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Netanyahu slams Gantz: ‘Shame on you, I risked my life time after time’

PM reacts to Israel Resilience party chief’s scathing attack in which he said that while he was fighting in the IDF, Netanyahu was in TV studios and taking acting classes in the US

  • Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right. (Flash90)
    Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right. (Flash90)
  • Israel Resilience party chief Benny Gantz speaks at a party gathering in Tel Aviv on February 19, 2019, in a speech in which he castigated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Israel Resilience party chief Benny Gantz speaks at a party gathering in Tel Aviv on February 19, 2019, in a speech in which he castigated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 17, 2019. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 17, 2019. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)
  • A picture taken on February 19, 2019, shows swastikas painted on graves at a Jewish cemetery in the French town of Quatzenheim close to the German border (Frederick Florin/AFP)
    A picture taken on February 19, 2019, shows swastikas painted on graves at a Jewish cemetery in the French town of Quatzenheim close to the German border (Frederick Florin/AFP)
  • A poster reading 'Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Racism, Not in Our Name" during a gathering decrying anti-Semitism at Place de la Republique in Paris, February 18, 2019 amid an upsurge in anti-Semitism in France. (AP/Francois Mori)
    A poster reading 'Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Racism, Not in Our Name" during a gathering decrying anti-Semitism at Place de la Republique in Paris, February 18, 2019 amid an upsurge in anti-Semitism in France. (AP/Francois Mori)
  • Israel Katz attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on February 17, 2019. (Sebastian Scheiner/Pool/AFP)
    Israel Katz attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on February 17, 2019. (Sebastian Scheiner/Pool/AFP)

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

Bernie Sanders says he’s running for US president in 2020

US Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announces that he is running for president in 2020.

“Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump,” the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist from Vermont says in an email to supporters. “Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”

An enthusiastic progressive who embraces proposals ranging from Medicare for All to free college tuition, Sanders stunned the Democratic establishment in 2016 with his spirited challenge to Hillary Clinton. While she ultimately became the party’s nominee, his campaign helped lay the groundwork for the leftward lurch that has dominated Democratic politics in the Trump era.

The question now for Sanders is whether he can stand out in a crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates who also embrace many of his policy ideas and are newer to the national political stage. That’s far different from 2016, when he was Clinton’s lone progressive adversary.

— AP

Austrian leader expects US to discuss IS fighters during visit

Austria’s leader says he expects US officials to bring up their desire for European countries to take back captured Islamic State group fighters when he visits Washington this week, but he is “very cautious” on the issue.

Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz at the AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem, June 11, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is to meet US President Donald Trump tomorrow. The Austria Press Agency reports that he told reporters in Vienna today: “I don’t think you can really prepare for a meeting with Donald Trump.”

However, he said he assumes the Americans will bring up European citizens who fought for IS in Syria after Trump demanded allies take them back and try them. Kurz said there are a few cases that Austria will examine.

He added: “We are very cautious here. For us, protecting the Austrian population of course takes priority.”

— AP

Gatherings against anti-Semitism take place across France

Marches and rallies against anti-Semitism are taking place across France following a series of anti-Semitic acts that shocked the country.

Former French presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy are set to join thousands of protesters and government members on the streets later today.

A poster reading “Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Racism, Not in Our Name” during a gathering decrying anti-Semitism at Place de la Republique in Paris, February 18, 2019 amid an upsurge in anti-Semitism in France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

The recent upsurge in anti-Semitism in France, home to the world’s largest Jewish population outside Israel and the United States, reached a climax last weekend with a torrent of hate speech directed at prominent philosopher Alain Finkielkraut during a march of yellow vest anti-government protesters.

The assault came days after the government reported a big rise in incidents of anti-Semitism last year: 541 registered incidents, up 74 percent from the 311 registered in 2017.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will lead a group of government officials at the main rally at Paris’s famed Republic Square. In addition to the marches, French President Emmanuel Macron, National Assembly president Richard Ferrand and the head of Senate Gerard Larcher will hold a moment of silence at the Shoah memorial in Paris.

Macron is not expected to attend the gathering at the Republic Square, but will deliver a speech at tomorrow’s annual dinner by leading Jewish group CRIF.

— AP

Iran oil exports increase despite renewed US sanctions — report

Despite renewed US sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic’s oil exports have risen in the first 1.5 months of 2019 and have been higher than expected, the Reuters news agency reports, citing tanker data and industry sources.

