The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
Police recommend charging Islamic leader for incitement
Police are recommending charging Islamist leader Raed Salah with incitement to violence and supporting an illegal organization.
Police said Salah, who was the head of the banned Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, was investigated for several comments he made in the media and on social media that are allegedly “incitement to violence and terror and support of, or membership in, an illegal movement.”
Salah served a 9-month jail term last year for incitement to violence and racism over an inflammatory sermon he delivered in 2007 in Jerusalem. He has previously served terms for similar offenses.
Police say they have passed their findings to the prosecutor’s office.
NATO chief says outside attempts to influence elections ‘unacceptable’
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says any outside attempts to manipulate national elections cannot be tolerated, amid uproar over claims Russian interference helped Donald Trump win the US presidency.
“Any attempt to intervene in, to influence national elections from outside is unacceptable,” Stoltenberg said when asked about allegations of Russian cyberattacks and hacking during the US 2016 presidential campaign.
Breivik says prison isolation has radicalized him
Convicted Norweigen mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, says today his more than five-year prison isolation has radicalized him,
“I’ve become more radical. I was radical to start but these past five years I’ve become much more radical,” the 37-year-old says as he gives evidence against the state, which has appealed a lower court ruling that found it guilty of treating him “inhumanely,” primarily because of his isolation from other inmates.
In July 2011 Breivik, disguised as a police officer, tracked and gunned down 69 people, most of them teenagers, at a Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utoya, shortly after he killed eight people in a bombing outside a government building in Oslo.
In prison, the extremist has three cells where he can play video games and watch television on two sets. He also has a computer without internet access, gym machines, books and newspapers.
Despite the comfortable material conditions, an Oslo district court last April found the Norwegian state guilty of “inhumane” and “degrading” treatment, in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Iran gets first Airbus jetliner after nuclear deal
The first of 100 Airbus planes that Iran is expected to receive after its historic nuclear deal with world powers ended some sanctions has landed in the capital, Tehran.
Iran Air’s brand new A321 jet landed at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport on Thursday on a flight from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France.
Iran Air finalized a deal with the European plane maker in December for 100 planes worth more than $18 billion dollars at list prices.
Iran’s flag carrier has separately agreed to buy 80 planes from US manufacturer Boeing.
Most Iranian planes were purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Out of Iran’s 250 commercial planes, 162 were flying, while the rest were grounded due to lack of spare parts.
Hollande says Paris peace confab not designed to replace direct talks
French President Francois Hollande says Sunday’s peace conference in Paris is not meant to replace Israel-Palestinian talks, but aims at ensuring the support of the international community for the two-state solution as a reference for future direct negotiations.
“Peace will be achieved by Israelis and Palestinians, and nobody else. Only bilateral negotiations can succeed,” Hollande says in a speech to diplomats, adding that the abandonment of the two-state solution would undermine Israel’s security.
Earlier in the day Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the conference as “rigged by the Palestinians with French auspices to adopt additional anti-Israel stances,”
Hollande says the January 15 conference will push for concrete solutions to help develop energy, transportation and city infrastructure to benefit Israelis and Palestinians. French authorities are expecting 72 countries to attend the conference — but not Israel or the Palestinians.
The Palestinians, who in recent years have campaigned for the international community to assume a greater role in resolving the conflict, have welcomed the French initiative.
Israeli embassy employee at heart of London scandal resigns
An Israeli embassy employee in London who was caught on film conspiring to discredit British politicians, has resigned, Ynet reports.
The employee, Shai Masot, who was not a diplomat, has quit in the wake of the scandal in which he was shown asking Maria Strizzolo, a political operator for the Conservative MP Robert Halfon, whether he can list to her “some MPs that I would suggest you would take down.”
He specifically mentioned Foreign Office deputy minister Alan Duncan, who is perceived as being unfriendly to Israel.
The Israeli ambassador in London, Mark Regev, had apologized for the remarks, saying they were “completely unacceptable.”
Netanyahu welcomes Jamaican PM in first visit
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today welcomed the prime minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, who was making the first ever visit to Israel by a leader of the Caribbean nation.
Holness, in turn, invited Netanyahu to visit Jamaica.
“I think this is the first visit ever by a prime minister of Jamaica to Israel, so it has a double significance for us,” Netanyahu says.
Holness gave his condolences for the recent truck-ramming terror attack that killed four soldiers.
