Live updates (closed)Latest: UN Mideast envoy warns against Israeli West Bank annexations

Poll shows most Israelis think Netanyahu lying in corruption probe

Security Council meeting ends with no resolution on Israel; Ambassador Danon says UN efforts push peace further away

  • Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) gestures as he speaks on the opening day of the World Economic Forum, on January 17, 2017, in Davos.
The global elite begin a week of earnest debate and Alpine partying in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on January 17, 2017 in a week bookended by two presidential speeches of historic import. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)
    Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) gestures as he speaks on the opening day of the World Economic Forum, on January 17, 2017, in Davos. The global elite begin a week of earnest debate and Alpine partying in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on January 17, 2017 in a week bookended by two presidential speeches of historic import. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)
  • Israel ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council on January 17, 2017 (Courtesy)
    Israel ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council on January 17, 2017 (Courtesy)
  • Then US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro meets with President Reuven Rivlin on January 17, 2017 (Mark Neiman/GPO)
    Then US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro meets with President Reuven Rivlin on January 17, 2017 (Mark Neiman/GPO)

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

Hezbollah finds downed Israeli drone

Hezbollah says it has found an IDF spy drone that crashed in a rugged region of southern Lebanon, Al Manar reports.

Hezbollah says its fighters found the UAV, reportedly a Skylark drone, and “moved it to a safe place for examination.”

The UAV has been missing since early Monday, and Israeli officials had asked UNIFIL for help in locating the craft.

Hezbollah says that the Lebanese military was unable to reach the area and that the UN force also searched but did not find it.

Iran signs lucrative phone, gas deals with Syria

Iran will build a mobile phone network and gasoline terminal in Syria under deals signed in Tehran on Tuesday during a visit by Prime Minister Imad Khamis, Iranian media reports

The five deals include a “license for a mobile phone operator, the transfer of 5,000 hectares for the creation of a gasoline terminal and 5,000 hectares for farmland” in Syria, according to the IRNA news agency.

Iran will also have the right to operate phosphate mines in Sharqiya, around 50 kilometers south of the jihadist-held ancient city of Palmyra, and a deal for Iran to invest in an unnamed Syrian port.

Tehran is the chief backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, providing military advisers and coordinating thousands of “volunteer” fighters on the ground, which were considered vital to last month’s recapture of the rebel stronghold in Aleppo.


Green light for new official residence for PM

A Jerusalem municipal planning committee today gave approval for the construction of a new official residence for the prime minister, Ynet reports.

The plan calls for constructing a compound that would combine the prime minister’s office with his official residence, Ynet says.

The idea has been under consideration in various guises since 2009 amid criticism of the high cost — expected to exceed NIS 650 million ($170 million.)

Proponents say it is necessary to combine the two buildings to avoid the continuous travel between the two and to assure the continuity of the command chain in an emergency.

Britain will exit EU’s single market: PM May

Britain will exit the EU’s single market when it leaves the bloc because it wants to restrict the arrival of EU immigrants, British Prime Minister Theresa May says.

“What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market,” May said.

But May says Britain wants a new customs union deal with the EU.

In any case, Britain’s Parliament will be able to vote on any final Brexit agreement, May says, following pressure from lawmakers to have more say over leaving the European Union.

“I can confirm today that the government will put the final deal to a vote in both houses of parliament before it comes into force,” she says.


Saudi Arabia carries out first execution of 2017

Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most prolific executioners, today carried out its first death sentence of the year, after more than 150 in 2016.

Authorities put Mamdouh al Anzi to death following his conviction for shooting dead another Saudi in a dispute, the interior ministry says.

He was executed in Arar, a city near Iraq.

Beheading with a sword is the most common form of execution in the kingdom.

According to an AFP tally based on official announcements, Saudi Arabia executed 153 locals and foreigners last year under its Islamic legal code, down slightly from the previous year.


Illustrative: A Saudi Arabian executioner displays his sword. (YouTube/MEMRITVVideos)

Illustrative: A Saudi Arabian executioner displays his sword. (YouTube/MEMRITVVideos)

Knesset to vote on law to expel families of terrorists

The Knesset will tomorrow vote on a new law that would strip the residency of families for terrorists and expel them from the country.

Cosponsoring party Yesh Atid party says that it has both opposition and coalition support for the law, which it says is needed to deter the so-called lone wolf attackers.

The law calls for “the expulsion of the families of the terrorists outside the borders of Israel if they knew about or, aided the perpetration of the act of terror, or assisted the terrorist after the act.”

