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US official says Iran won’t have access to US financial system

Defense Ministry recognizes Istanbul wounded as terror victims; bronze artifacts, 2,200 years old, found at biblical site

  • Bernie Madoff arriving at Manhattan federal court, March 12, 2009. (Stephen Chernin/Getty Images via JTA)
    Bernie Madoff arriving at Manhattan federal court, March 12, 2009. (Stephen Chernin/Getty Images via JTA)
  • An aerial view of the Magdala synagogue uncovered in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority. (Skyview Company, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)
    An aerial view of the Magdala synagogue uncovered in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority. (Skyview Company, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • The IDF soldier who shot a disarmed Palestinian attacker in the head in Hebron appears in Qastina military court on March 31, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 2)
    The IDF soldier who shot a disarmed Palestinian attacker in the head in Hebron appears in Qastina military court on March 31, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 2)
  • Shira Roth of Jerusalem, who died in Peru after suffering altitude sickness (Facebook)
    Shira Roth of Jerusalem, who died in Peru after suffering altitude sickness (Facebook)
  • Members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in Gaza City on March 28, 2016. (AFP / MOHAMMED ABED)
    Members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in Gaza City on March 28, 2016. (AFP / MOHAMMED ABED)
  • In this March 1, 2015 file photo, Yemeni airport, security and transportation officials greet a plane from the Iranian private airline Mahan Air after it lands in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)
    In this March 1, 2015 file photo, Yemeni airport, security and transportation officials greet a plane from the Iranian private airline Mahan Air after it lands in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)
  • Islamic State's affiliate Sinai Province at weapons training, February 6, 2016 (illustrative image: Telegram.me/HaiAlaElJehad5 via MEMRI)
    Islamic State's affiliate Sinai Province at weapons training, February 6, 2016 (illustrative image: Telegram.me/HaiAlaElJehad5 via MEMRI)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

21-year-old Israeli who died in Peru to be buried Wednesday

Shira Roth, the young Israeli woman who died in Peru Thursday apparently from altitude sickness, will be buried Wednesday in Mishor Adumim east of Jerusalem.

Roth, 21, was traveling in the South American country with a friend and the friend’s mother when she reportedly fell ill after taking part in a trek to a mountain almost five kilometers high.

She was found lifeless on a bus on Thursday. Her death was apparently a result of altitude sickness during a three-day trek in the Huaraz region.

Roth’s body was flown to Israel Monday after initially being held up by Peruvian authorities. Local authorities were demanding an autopsy, a demand Israel and her family have refused, according to Israeli reports.

The funeral will take place Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Mishor Adumim cemetery, it was announced Tuesday.

Saudi inks Egypt oil deal, to spend $1.5b developing Sinai

Saudi Arabia is expected to sign a $20 billion five-year deal to supply oil to Egypt, Reuters reports.

Riyadh and Cairo also agreed to a $1.5 billion development project for the Sinai Peninsula, where Egypt’s army is fighting an insurgency affiliated with the Islamic State jihadist group.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is slated to visit Cairo in the coming days, where he will sign the agreements alongside Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Late Mossad chief’s corneas give sight to 2 others

Two people have regained their eyesight after receiving the corneas of the late former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who passed away March 17 after a long battle with cancer.

Avraham Gian, 81, and an unnamed 70-year-old woman were the recipients of the corneas, the transparent layer that forms the front of the eye.

The operations were carried out at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital.

Meir Dagan speaks to Channel 2, March 6, 2015 (Channel 2 screenshot)

Meir Dagan speaks to Channel 2, March 6, 2015 (Channel 2 screenshot)

“I’m amazed to discover that the corneas of a hero of Israel like him were implanted in me,” Gian told Channel 10 Tuesday.

“We all owe this man, and now I most of all, because I can see because of him…. I hope to have my sight for years to come after many years of not being able to see a thing.”

Saudi Arabia bans Iran’s Mahan Air from its air space

Saudi Arabia bans Iran’s Mahan Air from flying into the kingdom as tensions between the two Mideast powers remain high.

The kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation issues the order Monday night, saying in a statement it was banning the airline over “systematic violations” of the country’s safety regulations and laws.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quotes civil aviation official Ebrahim Moradi on Tuesday as saying Iranian airlines currently have no flights to Saudi Arabia and would use different routes to fly to Africa.

In this March 1, 2015 file photo, Yemeni airport, security and transportation officials greet a plane from the Iranian private airline Mahan Air after it lands in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)

In this March 1, 2015 file photo, Yemeni airport, security and transportation officials greet a plane from the Iranian private airline Mahan Air after it lands in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)

The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011 after alleging it aided Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah.

Tensions between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran remain high after the kingdom executed a Shiite cleric in January and Iranian protesters stormed Saudi diplomatic posts.

— AP

Hamas official denies stealing cement, warns of ‘explosion’

A Hamas official denies Israeli and UN charges of siphoning off cement imports to Gaza and warns of a potential “explosion” unless a cement ban is lifted.

Israel on Monday announced it had stopped private imports of cement to the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave, accusing Imad al-Baz, deputy director of the economy ministry, of diverting supplies.

But Baz denies any offense, saying the imports were in line with a UN-brokered Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism aimed at allowing for reconstruction following a devastating 2014 war with Israel.

“We don’t interfere with the cement mechanism,” he tells AFP, adding that all cement distribution sites in Gaza are monitored by Israeli cameras.

He warns that Israel’s decision would have “dire consequences” including “stopping the wheels of reconstruction, destroying the economy and increasing unemployment with adverse repercussions for tens of thousands of citizens.”

“If Israel continues to prevent the supply of cement to Gaza, the situation will explode in the face of the occupation and it will bear the responsibility.”

The Israeli defense ministry body responsible for implementing government policies in the Palestinian territories, COGAT, along with a UN official, accused Baz on Monday of taking “construction materials intended for civil reconstruction.”

“This is a clear example of how Hamas continues to abuse and harm Gaza’s civil population to advance their own personal agenda,” Israel charged.

— AFP

In Syria, attack on Kurdish neighborhood in Aleppo kills 9

Syrian state media and an activist group say militant shelling of a predominantly Kurdish neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo has killed at least nine people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Tuesday’s shelling comes amid clashes between militants, including members of al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, and Kurdish fighters. The activist group says nine were killed.

The state SANA news agency says the rocket attack on the city’s Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood killed 14 and wounded about 50.

This image posted on the Twitter page of Syria's al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front on Friday, April 1, 2016, shows smoke billowing as Nusra Front fighters attack the northern village of al-Ais in Aleppo province, Syria. (Al-Nusra Front via AP)

This image posted on the Twitter page of Syria’s al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front on Friday, April 1, 2016, shows smoke billowing as Nusra Front fighters attack the northern village of al-Ais in Aleppo province, Syria. (Al-Nusra Front via AP)

Sheikh Maqsoud is on the northern edge of Aleppo and has been repeatedly targeted by extremists over the past few months amid fighting on its outskirts.

On Monday, state media reported that insurgents fired dozens of shells at the same neighborhood, killing eight and wounding more than 20.

— AP

Warplane shot down in northern Syria – report

Syrian activist groups are reporting that militants have shot down a warplane in northern Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it isn’t clear whether the warplane that was downed on Tuesday is Russian or Syrian.

The Local Coordination Committees say it was downed near the northern village of al-Ais, and was Syrian. Both groups, which monitor the Syrian civil war, gave no word about the crew.

Russian warplanes have been carrying out airstrikes in Syria since September 30. Syrian militants have not downed any Russian planes. Neighboring Turkey, however, shot down one Russian aircraft last year.

Syrian rebels have shot down several Syrian warplanes since the country’s crisis began in March 2011.

— AP

‘I didn’t shoot for no reason,’ Hebron soldier tells court

The soldier who shot and killed a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron on March 24 defends his actions in court Tuesday.

At an appeal by military prosecutors against his release to an open arrest on a military base, the soldier reportedly tells Qastina military court that “if there had been an explosive belt, I’d be in the cemetery now, not in the court.”

