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Israeli gas stocks tumble, losing nearly $1.5 billion

Egyptian natural gas find shakes energy market; Egypt prime minister calls massive gas field a ‘message from Allah’

  • An aerial view of the Tamar gas-processing rig off the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, June 23, 2014. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
    An aerial view of the Tamar gas-processing rig off the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, June 23, 2014. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
  • The Israel Navy's Dakar (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    The Israel Navy's Dakar (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
  • A man and his sons, migrants from Iran, wait for the train on their way to Vienna on August 31, 2015. Nickelsdorf is the first village in Austria on the way from Hungary.  (Vladimir Simicek/AFP)
    A man and his sons, migrants from Iran, wait for the train on their way to Vienna on August 31, 2015. Nickelsdorf is the first village in Austria on the way from Hungary. (Vladimir Simicek/AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2R) leads the weekly cabinet conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on August 31, 2015. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2R) leads the weekly cabinet conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on August 31, 2015. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
  • Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (6th from left) meeting with a bipartisan delegation of Ohio lawmakers, on Monday, August 31 2015. (Ryan Heilman)
    Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (6th from left) meeting with a bipartisan delegation of Ohio lawmakers, on Monday, August 31 2015. (Ryan Heilman)
  • The synagogue in Maribor, Slovenia, seen from the Jewish street in Maribor, where the Jewish ghetto in the city used to be. (CC BY-SA3.0 Matic18/Wikipedia)
    The synagogue in Maribor, Slovenia, seen from the Jewish street in Maribor, where the Jewish ghetto in the city used to be. (CC BY-SA3.0 Matic18/Wikipedia)

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

Gal Hirsch is ‘the right man at the right place,’ says PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says at the beginning of the government’s meeting that he backs Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s efforts to appoint ex-IDF general Gal Hirsch for the position of chief of police.

Netanyahu says Hirsch is a “worthy” candidate who will be “an excellent [police] chief.”

“I extend my full support to the minister of public security and his efforts to appoint the best man for the job of chief of Israel Police,” says Netanyahu.

“Hirsch is the right man at the right place. He is an officer with values, dedicated, and has the ability to bring change and contribute to strengthening Israel Police and the rule of law in the country,” he says.

Meanwhile, as Hirsch’s appointment became complicated due to various legal inquiries that may indirectly involve a company he established after he left the IDF, the government approved extending the tenure of acting chief of police Bentzi Sau until October 14 or until Hirsch’s appointment finally gets voted on by the government.

Gal Hirsch (screen capture: YouTube)

Gal Hirsch (screen capture: YouTube)

Peres meets with Iranian peace activist

Former president Shimon Peres meets at the Peres Center of Peace with Maryam Faghih Imani, chairwoman and founder of an organization promoting democracy and tolerance in the Middle East, equality for women and entrepreneurship by people from different countries.

Peres told Imani that her work for peace necessitates “great courage” and said she was a model to the fact that peace can come from the people and not from the leaders of countries.

The Jewish and Iranian peoples have a shared history, he said, emphasizing that Israelis “have nothing against the Iranian people.”

There are many options to bring the people closer despite the hate disseminated by the Iranian regime, Peres said.

Violence outside Kiev parliament

A protest outside the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev turns violent as some members of the legislative body back autonomy for the eastern part of the country.

According to early reports, a hand grenade was hurled.

Lapid to Ohio lawmakers – Israel is Iran’s target

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid meets a delegation of Republican and Democratic lawmakers from Ohio.

At the opening of the meeting Lapid tells the lawmakers that an agreement with Iran cannot be just the subject of bipartisan, domestic debate but must be looked at from a wider perspective, according to a report in Hebrew language website NRG.

Israel, he says, has the right to express its concern over the agreement, which it sees as a bad deal.

Israel, Lapid says, is within the range of Iran’s missiles and is the declared target of Iran.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (6th from left) meeting with a bipartisan delegation of Ohio lawmakers, on Monday, August 31 2015. (Ryan Heilman)

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (6th from left) meeting with a bipartisan delegation of Ohio lawmakers, on Monday, August 31 2015. (Ryan Heilman)

Dozen wounded in blast outside Ukraine parliament

A powerful explosion outside Ukraine’s parliament wounds about a dozen protesters and police during clashes over reforms giving greater powers to rebels in the east, an AFP reporter saw.

Several people who were bleeding, including police officers and apparently journalists, were lying on the ground in front of the parliament, the AFP journalist saw.