Shipments averaged between 1.1 and 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, higher than was first thought, the report says.

So far in February, they have been at 1.25 million bpd, it adds, citing data from Refinitiv Eikon.

Sanders calls 2020 bid a ‘continuation’ of 2016

US Sen. Bernie Sanders is describing his new White House bid as a “continuation of what we did in 2016.”

Sanders notes that policies he advocated for in 2016 are now embraced by the Democratic Party.

Sanders says, “You know what’s happened in over three years? All of these ideas and many more are now part of the political mainstream.”

Sanders was asked on CBS whether he believes the Democratic Party has come his way. He says, “I don’t want to say that. Most people would say that.”

Sanders announced his 2020 presidential bid earlier today. The 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist challenged Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary in 2016.

— AP

US charity opens cancer ward for children in Gaza

A US charity has inaugurated the first children’s cancer department in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The $3 million department, sponsored by the Palestine Children Relief Fund, will help many children avoid the difficult journey of exiting the blockaded area for treatment in Israel and the West Bank, often without an accompanying parent.

At today’s opening, it is called “a symbol of hope.”

The facility — a new floor at Gaza’s pediatric hospital — will provide chemotherapy, though bone marrow transplants and nuclear medicine won’t be available.

The fund says it has an agreement with the World Health Organization to secure free movement of samples to labs in Israel or Jordan.

Israel and Egypt blockaded Gaza, home to 2 million people, when the jihadist Hamas group seized power there in 2007.

— AP

PM said to offer ministerial position to Eli Yishai if he unites with Jewish Home

Hebrew-language media reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday with far-right Yachad party leader Eli Yishai and promised to offer him a ministerial position if he accepts Jewish Home’s merger proposal.

According to the deal, Yishai would become 8th on the unified Knesset slate in the upcoming Knesset elections. Netanyahu has been pushing for a merger between right-wing and far right parties, fearing wasted votes if some run alone and don’t gather enough votes to get into the parliament.

Yishai’s associates say that nevertheless, he is leaning toward rejecting the offer.

Leader of the Yachad political party Eli Yishai on his campaign tour, March 08, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Netanyahu, Czech PM agree to organize G2G meeting in Prague this year

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets in Jerusalem with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, and the two leaders agree to hold an inter-governmental meeting “very soon” in Prague.

“The support of your country for Israel has been through thick and thin,” Netanyahu says, according to a statement by his office. “Your country knows what it means to be a small democracy surrounded by hostile forces much bigger than them fighting for its survival and its freedom.”

“We intend to take this up in the G2G meeting very soon and I want to assure you that the room for cooperation between us is boundless,” Netanyahu adds. “I really believe that our two countries working together can achieve great things for both our peoples.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in Jerusalem on February 19, 2019. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

He says that Israel’s goal in the meeting will be to “conclude some important agreements, including some military agreements, but equally to work on matters of technology and innovation, including the question of helping with Israeli expertise to address some of the Czech Republic’s water problems.

Babis, on his first visit to Israel, says: “Israel is our strategic partner in the Middle East. We have excellent cooperation and that is why the Czech Republic is highly interested to continue in consultation between our governments.”

“Our mutual trade is doing very well. It’s increasing. We’re selling our Skoda Auto cars here and Tatra [cars]. When you finally come to Prague for the G2G I’m sure that we will finalize this acquisition of Israeli mobile air defense radar,” he adds, saying the meeting will happen this year.

Two arrested after man shot by air rifle outside Paris-area synagogue

French police arrest two teenagers in a suburb of Paris on suspicion that they wounded a person while firing an air rifle at a synagogue on Shabbat.

The two teenagers lightly wounded a passerby near the synagogue of Sarcelles on Friday by shooting a lead projectile into his calf, the AFP news agency reports. A court clarifies that they are not being investigated as suspects in an anti-Semitic hate crime over the incident.

The two alleged shooters are aged 15 and 16, the Le Parisien newspaper reports.

They staked out the synagogue from a balcony overlooking the building on Friday night, as worshipers began to gather there.

Moise Kahloun, the president of the Jewish community of Sarcelles, says he does not believe the attack was anti-Semitic. “This is not an anti-Semitic attack, just kids who shot at random.”