He adds: “These Military Police investigators are in an office, not in the field where they can be shot at.”

According to the Walla and Ynet news sites, the soldier tells the court his hands were “covered in my wounded friend’s blood,” a reference to the IDF soldier who was moderately wounded by 21-year-old Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in a stabbing attack some 10 minutes before the shooting.

“I was emotional, and in a split second I decided to shoot,” Ynet quotes the soldier saying.

The reported testimony on his emotional state appears to contradict later testimony that he fired because he sensed he was in danger.

The soldier, who has not been named by the army, insists he was scared that al-Sharif might detonate an explosive vest, saying Tuesday, “I saw him move his hand and head. I didn’t shoot for no reason. I wouldn’t have fired if I didn’t feel I was in imminent danger.”

Report: 63% of Israel’s tourist sites not disabled-accessible

Some 63 percent of Israel’s tourist sites are not accessible to the disabled, according to a report by rights group Negishut Israel.

According to the Ynet news site, citing the report, more than half the sites don’t have disabled-accessible restrooms, and over 80% are not accessible to the hearing impaired.

2 Jews attempt to enter Temple Mount dressed as Muslims

Police stop two Jewish men from entering the Temple Mount compound dressed as Muslim worshipers.

The two, both aged 21, approach one of the gates to the holy site wearing the garb of religious Muslims. They raise the suspicions of officers standing nearby, who approach and asked them to identify themselves.

Despite their claims that they are Muslim Palestinians, police soon manage to identify them as Israeli Jews.

It is not immediately clear why the two felt the need to disguise themselves. Police are not saying if they belong to Jewish activist groups barred from the site.

They are taken for questioning by police.

Over 220 Iranian troops said killed in Syria since October

Iranian media reports that over 220 Iranian soldiers have been killed in fighting in Syria since October, including three over the past day.

Two of the three were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and the third of the pro-regime Basij militia, Israel Radio reports.

Also Tuesday, Hezbollah announces that two of its most senior commanders are killed in battles with Islamic State near Homs.

Iranian forces are fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in the country’s five-year civil war.

MK Smotrich tweets for separating Jews from Arabs in maternity wards

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich takes to Twitter today to express support for separating Arab and Jewish mothers in maternity wards in Israeli hospitals.

“My wife is truly no racist, but after giving birth she wants to rest rather than have a hafla (a mass feast usually accompanied by music and dancing) like the Arabs have after their births” in the hospitals.

The tweet follows a report on Israel Radio Tuesday of hospitals acquiescing to the requests of mother in maternity wards to separate them from the other group.

Facing a torrent of criticism from left and right, including from his party leader, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Smotrich goes a step further, tweeting that “It’s natural that my wife wouldn’t want to lie next to a woman who just gave birth to a baby who might want to murder her baby twenty years from now.”

MK Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (Joint List) sends a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in response to the comments, calling on him to relieve Smotrich from duty as a member of Knesset.

“This kind of racial incitement affects an entire population, and as such cannot be ignored,” Yahya writes.

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) challenges Smotrich on his claim that he “isn’t racist” but merely opposed to hafla celebrations.

“Some of our best friends are Jews who celebrate with particularly pleasant haflas,” Hasson tweeted. “I suggest you erase [your] racist tweet.”

— Daniel Douek

Shas cancels Passover mass rally amid Deri corruption probe

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, facing a corruption investigation, decides to cancel the annual Shas party rally set to take place in the Arena stadium in southern Jerusalem on Passover, which over 11,000 were expected to attend.

Shas officials and rabbinical leaders reportedly fear that the rally may turn into a protest against Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, police and the Israeli judicial system over the corruption probe.

— Daniel Douek

2,200-year-old bronze artifacts found at biblical site

An ornate Second Temple era bronze incense shovel and bronze jug are unearthed at the biblical site of Magdala, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Israel Antiquities Authority announces Tuesday.

The 2,200-year-old artifacts are found in the town known traditionally by Christians as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’s followers mentioned in the New Testament who witnessed his crucifixion and resurrection.