— AFP

New head appointed for Hadassah Hospital

Prof. Zeev Rotstein Director General, Chaim Sheba Medical Center Tel Hashomer. (Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

Prof. Zeev Rotstein Director General, Chaim Sheba Medical Center Tel Hashomer. (Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

The government’s legal adviser approves the appointment of Prof. Zeev Rotstein to head the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Rotstein is currently director of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.

His nomination was delayed after the Civil Service Commissioner complained that as head of Tel Hashomer, Rotstein allowed senior physicians to conduct private surgeries in the morning hours.

According to Ynet, the approval of Rotstein’s appointment is a victory for Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who supported his nomination.

Reservist who died in training named

The reserve soldier who collapsed earlier today and died during training at the Adam military base was named as First Sergeant Zecharia Gil.

Gil complained of chest pains after a routine training exercise. He later collapsed and was taken for treatment.

Doctors were unable to revive the soldier, and were forced to pronounce his death.

Migrants allowed onto trains from Budapest to Austria, Germany

Hundreds of migrants who have been stuck for days in makeshift refugee camps at train stations in Budapest are allowed to board international trains headed for Austria and Germany.

AFP correspondents at the scene say there are no security forces present as the migrants, many from Syria, rush to get on commercial trains leaving for Vienna, Munich and Berlin.

— AFP

Traffic chaos as Austria ups border checks in migrant hunt

Huge traffic jams stretching back 50 kilometers (30 miles) build up along the Austro-Hungarian border as Austrian police step up security checks in the hunt for human traffickers.

The measure was put in place yesterday evening, three days after an abandoned truck containing 71 dead migrants, four of them children, was discovered on a motorway in Burgenland state close to the Hungarian border.

Since the operation began at 6:30 GMT, more than 200 migrants have been picked up, and another five people have detained on suspicion of smuggling, officials said.

“The main aim is to target smuggling gangs. What is happening here are controls conducted by traffic police and security forces — these are not border controls,” said police spokesman Helmut Marban.

— AFP

French tech minister to visit next week

The French minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, Emmanuel Macron, will arrive next week for a visit in Israel and the Palestinian territories with a delegation of French entrepreneurs and startup directors.

His visit, scheduled to coincide with the DLD Innovation Festival in Tel Aviv, comes following a French delegation’s presence at the CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas in January and a conference in New York in June.

Macron will visit local tech incubators and speak with investors as part of Investors’ Month. In his meetings with local businesspeople Macron will present French companies looking to raise money to the local investors.

During his visit Israel and France will sign an agreement on economic cooperation, specifically in the sectors of high tech and innovation.

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron smiles as he attends the closing session French employers' association Medef Summer Conference on August 27, 2015 in Jouy-en-Josas, near Paris. (Eric Piermont/AFP)

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron smiles as he attends the closing session of French employers’ association Medef Summer Conference on August 27, 2015 in Jouy-en-Josas, near Paris. (Eric Piermont/AFP)

About 90 police wounded in Kiev clashes

About 90 police were wounded in clashes outside the Ukrainian parliament on Monday as lawmakers backed draft reforms giving greater powers to rebels, the interior minister said.

“There are around 90 wounded outside the Rada (parliament) including several people in critical condition,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook, saying protesters detonated “several” explosive devices.

— AFP

Prayer is better than… Facebook?

Egyptians in a Nile Delta province are outraged after a cleric allegedly changed a line in the traditional Islamic call to dawn prayers to mention Facebook.

Instead of saying “prayer is better than sleep” twice, as he was supposed to, Shiekh Mahmoud Maghazi of Beheira province allegedly said: “Prayer is better than Facebook.” The issue drew nationwide attention when he defended himself against shouted accusations on one of Egypt’s most-watched television talk shows, called 10 PM, on Sunday.

The country’s Religious Endowments Ministry suspended Maghazi after locals complained last week, prompting him to launch a hunger strike and deny that he made the reference.

With over a quarter of the population plagued by illiteracy, Egypt’s talk show hosts play a major role in leading public opinion.

— AP

Illustrative image of a man in front of a computer with the Facebook logo, February 26, 2014 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Illustrative image of a man in front of a computer with the Facebook logo, February 26, 2014 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Will Algerian play soccer against Maccabi TA – in Israel?

The draw for the European League championship on Thursday last week puts Maccabi Tel Aviv and Portugal’s FC Porto in the same group during the qualifiers for the European Champion’s League, along with Chelsea FC and FC Dynamo Kyiv.