Hungary attacks Soros, Juncker in new anti-immigration campaign

Hungary launches a new anti-immigration media campaign in which it accuses George Soros and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker of allegedly supporting illegal migration, but which Brussels immediately dismisses as “fake news.”

According to the Hungarian government’s Facebook page, the media blitz — funded with taxpayers’ money — is expected to include billboard posters featuring images of the liberal US Jewish billionaire Soros and a smiling Juncker above the words: “You too have a right to know what Brussels is preparing.”

“They want to bring in the mandatory settlement quota; weaken member states’ rights to border defense; facilitate immigration with a migrant visa,” it continues.

This poster featuring US billionaire George Soros in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, was part of a government campaign, July 6, 2017. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government, which has frequently clashed with the EU on migration, has regularly undertaken similar campaigns in the past, including “Let’s Stop Brussels” and “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh.”

In recent years, Orban has blasted the Hungarian-born 88-year-old philanthropist and investor as a “public enemy” for allegedly backing uncontrolled mass immigration.

At the same time, Orban’s government has frequently been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes and imagery in its campaigns against Soros, claims it denies.

“Brussels continues to want to support illegal immigration,” Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesperson, tells reporters in Budapest.

“Hungarians need to know about this, that’s why the latest information campaign has been launched,” he says, denying it is part of the upcoming European Parliament election campaign.


Iran Guards say Pakistani carried out suicide attack on troops

The suicide bomber who carried out last week’s attack that killed 27 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was a Pakistan national, the force’s Sepah news agency reports.

“The suicide bomber was named Hafez Mohammad-Ali and was from Pakistan,” Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Guards’ ground forces, is quoted as saying on the sidelines of a commemoration service in Tehran.


Trump’s 2020 campaign announces communication team

US President Donald Trump is staffing up for his reelection run, naming his communications team for the 2020 campaign.

The campaign announces that Trump hired veteran Republican communications operative Tim Murtaugh as communications director, Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany as national press secretary, and Mark Lotter, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, as director of strategic communications.

Mindful of what they expect to be a robust contest, Trump and his aides have emphasized developing a more traditional campaign team, rather than mimicking the more threadbare 2016 effort.

The campaign also names former White House staffer Cole Blocker as director of finance and Megan Powers, a veteran of Trump’s first campaign, as director of administrative operations.

— AP

Siding with Poland, US condemns Katz’s ‘offensive’ anti-Semitism remark

The US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, denounces Israeli acting foreign minister Israel Katz’s remark earlier this week that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk,” siding with Warsaw in the diplomatic spat that followed.

“Among close allies such as Poland and Israel, there is no place for such offensive comments as yesterday’s statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz,” Mosbacher says in a tweet.

Katz’s comments led to Poland canceling a summit due to take place in Jerusalem this week and dressing down Israel’s ambassador Anna Azari.

For first time in months, incendiary devices from Gaza started blazes in Israel

For the first time in several months, balloons carrying incendiary devices from the Gaza Strip have sparked fires in a forest just outside the coastal enclave, officials say.

Firefighters from the Eshkol region and Fire and Rescue Services extinguished “two small blazes” in a forest outside of the community of Kibbutz Kissufim, the local authority says.

Initially, the Eshkol regional council said the cause of the fires was not immediately known, but they were later confirmed to have been sparked by arson devices from Gaza, a fire department spokesperson says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Immigration Minister Gallant tells French Jews to ‘come home’ after vandalism

Immigration Minister Yoav Gallant calls on French Jews to “come home” to Israel following the anti-Semitic vandalism of a cemetery in eastern France.

Immigration Minister Yoav Gallant at an event in Tel Aviv for lone soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces on January 24, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“The desecration of the Jewish cemetery in France conjures images of dark times in the history of the Jewish people,” Gallant says in a statement.

“Last week I visited the Jewish community in Paris, which is under an anti-Semitic attack and in the process of assimilation.

“I firmly condemn the anti-Semitism in France and call on the Jews — come home, immigrate to Israel.”


Eli Yishai rejects Netanyahu’s offer to become minister, merge with Jewish Home

Yachad party leader Eli Yishai announces he rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to hand him a ministerial portfolio after the April elections if he joins forces with the Jewish Home and is placed 8th on its Knesset slate.

Netanyahu has been pushing for a merger between right-wing and far right parties, fearing wasted votes if some run alone and don’t gather enough votes to get into the parliament.

Yishai makes the decision after consulting with his rabbi, Meir Mazuz.

Brother of Iran’s president goes on trial for corruption

The trial has begun for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s brother and close confidant, who faces corruption allegations brought by hardliners who dominate the country’s judiciary.

In this picture taken on July 3, 2017, Hossein Fereidoun, brother and top aide of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sits in a conference in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The semi-official ISNA news agency reports that Hossein Fereidoun, who was on the team that negotiated Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, went on trial today with four other defendants. They are charged with financial misconduct dating back to 2016.

Earlier this month, hard-line Iranian lawmakers called on the judiciary to expedite the trial. Fereidoun spent a night in prison in 2017 but has since been free on bail.

Rouhani, a relative moderate within Iran’s political system, changed his surname decades ago.

Iran has jailed allies of former presidents for similar charges.

— AP

Avi Himi chosen to chair Israel Bar Association instead of disgraced Efi Nave

Attorney Avi Himi is elected acting chairman of the Israel Bar Association until it holds elections on June 18.

Himi replaces the previous chairman Efi Nave, who resigned last month after suspicions that he tried to appoint and promote judges in exchange for sexual favors.

Himi is elected by the Bar Association’s national council, with 24 supporting him and 19 voting for his rival Uri Keinan, who had been interim chairman since Nave’s departure.

Attorney Avi Himi at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on June 5, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Knesset speaker says acting FM Katz was ‘telling the truth’ in remark about Poles

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein defends his fellow Likud party member, acting foreign minister Israel Katz, over remarks that have infuriated Poland.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein seen during a memorial ceremony marking 19 years to the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, in the Knesset in Jerusalem, November 5, 2014 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Speaking at an annual event organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Edelstein says it is “the right of every senior Israeli official to tell the truth. For me, this is an example for the fragile relations between the countries.”

Katz said in media interviews earlier this week that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk,” leading to Poland pulling out of a summit due to take place in Jerusalem this week and dressing down Israel’s ambassador Anna Azari.

Poland is demanding an apology from Israel, threatening that relations could take a “frosty turn.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to US Supreme Court bench in public session

US Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is back on the Supreme Court bench, eight weeks after surgery for lung cancer.

In this December 15, 2018 photo, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appears at an event organized by the Museum of the City of New York with WNET-TV held at the New York Academy of Medicine in New York. (AP Photo/Rebecca Gibian)

The 85-year-old justice walks unassisted to her seat beside Chief Justice John Roberts when the court begins its public session.

Ginsburg is wearing her customary black robe and ornamental collar.

She returned to the Supreme Court building on Friday for the first time since her surgery in December, but that was for the justices’ private conference. She also was captured on camera on Monday by the TMZ website walking through a Washington airport.

Ginsburg missed the court’s arguments in January as she recovered from the surgery. But the court said she participated in the court’s work during her absence.

— AP

Israel Resilience unveils Knesset slate, without Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher

Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience unveils its Knesset slate in the upcoming April elections, not including Orly Levy-Abekasis and her Gesher party.

Merger negotiations have hit a snag, Channel 12 reports.

The slate will be formally announced later tonight, Israel Resilience says in a statement.

The party’s list of candidates is as follows:

1. Benny Gantz
2. Moshe Ya’alon
3. Avi Nissenkorn
4. Miki Haimovich
5. Yoaz Hendel
6. Michael Biton
7. Hili Tropper
8. Zvi Hauser
9. Orit Farkash-Hacohen
10. Meirav Cohen
11. Asaf Zamir
12. Izhar Shay
13. Orly Fruman
14. Omer Yankelevich
15. Gadeer Mreeh
16. Alon Shuster
17. Ram Shefa
18. Gadi Yevarkan
19. Eitan Ginzburg
20. Einav Kabla
21. Itzhak Ilan
22. Hila Shay Vazan
23. Moshe Matalon
24. Ruth Wasserman Lande
25. Alon Tal
26. Yair Farjun
27. Omer Shlayer
28. Michal Cotler Wunsh
29. Idit Wexler
30. Keren Gonen

Netanyahu condemns ‘wild anti-Semites’ over France cemetery vandalism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns the vandalism of Jewish graves in France.

“Today something shocking happened in France. Eighty Jewish graves were desecrated with Nazi symbols by wild anti-Semites,” he says in a Hebrew-language video released on social media.

“I call on the leaders of France and Europe to take a strong stand against anti-Semitism. It is a plague that endangers everyone, not just us, and it must be condemned wherever and whenever it rears its head.”

US voices concern over Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese Cabinet

The US ambassador to Lebanon has expressed concerns over terror group Hezbollah’s growing role in the new Cabinet, saying it does not contribute to stability.

Hezbollah, which also takes part in elections, has named a health minister and two other posts in Lebanon’s Cabinet. US officials have called on Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s new government to ensure the group does not receive support from public resources.

Ambassador Elizabeth Richard spoke today after meeting with Hariri.

Richard says the Iran-backed Hezbollah continues to violate Lebanon’s policy of non-involvement in regional conflicts by fighting in “at least three countries.”

She is apparently referring to Syria, where the group fights alongside the government, and Iraq and Yemen, where Iran supports local armed groups.

— Agencies

At vandalized Jewish cemetery, Macron vows legal battle against perpetrators

After nearly 100 graves were daubed with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, President Emmanuel Macron vows to crack down on hate crimes as the country grapples with a surge in anti-Semitic acts.

Macron visits the cemetery in Quatzenheim in the Alsace region near Germany, a few hours ahead of nationwide rallies to denounce a surge in anti-Jewish hate crimes.

“We shall act, we shall pass laws, we shall punish,” Macron tells Jewish leaders while inspecting the 96 tombstones spray-painted with blue and yellow swastikas.

“Those who did this are not worthy of the Republic,” he says, later placing a white rose on a tombstone commemorating Jews deported to Germany during World War II.

Macron is also due to visit the Paris Holocaust memorial ahead of the anti-racism marches, called after a spate of anti-Jewish vandalism discovered in and around Paris following recent “yellow vest” protests.

French President Emmanuel Macron looks at a grave vandalized with a swastika during a visit at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, on February 19, 2019, on the day of nationwide marches against a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. (Photo by Frederick FLORIN / POOL / AFP)


Venezuela military vows ‘unrestricted’ loyalty to Maduro

Venezuela’s powerful armed forces say they are on “alert” for any border violations following threats by US President Donald Trump that they could “lose everything” if they don’t switch sides and back opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino reiterates the military’s “unrestricted obedience, subordination and loyalty” to embattled President Nicolas Maduro, whose authority has been challenged by self-declared acting president Guaido.


EU Commission lashes out at Orban over anti-immigration campaign

A top European Union official has lashed out at Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban over election campaign posters alleging that EU headquarters has purposely weaken the bloc’s external borders to let in more migrants and provide easy visas.

First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans delivers a speech during a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, July 5, 2017. (AFP/FREDERICK FLORIN)

Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans says when it comes to spinning the truth in political campaigning “this is something in a completely different universe.”

In Hungary, posters have gone up focusing on EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Hungarian-American Jewish financier George Soros, saying that “they want to weaken the border protection rights of the member states; they would facilitate immigration with migrant visas.”

Timmermans says the EU and Juncker are actually at the forefront of reinforcing the EU’s external borders.

Orban’s zealous anti-immigration policies have won him populist admirers across Europe.

— AP

Man injures two in Marseille knife attack; motive unclear

A man has wounded two pedestrians in a knife attack in the southern French city of Marseille, before being shot and wounded by police, officials say.

The attack occurred in the center of the port city, the second largest in France.

Police say they shot the assailant when he threatened them with a weapon. He is in a critical condition.

Reports haven’t indicated a motive for the attack.

— with AFP

Hamas threatens to ‘storm the border’ with Israel if truce not implemented

Fathi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, says that if Israel does not implement a de facto ceasefire agreement it reached with the terrorist group, Palestinians will storm the Gaza Strip’s border with the Jewish state.

Hamad, known for his heated rhetoric, makes the statement at a protest in the northern border region between Israel and Gaza.

“If the enemy does not return to its senses and does not implement the understandings, we will storm the border,” Hamad says.

— Adam Rasgon

Sanders raises $1M hours after 2020 announcement — source

US Senator Bernie Sanders raises more than $1 million within hours of launching his 2020 presidential bid.

That’s according to a person familiar with the campaign who isn’t authorized to publicly disclose the early numbers and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. The numbers are amassed less than four hours after Sanders announced today that he will run again.

Sanders identifies as a democratic socialist and unsuccessfully challenged Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic primary.

