The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
Asked to comment on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s claim that Israel has committed “50 holocausts” against the Palestinians, State Department spokesman Ned Price refers reporters to a tweet from US antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt.
Lipstadt tweeted yesterday that Abbas’s remark was “unacceptable,” adding that “Holocaust distortion can have dangerous consequences and fuels antisemitism.”
Speaking during today’s press briefing, Price says the US recognizes Abbas’s clarification statement issued earlier today in which he “reaffirmed that the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern history.”
“We reject any attempts to draw false equivalencies or to minimize Holocaust atrocities,” Price adds.
A Republican group in Alabama is apologizing after accidentally using a picture of the GOP elephant that contained Ku Klux Klan imagery.
The Lawrence County Republican Party intended to post an image of the GOP elephant on its Facebook page, but ended up using one in which the white spaces between the animal’s legs were drawn to resemble hooded Klansmen.
A party official says the image was taken from the results of a Google search and that the image was immediately replaced once the mistake was detected.
“I would like to offer a deep and sincere apology for a picture that temporarily appeared on this page last night. A google search picture of a GOP elephant was used and later found to have hidden images that do not represent the views or beliefs of the Lawrence County Republican Party,” Shannon Terry writes in a Facebook post apologizing for the use of the image.
“As chairman I take full responsibility for the error,” Terry adds.
The image had been used in a 2020 article in Mother Jones accusing the GOP of racism.
???? I suppose this “suggesting that the KKK imagery was not immediately noticed by whoever posted it” works. No way to know. Still, I put ‘GOP elephant’ in the Google and asked for images. My results did NOT include one with 3 Klan hoods. ????????♂️ #ALpolitics https://t.co/27QZTTcIPz
— John Gunn (@JuntoGunto) August 17, 2022
Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the two countries announce they are restoring full diplomatic ties and reinstating ambassadors.
“The prime minister and the president agreed that the latest development is an important and additional layer in the strengthening of relations that will also lead to many achievements,” a statement from Lapid’s office says.
The new ties will focus on growth in the economic and tourism spheres and will see the return of Israeli flights to Turkey, the statement says.
“The leaders emphasized the great importance of Israel and Turkey in maintaining regional stability,” it adds.
A senior Israeli official tells the Walla news site that Iran is preparing the public and government officials for Tehran’s possible return to the nuclear deal.
The official says there are still significant differences between Iran and the US. However “despite the differences and gaps, there is a momentum and a more positive dialogue toward reaching an agreement.”
“Israel sees the current agreement as a bad agreement and emphasizes to its partners the danger of signing such an agreement. The Iranians operate in a well-known tactic of shuffling and stalling for more concessions,” the official says.
The comments come after the European Union said yesterday it was studying Iran’s response to a “final” draft agreement on reviving a 2015 nuclear accord with major powers it presented at talks in Vienna.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported earlier that “an agreement will be concluded if the United States reacts with realism and flexibility” to Iran’s response.
IRNA had said Friday that Iran might accept the “final” text drawn up by the European Union to save the deal, which aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
The deal has been moribund since the 2018 withdrawal of the United States under then-president Donald Trump whose administration reimposed crippling sanctions.
A 72-year-old woman suffered light injuries to her head after her vehicle was stoned near the West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan.
Magen David Adom medics are treating the woman and taking her to the Ha’emek Hospital in Afula.
The World Health Organization calls for people infected with monkeypox to avoid exposing animals to the virus following a first reported case of human-to-dog transmission.
A first case of human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox — between two men and their Italian greyhound living together in Paris — was reported last week in the medical journal The Lancet.
“This is the first case reported of human-to-animal transmission… and we believe it is the first instance of a canine being infected,” Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, told reporters.
Experts, she said, had been aware of the theoretical risk that such a jump could happen, and that public health agencies had already been advising those suffering from the disease to “isolate from their pets”.
In addition, she said “waste management is critical” to lower the risk of contaminating rodents and other animals outside the household.
It was vital, she said, for people to “have information on how to protect their pets, as well as how to manage their waste so that animals in general are not exposed to the monkeypox virus.”
The attacker who stabbed British author Salman Rushdie multiple times at a New York event on Friday says he was surprised to hear that Rushdie survived.
“When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess,” says 24-year-old Hadi Matar in a video interview with the New York Post from jail.
Citing a warning from his lawyer, Matar would not say if he was inspired by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death in 1989 over the author’s book “The Satanic Verses.”
“I respect the ayatollah. I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that,” Matar says.
“I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person,” he said about Rushdie. “I don’t like him. I don’t like him very much.
“He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems,” Matar says, adding that he only read several pages of Rushdie’s works.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid meets with Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman in a bid to avert a strike when schools open next month.
