The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s developments as they unfolded.
Rivlin says ‘silence not an option’ on Syria
President Reuven Rivlin says he’s “proud” of the Israeli humanitarian assistance to Syrians, but says the international community and Israel must do more to help civilians.
“In these times, silence is not an option. I believe the international community — the whole free world — must act to help the innocent, the civilians, men, women, and the children,” he says.
“While we have never been able to reach peace with Syria, we see the pictures and hear the voices of the people suffering, and as Israelis of all faiths, we feel the duty to try to help, and to speak out. I am proud of the humanitarian aid and medical help many Israelis are giving to the people of Syria. I know sadly, that it is a drop in the ocean. But, dear friends, silence, and doing nothing cannot be an option. We must speak, we must act, we must pray,” says the president.
Rivlin also condemns the “wrong” UN Security Council resolution against settlements, which was passed on Friday.
“Time and again, we have held out our hand in peace, and called for direct negotiations, without pre-conditions, and without any delay. The decision to take Israel to the UN Security Council, was wrong in trying to force pre-conditions, but also in the way it was done. The international community’s, most important job in helping us solve the conflict, is to build trust between the sides… The Security Council vote, was a blow to
peace, and it was a blow to trust.”
Turkey puts broadcast ban on Russia envoy’s killing
A Turkish court has put a broadcast ban on reporting of the investigation into last week’s murder of the Russian ambassador to Ankara Andrei Karlov, state media says on Tuesday.
A Turkish policeman opened fire on Karlov while he was delivering a speech at the opening of a photography exhibition, in an assassination that stunned Russia and Turkey.
An Ankara court agreed to a request by prosecutors for a ban on broadcasting images of the assassination — which was caught on film — as well as the investigation itself, the state-run Anadolu news agency says.
This includes news concerning witnesses, victims or suspects in the murder.
The ruling says such news could be prejudicial to the investigation and to national security. The ban will last for the duration of the investigation.
It is not clear what prompted the ban one week after the December 19 murder but it comes one day after the daily Hurriyet published a detailed interview with the sister of the murderer Mevlut Mert Altintas.
Berlin museum scraps exhibit from Tehran
Berlin’s museum authority says it has scrapped plans for an exhibition of works from the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art because Iran hasn’t granted permission for their export.
The exhibition, billed by German organizers as offering the first opportunity to see the works as a collection outside Iran since the 1979 revolution, originally was supposed to open at Berlin’s Gemaeldegalerie December 4.
In November, organizers said changes at Iran’s culture ministry were causing delays.
The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees Berlin public art museums, announces Tuesday that it has terminated “with great regret” its cooperation agreement with the Tehran museum.
Foundation head Hermann Parzinger said the step was necessary because Iran still hadn’t cleared the works’ export and it wasn’t possible to delay the Berlin museums’ plans any further.
Turkey says no confirmation IS ‘burned soldiers’
Turkey on Tuesday says it has no confirmation of a video published by Islamic State (IS) jihadists purportedly showing the burning to death of two Turkish troops captured in Syria.
After users in Turkey reported problems using social media in the wake of the release of the video, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus says it is essential that internet-based media show responsibility in the face of “vile” terror groups.
Islamic State jihadists last week circulated a video purportedly showing two Turkish soldiers captured by the extremists in Syria being burned alive.
“There is still no clear information from our armed forces or defense ministry to confirm these video images,” Kurtulmus tells reporters in Ankara in televised comments.
“If there is confirmed information, it will be shared with the public,” he says.
But Kurtulmus adds that terror groups were “vile mechanisms” and were seeking to “spread desperation” through fear.
“In particular social media is not the place for irresponsible publications,” he said. “Turkey is at the moment in a de facto war with Daesh (IS),” he adds.
Police want Arab MK released to house arrest
The Israel Police are asking the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court to release Joint (Arab) List MK Basel Ghattas’ to 45 days of house arrest, according to Hebrew reports.
Ghattas, of the Balad party, which is part of the Joint (Arab) List faction, was arrested on Friday after waiving his parliamentary immunity amid accusations that he smuggled cellphones, SIM cards and coded messages to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prison.
Defense Ministry weighs motels for discharged lone soldiers
The Defense Ministry is considering opening motels for discharged lone IDF soldiers, where they may stay for a transition period of up to a year after their release from military service, the ministry says in a tweet.
Arab MK freed to 10 days of house arrest
Arab lawmaker Basel Ghattas, accused of smuggling cellphones, SIM cards, and coded messages to Palestinian prisoners, is released from police custody to 10 days of house arrest.
Ghattas will be permitted to go to the Knesset during this period, a court rules.
According to Channel 10, he will not be allowed to leave the country for 180 days.
Ghattas will be able to roam freely in parliament
Under the terms of his release to house arrest, Ghattas will be accompanied to the Knesset entrance by court-approved monitors, but will face no restrictions once inside Israel’s parliament.
He is banned from visiting any prisoners, entering jail facilities, or leaving the country for 180 days, according to police.
Arab Israelis arrested for planning attacks on soldiers
The Shin Bet security agency says it busted an Israeli Arab terror cell in November. The suspects were planning to attack IDF soldiers in southern Israel in retaliation for Israel’s decision to outlaw the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.
Two of the suspects — Muhammad Masri, 37, of Beersheba, and Abd Allah Abu Ayash, 26, from Kasifa — are accused of plotting to attack soldiers at three possible locations: Dimona, Arad, and the Nevatim base in the Negev Desert.
According to the Shin Bet, Masri was imprisoned for 12 years for planning an attack on a Herzliya wedding hall.
Three other Arab Israelis have been arrested in connection with the planned attack, according to the Shin Bet.
Masri and Abu Ayash will be indicted in the coming days, it says.
Candidate for Romania’s first female, Muslim PM rejected
Romania’s president sparks fresh political turmoil Tuesday after rejecting a proposal by the election-winning leftist party to name the EU country’s first female and first Muslim prime minister.
Klaus Iohannis gives no reasons for his rejection of Sevil Shhaideh, put forward by the Social Democrats (PSD), but there was speculation that it may be due to her Syrian husband’s background.
“I have properly analyzed the arguments for and against and I have decided not to accept this proposal,” the president tells reporters in a televised statement.
“I call on the PSD coalition to make another proposal,” Iohannis says.
The PSD had suggested the previously little-known Shhaideh, 52, after its thumping poll victory on December 11 when it won 45 percent of the vote.
Suspect in jail phone smuggling case detained for 3 days
The remand for the brother of a convicted terrorist who is suspected of giving cellphones and other contraband to MK Basel Ghattas is extended by three days.
Ghattas then allegedly smuggled them to the man’s relative — Walid Daka — and another security prisoner jailed in Israel.
Ghattas: ‘I don’t regret what I’ve done for security prisoners’
Upon leaving the courtroom for house arrest, a defiant Ghattas says: “I don’t regret anything I’ve done for security prisoners, it is my duty to help my people,” according to the Ynet news website.
Ghattas says he’s met with Palestinian prisoners for years and tries to help them, without breaking the law, according to the report.
Austrian rabbis rap Russia’s chief rabbi for meeting head of far-right party
Rabbis in Vienna condemn the chief rabbi of Russia for meeting the head of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party.
Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar met this week with Heinz-Christian Strache and his delegation at his office in Moscow, the UK Jewish News reported.
The meeting came two weeks after the Freedom Party candidate for Austria’s president lost by a narrow margin in the country’s presidential election.
A spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, which is headed by Lazar, told the Jewish News that the meeting was not a stamp of approval on Strache, but rather a “duty.”
“Rabbi Lazar is ready to meet everyone and have dialogue with everyone. He has met during career with Russian nationalists and seen good results. We believe talks are much better than pogroms,” the spokesman told the Jewish News.
Vienna-based Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister called the meeting “astonishing, bizarre, worrisome.” He said that meeting with the members of the Freedom Party “implies they are kosher.” He added: “The simple question is why and what for? If the intention is to gain any sort of gratefulness or political favoritism from fascists, then it is simply disgusting.”
Arie Folger, the chief rabbi of Vienna, said that it is possible that Strache is more open to Jews but that his party “continues to harbor people who really don’t like us, as well as people who while they might not dislike us, nonetheless see us as fair collateral damage in their opposition to Muslims,” on issues such as ritual slaughter.
6 attacks foiled in Belgium since November 2014, police say
Belgium has prevented six attacks over the past two years, a senior police official says Tuesday, with the country still a prominent target for jihadist assaults.
“I can announce… that over two years, since November 2014 precisely, we have been able to foil at least six attacks,” Eric Jacobs, head of judicial police in Brussels, says in an interview with the daily La Derniere Heure, without offering further details.
Jacobs says Belgium has been fighting terrorism for 20 years but with population growing in the Belgian capital, the number of groups has multiplied.
“There are more than 200 nationalities in the capital. There is not only Daesh (an acronym for Islamic State). There are other radical movements,” he says.
NY AG says Trump can’t dissolve foundation during probe
The New York State attorney general’s office says Donald Trump must freeze his plan to dismantle his charitable foundation because state prosecutors are probing whether the president-elect personally benefited from its spending.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says in a statement Tuesday that the Donald J. Trump Foundation is still under investigation “and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete.”
The statement came after Trump announced he wanted to dissolve the charitable organization in what his presidential transition team says is an effort to erase any potential conflicts of interest before he takes office January 20.
But the foundation’s inner workings have been the subject of Schneiderman’s investigation for months and could remain a thorny issue for Trump’s incoming administration.
Minister says no one has ‘such a connection’ to land like Israelis
Unveiling a plaque in Jerusalem’s Old City, Culture Minister Miri Regev says no nation has stronger ties to their land than the Jews have to Israel.
“Mr. President Barack Obama, I am standing here, on Hanukkah 5777, on the route on which my forefathers walked 2,000 years ago. No resolution in any international forum is as strong as the steadfast stones on this street,” she says, referring to a UN Security Council resolution passed Friday which slams settlements.
“No other people in the world has such a connection and link to its land, neither in Senegal, New Zealand, Ukraine nor Malaysia,” she says, mentioning the countries that supported the resolution.
Israel won’t be US’s ‘punching bag,’ says official
Doubling down on its public break with the Obama administration, a furious Israeli government on Tuesday says it had received “ironclad” information from Arab sources that Washington actively helped craft last week’s UN resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has long had a cool relationship with President Barack Obama, has called the resolution “shameful” and accused the US of playing a leading role in its passage.
On Tuesday, his spokesman goes further.
“We have ironclad information that emanates from sources in the Arab world and that shows the Obama administration helped craft this resolution and pushed hard for its eventual passage,” David Keyes says.
“We’re not just going to be a punching bag and go quietly into the night as the Obama administration helps push such a grave resolution,” he says.
He does not identify the Arab sources or say how Israel obtained the information. Israel has close security ties with Egypt, an original sponsor of last week’s resolution. Under heavy Israeli pressure, Egypt delayed the resolution last week before other council members presented it for a vote a day later. Egypt ended up voting in favor of the measure.
Trump taps Bossert as homeland security aide
President-elect Donald Trump is tapping an experienced national security adviser to serve as assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.
A statement from Trump’s transition team Tuesday says Thomas Bossert will advise the president on issues related to homeland security, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity, and he will coordinate the cabinet’s process for formulating and executing related policy.
Bossert is the president of the risk management consulting firm CDS Consulting. He previously served as deputy assistant to the president for homeland security under president George W. Bush.
The statement says Bossert will focus on domestic and transnational security priorities alongside the work of Trump’s pick for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
France school named for Anne Frank hit with anti-Semitic graffiti
Anti-Jewish and anti-Roma graffiti were 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, was discovered on Sunday afternoon, the French daily Le Parisian reports.
The graffiti 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.
There were no security cameras in place to help identify the vandals.
Police have launched an investigation into the incident. Municipal workers on Monday painted over the graffiti. Local officials condemned the incident.
“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.
Israel to unseal documents in Yemenite children affair
Documents relating to the missing Yemenite Children affair, originally sealed in the state archives until 2071, will be made public on Wednesday morning after the government approved the declassification.
Information pertaining to adoption, medical and autopsy records, and welfare details will remain under lock and key, though families can privately access these files.
‘Watership Down’ author Adams dies aged 96
British author Richard Adams, the author of the much-loved classic novel Watership Down about a community of rabbits, has died at the age of 96, a statement on the book’s website says on Tuesday.
“Richard’s much-loved family announce with sadness that their dear father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away peacefully at 10 pm (2200 GMT) on Christmas Eve,” the statement says.
The tear-jerking tale is about a group of rabbits searching for a new home after the destruction of their warren, encountering perils along the way.
The book, his first novel, was published in 1972, made into an animated film in 1978 and was later into a television series which ran from 1999 to 2001. He told an interviewer that the book started out as a story he told his two young daughters during a long car journey and the novel is dedicated to them.
The book is taught in British schools and he even created “Lapine,” a fictional language, for it. Adams also wrote Shardik and The Plague Dogs.
Judge indicts former Argentine president in corruption case
An Argentine judge has indicted former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in a corruption case involving public works.
Federal Judge Julian Ercolini on Tuesday approves charges of illicit association and fraudulent administration against de Kirchner, as well as businessman Lazaro Baez, whose company allegedly benefited from irregular contracts. Two former cabinet ministers also were named.
‘Star Wars’ actress Carrie Fisher dead at 60 — report
“Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher has died at the age of 60 , days after suffering a heart attack on a transatlantic flight, People magazine reports.
— People Magazine (@people) December 27, 2016
Daughter’s publicist confirms Fisher death
Fisher, who played Princess Leia in ‘Star Wars,’ has died at age 60, the publicist for the actress’s daughter confirms to the Associated Press.
‘Perfectly obvious’ West supporting IS, Erdogan says
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday says the West was breaking promises in Syria, accusing Ankara’s partners of backing “terror groups” including IS jihadists in the country.
“The coalition forces are unfortunately not keeping their promises,” Erdogan says at a news conference alongside visiting Guinean President Alpha Conde.
“Whether they do or they don’t, we will continue along this path in a determined way. There is no going back on the path we have set out on,” he adds.
Turkey has met the fiercest resistance yet of the campaign in the fight for Al-Bab, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of the Turkish border.
Erdogan complains that rather than supporting Turkey, the West was backing the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD), who work with the United States on the ground in Syria, and also IS.
“They are supporting all the terror groups — the YPG, PYD but also including Daesh (IS),” Erdogan says.
“It’s quite clear, perfectly obvious,” he says, adding that Turkey could provide proof in pictures and video.
Erdogan had made a similar claim on a visit to Pakistan in November alleging that “the West stands by Daesh right now” and its weapons were Western-made.
Shin Bet chief says 400 terror attacks foiled this year
At an award ceremony for the Shin Bet security agency, the head of the service Nadav Argaman says 400 “significant” terror attacks were foiled in the past year.
“We are gathered here this evening to express gratitude to our people, thanks to whom unique and unprecedented missions were advanced and implemented,” he says. “Missions that led to intelligence achievements and thwarted significant [attacks]. The quality intelligence, advanced technology, and excellent human capital — it is in their merit, that the Shin Bet thwarted over 400 significant attacks.”
Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praises the agents who “demonstrated creativity, boldness, sophistication and exceptional courage.”
“Many civilian lives were saved thanks to the amazing counterterrorism operations led by the Shin Bet,” which combined “advanced technological means, groundbreaking cyber technology and in particular creativity and relentless determination,” the prime minister says.
Kerry, Rice told Palestinians to play nice before January 20 — report
US Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice reportedly advised the Palestinian Authority to avoid any “provocative” action before the January 20 inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, Israel’s Channel 1 reports on Tuesday night, citing the Egyptian Al-Youm Al-Sabea newspaper.
Trump and Rice urged the Palestinians against taking steps that would be deemed controversial by the incoming Trump administration, such as ending security cooperation with Israel, pursuing legal action against Israeli officials in the ICC, or dissolving the Palestinian Authority, the report says.
According to a Channel 1 reporter, Kerry promised the Palestinians the US’s “full cooperation,” while Rice reportedly praised Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat for predicting four years ago that Netanyahu is not in favor of the two-state solution.
Kerry, Rice promised to support ‘balanced’ UN resolution — report
In the transcript of the meeting between Kerry, Rice and Palestinian officials, the US leaders said they were willing to support a “balanced” UN resolution, according to Egyptian media.
According to the report, Kerry and Rice claimed Netanyahu was seeking to destroy the two-state solution.
Kerry is quoted as saying that he could present his ideas for a final status solution, if the Palestinians pledge they will support the proposed framework. The US officials advised the Palestinians to travel to Riyadh to present the plan to Saudi leaders.
But Rice is then quoted saying that it would be pointless to push a peace initiative at this point, saying the “dangerous” Trump administration will reverse any attempts to broker an accord. Trump will act differently on matters of Israeli-Palestinian peace than any of his predecessors since 1967, she predicts, according to the report.
Erekat reportedly says that if Trump moves the embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority will rescind its recognition of Israel and will ask Arab states to oust their US envoys.