The Central Elections Committee received the final lists by different Israeli parties Thursday, with some, as usual, playing musical chairs all the way to the last minute. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had two surprises up his sleeve: Benny Begin in the 11th slot and a last-minute attempt to join lists with Moshe Kahlon (Kahlon refused the offer); but hovering in the back of all the Likud politics were the antics of Sara Netanyahu, who took the money deposits on glass beverage bottles. The Times of Israel covered events as they unfolded.
Thousands at funeral of Yochai Kalangel
Thousands of people attend the funeral of Cpt. Yochai Kalangel, who was killed when Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at the vehicle he was in along the Lebanon border yesterday.
“Instead of you covering my grave with soil, it is me who covers yours,” says Yosef, Yochai’s father. “The way of the world is that a son buries his father, but now the ways of the world have changed… thank you, God, for these 25 years and seven months.”
PM’s wife accused of stealing bottle deposits
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara pocketed the small change from depositing empty beverage bottles in supermarkets and grocery stores, taking c. NIS 24,000 ($ 6,115) which belong to the state, claims Meny Naftali, the prime minister’s residence caretaker who is suing the Netanyahus for alleged misbehavior by the prime minister’s wife toward him.
The Netanyahu couple returned NIS 4,000 (c. $1,000) last year, according to an estimate of NIS 1,000 (c. $250) a year.
Naftali, however, says the sum paid by the Netanyahu family is much lower than the real number. Speaking to Haaretz, he assesses the deposits from bottles at NIS 250 (c. $65) once every fortnight. If his claim is correct, the Netanyahus returned bottles worth NIS 6,000 (c. $1,500) every year, amounting to NIS 24,000 over Netanyahu’s entire term.
The office of State Attorney Yehuda Weinstein did not comment on questions regarding the apparent criminality of Sara Netanyahu’s actions, nor on whether paying back NIS 4,000 last year in lieu of the money for deposited bottles effectively constitutes admission of taking the money.
Benny Begin returns to Likud, will be No. 11 on list
The Likud Central Committee is expected to approve the appointment of Benny Begin to the 11th slot on the Likud list.
Begin is a veteran, respected politician, who was a Likud MK and held several ministerial portfolios under several prime ministers.
He is the son of former Likud prime minister Menachem Begin.
Dani Dayan walks out of Jewish Home
Dani Dayan, the former head of the Yesha Council settler organization, who was elected to the 21st slot on the Jewish Home list, announces he is leaving the party.
Dayan says he rejected an offer from party head Naftali Bennett to move up to the 17th slot.
“I asked to remove my name from the list altogether,” he tweets.
Jewish Home has recently been polling at 15-16 seats, making the 17th spot a not-so-attractive proposition for a public figure of Dayan’s prominence.
Funeral for Dor Nini begins near Shtulim
The funeral for Dor Nini begins in a cemetery near Shtulim.
Nini was killed yestedary in a Hezbollah cross-border attack.
Arad Mayor Tali Ploskov joins Kahlon’s party
Arad Mayor Tali Ploskov joins Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu and will be sixth on the party list.
Eli Alaluf, who was in the sixth slot, will be moved to the third place instead of Tzaga Malko, whose candidacy was disqualified over a technicality.
Malaysia declares MH370 an accident
Malaysia formally declares missing flight MH370 an “accident” and its passengers and crew presumed dead, a step that opens the door for compensation payments but which is met with angry skepticism by distraught relatives.
“It is therefore, with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that, on behalf of the government of Malaysia, we officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident,” civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman says in a televised announcement.
Kiryat Shmona mayor slams Lapid tour of north
Kiryat Shmona Mayor Nissim Malka criticizes Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid for going on a tour of the north, a day after Hezbollah killed two soldiers in a cross-border attack.
“As finance minister he did not come to Kiryat Shmona for two years even though I asked him both in writing and verbally to visit here and sit for a work meeting with us to promote issues relating to the town which are within the purview of his ministry,” Malka is quoted by NRG as saying.
“Now suddenly when it’s tense up north he comes for a photo op. Those who don’t come on regular days should not come during emergencies either,” Malka carps.
Aharonovich wants polygraph for top cops
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich says he will want any police officer appointed to a position of commander or higher undergo polygraph tests including questions on corruption and proper conduct.