There was no word on any progress in the talks between the Treasury and the Teachers’ Union.
Lapid will also meet with education officials to prepare for the coming school year, his office says in a statement.
The name “Hitler” is painted onto the wall of a synagogue in New York City.
Rabbi Asher Altschul found the graffiti this morning on Congregation Beth Shalom of Kingsbay in Brooklyn, says local New York City councilwoman Inna Vernikov.
“There are Holocaust survivors who attend this shul and after the atrocities they have seen during World War II, they now have to come to a synagogue in the United States of America in 2022 and see a Hitler sign on the wall,” Vernikov says.
A video shows the Nazi dictator’s name scrawled on a brick wall in white paint.
???? HITLER ???? Is the message Holocaust Survivors who saw and experienced the atrocities of WWII have have to see at Congregation Bet Shalom this morning when they go to pray. Happening right here in our own backyards. America in 2022. pic.twitter.com/kL8sDIhlTp
— Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (@InnaVernikov) August 17, 2022
Antisemitism has climbed in New York City in recent years, and Jews are targeted in hate crimes in the city more than any other group. The NYPD confirms 149 anti-Jewish hate crimes since the start of this year.
A soldier who was shot and killed by his comrade in an apparent case of mistaken identity kept running toward him, even after he was hit by the first bullet, the Ynet news site reports from the findings of a probe into the incident.
20-year-old Nathan Fitoussi was shot dead on Monday night after he returned to a guard post near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem and was misidentified as a threat, according to an initial probe.
The soldier who shot him, who has only been identified by the first letter of his name in Hebrew, Aleph, fired eight bullets in total, some into the air as a warning shot.
But after his first bullet hit Fitoussi, the wounded soldier kept running toward him, prompting Aleph to fire again, hitting Fitoussi in the chest.
Fitoussi managed to say “It’s me,” before collapsing, the report says.
It was only then that Aleph realized he had opened fire on his comrade and called his commanding officers, telling them “I shot Fitoussi, I shot Fitoussi.”
The Pentagon says that US forces killed 13 fighters of the al-Shabaab terror group in an airstrike in Somalia.
The strike took place on August 14 near Teedaan in the central-southern part of the country while Shabaab fighters were attacking Somali National Army forces, the Pentagon’s Africa Command says in a statement.
“US forces are authorized to conduct strikes in defense of designated partner forces,” the statement says.
It says that an initial assessment of the strike showed that no civilians were injured or killed.
Last week US forces killed four Shabaab members in a strike in the same region.
Al-Shabaab, which the United States labels a terrorist group, has led an insurrection against Somalia’s federal government for 15 years.
The group controls swathes of countryside and frequently strikes civilian and military targets.
In May, President Joe Biden ordered the re-establishment of a US troop presence in Somalia to help local authorities combat Al-Shabaab, reversing a decision by his predecessor Donald Trump to withdraw most US forces.
A worker at a top-secret Israeli installation and a relative have been detained on suspicion of giving classified information to a foreign agent, Ynet reports.
The two men, both in their twenties were arrested last week after one of them reportedly met with the agent in Egypt’s Sinai, the report says.
The men are residents of the Jerusalem area and the north.
Ynet reports on the story after appealing to a court to partially lift a gag order on the case.
Former US vice president Mike Pence is urging fellow Republicans to stop lashing out at the FBI over the search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida home last week.
Speaking in New Hampshire, Pence was asked what went through his mind when he heard about the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home as part of a federal investigation into whether Trump took classified records from the White House.
Pence, who like Trump is considering a 2024 presidential bid, says he has been troubled by what he called the politicization of the FBI. He also said the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland should be more transparent about what led authorities to conduct the search.
But Trump’s former vice president also had a message for the GOP.
“I also want to remind my fellow Republicans, we can hold the attorney general accountable for the decision he made without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel at the FBI,” he says at the Politics & Eggs event at St. Anselm College.
“The Republican Party is the party of law and order,” Pence continued. “Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line at the federal and state and local level, and these attacks on the FBI must stop. Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”
Law enforcement officials across the country have warned about an increase in threats and the potential for violent attacks on federal agents or buildings by Trump supporters who believe the FBI went too far in investigating the former president.
Lawyers representing a soldier who shot and killed his comrade in an apparent friendly fire incident on Monday night near the West Bank security barrier are demanding a halt to the ongoing investigation, citing his “mental distress.”
The Military Advocate General demands Military Police stop the interrogation of Sgt. “Aleph” due to the “lack of sleep and stress he is under.”
The soldier is only being identified by the first initial of his Hebrew name.
The advocate general says the interrogation is being conducted in a “scandalous” and “unfair” manner.
