The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Border policeman’s condition stable but still life-threatening
The condition of the Border Police officer who was seriously injured in a stabbing attack earlier today in Jerusalem is now stable but still life-threatening, according to his doctors.
The man is being treated at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
“He arrived in critical condition, with many stab wounds, mainly in the neck and chest and one stab wound in the heart. His condition has been stabilized but his life is still in danger,” says Dr. Ofer Marin, according to Ynet.
Netanyahu walks out of cabinet meeting
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to take a stand against disruptive cabinet members today at the weekly meeting, storming out of the session in protest.
Netanyahu is said to be furious with ministers who were ducking out to make and receive phone calls and to eat in the canteen during the meeting.
He left and only came back when everyone was seated and ready to work.
‘Jihadi John’ may have fled to Libya
Mohammed Emwazi, the Islamic State extremist better known by his alias “Jihadi John,” may have escaped to Libya after his identity was exposed to the world earlier this year, according to unconfirmed reports in the British press.
Emzawi appeared in several grisly beheading videos, including that of American-Jewish journalist Steven Sotloff and James Foley. He has not appeared in IS footage since the January beheading of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.
According to “US spies” quoted in The Express, the “fear factor” surrounding the terrorist was lost once he was found to be “a baseball hat-wearing West London street gang member.”
“We think it is a tactical move by ISIS to keep Emwazi out of the limelight. His unmasking by the press took away the mystery surrounding his ‘bogey man’ persona and though we have targeted him with conventional missiles we have had no confirmation of a successful strike,” the intelligence sources tell the paper.
“We have picked up communication intercepts to suggest Emwazi has been in Libya and remained there over a number of days,” the sources say, according to the report.
‘Stabber of border policeman was lone wolf’
Jerusalem Police Chief Moshe Edery says an initial investigation of the stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City this morning suggests that the assailant, an 18-year-old Palestinian youth from the West Bank, acted alone.
These attacks have been known in recent months as “lone-wolf” attacks, in the sense that the perpetrators act alone and do not belong to any organized terror groups.
Edery says there was no prior warning to the attack, as is typical of such incidents.
France won’t give up on peace talks – Fabius
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says that France will not give up on finding a way to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Speaking in Amman, where he was meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II, Fabius says that “France is one of several countries that will not give up in this situation… out of friendship with the Palestinians and with the Israelis.”
Fabius is expected in Israel later today to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then separately with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to promote France’s proposal for relaunching talks.
“The first order of business during this visit is to identify how we can contribute to restarting peace talks, Fabius say.
The French initiative seeks a UN Security Council resolution which would set a timetable of 18 months for a final status agreement, and according to French media reports would threaten French recognition of Palestine should negotiations fail.
The French proposal says the sovereignty of a future demilitarized Palestinian state must be guaranteed, with a gradual Israeli pullout from Palestinian territory. It also says Israel’s security concerns must be addressed, and any Palestinian arms buildup or terrorist activity prevented.
— AFP contributed
Deputy FM says French peace plan counterproductive
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely says France’s initiative for restarting peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians is “counterproductive.”
In an interview in the French-language newspaper Le Figaro, Hotovely (Likud), says the French proposal “creates an illusion among the Palestinians that they will get something from the international community without having to make concessions.”
“It is clear to Israelis, left and right wing, that direct dialogue between the parties is the only way to resolve the issue…The Palestinian leadership — encouraged by some countries — has been trying for several years now to internationalize the conflict. This is a very dangerous process not only for Israel but also for Palestinians. After all, the adoption of a resolution by the United Nations does not prevent us from continuing to defend ourselves militarily,” she is quoted as saying.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is expected in Israel later today to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem and then with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah to discuss the French proposal, which seeks a UN Security Council resolution that would set a timetable of 18 months for a final status agreement.
Iran lawmakers curtailed on power to veto nuclear deal
Iran’s parliament curtails its own power to block a nuclear deal with world powers, effectively removing a longstanding threat that a final accord could be torn up by lawmakers.
A draft bill presented on Wednesday, which laid down strict criteria for Iran to accept any agreement, had threatened to complicate talks on a final accord, which are due to be finalized by June 30.
However, in a boost to President Hassan Rouhani’s government, key amendments to the proposed legislation will now move the formal supervision of a deal out of the hands of lawmakers.
The original text had set three key criteria that parliament would require to say had been met for an agreement to be binding.
But the amended bill instead gives that right of supervision to the country’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).
The council comprises government ministers, military commanders and other top officials appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It is chaired by Rouhani, who is pushing hard for a nuclear deal, but is ultimately controlled by Khamenei, who will have the final word on any nuclear accord.
Rivlin to host Regev, artists in ‘culture war’
President Reuven Rivlin will host later today Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev and several prominent figures from Israel’s artist community in what is being dubbed a “truce meeting” at the President’s Residence.
The meeting comes amid a firestorm over Regev’s threats to withdraw subsidies from cultural institutions and productions deemed “unpatriotic.” She has been accused of seeking to limit freedom of expression in the country through anti-democratic measures.
Among the artists expected to arrive are director Oded Kotler, actress Gila Almagor, and actor Norman Issa.
Regev publicly clashed with each of them last week, but met with Issa on Friday at her office in Tel Aviv where the two “found common ground,” according to a post published on Issa’s Facebook page.
Fabius asks Amman to hand over mastermind of 1982 Paris attack on Jews
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius demands that Jordan hand over the mastermind behind the 1982 terror attack in Paris at a Jewish restaurant in which six people were killed.
He asks Amman to “respect the international process” of extradition.
Zuhair Mohamad Hassan Khalid al-Abassi, alias “Amjad Atta,” a now 62-year-old Palestinian man, was one of three men for whom France issued an international arrest warrant earlier this year over the attack that also wounded 22 people.
He was detained in Jordan on June 1 and later released on bail and a travel ban was imposed pending a decision on his extradition.
Fabius is in Amman for a round of talks to drum up support for a French plan to relaunch peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. He is headed to Israel next to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Abbas in Ramallah.
— AFP contributed
Arab MK to join Gaza flotilla
MK Basel Ghattas from the Joint (Arab) List will join pro-Palestinian activists on a three-vessel flotilla headed for Gaza’s shores over the next few days in a bid to break the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt.
In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Ghattas writes that he intends to be part of the flotilla and does not fear the consequences of such an act, according to Ynet.
In the missive, Ghattas reportedly warns Netanyahu and Ya’alon to instruct security forces to let the flotilla through and not intercept it lest Israel get involved “in yet another international diplomatic crisis that you and your government will have been responsible for.”
The flotilla is reportedly headed for Crete before setting sail for Gaza.
In 2010, Israeli commandos intercepted the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the largest ship in a flotilla dispatched to Gaza by the Turkish relief agency Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), and were violently attacked by those on board, with several soldiers seriously injured. Nine Turks died when the commandos opened fire in what Israel said was self-defense, and one more died in hospital last year.
The assault on the ship sparked widespread condemnation and provoked a major diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel.
Egypt appoints new ambassador to Israel
Egypt appointed a new ambassador to Israel, the Foreign Ministry confirms. His name is Hazem Khairat. It is still unclear when he will take up his post in Tel Aviv.
“The Foreign Ministry welcomes the appointment,” spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon says in a short statement sent to reporters.
Cairo’s last ambassador to Israel, Atef Salem, arrived in Israel in October 2012. He was recalled soon after in the wake of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza.
Khairat is Egypt’s former permanent representative to the Arab League and a former ambassador to Chile.
— Raphael Ahren
Hamas praises stabbing attack, takes credit
Islamist terror group Hamas praises the “heroic” stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City this morning in which a Border Police officer was critically injured, and takes credit for it.
“This is a message from the ‘resistance’ to the occupation: Our youth will harm you in any place,” says a Hamas spokesman according to NRG.
The Palestinian assailant, who has not yet been named in Israeli media, “belongs to a Hamas student cell at the Polytechnique University in Hebron. He carried out the attack successfully, despite the checkpoints,” he adds.
PM hails heroism of injured border policeman
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hails the heroism of the Border Police officer who was critically injured this morning in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem. The officer was stabbed in the heart, neck and chest but managed to shoot his attacker, critically injuring him.
In a conversation with Border Police Commander Amos Yaakov today, Netanyahu wished the injured officer a speedy recovery and praised his actions.
“On behalf of all Israelis, tell this fighter that he is a great hero. He acted with exceptional heroism and is deserving of high esteem. I commend both his determination and that of all security service personnel who – time and again – thwart the many attempts to attack us,” said Netanyahu, according to a statement released to the media.
Fabius meets with Abbas in Ramallah
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
He will also meet with Netanyahu for talks on a French peace initiative which seeks a UN Security Council resolution that would set a timetable of 18 months for a final status agreement.
Interior minister’s wife posts offensive Obama tweet, apologizes
The wife of Israel’s Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, Judy Nir-Mozes — whose family owns Israel’s most-circulated daily Yedioth Ahronoth — published a post on Twitter insulting US President Barack Obama, before deleting it and apologizing, saying it was a “stupid joke.”
Mozes published a tweet asking: “Do u know what Obama coffee is? Black and weak.”
— Holly Dagres (@hdagres) June 21, 2015
She deleted it minutes later but not before screenshots were taken of the post and widely circulated on the platform.
She then published an apology.
I apologize, that was a stupid joke somebody told me.
— Judy Mozes (@JudyMozes) June 21, 2015
Fabius meets with Netanyahu in Jerusalem
French FM Laurent Fabius is in Jerusalem, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a French proposal to relaunch peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) June 21, 2015
Fabius says France wants to avoid imposed peace solution
French FM Laurent Fabius responds to a comment made by Netanyahu this morning in which he warned that Israel would not accept foreign “diktats,” saying that France would avoid imposing a solution “that no one would accept.
“We must both guarantee Israel’s security and at the same time give Palestinians the right to have a state,” Fabius told journalists at a joint news conference with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki in Ramallah earlier, where he also met with PA President Abbas.
Earlier, Fabius warned of a coming “explosion” between the Israelis and the Palestinians if a stalemate over peace talks isn’t soon resolved.
Interior minister’s wife tries damage control after offensive Obama tweet
Following the uproar over the offensive tweet about Barack Obama sent out by the wife of Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, Judy Nir-Mozes tries some more damage control by posting two more apologetic tweets.
In one, she addresses the US president, without tagging him, repeating that the post was a “stupid joke” that she should not have posted.
In the second, she jokes that she hopes her marriage will remain intact once her husband lands in Israel and hears about the incident.
Her original post, since deleted, asked: “Do u know what Obama coffee is? Black and weak.”
President Obama I shouldnt have written the inappropriate joke I heard. I like people no matter about their race and religion.
— Judy Mozes (@JudyMozes) June 21, 2015
Sorry if I caused any offence to anyone. I hope I will stay married when my husband will land and hear what I did.
— Judy Mozes (@JudyMozes) June 21, 2015
French FM says Iran nuke deal must be verifiable
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says any nuclear deal with Iran must be verifiable, ahead of a meeting with Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We think that we must be extremely firm and that, if an agreement is to be reached, that agreement must be robust,” Fabius tells journalists at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who strongly opposes the deal currently on the table.
“That means that it must be able to be verified.”
European foreign ministers will meet Zarif on Monday, ahead of a June 30 deadline for an international accord on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran and the P5+1 powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — agreed in April on the main outlines of what would be a historic agreement scaling down Tehran’s nuclear program.
— AFP contributed
Liberman calls Joint List a ‘terror flotilla’
Former foreign minister and head of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party Avigdor Liberman says the Joint (Arab) List party, made up of mainly Arab lawmakers, is a “terror flotilla.”
Liberman’s comment comes after it became known that Joint List Member of Knesset Basel Ghattas plans to be on board a three-vessel flotilla headed for the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the blockade on the Palestinian enclave.
“The raison d’etre of the Joint List is to harm Israel and use democratic means to try to destroy it,” Liberman tells Ynet. “Israeli society must stop this hypocritical game and oust this band of terrorist-supporters from among us.
“The Joint List is one big terror flotilla,” he adds.
Deputy FM Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) also lashed out at the party, saying Ghattas’s decision to join the Gaza-bound flotilla is proof he was acting “in the service of the enemy under cover of parliamentary immunity.”
PM says UN resolutions will not bring peace
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says UN resolutions imposed from outside will not lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
At a joint press conference with French FM Laurent Fabius, Netanyahu says “peace will only come from direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions. It will not come from UN resolutions that are sought to be imposed from the outside.
“A peace that isn’t anchored in iron-clad security arrangements on the ground, in which Israel can defend itself, such a peace will simply not survive and we will not agree to it. Our concerns are not pretexts or excuses. They are genuine. A peace deal that ignores these realities will be swept away by the winds of extremism and violence that blow throughout the Middle East,” Netanyahu continues.
The conference comes after a meeting between the two in which a French peace proposal, which seeks a UNSC resolution with an 18-month time-frame for an agreement, was discussed.
Fabius says no point to UN peace resolution if vetoed by US
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says there is no point in proposing a United Nations Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood if it’s going to be vetoed by the US.
Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem right after his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Fabius says Paris’s plan to submit such a resolution is not intended to replace bilateral negotiations.
Fabius explains that the United States “has played, is playing, and will play a role” in the peace process.
“In order to avoid any misunderstanding: We’re not trying to make peace instead of the parties themselves. They will need to find an agreement themselves,” he states.
Both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are generally willing to resume peace negotiations, according to Fabius. He adds, however, that it will not be easy to actually restart talks.
Fabius continues that he discussed several ideas on how to prod the conflicting parties to make the necessary steps to get back to the negotiating table. Besides the UN Security Council resolution, Fabius mentions a committee of prominent countries — including Arab states — to take on this task.
— Raphael Ahren
Police post photo of knife used in stabbing attack
Israeli Police post a picture of the knife used in this morning’s terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, where a Border Police officer was critically injured after being stabbed in the heart, neck and chest by an 18-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank.
The officer was stabilized, but his condition remains life-threatening.
The stabber was identified as Yasser Tarwa from the town of Sa’ir, near Hebron.
South Africa’s De Klerk opposes Israel boycott
The former South African president who helped end apartheid says sanctions against Israel would be “counterproductive.”
F.W. de Klerk told Israel Radio Sunday that comparisons between apartheid South Africa and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians are “odious,” and that he prefers “dialogue and negotiation as a way to get governments to change their attitudes.”
Those who support boycotting Israeli goods, or goods made in West Bank settlements, often point to a similar campaign credited with having undermined white rule in South Africa. Israel rejects the comparison, and says the boycotts are aimed at delegitimizing its very existence.
De Klerk was the last president under apartheid and, along with Nelson Mandela, ended its systematic racial discrimination.
He says the sanctions against South Africa “hurt the people they were intended to help.”
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