“The Jamaican people and the Caribbean region is a zone of peace, and we wish peace for all the peoples of the world. And we do extend our sympathies to the people of Israel for the very unfortunate attack on your soldiers recently,” he says.
“We would want to also pursue with Israel economic cooperation. I believe that in building strong economies we can build a peaceful world.”
Hamas thanks South Africa PM for support
The Hamas terrorist organization says it “values” the recent statement by South African President Jacob Zuma “discouraging” officials from travel to Israel.
“”Hamas values the stance of South African President Jacob Zuma, who called for citizens of his country not to visit the Zionist entity, showing solidarity with the Palestinian people,” a statement says.
On Sunday, Zuma, speaking in his capacity as leader of the African National Congress, the country’s ruling party, restated the group’s policy recommending against officials visiting Israel.
“The people of Palestine continue to suffer in their rightful quest for self-determination and the ANC pledges its ongoing solidarity and support for their just cause,” Zuma said in his traditional January 8 address. “We reiterate that we firmly discourage travel to Israel for causes not related to fostering peace in the region.”
Hamas’s statement does not mention that Zuma does allow visiting Israel in order to foster peace.
The head of South Africa’s opposition, Mmusi Maimane, who heads the Democratic Alliance party, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
— Dov Lieber
NZ foreign minister: UN resolution vote consistent with view on Israeli settlements
The recent passing of an anti-settlements resolution in the United Nations “stands in sharp contrast to the condemnation and accusations that have dominated subsequent commentary from Israel and that country’s supporters,” New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCullay says in an op-ed in a major New Zealand daily newspaper.
New Zealand is one of the four sponsors of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 — which calls for a halt of development of Israeli settlements and calls for the reestablishing of the pre-1967 war borders — along with Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal.
The resolution passed late last month by a vote of 14-0 with one abstention, the United States,
In an op-ed published on Thursday in the New Zealand Herald, McCullay writes: “At the heart of this whole debate is whether we will see a future in which two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace and security.”
“This two-state solution has been the accepted basis for resolving the Palestinian question for many decades now, enshrined in various negotiated accords and UN Security Council resolutions, and the focus for several unsuccessful attempts to broker final agreement between the parties,” he writes.
Justice minister says no need for Netanyahu to suspend himself
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked says there is no need for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to suspend himself at this stage despite being investigated in two corruption cases.
“The prime minister does not need to suspend himself, he needs to be able to function,” Shaked tells Channel 2 television.
Shaked declines to comment further on the case due to her position as the head of the legal system.
However Shaked, from the Jewish Home party, says she hopes this government will remain in power for the duration of its term.
“This coalition is strong and good and I hope it survives for much longer,” she says.
Man who kidnapped, murdered Parisian Jew gets 10 more years in jail
Youssouf Fofana, who is serving a life sentence in France for the brutal murder of a Parisian Jew, received another 10 years in jail for earlier extortions, including of a Jewish lawyer.
Fofana, a 36-year-old career criminal, in 2006 murdered and tortured Ilan Halimi with more than a dozen accomplices because Halimi was Jewish.
Joseph Cohen-Sabban, a criminal attorney, accused Fofana of threatening him and says tried to extort him in 2004, Le Parisien weekly reports.
Israel frees Palestinian UN worker jailed for aiding Hamas
A Palestinian UN worker sentenced by Israel to seven months for aiding Hamas was released today and returned to Gaza, calling his prosecution “unjust” and hoping to resume his job.
Waheed Borsh, 39, arrived at his home in the southern Gaza Strip and was greeted by dozens of well-wishers handing out sweets and singing songs.
Israeli forces detained Borsh, an engineer, on July 16, causing a major stir in the aid community.
He was sentenced last week to seven months in prison in a plea deal, but released on the basis of time served and for good behavior.
Israel initially claimed Borsh had been recruited by Hamas but it later dropped the allegation.
He was convicted for “rendering services to an illegal organization without intention,” his lawyer says.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), where Borsh worked, says the deal showed there had been no wrongdoing by the organisation.
Bomb threat at Staten Island JCC investigated as hate crime
A swastika and the word “bomb” were found drawn inside the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, New York.
No bomb was discovered in the building yesterday morning following a sweep by police, who reportedly are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
The incident came two days after 16 JCCs along the East Coast received bomb threats, leading to the evacuation of hundreds of people, including the elderly and schoolchildren, from the buildings.