Aleph shot 20-year-old Nathan Fitoussi dead on Monday night, after he returned to a guard post near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem and was misidentified as a threat, according to an initial probe.
Defense Minister Gantz is defending his recent meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the wake of Abbas’s comments accusing Israel of committing “50 holocausts.”
Gantz says his meetings with Abbas were necessary due to ongoing security coordination between Israel and the PA.
“We manage a complex security and political reality, the consequences of which we saw only a week ago in the region,” Gantz says during a tour of the south following last week’s fighting with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
Abbas’s “words are despicable and false. I demanded that he retract them and it is good that he did so,” Gantz says.
“I hear the criticism of my conversations and that of the security establishment with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and in the field. I will continue to do everything necessary to maintain security stability, guarantee the freedom of action of the State of Israel, and above all to protect human life,” Gantz says, urging his opponents not to play politics with Israel’s security.
It is “urgent” that the UN’s atomic watchdog be allowed to inspect the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine that is under Russian military control, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says.
Russia’s seizure of the plant “poses a serious threat to the safety and the security of this facility (and) raises the risks of a nuclear accident or incident,” he tells reporters in Brussels.
“It is urgent to allow the inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and to ensure the withdrawal of all Russian forces,” he says.
A man appears in court today after allegedly entering Windsor Castle grounds armed with a crossbow, declaring he planned to kill Queen Elizabeth II.
The 20-year-old man, Jaswant Singh Chail, from Southampton in southern England, appears at a London court, having been charged with treason earlier this month.
He appears at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via video-link from Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital, confirming his name and location.
The prosecution tells the court that Chail was held in the grounds of Windsor Castle, where the monarch was staying, early on Christmas Day last year.
Dressed in a hood and mask and carrying a loaded crossbow with the safety catch off, Chail came within line of sight of the Queen’s apartments, prosecutor Kathryn Selby says.
Chail allegedly told a protection officer: “I am here to kill the queen.”
The most serious charge he faces under the 180-year-old Treason Act is “intent… to injure the person of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, or to alarm her Majesty.”
In the last such case, Briton Marcus Sarjeant was jailed for five years in 1981 after pleading guilty to firing blank shots at the monarch when she was on parade.
A woman who was arrested and charged in May with sending threatening letters containing bullets to then prime minister Naftali Bennett and his family has been released to house arrest, Ynet reports.
Ilana Sporta Hania, a 65-year-old retired nurse from Ashkelon, sent two letters containing bullets addressed to Bennett, his wife and their teenage son, threatening their safety if he did not resign.
She was charged with extortion and illegal possession of a firearm.
Under the terms of her house arrest, she has to wear an electronic ankle bracelet and is barred from using a smartphone or the internet.
Bennett has since been replaced by Yair Lapid as interim prime minister after the coalition collapsed and new elections were called for November 1.
A rebel Taliban commander from Afghanistan’s minority Shiite Hazara community was killed while attempting to flee to Iran, the defense ministry says, denying local reports suggesting he was murdered in captivity.
Mahdi Mujahid’s split with the Taliban leadership in June is the highest-profile public division seen in the hardline Islamist group since they returned to power in August last year.
He was appointed intelligence chief of Bamiyan province at the time, but months later was sacked following a dispute local media attributed to control of the lucrative coal trade.
Mujahid went on the run in June after the Taliban sent thousands of troops to crush his loyalists.
Elon Musk tweets that “I’m not buying any sports teams,” calling a viral post about him purchasing the Manchester United soccer club a joke.
The world’s richest man has a habit of posting provocative statements on Twitter for fun and Musk was at it again when he told his more than 103 million followers: “Also, I’m buying Manchester United ur welcome.”
The billionaire Tesla and SpaceX CEO made the comment in reply to another of his tweets, about supporting both of the United States’ two major political parties.
The 51-year-old, who is embroiled in a lawsuit over his bid to buy Twitter, was subsequently asked on the platform if he was serious about owning Manchester United.
“No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams,” Musk replied, after his original tweet garnered nearly 500,000 “likes” in a matter of hours.
“Although, if it were any team, it would be Man U. They were my fav team as a kid.”
Manchester United, one of the biggest clubs in world football but suffering a prolonged slump, is owned by the Glazer family. They have been targeted by angry fans.
There was no immediate reaction from United or its owners to Musk’s tweets.
A spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he has arranged a telephone call with Prime Minister Lapid for tomorrow.
The call is in order to be able to speak directly with him about this incident in which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin, accusing Israel of committing “50 holocausts” against Palestinians over the years.
“His gaffe yesterday casts a dark shadow over Germany’s relations with the Palestinian Authority,” Steffen Hebestreit says, adding that his office had summoned the head of the Palestinian mission in Berlin.
