Putin: US move on Jerusalem may ‘finish prospects’ for Israeli-Palestinian peace
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Putin: US move on Jerusalem may ‘finish prospects’ for Israeli-Palestinian peace

In Turkey, Russian leader warns change in longstanding American policy 'destabilizes the already difficult situation in the region'

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend a meeting in Ankara on December 11, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Sputnik / Alexei Druzhinin)
    Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend a meeting in Ankara on December 11, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Sputnik / Alexei Druzhinin)
  • Interior Minister Aryeh Deri in the Knesset, November 1, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Interior Minister Aryeh Deri in the Knesset, November 1, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address a media conference at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, December 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
    European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address a media conference at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, December 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
  • Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah terror group march with a model of the Dome of the Rock and wave Lebanese, Palestinian and Hezbollah flags during a protest in Beirut on December 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Joseph Eid)
    Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah terror group march with a model of the Dome of the Rock and wave Lebanese, Palestinian and Hezbollah flags during a protest in Beirut on December 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Joseph Eid)
  • A picture taken on December 11, 2017 shows demonstrators marching with a giant Palestinian flag as they wave flags of the Hezbollah terror group in a street in the Lebanese capital Beirut, protesting against the US president's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (AFP Photo/Joseph Eid)
    A picture taken on December 11, 2017 shows demonstrators marching with a giant Palestinian flag as they wave flags of the Hezbollah terror group in a street in the Lebanese capital Beirut, protesting against the US president's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (AFP Photo/Joseph Eid)
  • Police and other first responders respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, in New York December 11, 2017. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP)
    Police and other first responders respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, in New York December 11, 2017. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a joint press conference with the EU foreign policy chief, at the European Council in Brussels on December 11, 2017. (AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a joint press conference with the EU foreign policy chief, at the European Council in Brussels on December 11, 2017. (AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)
  • Police stand guard as Beit Shemesh municipal workers take down "modesty" signs in the city on December 11, 2017. (Yaakov Lederman/Flash90)
    Police stand guard as Beit Shemesh municipal workers take down "modesty" signs in the city on December 11, 2017. (Yaakov Lederman/Flash90)
  • Armed female members of the Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad carry Kalashnikov assault rifles while standing over banners depicting the Israeli and US flags, as they take part in a rally to protest against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City on December 11, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
    Armed female members of the Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad carry Kalashnikov assault rifles while standing over banners depicting the Israeli and US flags, as they take part in a rally to protest against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City on December 11, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

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

Netanyahu says European countries ‘spoil’ Palestinians

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Palestinians are “spoiled” by the European Union, and says that US President Donald Trump told them “the truth” when he declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Speaking to reporters just before leaving Brussels, Netanyahu says the latest flareup in tensions is rooted in Arab anti-Semitism, and not the settlement enterprise, or the change in US policy toward Jerusalem.

“The refusal to recognize a nation-state for the Jewish people in any boundaries is the source of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he says.

“The argument that at the heart of our conflict are settlements is not true,” Netanyahu adds. “The opposition to Zionism started before the settlements and it continues after they’re dismantled.”

“It’s time to say these things,” Netanyahu told the reporters, minutes before he took off. “I said that without addressing the root of the conflict we will remain without progress.”

The Palestinians are “spoiled” by the Europeans, the prime minister says. “Trump told them the truth.”

— Raphael Ahren

Fifth day of protests in Middle East over Trump’s Jerusalem move

A fifth day of angry protests was expected in the Middle East over US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Cairo for crisis talks.

Protests were being planned for Lebanon and Iran as well as in East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terror group which fought a war with Israel in 2006, called for the demonstration in Beirut’s southern suburbs, with large crowds and a speech by the Shiite group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah expected in the afternoon.

A large turnout was also expected for a protest in Tehran.

In Indonesia, demonstrators burned US and Israeli flags in front of the American embassy in Jakarta to protest the move.

Iran says it will look into releasing jailed British national

Iran’s Foreign Ministry says it will raise the case of a detained British-Iranian woman with the judiciary “out of humanitarian concerns” following a visit by Britain’s foreign secretary.

Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi says the final decision on whether to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is serving a five-year sentence for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, rests with the judiciary.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe “is considered an Iranian national and should serve her prison conviction according to the judicial system of Iran,” he added.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson raised the case during a two-day visit to Iran that concluded yesterday. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker, was detained in April 2016. Her family has denied the allegations against her.

She is among several dual nationals held in Iran, where the judiciary and security forces are dominated by anti-Western hard-liners. It’s unclear whether Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a relative moderate, can secure her release.

— AP

Egypt detains 8 anti-Trump protesters after Cairo rally

A top Egyptian rights lawyer says at least eight protesters were detained and accused of “association with a terrorist organization” after joining a small protest in Cairo over the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Khaled Ali says the protesters were arrested on Saturday in front of the Egyptian Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo after rallying against President Donald Trump’s move.

It wasn’t immediately possible to reach the prosecutors for comment.

Ali says those detained, including a female activist, are accused of links to the Muslim Brotherhood group, Egypt’s onetime largest Islamist group which was outlawed after the ouster of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is a close ally of Trump, whose announcement triggered protests across the world.

— AP

Netanyahu says Israel taking concrete steps to jump-start peace talks

Netanyahu says he told EU leaders on his two-day visit to Europe that Israel is talking concrete steps to jump-start peace talks with the Palestinians.

When asked by EU leaders whether Israel was willing to make confidence-building gestures to the Palestinians, he says he told them: “We’re already doing it,” referring to infrastructure projects meant to improve the quality of life for residents of the West Bank.

Netanyahu goes on to say that all the leaders he spoke to condemned terrorism against Israel, speculating that it came in response to his statement over the weekend accusing Europe of “hypocrisy” and a “double standard” after they condemned Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem but failed to denounce rockets fired at Israel from Gaza.

Netanyahu also says he told the EU ministers that they must not support anti-Zionist NGOs that promote terrorism.

“I promised them a proper list of NGOs that do that,” he says, without mentioning any by name.

Netanyahu’s aides earlier this week had described Brussels as a “lion’s den,” but Netanyahu says he didn’t feel antagonism during his visit.

“I felt like a lion,” he quips.

— Raphael Ahren

Lapid calls Turkey reconciliation a ‘diplomatic mistake’

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid urges Israel to recognize the Armenian genocide and cancel a planned gas pipeline project with Turkey, in response to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s accusations on Sunday that Israel is a “terrorist state.”

He says his party will lodge a bill recognizing the genocide, a step Israel has traditionally avoided over fears of angering Turkey.

“Erdogan crossed the line. He funds the Murabitat in Jerusalem, Raed Salah and the former mufti of Jerusalem. He attacks IDF soldiers and calls them murderers. He is part of the problem with regards to Iran’s presence in Syria. It cannot stand without a response,” says Lapid.

“Someone who denies the murder of hundreds of thousands of children in the Armenian genocide won’t lecture us. Someone who cooperated with Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, in a war which has left half a million dead, won’t lecture us,” adds Lapid.

The Yesh Atid leader further condemns the reconciliation deal with Turkey, which saw Ankara and Jerusalem restore ties, years after Turkey severed diplomatic relations over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

“The reconciliation agreement with the Turks, after the Marmara incident, was a diplomatic mistake and it has failed. We won’t be threatened. Not by the Turks. Not by the Palestinians. Not by the Arab world. If anyone didn’t like President Trump’s announcement – that’s their problem,” says Lapid.

Netanyahu yesterday hit back at Erdogan, accusing him of aiding terrorists, bombing Kurdish villages, jailing journalists, and helping Iran avoid international sanctions.

— Marissa Newman

Final votes on police recommendations bill delayed until tomorrow

The final votes on the so-called police recommendations bill will not be held in the Knesset plenum today, after the opposition lodges thousands of objections to the proposed legislation. After hours of votes in the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee to finalize the bill, committee chairman Likud MK David Amsalem delays the panel’s proceedings until tomorrow.

Until the bill is finalized in the committee, it cannot be brought to its final plenary votes that would pass it into law. The lawmakers are debating an amended version of the bill which excludes its application to ongoing investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and coalition chairman David Bitan.

