The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Lebanese PM Hariri revokes resignation after consensus deal
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has formally rescinded his resignation following a consensus deal reached with rival political parties.
The announcement came at the end of the first cabinet meeting to be held since Lebanon was thrown into a political crisis following Hariri’s stunning November 4 move.
Hariri shocked the nation with his bizarre resignation in a televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia last month, citing Hezbollah’s meddling in in regional affairs as a main reason for stepping down.
Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, attended by Hariri, endorsed a statement that calls on rival Lebanese groups to distance themselves from regional conflicts and the internal affairs of Arab countries.
Hariri heads a coalition government that includes ministers from the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
Red Cross says 234 killed in clashes in Yemen’s Sana’a
The International Committee of the Red Cross says that as many as 234 people have been killed in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in street fighting this month between the country’s Shiite rebels and the supporters of the slain former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The ICRC says that another 400 people have been wounded in the clashes, which first erupted last week as the alliance between the rebels and Saleh’s followers crumbled.
It’s not clear how many civilians are among the dead.
The casualty tolls provided by the ICRC are separate from those sustained in airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition which is waging war on the rebels, known as Houthis. The ICRC didn’t provide a toll from the near-daily airstrikes.
Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders says patients were evacuated from a hospital in the northern province of Hajja, which is under Houthi control, after it came under airstrikes on Sunday.
Steve Purbrick, MSF’s coordinator in Hajja, described the attack as a “deliberate disregard for medical facilities” that endangered the lives of patients and medical staff, and compromised “the care MSF can provide in the midst of intense fighting.”
Labor chief confirms Israel carried out Syria airstrike last night
Labor chairman Avi Gabbay confirms that last night’s airstrike targeting a Syrian military installation on the outskirts of Damascus was carried out by Israeli warplanes.
“Firstly, I want ti congratulate the air force for another successful attack in Syria, he says at the start of an interview with the Ynet news website.
“I think the moves that are being made in Syria are extremely important militarily, because in the end, Syria — or should I say Hezbollah, Iran and Syria — are a threat to us, especially when it comes to missile warfare.”
Israel has for years been widely believed to have carried out airstrikes on advanced weapons systems in Syria — including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles — as well as Hezbollah positions, but it rarely confirms such operations on an individual basis.
Islamic State claims Syria bomb attack that killed 8
Syrian state media and an opposition monitoring group say an explosion has ripped through a van near the central city of Homs, killing at least eight people.
The Islamic State group claimed the attack in Akarma, a government stronghold south of Homs.
IS says it targeted a bus carrying Syrian soldiers, but the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those killed were civilians, including six women.
Syrian state TV has aired images of the van’s charred body, as well as damaged vehicles nearby. State news agency SANA says eight people were killed and 18 wounded.
Homs, Syria’s third largest city, is frequently hit by bombs. The city was known as the “capital of the revolution” following the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad, but is now under government control.
Egypt says Mubarak-era security chief arrested
Egyptian police have arrested a former interior minister who has been in hiding since his April conviction on corruption charges, the state news agency reports.
The report does not say where Habib el-Adly was arrested.
El-Adly, 79, served as interior minister in charge of police for more than a decade under ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. His time in office saw a dramatic increase in police brutality, one of the main grievances underlying the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak.
El-Adly is appealing his conviction.
Both Mubarak and el-Adly were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for their part in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising. They successfully appealed the conviction and have since been acquitted.
Disabled rights activists brawl at the Knesset
A brawl broke out at the Knesset earlier today between groups of disability rights activists who were attending a Labor and Welfare Committee meeting that was discussing increased state benefits.
Knesset security personnel were forced to break up the fight and restrain some of the activists after different groups disagreed about the best possible solution. One man, Arik Harari, tried to stab another person with a pen, and was thrown out of the session.
Outside in the Knesset hallway the fighting continued, with one person trying to attack another with a glass bottle, forcing security officials to again intervene.
Palestinian teens arrested for damaging Jewish-owned cars in East Jerusalem
Police arrest six Palestinian teenagers in East Jerusalem who are suspected of attempting to set fire to Jewish-owned cars in the neighborhood of A Tur.
In a statement, police say the teens threw firebombs at two vehicles in recent weeks, causing damage. It said an investigation into the incident revealed the six were “directly involved” in the vandalism.
The suspects are between 15 and 17 years old.
Hariri to return to Paris Friday for Lebanon meeting
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri will attend talks in Paris Friday on the crisis triggered by his recent resignation announcement to be attended by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, France says.