Aharonovich met State Attorney Yehuda Weinstein yesterday and requested that he approve making appointments conditional on passing the polygraph test as soon as possible.
The meeting was set following the latest sex scandal in the Israel Police – allegations that Deputy Commissioner Nissim Mor sexually assaulted female subordinates. Mor was fired by Commissioner Yohanan Danino late last night.
JA Ethiopia emissary to join Kahlon’s party
Moshe Kahlon is expected to announce a new member of his Kulanu party: the Jewish Agency’s emissary to Ethiopia, Asher Pantahon Siyom.
Siyom recently went on unpaid leave and returned from Ethiopia to Israel, reports NRG’s Tzvika Klein.
כחלון ישבץ היום את שליח הסוכנות לאתיופיה אשר פנטהון סיום בתחילת העשירייה השנייה. סיום, יצא לאחרונה לחל"ת וחזר לישראל pic.twitter.com/ehaGwe3w7j
— Zvika Klein (@ZvikaKlein) January 29, 2015
1,500 people at SSgt. Dor Nini’s funeral
Some 1,500 people attend the funeral of Staff Sgt. Dor Nini at the cemetery in Shtulim.
Nini was killed when an anti-tank missile fired by Hezbollah hit the vehicle he was traveling in yesterday.
At least 8 dead in Afghanistan suicide attack
At least eight people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated himself at funeral in eastern Afghanistan, provincial officials say.
A local official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says at least eight people were killed in the attack in Mehtarlam, in the eastern Laghman province. Laghman governor spokesman Sarhadi Zwak places the death toll at 16, with another 39 wounded.
Hanegbi regrets Spanish peacekeeper’s death
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi meets the Spanish ambassador to Israel, Fernando Carderera Soler, and expresses Israel’s condolences over the death of the Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper who was killed by an Israeli shell fired in response to Hezbollah’s attack on an IDF convoy on Tuesday.
Hanegbi stresses the good relations with UNIFIL forces in general and the Spanish contingent particularly. Hanegbi expressed his gratitude for the restrained reaction from the Spanish government following the incident.
The deputy foreign minister assures the ambassador that the IDF is conducting a thorough examination of yesterday’s events and promises that Israel will present the findings in full to UNIFIL, the UN and the Spanish government.
— Raphael Ahren
Liberman slams decision to ‘contain’ attack
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman writes on his Facebook page that “containing the incident [along the northern border yesterday] means Israel agrees to these ‘rules of the game’ and the prices they come with. This causes serious damage to Israel capabilities of deterrence.”
“Those who say we should ‘contain’ the event and wait,” Liberman says in apparent criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu, “actually imply that Hezbollah can be allowed to build up its capabilities also along our border with Syria and bring large quantities of terrorists and ammunition that will be able to harm us at any given moment.”
Liberman points to the summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza as an example of bad deterrence: “Only this week we saw the missile test by Hamas and in the weeks before that we saw the parades where Hamas showcased the advanced weapons they are building against Israel. This is not deterrence but burying your head in the sand. This is exactly the result I opposed in Operation Protective Edge and today we see how Hezbollah, after years during it which it really was deterred by the hits it sustained in the Second Lebanon War, we see how this deterrence was shattered because of what [Hezbollah] saw happen in Operation Protective Edge.”
Girlfriend of Dor Nini mourns him at funeral
The girlfriend of Dor Nini speaks at his funeral in Shtulim, and says “Please say it is not true. We were together for six years. Please open the door and come in. You always said that if someone stands in our way, you will kick them out. So now come and kick out this nightmare. We always had our ups and downs but we always knew we were meant for each other. Now I will have no one to go to over weekends. I just want you to tell me you love me one more time. Please come home and tell me this is all just a nightmare.”
PM at ceremony for Ariel Sharon
Prime Minister Netanyahu pays his respects at a state memorial ceremony for late prime minister Ariel Sharon at the family’s Sycamore ranch, near the Israeli city of Sderot.
PM suggests Kahlon run on ticket with him
Netanyahu turns to Moshe Kahlon in a last-ditch attempt to present a strong counterforce to the joint Labor-Hatnua list dubbed the Zionist Camp.
A mediator on behalf of Netanyahu presented Kahlon with a detailed proposal for running on a joint Likud-Kulanu ticket, Haaretz reports. Kahlon rejected the offer, which included promises of portfolios in the next government, including Kahlon himself receiving the portfolio of finance minister.