Few candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination have voluntarily released early fundraising figures.

California Sen. Kamala Harris reported raising $1.5 million in the 24 hours after she launched her campaign last month. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar reported raising $1 million in the 48 hours after launching her campaign this month.

— AP

Merger talks on Israeli far-right collapse as parties blame each other

Negotiations for a unified far-right party break down as both Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit reach a dead end.

The hardline Otzma Yehudit party has been offered the 5th and 8th spots on the merged Knesset slate, but is insisting on getting either the 4th and 8th slots or 5th and 7th — a proposal rejected by Jewish Home.

Senior figures in Jewish Home have also threatened to quit the party if a deal is signed with Otzma Yehudit, Israel National News reports.

Both parties blame each other for the failure to reach an agreement, which will likely see them fail to reach the 3.25% electoral threshold in the April vote.

Ex-IDF general Tal Russo joins Labor, will reportedly be Gabbay’s No. 2

The Labor Party announces former army general Tal Russo as a candidate on its Knesset slate in the upcoming April elections.

Party leader Avi Gabbay will tomorrow at 1 p.m. hold a joint press conference with the former Southern Command chief, who quit the IDF in 2013, the party says.

The Maariv website reports Russo will be second on the slate.

GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo (left) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (right) talk on a base near the border of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. (photo credit: Ben Avraham/Defense Ministry/Flash90)
GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo (left) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (right) talk on a base near the border of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. (photo credit: Ben Avraham/Defense Ministry/Flash90)

Gantz assails Netanyahu: While I lay in the mud, you were taking acting lessons

Israel Resilience party leader Benny Gantz launches a scathing attack against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“For an entire decade, there has been a single ruling party. This time is different,” Gantz says at a press conference announcing his Knesset election slate. “The ruler is afraid and sweating, and he and his yes men understand that this time, a new ruling party is standing against them.”

Addressing Netanyahu, Gantz charges: “I know your abilities very closely. I appreciate your contribution to the State of Israel. But I also know your weaknesses well.

“When I lay in the muddy trenches with my soldiers on frozen winter nights, you, Benjamin Netanyahu, left Israel to learn English and practice it at luxurious cocktail parties. On the days when I commanded the Shaldag unit in life-threatening operations in enemy states, you, Benjamin Netanyahu, worked your way bravely and determinedly between makeup stations in television studios,” he says.

“While I trained generations of commanders and fighters, you took acting lessons in a New York studio. And during the nights of tension and stress when I fell asleep in uniform and boots, you, Benjamin Netanyahu, had world’s most respected tailors taking your measurements, and returned safely to your bed in your prestigious hotel.”

“In a month and a half we will all go to choose between a ruler who has English from Boston, heavy makeup, and luxury suits — and Israeli leadership, genuine, caring, not fake or artificial,” he concludes. “Leadership that can look you in the eye.”

Netanyahu slams Gantz: ‘Shame on you, I risked my life time after time’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds to Benny Gantz’s blistering attack against him.

“Benny Gantz, shame on you,” he says in a statement. “As a soldier and officer in [elite unit] Sayeret Matkal, I risked my life time after time for the country. I was wounded in battle with terrorists. I almost lost my life in a shootout in the Suez Canal for the security of the state you want to endanger with unilateral withdrawals and support for the dangerous Iran nuclear deal.

The citizens of Israel will choose between a strong right-wing government headed by me and a weak left-wing government headed by you.”

Gantz says he will call Lapid tonight to propose centrist alliance in election

Israel Resilience party chief Benny Gantz says during his speech tonight that he will call fellow centrist leader Yair Lapid after his press conference and propose an immediate meeting in order to join forces with the Yesh Atid party.

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid (L) and Israel Resilience party chief Benny Gantz. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90, Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Polls have shown that a merged party would become the biggest Knesset faction and have a better chance to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, but negotiations between the parties are reportedly stalled over disagreements regarding the party leadership and the makeup of the unified election slate.

“You can’t weaken the opportunity for a historic change due to a debate over job opportunities,” Gantz says.

“Let’s rise above [the differences], unite and win.”

Lapid responds by saying in a statement that “As I said yesterday on stage, we will leave no stone unturned, we will do everything to ensure we don’t miss an historic opportunity to replace the government.”