“The aim is to support the political process (in Lebanon) at a crucial moment,” the French foreign ministry says, minutes after Hariri announced he had rescinded his resignation.
Saudi Arabia calls for Yemen free of ‘Iran-backed militias’
Saudi Arabia calls for a Yemen free of “militias supported by Iran,” in its first official statement since rebels killed their erstwhile ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
“The Saudi Arabian cabinet expresses the hope that the uprising of the Yemeni people against the sectarian terrorist Huthi militias supported by Iran will free Yemen of abuse, death threats and the appropriation of public and private property,” it says in a statement published on the official SPA news agency.
The statement made no mention of Saleh, who was killed yesterday by Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels.
Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 33 years, was for decades an ally of Saudi Arabia before joining ranks with the Shiite Huthis in 2014.
Saleh’s ties to the rebels, strained for months, were dealt a major blow on Saturday when he announced he was again open to talks with Saudi Arabia and its allies, who had been fighting the Saleh-Huthi camp for nearly three years.
Iran — which Riyadh accuses of arming the Huthis — also said today that Yemen would fight back against “aggressors”, a jab at Saudi Arabia.
Iran denies it arms the Huthis.
EU calls on US to stick to Iran nuclear deal
The European Union’s top diplomat says the United States stepping away from a landmark nuclear deal would be counterproductive and insists other disputes with Tehran should be tackled otherwise.
Federica Mogherini says after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the EU attaches great importance on upholding the agreement, adding that scrapping the deal “would not put us in a better position to discuss all the rest, on the contrary.”
Under the 2015 accord, Iran curbed its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of international economic sanctions.
Tillerson stresses, however, that “Iran is carrying out a number of other destabilizing activities throughout the region” and called for joint action to counter it.
Tel Aviv deputy mayor implicated in widening Bitan corruption probe
Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Arnon Giladi is the latest suspect to be named in the widening corruption probe into coalition chairman David Bitan.
According to the Ynet news website, Giladi was questioned for several hours at the Lahav 433 Serious Crimes Unit headquarters in Lod.
According to the report, investigators suspect Giladi accepted money from Bitan in the bribery and money laundering scheme.
Bitan is suspected of having accepted a bribe from a crime figure in return for swaying a real estate tender in his favor when he served as deputy mayor of Rishon Lezion between 2005 and 2015.
Bitan was questioned by Lahav investigators for over 13 hours on Monday.
Yesterday, a police source said that police have significant evidence against Bitan.
Toddler chokes to death at Rishon Lezion daycare
A 2-year-old boy is pronounced dead at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center after losing consciousness at a Rishon Lezion daycare earlier in the afternoon.
Police and doctors suspect the toddler choked on food during mealtime.
The boy’s body will undergo an autopsy to determine the cause of his death. Police have opened an investigation into the incident.
Trump calls Abbas amid Jerusalem speculation
US President Donald Trump calls Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas amid speculation the White House was planning to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a Palestinian official says.
The official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, did not provide any details of the conversation.
The phone call comes as Palestinian leaders warn that US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would ruin Trump’s efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Hotovely says no bad blood after Netanyahu rebuke over US Jews remarks
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely tells Hadashot news that she and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have are on good terms again, after her disparaging remarks about American Jews last week saw her publicly rebuked by the prime minister.
She also tells the TV station that Israel would welcome a “game changing” announcement by US President Donald Trump declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
German FM says recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli capital ‘counterproductive’
Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabirel says a change in US policy that would officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would be “counterproductive” to reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
“A solution to the Jerusalem problem can only be found through direct negotiations between the two parties,” Gabriel tells reporters in Berlin.
“Anything that escalates the crisis during these times is counterproductive,” he adds.
US President Donald Trump had been due to make a decision decision on the Holy City on yesterday, but delayed it by several days following a string of public and private warnings from leaders around the globe.
Trump to call Netanyahu, Jordan king as Jerusalem decision looms
The White House says US President Donald Trump to call Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan amid speculation the president is planning to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
A statement says Trump will likely call other foreign leaders over the issue later today.
Iran commander welcomes end of Yemen ‘plot’
The head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard says a plot against Yemen’s Shiite rebels was “nipped in the bud,” apparently referring to the killing of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The rebels killed Saleh yesterday, days after he broke off his alliance with them against a Saudi-led coalition. Iran supports the rebels, known as Houthis, but denies arming them.
Yesterday, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying that Saudi Arabia, “on behalf of the US and the Zionist regime (Israel), has a very important role in creating insecurity” in the Middle East.