Rod Stewart to play concert in Israel

Legendary Scottish rocker Rod Stewart is coming to Israel and will be playing in Tel Aviv on June 14.

Stewart promises his fans it’s going to be a “splendid” evening in Park Hayarkon.

Tickets are on sale from today, starting at NIS 295.

Israel Hayom editor finishes police interrogation

Israel Hayom editor Amos Regev finishes his police interrogation after being questioned for more than 4.5 hours.

Regev was being questioned in connection with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption investigation in which the premier is suspected of plotting to collude with the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth at the expense of Israel Hayom.

Ukraine files ‘terrorism’ case against Russia at top UN court

Ukraine has filed a case at the UN’s top court accusing Russia of sponsoring “terrorism” and demanding Moscow pay damages for the shelling of civilians and the downing of flight MH17, the court says.

Kiev has asked the International Court of Justice to “declare that the Russian Federation bears international responsibility, by virtue of its sponsorship of terrorism… for the acts of terrorism committed by its proxies in Ukraine,” the court says in a statement.

Ukraine also asks the court to order “full reparation” for the 2014 downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine and “for the shelling of civilians” in certain towns in eastern Ukraine.


Putin: Those who spread fake allegations about Trump ‘worse than prostitutes’

Russian President Vladimir Putin is accusing the outgoing US administration of trying to undermine President-elect Donald Trump by spreading fake allegations.

Putin, speaking at a news conference Tuesday, described a dossier on Trump as part of efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration to “undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect” despite his “convincing” victory.

He said some now want to “stage a Maidan in Washington,” in reference to the alleged US role in organizing protests in the main square of the Ukrainian capital, which chased the nation’s Russia-friendly president from power in 2014.

Asked about a dossier detailing Trump’s alleged sexual activities at a Moscow hotel, Putin dismissed it as “fake” and charged that people who ordered it are “worse than prostitutes.” Trump has rejected the allegations as “fake news” and “phony stuff.”


Germany welcomes May’s speech on Brexit

Germany’s foreign minister has welcomed a speech by British Prime Minister Theresa May laying out her plans for the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the speech has “created a little bit more clarity about the British plans” and noted May’s willingness to engage in a constructive and positive partnership with the EU.

Steinmeier says in a statement Tuesday that the other 27 countries, too, want “good, close and trusting relations” with Britain and will aim for constructive negotiations.

But he insisted that talks about the so-called Brexit won’t begin until London has formally notified the EU of its wish to leave the bloc.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet with her ministers for the first time Wednesday to discuss Germany’s position on Brexit.


Lawmaker Hamad Amar hospitalized after a fall

Yisrael Beytenu lawmaker Hamad Amar is in the hospital after a fall, a hospital spokesperson says.

Amar, 52, a Druze politician, is in stable condition at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, the hospital says.

Amar reportedly suffered a fall and hit his head while staying at a Jerusalem hotel yesterday.

MKs Hamad Amar (R) and Tzachi Hanegbi stage a karate contest at the Knesset's 50th anniversary celebrations, January 19, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

MKs Hamad Amar (R) and Tzachi Hanegbi stage a karate contest at the Knesset building’s 50th anniversary celebrations, January 19, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police foil Jerusalem stabbing attack

Police announce today that they have foiled a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.

In an incident yesterday, Border Police officers stopped a suspicious-looking Palestinian youth on the outskirts of Jerusalem, police say.

During his interrogation, he admitted to being in Israel illegally and says he was planning to carry out a stabbing attack near the Old City.

Iran says Trump’s talk on nuclear deal is ‘mainly slogans’

Iran’s president has compared talk of renegotiating its nuclear accord to “converting a shirt back to cotton,” and says US President-elect Donald Trump’s talk of doing so is “mainly slogans.”

Trump has strongly criticized the deal struck with world powers, in which Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief, but has not said what he plans to do about the agreement.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told reporters today that “renegotiation has no meaning at all.” He added that “Mr. Trump has so far made many remarks on the deal. These are mainly slogans. I do not see it likely that something happens in practice.”

The agreement also included Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. None have expressed interest in scrapping the agreement or restoring sanctions.


Envoy says unlikely to be new UN resolution against Israel

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon says it is very unlikely that the United Nations Security Council will adopt another anti-Israel resolution when it meets later today.

Speaking to Channel 2, Danon say that this is the last Security Council debate before the new Trump administration takes over on Friday and so the atmosphere is different.

“We expect that there will be a debate in which they will condemn Israel, but there will not be any further resolutions,” he says.

“From the information we have, the US, the UK and France have said they will won’t support an new resolution,” he says.

