what goes on in Iran talks, says official

Responding to implied criticism from US Secretary of State John Kerry who said critics cannot know the details of the deal with Iran because “there is no deal,” Israeli officials say Israel knows enough about the specifics of the agreement through sources other than the US. “And even from what we know from the Americans, it is clear that this is a bad deal,” says an unnamed Israeli official quoted on Channel 2.

Meanwhile, a source close to the Obama administration tells the station that “the dispute with Netanyahu prevents all possibility for discussing security guarantees for Israel as part of the emerging agreement.”

Bennett says he’ll go to Washington with PM

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett says he will join Prime Minister Netanyahu on his trip to the US, where Netanyahu is expected to try to convince Congress to hold back a deal between world powers and Iran which Netanyahu believes is bad for Israel.

Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, seen in the Israeli parliament on June 09, 2014. (photo credit: FLASH90)

Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, seen in the Israeli parliament on June 09, 2014. (photo credit: FLASH90)

“Mr Herzog,” Bennett posts on Facebook, addressing the leader of Zionist Union, “let’s set aside our campaigning and join the prime minister’s national mission in the US. On Iran there is no right or left. When Iran is edging closer to acquiring nuclear weapons under the sponsorship of world powers, we have no time for politics.”

Bennett called on heads of all parties to join Netanyahu: “I call on heads of all parties to set aside their differences and join the prime minister in his mission against Iran. I intend to do this and be in the US on the last chance we have to stop Iran from acquiring nukes.”

UK police believes missing girls are in Syria

Three teenage girls from London feared to have run off to join the Islamic State (IS) group are believed to have crossed from Turkey into Syria, British police says.

Close friends Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-olds Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, boarded a flight from London Gatwick to Istanbul last Tuesday. Their families launched a public appeal for them to return home.

London’s Scotland Yard says counter-terrorism detectives leading the search for the teenagers “now have reason to believe that they are no longer in Turkey and have crossed into Syria”.

In a statement it adds: “Officers continue to work closely with the Turkish authorities on this investigation.”

— AFP

2 rock-throwing incidents in J’lem; none hurt

Several Palestinian youths hurled rocks at Border Police officers in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, after a Jewish man accidentally ran over a young female resident and injured her lightly. The officers dispersed the crowd and detained one person for disturbing the peace.

Later this evening, rocks were thrown at the light rail as it was passing near the Shuafat refugee camp in the northeastern part of Jerusalem. No one was hurt but the trail car sustained some damage. Police were looking for the perpetrators.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed