Obama aide: UN vote no ‘ambush,’ we warned Israel on settlements
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Obama aide: UN vote no ‘ambush,’ we warned Israel on settlements

Report: A-G set to approve corruption investigation into PM; Netanyahu: I had ‘rational’ response to UNSC resolution; Liberman likens France summit to Dreyfus Affair

  • Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Judoka and Olympic medalist Ori Sasson (L) passes the Maccabiah torch to President Reuven Rivlin (C) during the 20th Maccabiah Torch Race event at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Haim Zach/GPO)
    Judoka and Olympic medalist Ori Sasson (L) passes the Maccabiah torch to President Reuven Rivlin (C) during the 20th Maccabiah Torch Race event at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Haim Zach/GPO)
  • Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid leads a party faction meeting at the Knesset on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid leads a party faction meeting at the Knesset on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • The Russian police orchestra pays tribute to counterparts from the Red Army Choir in Moscow on December 26, 2016, a day after plane carrying dozens of choir members crashed en route to Syria. (AFP PHOTO/Natalia KOLESNIKOVA)
    The Russian police orchestra pays tribute to counterparts from the Red Army Choir in Moscow on December 26, 2016, a day after plane carrying dozens of choir members crashed en route to Syria. (AFP PHOTO/Natalia KOLESNIKOVA)
  • Joint List MK Basel Ghattas appears at Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court  for a remand hearing on December 26, 2016, following his arrest on suspicion of smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners. (Photo by Meged Guzani/POOL)
    Joint List MK Basel Ghattas appears at Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court for a remand hearing on December 26, 2016, following his arrest on suspicion of smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners. (Photo by Meged Guzani/POOL)
  • Protesters demonstrate outside Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court as Arab MK Basel Ghattas attends a remand hearing, on December 26, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ)
    Protesters demonstrate outside Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court as Arab MK Basel Ghattas attends a remand hearing, on December 26, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a conference in the northern city of Ma'alot on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a conference in the northern city of Ma'alot on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO)

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

Liberman likens French peace summit to Dreyfus Affair

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman slates the France’s January 15 Middle East peace conference as a “tribunal against the State of Israel,” and compares it to the Dreyfus Affair. The 1894 trial — in which Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish captain in the French army, was wrongfully accused of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment — is seen as a seminal anti-Semitic event of modern times.

Alfred Dreyfus (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Alfred Dreyfus (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“This is not a peace conference, this is a conference whose purpose is to harm Israel’s security and reputation, and it is a trial against the State of Israel,” Liberman says. “I would go further and say … that this is a modern-day Dreyfus trial. There is one difference — instead of just one Jew, the State of Israel is in the dock.”

Lapid accuses PM of ‘hysteria’ with response to UN vote

Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid slams Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his “hysterical” diplomatic response to countries who voted for a newly passed UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlements.

“What has happened since the Security Council vote is irrational,” Lapid says tells a faction meeting in Jerusalem. “This is not diplomacy, this hysteria.”

He says that by “gambling with [Israel’s] national security,” the prime minister is radiating “stress and confusion.”

Turkey rounds up 1,600 suspected terrorists

Turkey’s justice ministry says 1,682 terror suspects were detained in the past week, according to Walla. Of that number, 516 are now under arrest.

Some 425 people are suspected of contact with Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally and cleric now living in exile in the US, who is accused of orchestrating the attempted coup in Turkey the summer.

Another 78 people are suspected of being touch with the Islamic State group and 12 people of involvement with the Kurdish underground.

Knesset panel earmarks NIS 183 million for new PM plane

The Knesset Finance Committee approves NIS 183 million ($48 million) for the purchase of a plane for the use of the prime minister. The plane will also be available for the use of the president, Israel Radio reports.

The move comes some seven days after the government approves NIS 1.2 billion ($310 million) in across-the-board cuts for the 2017-2018 budget, in order to finance the relocation of the illegal Amona outpost, establish the new public broadcasting corporation, and build schools in ultra-Orthodox communities.

Russia: Rescue workers find fragments of downed jet

Russian officials says rescue workers have found fragments of the Syria-bound jet that crashed into the Black Sea yesterday morning.

All 92 people on board, most of them members of a famous military band heading to Syria to perform for Russian troops, perished when the airliner came down just moments after takeoff from Sochi.

Balad activists protest outside court ahead of Ghattas hearing

Dozens of activists from Balad protest outside Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, where party MK Basel Ghattas is to appear today for a remand hearing.

Ghattas was arrested last week for allegedly passing cellphones and messages to Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel.

His supporters at the court are carrying banners reading “Release Ghattas” and “End political persecution,” Ynet reports.

Knesset okays Hanegbi ministerial promotion

The Knesset plenum approves the nomination of Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi as minister for regional cooperation.