Algerian media reports that Yacine Brahimi, who plays for FC Porto as well as in Alegria’s national team, will need to play against Maccabi Tel Aviv on its home turf at the Bloomfield Stadium.

According to TSA, an Algerian website, a heated debate rages in the local media in Arabic and social media outlets in the country on whether Brahimi should play in Israel or not.

Some say Brahimi, known as a champion of the Palestinian cause, should not mix politics and sports, while others say he should act as player Rafik Halliche did in 2012, when he claimed to not be able to play due to an injury.

According to TSA, Brahimi is also unsure how the management of FC Porto will react. The match is scheduled for November 4.

Porto's Yacine Brahimi controls the ball during the soccer Champions League quarterfinal second leg match between Bayern Munich and FC Porto at the Allianz Arena in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. (Michael Probst/AP)

Porto’s Yacine Brahimi controls the ball during the soccer Champions League quarterfinal second leg match between Bayern Munich and FC Porto at the Allianz Arena in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. (Michael Probst/AP)

Rivlin hosts foreign diplomats ahead of Rosh Hashanah

President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin host foreign ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps based in Israel at a President’s Residence reception in honor of Rosh Hashanah, the upcoming Jewish New Year.

Rivlin welcomes the foreign diplomats and representatives of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and says, “The State of Israel was not established to be an island in a hostile sea. As set out in the Declaration of Independence, Israel strives for good relations with our neighbors and peace in the region. Our treaties, with Egypt and Jordan, stand as witness to this strong desire and show our willingness to make painful compromises, if there is a real chance for peace and security, and I believe there is a real chance for peace and security.”

Turning to the subject of Iran, Rivlin says the country “continues to threaten stability in the region and around the world.”
Iran’s backing of terror in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, he says, makes its nuclear ambitions “truly terrifying – not just for Israel, but for all.”

“It cannot be that with one flick of a pen,” Rivlin says, “Iran becomes a member of the club, and instead the world turns to single out the victim of Iran’s aggression. It cannot be that in one moment of diplomacy the reality is changed so completely. We know too well that real political change requires education, confidence building, and dialogue. None of which can happen overnight.”

Man, 30, badly hurt in Tel Aviv stabbing

A 30-year-old man was badly wounded when he was stabbed during a brawl in Tel Aviv.

Magen David Adom paramedics evacuated the victim, who suffered stab wounds to his upper body and was drifting in and out of consciousness, to a hospital nearby.

Ukraine National Guard officer shot to death

A 25-year-old Ukrainian National Guard officer died after being shot in the heart in clashes between protesters and police outside parliament, officials say.

“He died on the operating table,” a spokeswoman for the National Guard, Svitlana Pavlovska, tells AFP. Interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko says the victim was a 25-year-old conscript, adding that some of the protesters have used guns in addition to grenades.

— AFP

Slovenian synagogue named national landmark

A synagogue in Maribor, Slovenia, has been named a national cultural landmark.

The Maribor Synagogue on Friday was granted the status of a cultural landmark of national importance by government decree, according to the Jewish Heritage Europe website, citing Slovenian media reports.

The synagogue has operated since 2011 as the Center for Jewish Cultural Heritage – Synagogue Maribor, after being opened in 2001 as a Jewish Heritage Center, administered by Maribor Regional Museum following restoration work paid for by both the city and the state.

The synagogue was built in the 14th century, or as early as the late 13th century, and is among the oldest synagogues preserved in Europe.

It was converted to a church in 1501 and remained that way until the late 18th century. In the 19th century it was used as a storehouse.

The funds for operating the cultural center are provided by the municipality of Maribor and outside donations.

— JTA

The synagogue in Maribor, Slovenia, seen from the Jewish street in Maribor, where the Jewish ghetto in the city used to be. (CC BY-SA3.0 Matic18/Wikipedia)

The synagogue in Maribor, Slovenia, seen from the Jewish street in Maribor, where the Jewish ghetto in the city used to be. (CC BY-SA3.0 Matic18/Wikipedia)

Navy submits report on sunken submarine Dakar

The Navy submits its official report regarding the sinking of the Dakar submarine, which disappeared along with its crew on or around January 25, 1968, to bereaved families whose relatives were on board. The vessel sank when it was making its way from the UK, where the IDF purchased it, to Israel.

The remains of the sub were only found in 1999 between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete. Navy Commander Maj. Gen. Ram Rotberg says the report “sheds no new light but certainly raises questions regarding what exactly has happened.”