“The unfounded threats that led to evacuations and police investigations have deeply unsettled Jewish community members,” Evan Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League’s New York regional director, says in a statement issued today. “At this time, it is not known if the Staten Island threat is directly linked to other incidents that have afflicted JCCs across the East Coast.”
Improvement in condition of soldier seriously wounded in truck attack
The condition of a soldier who was seriously wounded in Sunday’s truck attack is significantly improved, the hospital says.
“I am pleased to announce a significant improvement in the condition of the soldier who was run over at the Armon Hanatziv (promenade),” a spokesperson for Shaare Zedek Hospital says.
“She is awake and breathing by herself,” the statement says, noting that her condition is still considered serious.
Four soldiers were killed and over a dozen wounded when a terrorist rammed a truck into a group of soldiers who were touring the capital.
Clashes in Gaza as thousands protest power cuts
Protesters are clashing with Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip as thousands gather to protest recent severe power cuts.
Videos and images from the protest show thousands of Palestinians streaming through the streets of Jabalia, located in the northern part of the Strip.
Video of the huge protest organised by Gaza youth movement in Jabalia, north Gaza, Palestine pic.twitter.com/0c3zWxmTkm
— OccPal-Gaza (@OccPalGaza) January 12, 2017
The reports, from media belonging to both pro-Hamas and pro-Fatah outlets, say there have been a number of injuries. Fatah’s official Twitter account says a number of protesters were injured by live fire.
Pro-Hamas media said some protesters were injured from police batons, and that guns were fired into the air in order to disperse protesters.
— Hazem Balousha (@iHaZeMi) January 12, 2017
Power shortages in the Palestinian enclave have occurred repeatedly in recent weeks, with homes in Gaza City typically getting around four hours a day instead of at least eight normally.
Palestinians have complained that these cuts are especially brutal due to the frigid weather the Strip is currently experiencing.
— Dov Lieber
Far-right French leader Le Pen in Trump tower
French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is sitting having coffee in Trump Tower.
Le Pen, who heads the National Front, apparently is declining to comment on whether she is set to met with US President-elect Donald Trump.
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) January 12, 2017
US sanctions 18 over Syrian chemical weapons use
The United States announced sanctions today against 18 senior Syrian military officers and officials over the use of chemical weapons.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons,” says National Security Council spokesman Ned Price.
Individuals targeted include top intelligence officials and military commanders.
Police to question the MKs behind Israel Hayom law
Police are to reportedly to question all nine lawmakers who pushed a 2014 law that would have curtailed the distribution of free newspapers, a move seen targeting the Israel Hayom daily.
The law, which never came about, is the center of an investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who allegedly offered to help pass the bill in a quid pro quo deal with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes.
Among those set to be questioned are Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party. Other lawmakers behind the bill were from the Zionist Union, Meretz, Shas, Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu parties, Walla reports.
Mozes reportedly told Netanyahu he would help him stay in power for as long as he wanted if he would curtail the free daily, his main competitor.
British PM to make major Brexit speech
British Prime Minister Theresa May will make a major speech next week setting out further details on her plan for leaving the European Union, Downing Street says.
Her speech on Tuesday will lay out “more on our approach to Brexit, as part of preparing for the negotiations and in line with our approach for global Britain and continuing to be an outward-looking nation,” her spokeswoman says.
May has said she intends to begin formal exit negotiations by the end of March. Triggering Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty begins a two-year countdown to leaving the bloc.
The Conservative leader has so far resisted demands for more detail on her strategy, but has been clear she wants to limit control of migration from the rest of the EU.
Israel to expand aid to Gaza due to relative quiet
Israel is set to expand aid access to the Gaza Strip due to the relative quiet in the region lately, Ynet reports.
Among steps to be taken are allowing access of fuel and building material also through the Erez crossing in the north of the Strip, Ynet reports, quoting Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Liberman reportedly told Israeli regional heads near the Gaza border that he would allow “substantial additional humanitarian aid,” in a bid to maintain the quiet.
Iran, Syria must pay $178M to family of Jewish infant killed in Hamas attack: US Court
A US court ruled that Iran and Syria must pay a total of $178.5 million in damages to the family of an infant with dual American-Israeli citizenship who was killed in a terrorist attack by a member of Hamas.
Chaya Zissel Braun was 3 months old when she was thrown from her stroller and killed in October 2014 in a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem.
The Washington, DC, District Court ruled Tuesday that Iran and Syria must provide compensation to the family because the two countries financially back the terrorist Hamas organization.
Mattis tells hearing Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital
President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Pentagon, retired Marine Corps general James “Mad Dog” Mattis, tells his confirmation hearing today that for him, Israel’s capital is Tel Aviv.
Asked what Israel’s capital was, Mattis, answered – “Tel Aviv,” saying that that was where he went to meet Israeli government officials.
Asked if he knew that that differed from Trump’s vow to move the embassy to Jerusalem, Mattis responds: “Right now I stick with the current US policy.”
Police reportedly have NIS 57,000 in champagne receipts in PM probe
Police reportedly have receipts for some NIS 57,000 ($15,000) they believe are for expensive pink champagne that was given to Sara Netanyahu.
Channel 2 reports that police acquired the receipts from an alcohol store in Herzliya, where Israeli-American film producer Arnon Milchan, has an account.
Between 2010 and 2012 Milchan made repeated and frequent purchases for thousands of shekels that police believe were of pink champagne for Sara Netanyahu.
He is also suspected of giving Benjamin Netanayhu expensive cigars.
The store told Channel 2 that most of it was champagne that currently sells for NIS 890 ($230) per bottle.
Both Netanyahu’s have been questioned over the gifts.
Channel 2 says that Sara Netanyahu did not deny receiving the champagne, but held it was a legitimate gift between friends.
Police set to question Netanyahu’s son Yair
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair is expected to be summoned by police for questioning as part of two ongoing criminal investigations into suspicions of quid pro quo deals made by the prime minister.
Yair Netanyahu will be questioned by the police’s Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit in the coming days, according to Channel 10 news.
The questioning is likely to focus on “Case 1000,” probing allegations Netanyahu received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cigars, champagne and other gifts, including having hotel rooms for Yair Netanyahu paid for by billionaire benefactors.
Yair Netanyahu is also connected to “Case 2000,” which explores claims the prime minister promised to advance legislation to hobble the Israel Hayom daily if competing paper Yedioth Ahronoth gave him better coverage. Negotiations between Netanyahu and Yedioth publisher Noni Mozes were said to have begun over the prime minister’s efforts to prevent the publication of a story about Yair.
Journalists from Yisrael Hayom and Yedioth Ahronoth will also be questioned in the coming days, Channel 10 reports.
— Raoul Wootliff
Watchdog to investigate Justice, FBI actions before election
The Justice Department’s inspector general says today he will launch an investigation into the department and FBI’s actions in the months leading up to the 2016 election, including whether department policies were properly followed by FBI Director James Comey.
Democrats have blamed Comey’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and his late-October release of a letter about the case as among the reasons for her loss to Republican Donald Trump.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz says the investigation would look at whether department or FBI policies were followed in relation to Comey’s actions in the case.
Netanyahu’s lawyer: Sara Netanyahu never received Dom Perignon champagne
Responding to a Channel 2 report that police have receipts of alcohol purchases intended for Sara Netanyahu worth some NIS 57,000 ($15,000), her lawyers tell the television that the report has several inaccuracies.
The statement says that the report erroneously tries to imply that all of the purchases by Israeli-American film producer Arnon Milchan were for the Netanyahus.
It also notes that Sara Netanyahu never received Dom Perignon champagne, as alleged by the report.
Leading Israeli musician Meir Banai dies at 55
Leading Israeli musician and singer Meir Banai has died aged 55, Hebrew media reports.
Banai, who made some of the most notable Hebrew hits of recent decades, passed away after a long illness with cancer.
He was a member of one of the most prominent show business families in Israel. His sister Orna is a popular comedian and actress and his brother Evyatar is also a well known singer.
Hamas arrest, assault international journalists during Gaza protest
Hamas security forces breaking up a protest in Gaza arrested at least two international journalists and assaulted one of them.
A photographer with the French News Agency AFP reported that a policeman hit him in the face with a gun for refusing to hand over his camera. He was arrested and the memory card of his camera confiscated.
— Yousef Mema🇵🇸 (@Joo_Gaza) January 12, 2017
An AP journalist was arrested by plain-clothed Hamas security forces, who forced him to hand over his mobile phones, according to the Foreign Press Association, the foreign media union operating in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The FPA issued a statement to condemn the “violent behaviour in the strongest terms”, while AFP also issued a complaint with the Gaza interior ministry spokesman.
During the protest over an electricity crisis Hamas security forces fired live ammunition in the air and dispersed protesters with batons.
— AFP contributed to this report