Yemen’s civil war has emerged as one of the main battlegrounds in the Saudi-Iranian rivalry for regional influence.
Abbas says Trump ‘intends’ to move US embassy to Jerusalem
US President Donald Trump briefs Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the phone regarding “his intention” to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Abbas tells Trump that the Palestinian position is “that there will not be a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital,” according to a report in the official PA news outlet Wafa.
It was not clear from the statement if Trump planned to move the embassy immediately or at some point in the future, with no further details provided.
The Palestinian leader says such a move would undermine the two-state solution and would promote violence and extremism across the region.
Abbas’s spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh says the PA president will continue to be in touch with world leaders to prevent what he called the “unacceptable action.”
— Dov Lieber
Longest-serving US congressman retires after sex harassment claims
Veteran Democrat John Conyers announces he is retiring from the US House of Representatives after more than five decades in office, following a series of sexual harassment accusations by former staffers.
“I am retiring today,” Conyers, 88, tells a Detroit radio station, as he became the first to step down among four serving US lawmakers facing sexual misconduct allegations.
Speaking from an unnamed hospital where he is reportedly being treated for stress-related complications, the longest-serving member of Congress maintains that the allegations against him “are not true.”
He also takes the opportunity to endorse his son, John Conyers III, to replace him in his congressional seat.
The lawmaker was abandoned by party leadership when the seriousness of the allegations against him became apparent.
Trump also tells Jordan king of ‘intention’ to move embassy
US President Donald Trump in a phone call tells Jordan’s King Abdullah II of his “intention” to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Royal Hashemite court says.
The Jordanian king warns Trump of the “danger” the measure will have if taken outside the framework of a comprehensive solution for a Palestinian state. He also warns it will have “dangerous repercussions” for peace and stability throughout the region.
Trump earlier also told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of his “intention” to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
Abdullah ha reassured Abbas that his government has “full support for preserving our Palestinian brothers’ historical rights in Jerusalem.”
— Dov Lieber
Arab MK says moving US embassy to Jerusalem is ‘diplomatic terrorism’
Joint (Arab) List MK Ahmad Tibi says US President Donald Trump’s “intention” to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem amounts to “diplomatic terrorism.”
“This is an unreasonable move that is in violation of international law,” he says. “It’s ridiculous that President Trump’s campaign promise ends up being ‘diplomatic terrorism,’ which will seriously damage the vision for two states.”
“The US administration proves this time that they are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” Tibi says.
Arab Knesset leader brands Trump a ‘pyromaniac’ for embassy move
Joint (Arab) List leader Ayman Odeh calls Trump a “pyromaniac” after reports said he told regional leaders of his “intention” to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“Trump is a pyromaniac, and will set the entire region ablaze with his madness,” Odeh says in a statement. “If one thing has been made clear in recent days, it’s that the US should not remain the broker of talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“If the Israeli government wants the world to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, all it has to do is recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.”
Abbas spokesman says PA rejects a US embassy in Jerusalem
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesperson says the Ramallah-based government rejects the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as it would mean Washington “officially recognizes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” PA’s official news agency Wafa reports.
Court extends remand of Bitan’s driver and Knesset aide
The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extends by three days the remand of Shaul Haknaani, the personal chauffeur and parliamentary assistant to coalition chairman David Bitan.
Bitan is at the center of a widening corruption investigation. Police suspect the Likud MK accepted a bribe from a crime figure in return for swaying a real estate tender in his favor when he served as deputy mayor of Rishon Lezion between 2005 and 2015.
Bitan was questioned by Lahav investigators for over 13 hours on Monday.
Yesterday, a police source said that police have significant evidence against Bitan.
No injuries as shots fired at Israeli bus in northern West Bank
Shots are fired at an Israeli bus traveling through the northern West Bank, causing no injuries, the army says.
The military says the attack happened along a road near the Palestinian village of Yabad, west of Jenin.
“IDF troops are searching the area,” the army says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Egypt warns of ‘dangerous repercussions’ if Trump moves US embassy to Jerusalem
Egypt warns of “possible dangerous repercussions” if US President Donald Trump follows through on plans to recognize contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
According to reports, Trump called called Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to discuss his controversial campaign promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry says Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had discussed the matter with his French counterpart. It says they called on the Trump administration to wait and reconsider.
French President Emmanuel Macron earlier said he reminded Trump in a phone call that the fate of Jerusalem should be determined in negotiations on setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Macron said he expressed concern about any possible unilateral US moves and that he agreed with Trump “to speak again shortly on this subject.”