According to Haaretz, Kahlon’s people wanted seven or eight slots in the first 20 places on the list (this would mean pushing back seven or eight Likud members) and the Finance portfolio.
Over 38,000 Somali kids face starvation – UN
Over 38,000 Somali children are at “high risk” from dying from starvation despite hunger levels improving by almost a third across the war-torn nation, UN experts say.
The grim assessment, based on the latest data collected by the UN, comes just over three years since intense drought and war sparked famine in the Horn of Africa nation, killing more than a quarter of a million people.
In total, over 731,000 people, including 203,000 children who are severely malnourished, face “acute food insecurity,” according to a joint report released by the UN’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network(FEWS NET).
Jordan won’t free IS female prisoner without proof pilot alive
Jordan says that it would not release an Iraqi female jihadist until it receives proof that a Jordanian pilot held by the Islamic State group is alive.
IS has threatened to execute the airman unless Jordan frees Sajida al-Rishawi by sunset Thursday in exchange for Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.
“Jordan is willing to exchange Sajida al-Rishawi for the Jordanian pilot. At this point we want to emphasize that we have asked for proof of life from Daesh (IS) and we have not received anything yet,” Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani says.
“Rishawi is still in Jordan and the exchange will happen once we receive the proof of life that we asked for,” he tells reporters. He makes no mention of Goto.
WHO says Ebola epidemic on the decline
Weekly Ebola infections in West Africa have dropped to below 100 for the first time in more than six months, figures show, raising hopes the worst-ever outbreak of the virus is coming to an end.
The World Health Organization says it has now shifted its efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the countries worst-hit by the epidemic — from slowing the spread to stamping it out completely.
The UN’s Ebola coordinator, David Nabarro, nevertheless cautions that the epidemic is still not totally contained.
Jordan-IS prisoner swap talks fail
The negotiations between Jordan and Islamic State over a prisoner release collapsed, the New York Times reports, quoting sources in Amman.
Jordan earlier demanded proof that its pilot held by IS, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, is still alive.
IS demands a female al-Qaeda prisoner held in Jordan for nine years. The terror group said it would execute Kasasbeh if Jordan does not agree to the exchange by sundown.
Kulanu submits slate
Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party submits its list for the 20th Knesset to the chairman of the Central Elections Committee, Judge Salim Jubran.
Moshe Kahlon leads the party, followed by Yoav Galant in second place and Eli Alaluf in third place. The first woman on Kahlon’s list is Rachel Azaria, placed fifth. There are three women in Kulanu’s top ten, Ynet reports.
The party’s ballot notes will carry the Hebrew letter Kaf.
‘A-G knew of Bottlegate 7 months ago’
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein was aware of Sara Netanyahu pocketing the money from depositing beverage bottles for a full seven months before Haaretz broke the story this morning.
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira, who was alerted by former employees at the Prime Minister’s Residence of the issue, then passed on the information to Weinstein.
Weinstein, Ynet reports, returned the file to Shapira without any clear indication on how to proceed.
According to the complaints by the former employees, Sara Netanyahu systematically took the small change earned from returning deposited bottles to supermarkets and grocery stores. Since the beverages at the Prime Minister’s Residence are paid for by the state, Netanyahu’s taking the deposit money for herself may constitute theft.
The Netanyahus paid NIS 4,000 (c. $1,000) last year in lieu of the deposit money. But according to a rough estimate by a former employee at the Prime Minister’s Residence, the Netanyahus’ drinks came in bottles worth some NIS 250 (c. $65) every two weeks. The small change from deposits, over four years, is not so small after all: around NIS 24,000. Incidentally, Israeli media report that the favorite drink of Israel’s royal couple is Perrier mineral water.
Watch Regev, Azaria at each other’s throats
Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) and Miri Regev (Likud), both placed fifth on their plarty slates, went at it full force during a pre-election event in a Ramle high school on Wednesday.
Azaria accused Regev of “giving away the money from the gas fields” to “the business magnates” when Regev was a member of the Sheshinski Committee, an ad hoc panel established when it became clear that Israel off-shore gas reserves were worth billions of dollars.
Regev then gets off her seat, repeating that “there will be no lies here.” The two women seem close to fighting before a moderator orders Regev back to her seat, and allows Azaria – whose turn it was to speak – to finish her comments.