Hanegbi, a Netanyahu ally, has until now been a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with MK Tzachi Hanegbi (R) at the weekly Likud party meeting at the Knesset on March 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with MK Tzachi Hanegbi (R) at the weekly Likud party meeting at the Knesset on March 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hamas blasts Jews, Muslims dancing at Bahrain Hanukkah party

Hamas issues an outraged response to scenes of Jewish and Muslim men dancing together at a Hanukkah party in Bahrain yesterday, calling it a “disgraceful spectacle.”

In a statement, the group expresses its amazement that “in light of the increasing pace of international sympathy for the Palestinian cause… and the growing international boycott of the Zionist movement in all forms, a group of dignitaries and traders in the State of Bahrain hosted a Zionist, racist and extremist Jewish delegation and danced with them in a humiliating and disgraceful spectacle.”

The group calls on Bahrain to “fully stop any form of normalization with the Zionist enemy.”

MK Ghattas back in court for fresh remand hearing

Joint (Arab) List MK Basel Ghattas returns to Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s court for a remand hearing, as police seek to keep him in custody over suspicions he smuggled cellphones to Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel.

The police are asking for a 4-day remand extension, Israel Radio reports.

Ghattas tells reporters outside the court that while he is remaining silent for now, he will have a great deal to say about the affair upon his release.

Joint List MK Basel Ghattas appears at Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court for a remand hearing on December 26, 2016, following his arrest on suspicion of smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners. (Photo by Meged Guzani/POOL)

Joint List MK Basel Ghattas appears at Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court for a remand hearing on December 26, 2016, following his arrest on suspicion of smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners. (Photo by Meged Guzani/POOL)

Dermer to CNN: We expect US to stand with us at UN

Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer tells CNN that Israel is angry with the US over the anti-settlement UN resolution, as it is “the only country where we have any expectation to actually stand with us at the United Nations.”

Dermer, who was a Republican Party operative before moving to Israel, also repeats Israeli accusations that the Obama administration orchestrated the Egypt-penned resolution. The US abstained from Friday night’s vote, which passed 14-0.

“It’s an old story that the United Nations gangs up against Israel. What is new is that the United States did not stand up and oppose that gang-up. And what is outrageous is that the United States was actually behind that gang-up,” says Dermer.

The ambassador also says that Israel has proof that the White House drove the resolution, which it will present “to the new administration through the appropriate channels.”

PM: My response to UN vote was measured, rational reaction

Netanyahu defends his response to the UN Security Council vote condemning the settlements as measured and a natural reaction to hostility from the rest of the world.

“”I read in several newspapers this morning that they are complaining about my vigorous stand against the countries that voted against us at the UN,” Netanyahu says at a Hanukkah party in the northern city of Ma’alot.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a conference in the northern city of Ma'alot on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a conference in the northern city of Ma’alot on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“Israel is a country with national pride and we do not turn the other cheek,” he says. “This was a rational response, assertive and considered. This is a responsible, measured and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the UN is unacceptable to us.”

Furthermore, he says, the time for Israel attempts to “ingratiate” itself is over.

“There is no alternative to a determined response because it is, in effect, creating the basis for a different approach in the future,” he says.
“I tell you that there is no diplomatic wisdom in being ingratiating. Not only will our relations with the nations of the world not be harmed, over time they will only improve because the nations of the world respect strong countries that stand up for themselves and do not respect weak ingratiating countries that bow their heads.”

Court extends Ghattas remand by one day

Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extends the remand of MK Basel Ghattas until tomorrow, following a police request to keep him in custody for another four days over suspicions that he smuggled cellphones to Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel.

“I still have hope that the courts are an island of sanity and common sense,” Ghattas says in court, according to Ynet. “Do I need to stay in jail for four days without being asked a single question? Is this how the police would treat someone else?”

Bob Dylan’s Twitter account hacked, declares Britney is dead

Hackers take over the Twitter accounts of Bob Dylan and Sony Music, and use both to falsely claim that pop singer Britney Spears has died.

The hack is quickly discovered and the offending posts removed.

The cyberattacks come in a week which saw the deaths of musicians George Michael, Greg Lake and Rick Parfitt, in a year that also saw the world lose musical icons Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen.

Report: Police conducting another criminal probe into PM

The police are conducting another investigation into suspected criminal behavior by Netanyahu, Haaretz reports.

The newspaper does not provide details of the probe, but says police are now working on two investigations into Netanyahu.

Peace activists set out from Berlin to Syria — on foot

Several hundred peace activists start what they say will be a months-long protest march from Berlin to war-ravaged Syria to urge an end to the fighting there.

The Civil March for Aleppo sets off carrying white flags from Berlin’s former Tempelhof Airport in cloudy, cold and blustery weather.

Organizers say they expect to cover about 20 kilometers (12 miles) a day and to take about 3 ½ months to walk through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. Some will walk part of the way while others are invited to join along the route. Marchers are being told to provide their own sleeping gear and food.

Participants hope to at least reach Turkey’s border with Syria and if possible the Syrian city of Aleppo, the recent scene of heavy fighting and widespread misery.