They are found resting on top of one another on a stone floor in a storeroom near the fishing village’s pier, and likely belonged to a local Jewish family, archaeologists say.

A 2,200-year-old bronze incense shovel found at Magdala after having been cleaned in the Israel Antiquities Authority metallurgical laboratories. (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

A 2,200-year-old bronze incense shovel found at Magdala after having been cleaned in the Israel Antiquities Authority metallurgical laboratories. (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Ritual shovels were used in Jewish ritual practice for burning incense in the Temple in Jerusalem. They are depicted in contemporary Jewish iconography as one of the articles associated with the Temple.

— Ilan Ben Zion

White House issues regulations for funding US faith groups

Six years after a White House religious advisory panel grappled with how the government should fund faith groups, its recommendations are being implemented.

The Orthodox Union on March 31 praised the Obama administration for issuing regulations based on recommendations made in 2010 by its Faith-Based Advisory Council, which included three leaders of Jewish groups among its 25 members.

The regulations, finalized last week by nine government agencies, prohibit faith-based groups receiving government funds from discriminating against beneficiaries based on religion or refusal to participate in a religious activity, and to notify beneficiaries that such a ban is in place.

They also “make clear that faith-based organizations are eligible to participate in federally funded social service programs on the same basis as any other private organization,” says the release by the Orthodox Union.

— JTA

Madoff to be questioned over withdrawals for former investors

Bernie Madoff is to be questioned by lawyers of some former clients of the convicted Ponzi schemer who lost money in his multibillion-dollar scam.

A filing Monday requests a formal order on the decision to authorize the deposition of Madoff made last month by a federal bankruptcy judge, Reuters reports. A hearing on the request to issue a formal order will be held before the judge, Stuart Bernstein, on Wednesday.

Madoff, 77, would be deposed at the North Carolina prison where he is serving a 150-year sentence, according to Reuters.

Bernie Madoff arriving at Manhattan federal court, March 12, 2009. (Stephen Chernin/Getty Images via JTA)

Bernie Madoff arriving at Manhattan federal court, March 12, 2009. (Stephen Chernin/Getty Images via JTA)

Some former investors caught in the Ponzi scheme believe their claims were undervalued by the court-appointed trustee charged with recovering and returning stolen funds. They believe the deposition could help their cases, according to Reuters.

The questioning of Madoff would be limited to the meaning of more than 91,000 transactions recorded as “profit withdrawal” on the books of the former Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

Some $11 billion of the stolen $17 billion has been returned to defrauded investors in the last seven years.

— JTA

Anti-BDS Scottish student accused of violating ‘safe space’ rules

A Scottish college student is accused of violating “safe space” rules and is told she risks being expelled from a meeting after she speaks out against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel movement.

Imogen Wilson, 22, the vice president for academic affairs at Edinburgh University Students’ Association, tells Britain’s Telegraph she is accused of making “inappropriate hand gestures” when she disagreed with claims made about her at a student council meeting on BDS last week.

Student council meeting “safe space” rules bar “discriminatory language and actions” and, while one person is speaking, forbids other participants from making “hand gestures which denote disagreement” or “in any other way indicating disagreement with a point or points being made,” the Telegraph reports.

Edinburgh University. (Wikimedia Commons via JTA)

Edinburgh University. (Wikimedia Commons via JTA)

Wilson tells the publication that the complaint against her comes after she “made a long and passionate speech against us subscribing to [BDS], on the basis it encourages anti-Semitism on campus. It was only after I made that speech that someone made a safe space complaint. I can’t help but think it was a political move against me.

“Later on in the meeting, someone threatened me with a second complaint because I was shaking my head – but when I was addressing the room about my worries about Jewish students, there were plenty of people shaking their heads and nothing happened.”

After Wilson is accused of violating the safe space rules, the group votes on whether or not to allow her to stay at the meeting. While the group votes in her favor (33-18), Wilson says that soon after, another participant threatens to lodge a second complaint against her for shaking her head while someone is speaking.

“I totally do believe in safe space and the principles behind it,” she tells the Telegraph. “It’s supposed to enhance free speech and not shut it down, and give everyone a chance to feel like they can contribute.”