“The information,” he adds, “was given to the families as part of the moral duty of the corps and its commitment [to the families of the bereaved].”

Mysteriously, four submarines sank in 1968, including a French one, the Minerve, which sank on or around January 27, 1968, just days after the Dakar. The American and Soviet submarines, Scorpion and K-129, respectively, both sank in May of that year.

A British HMS Totem submarine, of the same model as the Israeli INS Dakar, which disappeared in late January 1968. (Public domain)

A British HMS Totem submarine, of the same model as the Israeli INS Dakar, which disappeared in late January 1968. (Public domain)

Navy head offers explanation of Dakar sinking

Navy Commander Maj. Gen. Ram Rotberg says the Dakar apparently sank either because of a technical malfunction that caused sailors to lose control of the vessel or because a ship or boat hit one of the submarine’s snorkels, causing water to enter the hull.

Both explanations are theories – the real reason for the sinking of the Dakar remains a mystery.

It took 31 years to find the remains of the Dakar. Disappeared in 1968, only in 1999 was its carcass discovered in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea between Cyprus and Crete. Today, some of the salvaged pieces are on display at the Navy Museum in Haifa. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

It took 31 years to find the remains of the Dakar. Disappeared in 1968, only in 1999 was its carcass discovered in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea between Cyprus and Crete. Today, some of the salvaged pieces are on display at the Navy Museum in Haifa. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Egypt PM calls gas find ‘message from Allah’

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab says the discovery of natural gas near the shores of Egypt is a “message from Allah.”

Mahlab is quoted by Israel Radio as saying the discovery can radically change the Egyptian energy market. The Egyptian stock market rose by approximately three percent in all indices following the announcement of an Italian company yesterday that a huge gas field was discovered in the territorial waters of Egypt.

Israel Radio reports that Egyptian media outlets widely discussed the sharp drop in the price of Israeli gas stocks following the Egyptian discovery.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, file photo (AFP/STR)

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, file photo (AFP/STR)

Hungary summons French envoy over migrant crisis

Hungary’s government summons the French ambassador in the country for clarifications after the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said some eastern European countries were behaving “outrageously” regarding the migrant crisis, and singled out Hungary.

Earlier in the day migrants boarded trains from Hungary to Austria and Germany and these two countries accused the Hungarians of letting the migrants board the trains unimpeded.

The Hungarian Foreign Ministry, Reuters reports, says it rejects the criticism Fabius made regarding the means the country is taking to protect its borders.

Israeli gas sector lose $1.5 billion in value

Investors in Israeli gas stocks have seen better days, after stocks shed as much as 23 percent of their value in trading Sunday.

The tumble amounts to NIS 5.7 billion (almost $1.5 billion) in losses. The public was also affected, as many pension funds have stakes in natural gas.

The massive losses were triggered by the announcement that Italy’s ENI company has found a gas field in Egyptian territorial waters that is the “largest ever in Egypt, the Mediterranean, and probably one of the largest finds in the world.”

Egypt was previously expected to become a major buyer of Israeli natural gas from the Leviathan and Tamar fields.

The gas and oil indices dropped 13% Sunday, with Ratio, a company invested in Leviathan, losing 23% of its value. Ratio’s bonds fell by 9%, while Delek, which is invested in all of the Israeli fields, dropped 12%, losing NIS 141 million of its value.

High school teachers will not strike tomorrow, union announces

The Israel Teachers’ Union announces that it will not hold a strike in high schools tomorrow — the first day of the school year — after all.

The head of the union, Ran Erez, recently finished a meeting with Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

A statement from the union says that the minister understands the issues troubling Erez and promises to help resolve them in the near future.

Regev is first gov’t minister to slam Hirsch appointment

Culture Minister Miri Regev is the first government minister to criticize the appointment of Gal Hirsch as police commissioner.

Regev, who served as IDF spokesperson during the Second Lebanon War — when Hirsch served as a division commander — says that top army officers who examined his conduct during the war found him to be unworthy of holding command positions.

Therefore, continues the minister, one must “think twice” before approving his appointment as chief of the Israel Police.

“I am sure that if Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan were aware of additional information [on Hirsch], he would not recommend this appointment [for the government’s approval],” she adds.

Erdan chose Hirsch for the role last week.

Regev states that she “feels obligated to say this in the government meeting. I did not say this to the media, because many bereaved families and major generals who examined Hirsch’s conduct during the Second Lebanon War spoke to me” about the appointment.