— Marissa Newman

Germany ‘ashamed’ over anti-Israel protests

The German government says it’s “ashamed” of weekend demonstrations against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which saw some protesters chant anti-Semitic slogans and torch Israeli flags.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert tells reporters that although Berlin opposed the move by US President Donald Trump last week, it strongly condemns protests in German cities where “hatred” of Israel and Jews was expressed.

“At certain rallies over the weekend, slogans were chanted, Israeli flags were burned and slander against the state of Israel and Jews in general were spread which were shameful,” Seibert says. “One has to be ashamed when hatred of Jews is put on display so openly on the streets of German cities.”

Seibert noted that Berlin had a “particular responsibility toward Israel and Jewish people in general” because Nazi Germany slaughtered six million Jews in the Holocaust.

He says that while Germany protected a constitutional right to free speech and assembly, that freedom did not cover incitement of racial hatred or violence.

“It is important that we continue to stand up to all of that,” he says.

— AFP

Labor leader calls for new elections, says government ‘hurting the public’

Labor party chairman Avi Gabbay reiterates his call for new elections. He slams the government’s proposed legislation to shutter minimarkets on Shabbat — tentatively scheduled for its first vote on later this evening — and the so-called police recommendations bill.

“You are hurting the public,” says Gabbay at the weekly Zionist Union faction meeting. “You are hurting the public with the minimarkets law, instead of advancing public transportation on Shabbat which the majority of the public wants.”

He calls the police recommendations law “terrible,” saying it helps “criminal organizations” and facilitates corruption.

— Marissa Newman

NY police responding to report of Port Authority explosion

New York police they are investigating an explosion of “unknown origin” in Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated.

“The NYPD is responding to reports of an explosion of unknown origin at 42nd Street and 8th Ave, #Manhattan. The A, C and E line are being evacuated at this time. Info is preliminary, more when available,” the New York police department posts on their Twitter account.

It’s led to delays along some of the subway lines that pass beneath the bus terminal.
Some passengers have been evacuated as a precaution.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

— Agencies

Suspected NY bomber reportedly in custody

The explosion in Manhattan was caused by a pipe bomb that exploded prematurely, according to CNN.

The individual carrying the bomb was injured in the explosion and has been taken into custody.

Liberman slams ‘religious coercion,’ vows to vote against minimarkets bill

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman doubles down on his criticism of the bill to shutter minimarkets on the Jewish day of rest.

Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu coalition party, along with several other coalition lawmakers — Likud’s Yehudah Glick and Sharren Haskel and Kulanu’s Rachel Azaria — have previously announced they would vote against the proposed legislation, which was tentatively scheduled for its first vote on Monday evening.

“With the help of God, the minimarkets bill won’t pass,” he quips at the weekly Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting. “I am in favor of Jewish tradition, I am in favor of Jewish values, and I strongly oppose religious coercion,” says Liberman

— Marissa Newman

Trump briefed on New York explosion — White House

President Donald Trump was briefed on the explosion, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote on Twitter.

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio was also briefed on the situation, according to police reports.

NY bomb suspect had explosive device strapped on before blast

A law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that a man had a pipe bomb strapped to him when it went off on a New York City subway platform.

He was arrested and has non-life-threatening injuries.

— AP

Beit Shemesh begins court-ordered removal of ‘modesty’ signs

The Beit Shemesh municipality begins the court-ordered removal of the “modesty” signs in the city.

Large numbers of police are deployed to protect municipal workers from hard line ultra-Orthodox residents protesting the removal of the signs.

Shortly after one of the signs was removed from Nahar Hayarden Street in the neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh, spray-painted instructions appeared on a nearby wall ordering residents to keep the sidewalks gender segregated.

The signs are being removed in accordance with a High Court of Justice ruling.

Cairo, Moscow sign contract for Egypt’s first nuclear plant

Egypt and Russia sign a final contract for the building of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, during a visit to Cairo by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The contract to build the plant in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast is signed during a live ceremony shown on state television and attended by the Russian leader and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

The contract is signed by the head of Russian state nuclear company Rosatom, Alexei Likhachev, and Egypt’s electricity and renewable energy minister, Mohamed Shaker.