— JTA

Defense minister slams supporters of Hebron soldier

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon lashes out at those who express support for the soldier who was filmed shooting and killing a wounded Palestinian assailant last month.

“The ethical issue we face as an army after the Hebron incident is a question of life and death,” Ya’alon says on a visit to a high school in Bet She’an, where he speaks to high schoolers slated to be drafted in the coming months.

“When we talk about ‘he who rises up to kill you'” — a Talmudic dictum that ends with “rise up and kill him first” — “we have to also talk about [the Biblical commandment] ‘Thou shalt not murder.’ It is important to us as an army that we know how to win [in battle] while remaining human beings. If we lose our moral compass, we will lose our way. It is forbidden to act in contravention of our orders,” Ya’alon says.

“Long before anyone saw the video” of the soldier shooting the fallen Palestinian, “his commanders understood that this was irregular behavior and launched an inquiry.”

The defense minister says he is “very worried about what has happened since the incident. Those who back such a soldier do not support the law or our values.”

Electric Corporation cuts power to parts of Hebron over PA debt

The Israel Electric Corporation temporarily scales back the supply of electricity to yet another Palestinian city on Tuesday after causing partial blackouts in Jericho and Bethlehem in recent days over some NIS 1.7 billion in unpaid debts.

On Tuesday, parts of Hebron lost electricity between 9 and 10 a.m., and again from 2 to 3 p.m.

According to the Haaretz daily, the IEC is causing such blackouts to take place in a different West Bank district every day for two weeks as a protest at the enormous outstanding debt owed to it by the Palestinian Authority.

The cash-strapped PA acknowledges the debt, and says talks are underway to find a solution.

Cuts are expected in Bethlehem Wednesday and Ramallah Thursday.

Egypt tries to shut down center that treats torture victims

Egyptian authorities try to shut down Egypt’s main NGO treating torture victims on Tuesday for the second time, but its doctors refuse, describing their work as vital in a country where such abuse is rampant.

The move is the latest blow to human rights in the Arab world’s most populous country, where torture has come under the international spotlight after an Italian student was brutally killed in January amid speculation that Egypt’s security forces were involved.

The officials who came to the Nadeem Center’s offices in downtown Cairo and ordered the premises closed refused to show any official documentation, says Aida Seif el-Dawla, a psychiatrist and one of the organization’s founders. Police attempted to shut down the center in February.

“They were aggressive and said they would contact the Interior Ministry,” which is in charge of police, Seif el-Dawla said by telephone. “But we are not leaving, we are holding out here while our lawyers make inquiries. We are providing a needed service and will stay open for as long as we can.”

Most of the patients treated at the center say they were tortured by police or security forces. Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the attempted closure, saying it is part of a sweeping crackdown on human rights activists.

— AP

Turkey won’t tolerate insults to Erdogan

Turkey’s prime minister says his country will not tolerate any insults directed toward President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “honor,” following German television programs that mocked him.

Ahmet Davutoglu says Tuesday any insults to Erdogan amount to insulting the Turkish people’s honor and would not go without a “response.”

Last month, Turkey summoned Germany’s ambassador to complain about a song aired by a channel that poked fun at Erdogan. A German comedian later read an offensive poem on another German channel as an example of something that wouldn’t be allowed in Turkey.

Davutoglu says he discussed the poem with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and welcomed a statement by her spokesman who said Monday that “satire takes place within our country’s press and media freedom, which — as you know — is not unlimited.”

— AP

Pig hearts may save human lives, researchers say

One day, cardiac patients may enjoy a new lease on life with pig hearts beating in their chests, say researchers reporting a major advance Tuesday in cross-species organ transplantation.

Given the dire shortage of organ donors, the use of animal hearts, lungs or livers to save human lives has long been a holy grail of medical science.

But organ rejection has stood stubbornly in the way.

Now scientists from the United States and Germany say they have succeeded in keeping transplanted pig hearts alive in baboons, primate cousins of humans, for a record 2.5 years.

Their method uses a combination of gene modification and targeted immune-suppressing drugs.

“It is very significant because it brings us one step closer to using these organs in humans,” says study co-author Muhammad Mohiuddin of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Maryland.

— AFP

US designates Paris attacks suspect ‘global terrorist’

The United States designates a leading suspect in last year’s jihadist attacks on Paris, Salah Abdeslam, as a “global terrorist” under US law.

The order, announced by the State Department, freezes any assets held by Abdeslam in US jurisdictions and forbids Americans from doing business with him.

“Belgian-born French citizen Salah Abdeslam is an operative for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” it says, using a former name of the Islamic State group.

The US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control separately confirms that Abdeslam’s name has been added to its list of specially designated foreign nationals.

The 26-year-old was arrested on March 18 in a police raid on a hideout in the Brussels district of Molenbeek and is due to be extradited to France.

— AFP

Tennessee lawmakers vote to make Bible official state book

Tennessee lawmakers vote Monday to make the Bible the state’s official book. They’ve already made a .50-caliber sniper gun the official state rifle.

The state Senate gave final approval on a 19-8 vote despite arguments the measure conflicts with a provision in the state Constitution that “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”

Republican Sen. Steve Southerland argues his bill is aimed at recognizing the Bible for its historical and cultural contributions to the state, rather than as government endorsement of religion.

Opponents argue the Bible would be trivialized by being placed alongside other state symbols like the official tree, rock or amphibian.

The measure heads to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who hasn’t said whether he’ll issue a veto.

In solidly Republican Tennessee, heavy doses of God and guns are considered reliable election-year politics. The bill came to a vote just days before the candidate filing deadline, giving lawmakers pause about being portrayed by political rivals as being as opposed to the Bible if they voted against the bill.

Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, called on the governor to veto the Bible bill, calling it a “thinly veiled effort to promote one religion over other religions clearly violates both the United States and Tennessee Constitutions.”

— AP

Germany: 3 charged over valve deliveries to Iran

German prosecutors say they’ve indicted three men for allegedly delivering valves to Iran for a company that was once responsible for building the country’s Arak heavy-water reactor.

Federal prosecutors say Tuesday that the three German citizens — identified only as Bernd L., Rene L. and Ralf C. in line with German privacy rules — were charged with violating export laws and attempting to violate weapons-control laws.

They say the men delivered 51 valves to Iran in two batches, in 2010 and 2011, part of a larger order worth some 1 million euros ($1.14 million). Two of them are accused of giving the wrong customer name to get around export controls.

Prosecutors say any deliveries to the actual customer, which wasn’t named, were banned at the time under sanctions.

— AP

Police clear East Jerusalem ‘pro-terror garden’

Police clear out a makeshift garden in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud where pictures of Palestinian terrorists were hung on trees.

Unnamed suspects “took over” the public garden “without permit,” police say. On a wall near the garden, the vandals sprayed graffiti in support of Palestinian attackers.

“The police will continue to act decisively against any show of support or incitement to terror anywhere in the country,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan says. He promised to prosecute those who created the garden.

EU envoys meet with head of Waqf on Temple Mount

European Union ambassadors visit the Temple Mount to meet with the director of the Muslim Waqf, the EU’s mission in Israel says.

“EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah paid a visit to the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount today, Tuesday 5th April. They met with the Director of the Waqf, Sheikh Azzam al Khatib, who briefed them on the historical context within which the Waqf operates as well as recent developments and concerns at the esplanade,” the statement says in full.

— Raphael Ahren

President, PM lay cornerstone for new national library

Trowel in hand, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin help lay the cornerstone for the new National Library of Israel Tuesday, under a tent at the corner of Ruppin Boulevard and Eliezer Kaplan Street.

The cement stone, still wet during the ceremony, is set on this sloped, triangular plot adjacent to the Knesset and across from the Israel Museum, at the meeting point of the city’s cultural and national institutions.

A copy of the National Library Charter, signed in 2007 and declared as the start of this rejuvenation process, is buried under the wet cement.

“The concept of renewal of the library will allow us to place the National Library in the proper perspective of the country’s cultural fabric,” says David Blumberg, chairman of the National Library. “The National Library will be the most important cultural institution in Israel and the Jewish world.”

Netanyahu announces that he intends to hand over the archives of his historian father, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, who specialized in medieval Spanish Jewry, to the library. Rivlin also says that he would give the library the writings of his father, Prof. Yosef Rivlin, a historian of the Muslim world.

— Jessica Steinberg

Icelandic PM to resign amid offshore holdings controversy

A member of the Icelandic government says embattled Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson will resign amid the controversy over his offshore holdings.

Agriculture Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson told Icelandic broadcaster RUV that Gunnlaugsson was stepping down as leader of the country’s coalition government.

Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson speaks during a parliamentary session in Reykjavik on Monday April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Brynjar Gunnarsson)

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson speaks during a parliamentary session in Reykjavik on Monday April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Brynjar Gunnarsson)

Opposition lawmakers say Gunnlaugsson’s offshore holdings amounted to a major conflict of interest with his job.

Gunnlaugsson is the first major scalp from a leak of more than 11 million documents from a Panamanian law firm showing tax-avoidance arrangements of the rich and famous around the world.

— AP

US court: Judge can’t nix nuke deal to settle Iran charges

An American federal appeals court says a judge overstepped his authority in rejecting a deal to settle criminal charges against a Dutch aerospace company accused of illegally selling aircraft parts to Iran.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Tuesday that prosecutors were within their authority when they reached the settlement, and US District Judge Richard Leon shouldn’t have second-guessed the deal as too lenient.

The deal calls for Fokker Services BV to pay $21 million in penalties in exchange for the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute the company for illegal exports that began in 2005 and ended in 2010.

Both the Justice Department and the company complained that Leon was improperly interfering with the discretion of prosecutors.

— AP

Defense Ministry recognizes Istanbul wounded as terror victims

The Defense Ministry recognizes the Israeli victims of last month’s terror attack in Istanbul as official “victims of hostilities,” granting them and their families special state benefits.

The ministry did not initially recognize the three Israelis killed and 11 injured as entitled to the special terror victims’ benefits, as it was not entirely clear if they had been specifically targeted in the attack for being Israeli or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But the ministry says in a statement today that it has determined “there is a reasonable basis for the belief that the attack was directed toward Israelis.”

The senior deputy legal adviser to the Defense Ministry, Attorney Yedidya Oron, has therefore ordered that the Istanbul victims be granted the designation.

Those injured in the attack and the families of those were were killed will now receive special tax breaks and a national insurance stipend.

— Judah Ari Gross

Israeli, Palestinian officials talk smack on Twitter

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are trading barbs over each side’s accusation that the other is unwilling to return to peace talks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweets a video on Monday with the text, “I heard President Abbas say that if I invite him to meet, he’ll come. So I’m inviting him. I’ve cleared my schedule.”

On Tuesday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry, also headed by Netanyahu, throws down the gauntlet.

“#MahmoudAbbas, @IsraeliPM is inviting you to negotiate #peace. @nadplo, the ball is in your court now!”

Or to translate for those unfamiliar with Twitter, “Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu is inviting you to negotiate peace. Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department, the ball is in you court now!”

But the PLO NAD was not impressed. “Negotiate what exactly?” it wonders aloud.

No word on how the Twitter exchange has advanced the cause of peace.

US official says Iran won’t have access to US financial system

A senior Obama administration official tells lawmakers Tuesday that Iran will not be given access to the US financial system as part of the sanctions relief granted under the nuclear deal.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Thomas Shannon, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, says reports that Iran would be allowed to deal directly with US banks are inaccurate.

“The rumors and news…that the US [is] preparing to…allow Iran access to the US financial system are not true,” Shannon says.

State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, Jr., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on recent Iranian actions and implementation of the nuclear deal. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, Jr., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on recent Iranian actions and implementation of the nuclear deal. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Shannon says the US is clarifying regulations that allow Iran to access money being made available to it after the sanctions were lifted when implementation of the deal began in January.

