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‘Jerusalem city hall set to okay 390 new apartments over Green Line’

PM asks ministers to reduce meetings with states that backed UN resolution; Pope hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Pope Francis (C) blesses from the balcony of St Peter's basilica during the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Christmas message to the city and the world, on December 25, 2016 at St Peter's square in Vatican. (AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO)
Pope Francis (C) blesses from the balcony of St Peter's basilica during the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Christmas message to the city and the world, on December 25, 2016 at St Peter's square in Vatican. (AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO)

The Times of Israel covered Sunday’s events as they unfolded.

In Christmas message, pope hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Pope Francis on Sunday hoped for peace between Israelis and Palestinians as he gave his Christmas address, urging the two sides to “write a new page of history.”

“Peace to women and men of the beloved Holy Land, the land chosen and favored by God,” the pontiff told crowds at the Vatican in his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and The World) message.

“May Israelis and Palestinians have the courage and the determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony.”

— AFP

2 East Jerusalemites arrested for giving intel to PA officers

Two East Jerusalem residents are under arrest on suspicion of passing information to Palestinian Authority security agents, police say.

The two gathered intelligence on Israeli communications companies, which they had access to through work, and allegedly gave it to PA security officers.

After their arrest, and multiple extensions of their detention, the police have released the two suspects to house arrest.

31-year-old Palestinian woman charged with assaulting soldier

A 31-year-old woman from the West Bank village of Kafr Aqab, near Ramallah, is charged with attempting to run over an IDF soldier at the Qalandiya crossing two weeks ago. The state prosecutor also charges Amani Hashim with intentional injury and possession of a knife.

Angola punished by Jerusalem meter maid

While Angola’s diplomat gets dressed down by the Foreign Ministry for the UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements, a Jerusalem city hall meter maid tags his diplomatic vehicle with a ticket, Channel 1’s reporter says.

Netanyahu warns of more Obama surprises

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells Likud MKs that US President Barack Obama may have another surprise in store, and therefore they shouldn’t speak openly about annexing parts of the West Bank.

Erdogan extends Hanukkah greetings

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wishes his country’s Jews a Happy Hanukkah in an official message.

“My best wishes for the Hanukkah festival of all Jews, especially the inseparable part of our society’s Jewish citizens, with whom we have co-existed peacefully for centuries, and I wish them peace.”

Istanbul’s Jewish community on Saturday marked the first night of the eight-day holiday with a public candle-lighting, attended by Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak, Israel’s Consul-General in Istanbul Shai Cohen, the President of the Turkish Jewish Community Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, Beşiktaş Mayor Murat Hazinedar, Istanbul Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos and other religious leaders, the Daily Sabah reports. It was the second annual Hanukkah candle-lighting

4 Palestinians arrested on terror charges

Four residents of the village Bayt Fajr, near Bethelehem, are under arrest by Israeli authorities on terror charges. Two minors are charged with fabricating improvised weapons, and two others are suspected of throwing firebombs at a nearby Jewish community.

Red Army Choir’s Israel concert up in the air

The Red Army Choir was supposed to appear in Israel in November 2017, but that concert is now in question after a plane carrying 64 of its members crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday morning. The choir has performed before in Israel, and in a touching tribute to the musicians and singers, Israel Radio played its rendition of “Jerusalem of Gold” Sunday afternoon.

“We’ve had a real shock,” a representative of the company bringing the choir to Israel tells Channel 2. “In recent years we’ve developed deep friendships with the head of the choir and many of its members, and we’re going through the names of the singers, some of whom performed in Israel, and it’s hard to believe.”

Knesset committee rejects PM’s plane budgeting

The Knesset Finance Committee shot down a motion to finance a plane for the prime minister and president.

The NIS 178 million ($47 million) budget for the official plane was put before the committee as part of a bloc of 15 proposals totaling NIS 735 million, and members of the committee asked to vote on each item individually.

Netanyahu calls in US ambassador to discuss Security Council vote

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly summoned US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to his office to discuss Washington’s abstention on Friday’s Resolution 2334.

Netanyahu said to ax meeting with British PM

Now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly notified his ministers that he will cancel an upcoming meeting with British PM Theresa May. The UK was among the 14 states that voted in favor the UN measure.

Netanyahu to light candles at Western Wall

With plenty to say, no doubt, Netanyahu will be lighting Hanukkah candles at the Western Wall at 8 p.m., news of which came as he’s fired a number of diplomatic broadsides in the wake of Friday’s UN Security Council vote against settlements.

Netanyahu forbids ministers from contacting officials from states who voted yes

Netanyahu has told all ministers to have no contact with ministers from countries that voted yes on Friday’s Security Council resolution, and not to visit those countries, Army Radio says.

Rebels blamed for ‘poisoning’ Damascus water

Residents of the Syrian capital were facing their third consecutive day of water shortages on Sunday, with authorities accusing “terrorist groups” of deliberately poisoning water resources.

The government cut off water to Damascus on Friday after concerns that rebel groups west of the city had poisoned wells and pipes.

A statement by the Damascus City Water Supply and Sewage Authority said it had halted supplies after “terrorist attacks on all water resources feeding into Damascus and its surroundings.”

It said it was using reserves and would pump water to various city neighborhoods according to a schedule published on its website.

“Water has been totally cut for three days,” said Rasha, a 51-year-old housewife.

“We can live without electricity but we can’t live without water.”

— AFP

Arab MK in jail cannot vote in Knesset

The Knesset’s legal advisor says that MK Basel Ghattas, the Arab lawmaker who’s in jail facing criminal charges for bringing phones to Palestinian security prisoners, cannot vote in parliament.

Mossad agents commended with awards

President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen presented 12 members of the intelligence agency with outstanding service medals. What they got the medals for, and who they are, of course, are under wraps.

Netanyahu said to meet Shapiro

Netanyahu is reportedly meeting right now with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to discuss Washington’s abstention at the UN Security Council.

Rivlin: Israel must do the utmost to minimize diplomatic fallout

President Reuven Rivlin weighs in again on the diplomatic fiasco following the UN’s anti-settlements declaration. “Security Council resolution 2334 was undoubtedly bad for Israel and we must focus our efforts on minimizing the damage,” he says.

Netanyahu said to seek diplomatic help from Trump, Congress

Netanyahu is reportedly trying to get President-elect Donald Trump and the US Congress to squeeze countries that supported the resolution with financial measures, Channel 2 reports. The prime minister reportedly said behind closed doors that those 14 states “are spitting on us.”

‘Jerusalem to discuss nearly 400 new apartments over Green Line’

Jerusalem’s planning committee is set to approve 390 new apartment units in neighborhoods over the Green Line, Channel 2 reports.

Hamas leader hails UN Security Council resolution

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal hails the UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements, saying it’s a step in the right direction, but not enough.

Netanyahu rejects UN resolution at candle-lighting

It should come as no surprise that Netanyahu brings up the UN Security Council resolution at a Hanukkah candle-lighting event at the Western Wall: “We don’t accept and we can’t accept the UN’s resolution. We are as certain of our future as we are of our past. This is the Hanukkah candle for the glory of Israel.”

At Kotel, Netanyahu asserts: ‘We were here much earlier’

Netanyahu continues to rail against the 14 countries who voted in favor of Resolution 2334, asking “those same states who wish us a Happy Hanukkah — how could they vote that [the Western Wall] is occupied territory? We were here much earlier.”

Police search Defense Ministry lawyer’s office

Police investigators searched the office of the Defense Ministry’s legal counsel and collected information concerning why the ministry canceled a deal to buy ships to defend Israel’s offshore gas rigs, Channel 10 reports.

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