“It’s time to act,” the group says in a manifesto on its website. “We’ve had enough of clicking the sad or shocked faces on Facebook and writing, ‘This is terrible.'”

— AP

Massive jams in Tel Aviv as traffic lights fail across city

Parts of Tel Aviv are gridlocked due to a failure of traffic lights in the city.

Worst hit areas include Menachem Begin Street and HaShalom Road in the south of the city. Police are currently directing traffic in those locations, Ynet reports.

Anti-Semitic graffiti daubed on Paris-area school named for Anne Frank

Anti-Jewish and anti-Roma graffiti have been found drawn in black marker on the front gate and the mailbox of a suburban Paris Jewish school named for teenage Holocaust diarist Anne Frank.

The graffiti on the Anne Frank School in Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris, includes swastikas and Stars of David with the word Jude, as well as statements such as “Jews forbidden” and “Filthy Jewish and Romani people.”

More graffiti was later found on other outside walls of the building, French daily Le Parisian reports. There were no security cameras in place to help identify the vandals.

“The inscriptions on Montreuil’s Anne Frank School are despicable. These actions will not remain unpunished.” France’s education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem says in a tweet.

The school’s former principal, Juliette Timsit, who lives in the neighborhood, is posting images of the graffiti on Facebook.

“This is the school that was targeted, particularly because of its name, Anne Frank,” she writes, “I was very proud to be a principal in this school. I love it. I am deeply affected by this and can barely hold back the tears.”

Police are conducting an investigation.

— JTA

Jewish MLB players to visit Israel ahead of World Baseball Classic

Ten current and former Jewish Major League Baseball players will visit Israel in preparation for the World Baseball Classic.

The players, who will be part of Team Israel, will practice on baseball fields in Israel and meet with local Israel Association of Baseball players. They will visit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and its holy sites, an Israeli Air Force base, Masada and the Dead Sea.

The players are eligible to play on Team Israel based on World Baseball Classic rules that state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a country may play on that country’s team. This will be the first time that American Jewish baseball players will represent Israel in a world championship.

Josh Zeid pitching a game for the Houston Astros. (screen capture: YouTube)

Josh Zeid pitching a game for the Houston Astros. (screen capture: YouTube)

The visiting players are former New York Met Ike Davis; Ty Kelly of the New York Mets; Ryan Lavarnway of the Oakland Athletics; Sam Fuld of the Oakland Athletics organization; Josh Zeid of the New York Mets organization; Cody Decker of the Boston Red Sox organization; Jon Moscot of the Cincinnati Reds; Corey Baker of the St. Louis Cardinals organization; Jeremy Bleich of the Philadelphia Phillies organization; and Gabe Kapler, Los Angeles Dodgers Director of Player Development.

The players’ wives, parents and children will accompany them on the trip, whose co-sponsors include JNF Project Baseball and Jeff Aeder, founder of the Jewish Baseball Museum.

The World Baseball Classic is scheduled for March 2017 in Seoul, South Korea.

— JTA

Report: A-G set to okay full corruption probe into PM

Channel 2 television reports that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is set to approve a full police investigation into alleged corruption by Netanyahu.

According to the report, the investigation will include allegations of bribery and fraud.

Obama aide: UN vote no ambush, we warned Israel on settlements

Ben Rhodes, a senior aide to President Barack Obama, rejects claims that the US “ambushed” Israel by abstaining in Friday’s UN vote on settlements.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes (Photo credit: screenshot/CNN)

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes (Photo credit: screenshot/CNN)

“By definition it’s not an ambush when Obama and [John] Kerry have been saying that Israeli settlement activity was making a two-state solution unachievable,” Rhodes, who serves as a deputy national security adviser, tells Channel 2 television.

He adds that the Obama administration warned Israel that if this state of affairs continued, “we could see further international steps against settlement activity.”

 

Israeli lightly hurt when stones thrown at car in West Bank

An Israeli man is lightly hurt when stones are thrown at his car in the West Bank, east of the Etzion bloc of settlements.

Local rescue personnel say the attack was carried out by Arab assailants who were using a slingshot from a passing vehicle.

Israeli security forces were searching the area for the attackers, the Hebrew-language media reports.

PM reiterates claim that Obama orchestrated UN resolution

The Prime Minister’s Office doubles down on Netanyahu’s claim that the Obama administration was behind Friday’s UN Security Council vote on settlements.

“Israel stands by the things that were said,” the PMO says in a statement. “The Obama administration is behind the draft and advancement of the Security Council resolution.

“The Obama administration’s conduct reflects the policies set out by the president in his first meeting with Netanyahu in 2009, when he said: ‘Not even a single brick should be go up beyond the Green Line.'”

Russia: Only direct Israel-PA talks will bring peace

Russia says direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are the only way to reach a peace agreement to end the conflict.

“We will continue to work within the framework of the Middle East Quartet to advance this issue,” the ministry says in a statement, according to Channel 2 .

The statement also indicates that Russian is willing “to host a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Moscow.”

 

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