The chancellor’s foreign and security policy advisor conveyed that Scholz expects the Palestinian president “to acknowledge the singularity of the Holocaust without any qualification,” Hebestreit says.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Donald Trump’s fiercest Republican adversary in Congress, is mulling a presidential run after she soundly lost a GOP primary, falling to a rival backed by the former president in a rout that reinforced his grip on the party’s base.
The third-term congresswoman and her allies entered yesterday downbeat about her prospects, aware that Trump’s backing gave Harriet Hageman considerable lift in the state where he won by the largest margin during the 2020 campaign. Cheney was already looking ahead to a political future beyond Capitol Hill that could include a 2024 presidential run, potentially putting her on another collision course with Trump.
Today, calling Trump “a very grave threat and risk to our republic,” she tells NBC that she thinks that defeating him will require “a broad and united front of Republicans, Democrats and independents — and that’s what I intend to be part of.” She declines to say if she would run for president but conceded it’s “something that I’m thinking about.”
Cheney describes her primary loss as the beginning of a new chapter in her political career as she addressed a small collection of supporters, including her father, former vice president Dick Cheney, on the edge of a vast field flanked by mountains and bales of hay.
“Our work is far from over,” she says, evoking Abraham Lincoln, who also lost congressional elections before ascending to the presidency and preserving the union.
The German chancellery summons the head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Berlin to protest Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s comparison of Israeli actions with the Holocaust, a German government spokesperson says, according to Reuters.
“I have 50 slaughters that Israel committed….50 massacres, 50 slaughters, 50 holocausts,” Abbas said in Berlin on Tuesday, taking care to pronounce the final word in English.
“It is clear for us, the government and the chancellor, that the persecution and systematic murder of 6 million European Jews is an unparalleled crime against humanity,” the spokesperson says.
Turkey says that its decision to restore full diplomatic relations with Israel after a decade of tensions does not mean that it will abandon its support for the Palestinians.
“We are not giving up on the Palestinian cause,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tells reporters.
“It is important for our messages to be conveyed directly through the ambassador (on the Palestinian issue).”
President Isaac Herzog hails the announcement that Jerusalem and Ankara will restore full diplomatic relations.
“I commend the renewal of full diplomatic relations with Turkey — an important development that we’ve been leading for the past year, which will encourage greater economic relations, mutual tourism, and friendship between the Israeli and Turkish peoples,” says Herzog, whose visit to Turkey earlier in the year played a key role in paving the way for the move.
“Good neighborly relations and the spirit of partnership in the Middle East are important for us all. Members of all faiths — Muslims, Jews, and Christians — can and must live together in peace,” Herzog says.
The Teachers’ Union rejects a proposal presented today by Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman as “embarrassing,” and claims that the offer was not part of ongoing negotiations aimed at averting a strike.
“The vague proposal that the Treasury presented to the public today is not familiar to us and was not presented to us as part of the negotiation meetings that took place all week,” the union says.
“It’s no surprise that the Finance Ministry refrained from raising this embarrassing proposal in negotiations with us. This is a proposal that further harms the terms of employment of the teaching staff,” the union adds, calling on Prime Minister Lapid to intervene.
Israel’s overall unemployment rate edges up slightly in July to 6.6%, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The CBS says there are some 153,000 Israelis who have registered as unemployed and looking for work.
The bureau notes that the rise is likely seasonal and corresponds to similar rises over the summer in the past.
A 38-year-old man is shot and seriously wounded in the northern town of Shfaram, medics say.
Magen David Adom paramedics were taking him to the Rambam hospital in nearby Haifa in a serious condition.
The motive for the shooting is not immediately clear and police have no comment.
Arab communities have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly, but not only, by organized crime.
Israel and Turkey will exchange ambassadors and consuls general as the two countries agree to restore full diplomatic ties after several years of tensions, the Prime Minister’s Office says.
The decision comes following a recent phone conversation between Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“The renewal of relations with Turkey is an important asset for regional stability and a very important economic asset for the citizens of Israel. We will continue to act and strengthen Israel’s international standing in the world,” Lapid says.
The finishing touches on the decision were made yesterday during a conversation between Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Ushpiz and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal.
Turkey recalled its ambassador and asked Israel’s envoy to leave in May 2018, in the wake of violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border in which dozens of Palestinians were killed. Turkish and Israeli leaders criticized each other bitterly, with Erdogan calling Israel a “child-murdering” country and then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing Erdogan of killing Kurdish civilians.
Ankara also took actions that angered officials in Jerusalem, most notably providing support and a haven for the Hamas terror group.
For the past two years, however, Erdogan has struck a noticeably different tone toward Israel, expressing interest in improving ties. A new rapprochement process has been underway since May 2020.
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