The Associated Press reported last week that the Treasury Department has prepared a general license that would permit offshore financial institutions to conduct foreign currency trades in dollars in support of legitimate business with Iran.

— AP

Jordan protests Yehudah Glick’s visits to Temple Mount

Jordan protests visits to the Temple Mount by noted activist Yehudah Glick.

A spokesman for the government in Amman says that the Jordanian Foreign Ministry has sent a letter of protest to the Israeli embassy in Jordan over what it called Glick’s “repeated incursions” to the al-Aqsa compound at the holy site.

Glick’s purported actions cross a “red line,” Jordan says.

Military judge upholds Hebron soldier’s open detention

The military appeals court in Tel Aviv upholds this evening the open detention for an IDF soldier who shot a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron on March 24.

IDF prosecutors appealed the soldier’s open detention on an undisclosed military base, asking for the soldier, who faces manslaughter charges for the shooting, to be placed in a military jail for the duration of the trial.

The judge says in his decision that the soldier’s version of events, according to which he feared the Palestinian assailant, who had minutes earlier stabbed and wounded another IDF soldier, may have carried an explosive belt, was not beyond the realm of possibility.

Alleged victim sues Melbourne Jewish school principal accused of sex abuse

The former principal of a Jewish day school in Melbourne is being sued by one of her alleged victims.

The lawsuit filed last week against Malka Leifer in Victoria’s Supreme Court in Melbourne was launched by the sister of a victim of Leifer who was awarded $1.27 million by the court last year, the Australian reports Tuesday.

The new lawsuit alleges that Leifer sexually abused the sister while she was a student and then a teacher at the haredi Orthodox Adass Israel School.

Leifer, who fled to Israel after the sex abuse allegations surfaced, is currently under house arrest in the haredi Orthodox city of Bnei Brak as the Israeli government considers an extradition request from the Australian government.

Australia has requested Leifer’s extradition to face 74 charges of sexual abuse of girls at the haredi Orthodox school she once led.

— JTA

State-funded Russian TV network removes video ridiculing haredim

A state-funded Russian television network takes offline a video that ridicules the air travel restrictions of some Orthodox Jews.

On Tuesday, Russia Today, or RT, removes the 44-second video it produced following critical questions by the Hebrew-language news website nrg.co.il, the site reports.

The video features a slideshow of images and newspaper articles from recent years of complications connected to air travel by haredi Orthodox Jews.

“Want to make your trip a real adventure?” a caption in the video asks. “Ultra-Orthodox Jews are ready to help out.”

According to the video, “some ultra-Orthodox men refuse to sit next to women and this can result in 11-hour delays.”

“Rioting on board” can occur when “religious passengers disapprove of in-flight movies,” according to the video. And “while some show their outrage, others find ways of staying safe,” the slideshow reads, showing an image of an Orthodox Jew wearing a plastic bag in an airplane “because his faith forbids him from flying over cemeteries.”

An RT spokeswoman, Anna Balkina, tells nrg that her firm did not mean for the film to be offensive, adding it had been taken offline following nrg’s questions on its potentially offensive character.

— JTA

Czechs to boost security of ‘threatened’ Jewish institutions

Czech and Jewish community officials on Tuesday sign a memorandum to boost the security in and around Jewish institutions due to increased concern over global terrorism.

“The problem in Europe has been growing and we feel that Jewish institutions are threatened. An attack on our institutions may come any time,” Petr Papousek, head of the local Federation of Jewish Communities, tells reporters.

Deputy interior minister Jiri Novacek adds in a statement that “the memorandum creates the post of a security coordinator, who will represent Jewish organizations in contacts with the government.”

“Security cooperation… will now be lifted to a new level,” he adds.

The memorandum is signed by the interior ministry, the police, Prague city hall, the Federation of Jewish Communities, the Jewish Museum in Prague and Prague’s Chabad Center which seeks to boost Jewish awareness.

Prague is home to six synagogues including the Old-New Synagogue dating from 1270, Europe’s oldest synagogue still in use.

Prague’s Jewish Quarter is one of the most popular destinations for tourists coming to the Czech capital.

— AFP

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