Egyptian media reports put the cost of the plant at around $30 billion.

The two countries signed two agreements in November 2015 for Russia to finance and build the power plant, with four 1,200 megawatt reactors, in Dabaa.

— AFP

Thousands of Hezbollah supporters protest Trump Jerusalem move in Beirut

Thousands of Lebanese Hezbollah supporters take to the streets of Beirut to protest US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The demonstrators marched through the terror group’s strongholds, after Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah called for a “major demonstration” to denounce Trump’s decision.

Protesters carrying Hezbollah banners and Palestinian flags are chanting: “Death to America, death to Israel” and “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine.”

Putin calls for Mideast talks to resume, including on Jerusalem

Russian President Vladimir Putin calls for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to resume, including on Jerusalem, following the controversial US decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital.

Speaking on state television during a visit to Egypt, Putin stresses the importance of “the immediate resumption of Palestinian-Israeli talks over all disputed issues, including the status of Jerusalem.”

— AFP

Four hurt in NYC explosion, none life-threatening

Four people are injured in the blast that rocked a subway station in the heart of Manhattan, firefighters say, but none of those injuries was life-threatening.

Police had said earlier the only injured person was a man detained in connection with the explosion, which took place in the station at the Port Authority bus terminal, not far from New York’s iconic Times Square.

— AFP

New Year massacre gunman goes on trial in Istanbul

The trial opens this afternoon of an Uzbek citizen who confessed to killing 39 mainly foreign victims, including an Israeli, at an Istanbul nightclub in a New Year’s gun attack claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.

Abdulkadir Masharipov, 34 at the time of the attack, goes on trial at the Silivri prison complex outside the center of Istanbul along with 56 other suspects.

Masharipov, who was present in court for the first hearing, faces 40 life sentences, one for each of the victims and the massacre itself.

The others on trial include Masharipov’s wife Zarina Nurullayeva who is a suspected accomplice and faces similar penalties to her husband. All but six are being held in custody.

Masharipov was captured alive in a massive police operation and analysts say his evidence in confessions have helped Turkish authorities break up the elaborate network of jihadist cells in the city.

He is facing charges ranging from “attempting to destroy constitutional order,” “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” to “murdering more than one person.”

— with AFP

New York blast confirmed as ‘terror-related incident’

New York police commissioner James O’Neil says the blast that rocked a subway station in the heart of Manhattan is a “terror-related incident.”

Police say the explosion happened in an underground passageway under 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. The 7:30 a.m. blast caused smoke to fill the passageway, which was crowded with throngs of Monday morning commuters.

Three people were injured, as was the suspected bomber.

Hezbollah leader urges Palestinians to declare an intifada to protest Trump

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah tells supporters at a mass rally in Beirut that Palestinians embarking on a new intifada is the most effective way to protest Trump’s shift on the status of Jerusalem.

“Trump’s decision on al-Quds will be the beginning of the end of Israel,” he says using the Arabic word for Jerusalem.

“If you hold on to al-Quds as the everlasting capital of Palestine, neither Trump nor anyone else can do anything other than that,” Nasrallah says according to local media reports. “The whole nation must stand in the face of this American threat.”

He also urges the Palestinians to sever diplomatic ties with allies of Israel, and calls on Jordan and Egypt to repeal their peace treaties with Israel.

“We must put pressure on the Arab and Islamic states to repeal peace treaties and other deals with Israel,” Nasrallah says. “I call on Palestinians to kick out any delegation that aims to visit them from countries that have normalized relations with Israel, no matter what the background of those delegations is.”

He leads the crowd in the chant: “To Al-Quds we are going … millions of martyrs we shall be.”

The Lebanon-based Hezbollah is committed to the destruction of Israel.

Iran protesters say Trump speeding up the end of Israel

A few hundred diehard Iranian conservatives rallied on Monday against Israel and said US President Donald Trump had hastened its demise with his decision to recognise Jerusalem as its capital.