US officials have said Trump may recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a highly charged declaration that risks inflaming tensions across the Middle East but would be a way to offset a likely decision delaying his campaign promise to move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
— with AP
Abbas urges Russia’s Putin, Morocco king to help stop Trump moves on Jerusalem
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to help stop US President Donald Trump from moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In separate conversations with both leaders, Abbas underscores the need for “everyone to protect Jerusalem and its Islamic and Christian holy sites,” the official PA news agency Wafa reports.
— Dov Lieber
Egypt’s Sissi urges Trump not to ‘complicate the region’ by moving embassy
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi tells US President Donald Trump in a phone call that Egypt opposes moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Sissi’s spokesperson Bassam Radhi says Trump called the Egyptian to discuss the “planned decision to by the American administration to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.”
Sissi, according to his spokesperson, tells Trump the Egyptian position is “to maintain the legal status of Jerusalem in the framework of international…decisions.”
The Egyptian leader affirms “the necessity of not complicating the state of the region by taking measures that would undermine the chances for peace in the Middle East.”
— Dov Lieber
Abbas urges Pope Francis to intervene against embassy move
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is urging Pope Francis to help prevent US President Donald Trump from moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“President Abbas spoke after his call with President Trump with the presidents of Russia and France, with the Pope and with King Abdullah of Jordan, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah tells Reuters. “He told them such a move was rejected and he urged them to intervene to prevent it from happening.”
Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital, but will delay embassy move — report
US President Donald Trump intends to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday, but will sign a waiver that will delay his controversial campaign promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the New York Times reports.
US officials have said Trump may recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a highly charged declaration that risks inflaming tensions across the Middle East but would be a way to offset a likely decision delaying his vow to move the US embassy.
The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and have warned they would halt contacts with Washington if Trump makes unilateral decisions about the status of the city.
US bars diplomatic staff from Old City, West Bank amid Jerusalem tensions
The US Consulate General in Jerusalem is banning its workers from the capital’s Old City and the West Bank amid heightened tensions over US President Donald Trump’s expected announcement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
A statement from the consulate cites “widespread calls for demonstrations” starting tomorrow, and urges all US government employees to avoid “areas where crowds have gathered and where there is increased police and/or military presence.”
Earlier, the Hamas terrorist group called for a “Day of Rage” in response to reports that Trump is expected to announce the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in a speech tomorrow.
UN warns against unilateral action on Jerusalem
The UN says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opposes any unilateral action on Jerusalem that could undermine a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric tells reporters at UN headquarters in New York that “we’ve always regarded Jerusalem as a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations by the two parties based on relevant Security Council resolutions.”
Dujarric says the United Nations is waiting to see an official announcement from US President Donald Trump on whether he intends to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move Israel strongly supports and the Palestinians vehemently oppose.
Arab and Muslim countries have warned that such an announcement, or a US declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, could harm fragile Mideast peace efforts.
Jordan calls emergency Arab League meeting over Trump’s Jerusalem moves
Jordan has called to convene emergency meetings of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation over the weekend to discuss US President Donald Trump’s expected announcement declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“These meetings will coordinate Arab and Islamic stances towards the (Trump) decision.. Jerusalem is a Palestinian, Jordanian, Islamic, and Christian issue and any attempts to decide its fate unilaterally are null and void,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi tells Reuters.
Hamas leader: Embassy move ‘crosses all red lines,’ says ‘all options on the table’
Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh says a possible announcement by US President Donald Trump moving the US embassy to Jerusalem crosses “all red lines.”
He says the Palestinian people will “not allow this scheme to pass,” and that “all options are now on the table to defend the Arab identity of Jerusalem.”
Earlier, the Gaza-based terrorist group called for a “Day of Rage” as speculation mounts over whether Trump will sign a waiver keeping the US embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv or fulfill a campaign promise and move it to Jerusalem — de facto recognizing Israel’s claim on the disputed city.
US officials say he will hold off on moving the embassy right away, but may issue a statement reiterating his intent and even go as far as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Saudi king warns ‘dangerous’ US Jerusalem embassy move will ‘inflame’ Muslim world
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman warns US President Donald Trump that moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem before a ans Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement is reached will inflame the Muslim world.
State news agency SPA says that King Salman told Trump that Saudi Arabia supports the Palestinian people and their historic rights, asserting that “such a dangerous step is likely to inflame the passions of Muslims around the world due to the great status of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques asserted to His Excellency the US president that any American announcement regarding the situation of Jerusalem prior to reaching a permanent settlement will harm peace talks and increase tensions in the area,” he added.