The world body is set to meet later to discuss “the Palestinian question” in the wake of a mounting campaign in world bodies to restart stalled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mexican Jews launch round-the-clock hotline for emergencies

Mexican Jews have launched a round-the-clock emergency hotline to request personalized support in case of attempted suicide, domestic violence, depression, eating disorders and other emergency cases.

The 1118 line launched last week, the Enlace Judio news website reports.

“At first we thought of the number 911, but the Mexican government had adopted it first. 1118 means ‘One for one, one for life,’ Salomon Cherem, president of the Maguen David community, tells Enlace Judio, referring to the idea that the number 18 symbolizes“life” in Judaism.

Under the auspices of the Maguen David and the Kehila Ashkenazi community centers, 1118 integrates other existing initiatives in the Jewish community to fight drug addiction, domestic violence, child abuse, eating disorders and more. A free ambulance and first aid service, Hatzalá, also has been integrated into the hotline.


Rivlin thanks Obama for eight years of friendship and support

President Reuven Rivlin has written to outgoing US President Barack Obama to thank him for eight years of friendship and support.

Rivlin writes that he wants to “extend to you our thanks and appreciation for your continuing concern over the last eight years for Israel’s safety and our ability to carry the burden of our security.”

“You ensured that we could always feel confident that our needs in this area were a priority for your administration.”

“While from time to time we may have had differences of opinion, you stood strong in the defense of the shared values of our two peoples and countries, and for this we are deeply appreciative,” Rivlin writes.

Rivlin wishes Obama success in the future and wants him to “be assured that we will always be pleased to welcome you here in Jerusalem whenever you would like to honor us with a visit.”

US President Barack Obama talks with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during a bilateral meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, December 9, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON)

US President Barack Obama talks with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during a bilateral meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, December 9, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON)

Jordan charges 8 with incitement against regime

Jordan today charged eight people, including a former lawmaker, with inciting opposition against the regime over statements posted on social media, a judicial source says.

“The prosecutor charged a former parliamentarian and seven others with incitement against the political regime in the kingdom,” the source says.

Those charged include former lawmaker Wasfi al-Rawashdeh, two retired generals, a lawyer and journalist, and four activists, the source says.

The state security court prosecutor had decided to detain all eight for a renewable period of 14 days.

“They were detained after those charged published comments on Facebook” including incitement against the regime, the source says.

Palestinian UN envoy says Israel must choose between occupation or peace

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations tells the Security Council that Israel must choose between its presence in the West Bank and peace.

“Israel, the occupying power must choose between occupation and peace, the two are mutually exclusive,” says Riyad Mansour during the Security Council debate on “the Palestinian question.”

Mansour says Israel “must prove their commitment to a two state solution.”

He also calls on the Security Council to implement the December 23 Resolution 2334, which lashed Israel for its settlements policy, calling Israel’s civilian presence beyond the pre-1967 Green Line a “flagrant violation” of international law.

“2334 is the way back from the brink,” he says.

Palestinian reported killed after trying to stab soldier

The army says it’s investigating reports that a Palestinian was shot dead as he attempted to stab a group of soldiers guarding a checkpoint near the West Bank city of Tulkarem.

No soldiers are reported injured.

Judah Ari Gross

Danon says UN resolution has set back the pursuit of peace

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon tells the United Nations Security Council that Resolution 2334 passed last month has set back the peace process.

“For Israel, peace is not a convenient ploy we raise in international forums. It is an essential part of all of our prayers,” Danon says. “Last month’s resolution has set us back in pursuit of peace.”

Danon said it was a reward for the Palestinians and “encourages the Palestinians to continue down a dangerous path they have chosen” of avoiding direct negotiations with Israel.

“This council may have thought the would send a message to Israel but you instead sent a message to the Palestinians that they should continue to spread their lies,” he said, adding that the Palestinian actions show that “this conflict is not about settlements, but about the refusal to accept Israel in any borders.”

IDF confirms it killed West Bank stabber

The IDF confirms that troops shot and killed a Palestinian man who attempted to stab one of them at a checkpoint near Tulkarem, in the northern West Bank.

“The terrorist was shot and killed. There were no injuries to our forces,” the army says.

Yair Netanayhu arrives at police for questioning

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair arrives at police headquarters for questioning over his father’s corruption investigation.

The questioning of Yair is likely to focus on “Case 1000,” which centers on allegations Netanyahu received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cigars, champagne and other gifts, including having hotel rooms for Yair paid for by billionaire benefactors, among them Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.