The rally in downtown Tehran featured the sort of thumping, Turkish-style dance music that is normally banned in Iran but has become increasing popular at hardliner events. It is made acceptable to conservative ears with the addition of lyrics such as “the US is a murderer” and “Palestinian mothers are losing their children” and, of course, the ubiquitous “Death to America.”

“I don’t think there will be a need to send any troops because there are a lot of people in Lebanon, Syria and inside the Palestinian territories. They will be enough to get rid of the Israelis,” a cleric, Seyed Abdullah Hosseini, tells AFP.

“Mr Trump has done a good job of speeding things up. We were expecting Israel to be dismantled later… but this is the beginning of the end of Israel,” says Hosseini.

“We have to thank him for what he did.”

— AFP

Liberman tells Arab lawmakers they will ‘soon go back to Gaza with Hamas’

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tells Arab lawmakers they are sitting in Israel’s parliament “by mistake” and will soon “go back to Gaza, with Hamas, or Ramallah.”

He accuses Arab lawmakers of taking advantage of Israel’s liberties to “destroy us from the inside.”

“You’re sitting here by mistake,” he tells the Arab MKs in the plenum. The day will soon come, he adds, when “you won’t be here.”

He also brands the Arab lawmakers “war criminals”

— Marissa Newman

Authorities identify NY subway bomber as Akayed Ullah, 27

Police have identified the 27-year-old man who detonated an explosive device strapped to his body in the New York City subway.

Police say Akayed Ullah intentionally exploded the crude device in a passageway under Times Square during the morning rush hour Monday. They say he is in custody. They say the device is a crudely made pipe bomb.

Authorities called the incident an attempted terrorist attack. Three other people suffered minor injuries, including headaches and ringing in the ears.

The suspect had burns on his abdomen and his hands.

Law enforcement officials say he was inspired by Islamic State, but had apparently not had any direct contact with the terror group.

— AP

EU rebuffs idea of recognizing Jerusalem as Netanyahu visits

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says no European leaders plan to follow US President Donald Trump in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Earlier, Netanyahu insisted to reporters in Brussels the move “put facts squarely on the table. Peace is based on reality.”

“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, no one can deny it. It doesn’t obviate peace, it makes peace possible,” he said. Netanyahu added that he believed most European countries would now “move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

But Mogherini says EU ministers were concerned about Trump’s move.

“We do not wish to see a discredited US administration when it comes to the negotiations in the Middle East,” she says.

As far as EU member countries relocating their embassies in Israel, Mogherini was quick to disabuse Netanyahu of the idea.

“He can keep his expectations for others, because from the European Union member states’ side, this move will not come,” she says.

— with AP

Knesset okays NIS 45 million for armored West Bank buses

The Knesset Finance Committee approves the transfer of NIS 45 million ($12.8 million) for bulletproof buses for West Bank roads.

While the money had been earmarked as part of the 2018 budget, the transfer had been delayed for months, leading Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev to issue a threat on Sunday that he would not vote with the coalition until the money was transferred.

“This budget will save lives of students and other passengers in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), as we unfortunately witnessed last night in a shooting attack on a bus in Samaria,” says Yogev referring to a bulletproof bus transferring Israeli students that was shot at outside of the Beit El settlement.

The approval comes a month after the conclusion of an aggressive campaign led by settler leaders to transfer an NIS 800 million ($228 million) security package for West Bank roads and infrastructure development. The campaign drove a wedge between settler leaders, but concluded in a written agreement signed by the prime minister in which he agreed to immediately transfer NIS 200 million for the Qalandiya and Beit Aryeh bypass roads and to transfer an additional NIS 600 million in January 2018 for other security improvements.

— Jacob Magid

Trump sexual assault accusers speak out, call for congressional probe

Three women who have previously accused US President Donald Trump of sexual harassment shared their stories on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today.”

Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks tell of the alleged harassment by Trump spanning decades.

The White House called the claims false and “totally disputed in most cases.” It said “the timing and absurdity of these false claims speak volumes.”

One of the accusers, Rachel Crooks, calls the White House statement “laughable.”

Crooks says of sexual misconduct: “I think politicians seem to be immune to this.”