The clip is in Hebrew.
Herzog says Netanyahu a failure on security
Labor leader Isaac Herzog is hard-pressed to politicize the Hezbollah cross-border attack during a Channel 2 interview but insists that “If [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah thinks he can drive a wedge in our nation because there are elections, he is gravely mistaken.”
However, Herzog says, Prime Minister Netanyahu “failed in every aspect” of managing the state, “including security.”
Israel to reduce electricity to Palestinians
Israel’s state-run electricity company is to reduce energy supplies to Palestinians in the West Bank because of a debt of more than $450 million, an official says.
The move comes at a time of diplomatic tensions, weeks after Israel froze the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues in retaliation for joining the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Due to a mounting debt worth nearly 1.8 billion shekels ($459 million), we have decided that as of today, electrical supply (to the West Bank) will be cut” for an hour each morning and another hour at night, an Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) official says.
Explosions heard in north, residents say
Residents of Biranit on Israel’s northern border report hearing explosions. The IDF closed several roads and is scanning the area.
Shas submits Knesset slate
The ultra-Orthodox Shas party submits its slate for the 20th Knesset, with just over an hour to go for parties to register.
Aryeh Deri leads the list, Yitzhak Cohen-Shani is second and Meshulam Nahari is third.
MK Nissim Ze’ev, one of the founders of Shas, is not on the list.
The party’s slate is chosen by the Council of Torah Sages, a steering committee of rabbis once led by late party founder Ovadiah Yosef.
The party is expected to garner around 5 seats, weakened by the splitting off of former party leader Eli Yishai.
UNIFIL says south Lebanon is calm and stable
UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti describes the situation in south Lebanon as calm and stable, noting that he cannot make predictions about possible developments, according to Lebanese website Naharnet.
V15 activists leave bottles outside Likud HQ
The V15 (Victory 2015) movement is rallying outside Metzudat Ze’ev, the national Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv, bearing signs with the text “take it – and leave” and bottles for depositing, in a stab at Sara Netanyahu.
The prime minister’s wife was at the focus of reports that she pocketed the money from depositing empty beverage bottles from the Prime Minister’s Residence in supermarkets and grocery stores.
פעילי ניצחון 2015 מחוץ למצודת זאב, משאירים לביבי ושרה בקבוקים לפיקדון במתנה pic.twitter.com/qfIV5DpAc4
— odedkramer (@odedkramer) January 29, 2015
IDF nabs 2 Gaza infiltrators, grenades found
The IDF says it nabbed two Palestinians armed with grenades in the Eshkol Regional Council, bordering the Gaza Strip. The two apparently snuck into Israel from Gaza.
Eli Yishai’s party submits Knesset list
The “Ha’am Itanu” party, led by Eli Yishai, submits its list for the 20th Knesset. Eli Yishai leads, with Yoni Chetboun in second place, Rabbi Michael Ayash third and Baruch Marzel is placed fourth.
The party is polling currently below the electoral threshold.
‘IDF knew Hezbollah planning an attack’
The IDF was aware that Hezbollah was planning an attack near the border, Channel 10 reports one day after a strike on an IDF convoy claimed the lives of two soldiers.
One of the scenarios discussed was an attack with anti-tank missiles from inside Lebanese territory, and the military decided to relocate the checkpoint leading to Ghajar, which was in an area completely visible from Lebanon.
The checkpoint was moved by several hundred meters but was still visible. The vehicles that were hit in Wednesday attack were delayed for several moments at the new checkpoint, before they were hit.
Ya’alon says ‘if Hezbollah would set up camp in Golan our situation would be dire’
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says “if [the terror infrastructure by Hezbollah and Iran] would reach the Golan Heights, our situation would be very difficult.”
Speaking just hours after Israel buried two soldiers killed in a Hezbollah attack that came in revenge of an assassination Hezbollah attributes to Israel, the defense minister the assassination prevented “infiltration into communities, anti-tank missile attacks” in the Golan Heights, but refrains from saying whether Israel carried out the assassination last week: “It does not matter who was behind this.”
Ya’alon says that Iran and Hezbollah “built a magnificent infrastructure… they have been training terrorists for over a year, if this would get to the Golan our situation would be tough. It’s not where we stand today… I hope this infrastructure was badly hit.”