MK Ayoub Kara calls his Likud party ‘Nazis’ after failure in primary

Likud MK Ayoub Kara, who failed to secure a realistic spot on the ruling party’s slate in the upcoming elections, lashed out today at party officials in Jerusalem and called its members “Nazis,” Channel 13 news reports.

The incident reportedly took place in Jerusalem, during discussions of appeals against the decision to let Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secure candidates of his choice on the Likud slate.

Kara shouted at officials that “Likud staff are German Nazis. It’s a mafia controlled by Amsalem and Bitan.”

MKs David Amsalem and David Bitan have been two of the most sharp-tongued party members in the last Knesset, frequently viewed as loyalists of Netanyahu who do much of the “dirty work” lambasting political rivals and dissidents within party ranks.

Ayoub Kara speaks at a Likud party event in Lod on December 31, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Egypt denies New York Times journalist entry: report

Egyptian authorities have denied entry to a veteran New York Times journalist, the US-based newspaper reports.

David Kirkpatrick arrived in Cairo yesterday but was barred from entering the country, the newspaper says.

Security officials held him “incommunicado for hours before forcing him onto a flight back to London without explanation,” The New York Times reports.

Egypt’s interior ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kirkpatrick was the newspaper’s Cairo bureau chief from 2011 to 2015 and last year authored a book on the Arab Spring uprisings.

His writings have long stirred controversy and pro-government media in Egypt have previously criticized his reporting.


Police kill man who injured 3 in Marseille knife attack, say incident not terror

French police shot dead a man who wounded three pedestrians in a knife attack in the southern city of Marseille, officials say.

The prosecutor’s office says the attack was not politically motivated.

“It’s a common law assault,” says prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux.

A fourth person suffered leg wounds from bullet fragments, police say, adding that they opened fire on the assailant when he threatened them with a weapon.

The knife attack occurred in the afternoon on a busy street in the center of the city, the second largest in France.


Death toll from Nigeria attack last week ‘over 130,’ state governor says

An attack by gunmen on villages in northwest Nigeria last week claimed “over 130” lives, more than double the toll initially reported, the governor of Kaduna state says, suggesting an ethnic motive.

“The last report we got is that over 130 people were killed, not even 66,” Nasir El-Rufai tells reporters after a meeting of military and security chiefs with President Muhammadu Buhari.


Netanyahu calls Israel Katz’s Polish anti-Semitism remark ‘unfortunate’

Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s statement about Polish anti-Semitism was “an unfortunate statement,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Czech counterpart Andrej Babis today in Jerusalem, the latter recalls in an interview with a leading Czech television channel.

“Both of us prime ministers have various ministers serving in our governments, and the only thing Prime Minister Netanyahu said to me was that he also considered Katz’s words an unfortunate statement,” Babis tells the channel’s Middle East correspondent David Borek.

Katz said in media interviews this week that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk,” leading Warsaw to cancel an international summit in Jerusalem and demand an apology from Jerusalem.

Liberman unveils Yisrael Beytenu Knesset slate, leaving out several veteran MKs

Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman unveils his party’s slate of candidates for the upcoming national elections, leaving out a pair of veteran lawmakers who have served under him for over a decade.

At an event in the coastal city of Ashkelon, Liberman presents the top 20 names on his party’s list, but with Yisrael Beytenu currently polling at 4-5 seats, few of those are expected to enter the Knesset.

Liberman says he’s undeterred by the polls, however, saying the party will “get 8-9 mandates in the least.”

Noticeably absent from the list is the party’s current No. 2, Sofa Landver, who was immigration minister until November when Liberman resigned as defense minister and pulled Yisrael Beytenu out of the government.

Israel Beytenu party chief Avigdor Liberman with party members at a conference in Ashkelon on February 19, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Also left out is Robert Ilatov, who has also been a Yisrael Beytenu lawmaker since 2006. He announced yesterday he would not run in the April 9 election.

Among party members who have served in the past Knesset and placed in the top ten are Oded Forer, Yulia Malinovsky and Hamad Amar. Malinovsky was forced to resign in November following Liberman’s resignation and return to Knesset.

The most high profile newcomer is Yevgeny Suba, a Russian-language journalist, who is placed third on the list.

Among the other newcomers on the list, only former director of the Israel Diamond Exchange Eli Avidar is expected to enter the Knesset, based on current polling.

Much of Yisrael Beytenu’s electorate is made up of Russian-speaking immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

— Alexander Fulbright

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