Holvey describes the pain the women felt after Trump’s victory. “We are private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there, to try to show America who this man is, and especially how he views women, for them to say, ‘Meh, we don’t care,’ it hurt.”

The women, who first shared their stories before the November 2016 election, were holding a press conference later Monday to call for a congressional investigation into Trump’s alleged behavior. They cited the recent revelations of sexual misconduct by prominent men in business, media, and politics, for their decision to speak out publicly against Trump once again.

“The environment’s different,” Holvey says. “Let’s try again.”

— AP

Liberman warns northern Israel unprepared for future war

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says Israel’s northern home front is not adequately prepared for the threat of war.

Cities and communities in the north are “not prepared as they should be,” Liberman says, noting that those communities would face the heaviest bombardment in a future war.

He also criticizes the lack of public bomb shelters in those areas.

— Marissa Newman

In Knesset, residents of illegal outpost lament court-ordered demolition of woodshop

Residents of the Netiv Ha’avot outpost handed out pieces of the woodshop that was demolished last month to coalition lawmakers during their respective Knesset faction meetings.

The High Court ruled that the woodshop, a memorial for fallen IDF soldiers, and 15 homes were illegally built on private Palestinian land, sanctioning their demolition. While the homes in the extended neighborhood of the Elazar settlement are slated to be razed on March 8, 2017, the High Court ruled that the two non-residential structures needed to be razed earlier. In July, the residents demolished the war memorial and inaugurated a replacement monument in a less problematic location in the settlement. However, the woodshop remained, leading Israeli security forces to demolish the shack on November 29.

Along with the pieces of the carpentry that were handed out to lawmakers, are letters from the Netiv Ha’avot residents reminding the Knesset members “that they have the power to prevent the further demolition of their neighborhood.”

“While the first building in our neighborhood was indeed demolished because of them (MKs) and because of the prime minister, it is still possible to legalize the neighborhood,” the residents write in a statement.

“The time has come for the prime minister to first deal with his problems at home and find solutions to them before dealing with Israel’s problems in the world,” they add.

— Jacob Magid

Palestinians miss major reconciliation deadline

Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have missed a major deadline in their reconciliation bid by failing to transfer power in the Gaza Strip, with the rivals trading accusations of blame.

Yesterday was the deadline for the handover, a decade after Hamas seized power in the Palestinian enclave in a near civil war with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah, based in the West Bank.

An Egyptian-brokered agreement in early October originally set a December 1 deadline for full transfer of power back to the PA, which is dominated by Fatah, though that was later pushed back to December 10.

In Gaza, the situation was essentially unchanged despite the deadline, with Hamas police still patrolling the streets, while crippling electricity shortages endured.

Hamas claimed on Saturday it had handed over control of all government ministries, but Fatah’s top negotiator later said “obstacles” remained.

As of this afternoon, the PA government spokesman Yousef Mahmud says it had not received full control in key ministries.

In a statement on official Palestinian news agency WAFA, he accused Hamas of seeking to stop the handover.

Fawzy Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, told AFP that Mahmud’s statement was an attempt to “cover up the government’s failure to carry out its duties to the people of Gaza.”

— AFP

Sweden investigates attempted arson against Jewish chapel

Swedish police say they are probing an attempted arson against a Jewish chapel after a similar attack against a synagogue, which came in the wake of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Two burning objects had been thrown at chapel, located at a Jewish cemetery, in Sweden’s third largest city of Malmo, the Jewish assembly says in a statement.

Malmo police spokesman Lars Forstell tells AFP that the incident is being investigated “as an attempted arson” and that the motive is unclear.

No serious damage has been done to the building and no one was hurt.

But the Jewish assembly in Malmo says it sees the incident as “extremely serious.”

“We strongly emphasise that we can never accept being subjected to threats and attacks,” it said in the statement.

Swedish police have tightened security near Jewish sites across the nation following a fire attack on a synagogue in the second largest city of Gothenburg on late Saturday.

— AFP

Army says projectiles launched at Israel from Gaza

The IDF says projectiles were launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel a short while ago.

Hits have not yet been identified.