These people, Regev goes on, “expected that people who have a stamp of being unworthy of command positions not be appointed to such positions… This is what the reports say and I’m sure that if Gilad Erdan knew this beforehand, he would have thought twice before making this appointment.”

Another minister asks her why she didn’t speak her mind over the past few days in the media. “As a minister, I am obligated to say what I think,” Ynet quoted her as saying.

Erdan answered Regev drily: “My opinion differs from yours, and I have no intention of changing it.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev speaks at an award ceremony for Israeli theater, in Tel Aviv, on June 19, 2015.  (FLASH90)

Culture Minister Miri Regev speaks at an award ceremony for Israeli theater, in Tel Aviv, on June 19, 2015. (Flash90)

Bennett upbeat ahead of school year

Education Minister Naftali Bennett in an interview on Channel 2 TV says his ministry is working hard to improve the salaries and work conditions of teachers.

Visibly upbeat ahead of the school year — which is due to start tomorrow after he convinced Israel Teachers’ Union head Ran Erez to call off a planned strike — Bennett admits that the salary of teachers is still not high enough. He asserts, however, that it has risen considerably and will continue to rise.

He boasts that the Education Ministry has concluded a massive effort to locate spaces inside schools that can be converted to classrooms, so that there are more classes in each school. “For the first time in Israel’s history,” claims Bennett, “the average number of children per class will be 28.9.”

Bennett also says his ministry drafted 4,600 assistant teachers in kindergartens, and rejects criticism that many of them are untrained.
“They told me to wait a year and then hire them,” Bennett reports, but adds that he prefers that they start teaching as soon as tomorrow.
“Because of the tight schedule, some of them did not undergo training, but will do so in the first few weeks of the school year,” he adds.

Bennett claims he has a five-year plan to transform Israel’s education system.

Education Minister and leader of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett leads the faction's weekly Jewish meeting at the Knesset, July 20, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Education Minister and leader of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett leads the faction’s weekly Jewish meeting at the Knesset, July 20, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Obama to Forward: Hezbollah to be focus of post-Iran deal

A focus of security enhancement once the Iran nuclear deal goes through will be neutralizing Hezbollah’s threat to Israel, US President Barack Obama says in a landmark interview with the Jewish Daily Forward.

“As soon as this debate is over, we will, I think, be able to invigorate what has been an ongoing conversation with the Israelis about how we can do even more to enhance the unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation that we have with them, and to see, are there additional capabilities that Israel may be able to use to prevent Hezbollah, for example, from getting missiles,” Obama says in the interview — the first with the Jewish media since he became president.

“Where Iran has been effective in its destabilizing activities, it’s not because it’s had a lot of money,” Obama continues, countering criticism that the sanctions relief for the nuclear restrictions deal that will unfreeze $50 billion in funds will increase Iran’s capacity for disruption.

“It’s because they’ve effectively used proxies; it’s because they’ve invested in places like Lebanon for decades and become entrenched,” the president states. “And the reason we haven’t done a better job of stopping that is not because they’re outspending us. The reason is… is because we haven’t been as coordinated, had as good intelligence and been as systematic in pushing back as we need to be.”

— JTA

US President Barack Obama participates in a roundtable on Hurricane Katrina at Andrew P. Sanchez Community Center in New Orleans, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

US President Barack Obama participates in a round-table discussion on Hurricane Katrina at the Andrew P. Sanchez Community Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 27, 2015. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

Turkel Commission starts work on Hirsch appointment

The Turkel Commission on the approval of senior positions is to convene tomorrow morning at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to discuss the appointment of ex-IDF general Gal Hirsch to the position of police chief.

The commission will hear testimony from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, former chief of police Yohanan Danino, as well as from Hirsch himself.

Prime minister pledges funds to Arab sector

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today promised MKs from the Joint (Arab) List, as well as representatives of Arab regional councils, that, within a month, the government will start pushing a multi-year plan to integrate Israeli Arabs into the economy.

The PM also pledges to help close the societal gaps between the Israeli Arab community and other communities in the country.

Netanyahu promises to transfer a onetime grant of NIS 900 million ($229.5 million) to Arab municipalities and regional councils. The money will be used for informal education, to develop the councils and to increase personal security across the sector, according to a report in Ynet.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with representatives of the Arab Joint List party discussing growing budgets for Arab councils and municipalities, at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, on August 31, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center right) meets with representatives of the Joint (Arab) List to discuss additional budgets for Arab councils and municipalities, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on August 31, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

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