 

Palestinian ambulance appears to transport Palestinian rioters

In video footage of the ongoing clashes in the West Bank today, an ambulance belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society appears to have assisted rioters clashing with Israeli security forces.

The video released by the IDF Spokesman’s Unit shows a group of masked protesters exiting the ambulance at the Ayosh Junction, north of Jerusalem to take part in riots.

Palestinians and Israeli security forces clashed at the Junction for several hours earlier this morning. Protesters burned tires and threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at IDF troops.

Missile fired from Gaza lands in open area causing no injuries or damage

The missile fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip lands in an open area near the border with the Palestinian territory.

No injuries or damage is reported.

Reports in Hebrew-language media say the IDF tanks fired shells at the source of the missile fire inside the Strip.

Deri threatens to quit government if Shabbat minimarket law doesn’t pass

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri says he will resign from the government if the so-called minimarkets bill is not passed into law.

The legislation would grant Deri, who is ultra-Orthodox, the authority to bypass municipal bylaws, to force store owners to close their businesses on the Jewish Sabbath.

Members of the Yisrael Beiteinu say they will vote against the law.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri in the Knesset, November 1, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Transgender people can enlist in US military Jan 1

The Pentagon is allowing transgender people to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, despite US President Donald Trump’s opposition.

The Pentagon, headquarters of the US Department of Defense (photo credit: CC BY-SA mindfrieze, Flickr)
The Pentagon, headquarters of the US Department of Defense (CC BY-SA mindfrieze, Flickr)

The new policy reflects growing legal pressure on the issue, and the difficult hurdles the federal government would have to cross to enforce Trump’s demand to ban transgender individuals from the military. Two federal courts already have ruled against the ban. Potential transgender recruits will have to overcome a lengthy and strict set of physical, medical and mental conditions that make it possible, though difficult, for them to join the armed services.

Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, says the enlistment of transgender recruits will start Jan. 1 and go on amid the legal battles. The Defense Department also is studying the issue.

— AP

In Cairo, Abbas, Sissi agree to continue coordinated response to Trump Jerusalem move

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt President Abdul Fatah a-Sisi agree to continue coordination and consultations in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The two leaders held meetings today in the Egyptian capital to discuss the shift in the US’s policy on Jerusalem that has sparked several unrest in the Arab world.

“We will continue to consult with our Arab brothers, especially with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab parties, to confront the coming dangers, especially after the unacceptable American step in Jerusalem,” says Abbas’s spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeinah says according to the PA’s official news site Wafa.

 

Iran president tells Hamas a united Muslim front can defeat Israel, US

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tells the leader of the Hamas terrorist group on the phone that together Muslims could defeat Israel.

“The oppressed people of Palestine and Islamic ummah (community) will undoubtedly defeat the US-Israeli plan with their unity and resistance,” Rouhani tells Ismail Haniyah, as quoted by the government’s website.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani answers a question during a press conference in New York on September 20, 2017, on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General assembly. (AFP/Jewel Samad)

— AFP

Russian and Turkish presidents meet in Ankara

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Ankara to meet his Turkish counterpart, following visits to Syria and Egypt.

Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are meeting this evening to discuss developments in Syria and the Middle East, as well as bilateral relations, according to the Turkish president’s office.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, (l) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Putin and Erdogan met several times this year and regularly talk on the telephone as they and Iran work to broker a solution in Syria.

Relations between the two countries were tense after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet for violating its airspace in 2015. But the two have since restored bilateral relations.

Putin and Erdogan are expected to hold a joint news conference after their meeting.

— AP

Putin: US move on Jerusalem may ‘finish prospects’ for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticizes the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, warning that it could destabilize the region and derail the Middle East peace process.

Speaking after a hectic day that took him from a Russian base in Syria to Cairo and Ankara, Putin says the US move “doesn’t help the Mideast settlement and, just the other way round, destabilizes the already difficult situation in the region.”

The Russian leader adds that it may “finish prospects for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.”

He adds that Moscow believes that the status of Jerusalem should be settled through talks between the Palestinians and Israel in line with United Nations resolutions.

— AP

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