Kerry cautions without two state solution no Jewish and democratic Israel

Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry has cautioned that unless Israel moves toward a two state solution with the Palestinians, it risks its Jewish and democratic character.

“You cannot be a unity state and be democratic and Jewish at the same time. You can’t do it,” Kerry says, speaking at Davos, in a conversation with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Kerry warned that a one state solution would lead to “permanent insurgency, permanent conflict.”

Kerry says that the US deliberately raised the issues of settlements before the change of administration because it had an obligation to do so. “We can’t say we’re against settlements and then turn away.”

Nigeria mistakenly bombs refugee camp, kills more than 100

A Nigerian state official says an Air Force fighter jet on a mission against Boko Haram extremists has mistakenly bombed a refugee camp, killing more than 100 refugees and wounding aid workers.

The Borno state government official is helping to coordinate the evacuation of wounded. The official spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.

Military commander Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor confirms the accidental bombardment in northeast Rann, near the border with Cameroon. The general says among the wounded are Nigerians working for Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

This is believed to be the first time Nigeria’s military has admitted to making such a mistake.


MKs to bring Ma’ale Adumim annexation law to Knesset committee

Lawmakers will bring a bill calling for the annexation of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement to a Knesset committee on Sunday, Ynet reports.

The bill will be put forward by MK Yoav Kish (Likud) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home party.) The Jewish Home party has said that the time has come for Israel to extend its sovereignty over the West Bank starting with Ma’ale Adumim, one of the largest settlements, near Jerusalem.

However, they were waiting for US president-elect Donald Trump to take power first. Trump has indicated he will be a lot more tolerant of Israeli settlements than the Obama administration.

Jewish Democratic activist resigns from Maryland golf club over Obama membership debate

A Democratic activist has resigned his membership from an exclusive, mostly Jewish golf club in Maryland following a contentious debate over whether to admit President Barack Obama for membership because of the US decision to abstain from a UN vote against Israeli settlements.

Jeffrey Slavin resigned from the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville in an email to the club’s general manager, the Washington Post reports. Slavin also is the mayor of the Montgomery County town of Somerset.

He writes in his email, sent Monday, which was Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

“I can no longer belong to a community:
Where Intolerance is accepted,
Where History is forgotten,
Where Freedom of Speech is denied,
And where the nation’s first black president is disrespected.”


Trump to be sued for sexual assault

One of the women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault is to file a lawsuit against the president-elect.

Lawyer Gloria Allred announces she will hold a press conference later today with the accuser to give details of the suit.

At least a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual assault, claims that he strongly denies.

The claims emerged after Trump was famously recorded saying he liked to grab women by the genitals.

Six Red Cross workers killed in Nigeria air strike

Six Red Cross workers were among more than 100 people killed when a Nigerian air force jet accidentally bombed a camp for people displaced by Boko Haram, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

“We regret that among the casualties of today’s air strikes in Rann, there are six Nigerian RC members killed and 13 wounded,” an ICRC spokeswoman tells AFP in a text message.

News agencies

Most Israelis do not believe Netanyahu innocent

More than half of Israelis do not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he denies any wrong doing in his corruption investigation, a survey indicates.

According to Channel 2, 54 percent of Israelis do not believe the prime minister’s assertion that “there was nothing.” It says 28 percent do believe him and 18 percent don’t know.

In addition, among the general public 44 percent say he should resign, 43 percent think he should stay and 13 percent don’t know.

However, crucially for Netanyahu, the TV says that 94 percent of Likud supporters think he should stay.

Poll shows Yesh Atid ahead if elections were held today

A poll taken in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption investigation indicates that the Yesh Atid party would get the most seats.

The poll, broadcast by Channel 2, indicates Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid, would get 26 seats in the 120 seat Knesset.

This would be closely followed by Netanyahu’s Likud with 24 seats.

The poll also gives the Joint (Arab) List 13 seats; the Jewish Home party 12; the Zionist Union 11; Kulanu 7; Israel Beytenu 7; Shas 7; UTJ 7 and Meretz 6.

The poll also showed that there was no clear person that the public would want to replace Netanyahu if he were to resign.

The poll gave Lapid 17 percent; Naftali Bennett gets 10 percent; former Likud politician Gideon Saar with 10 percent; opposition chief Isaac Herzog with only six percent and former defense minister Moshe Yaalon with six percent.


Palestinian parties agree to form unity government

The main Palestinian parties today announced a deal to form a national unity government prior to the holding of elections, after three days of reconciliation talks in Moscow.

“We have reached agreement under which, within 48 hours, we will call on (Palestinian leader) Mahmoud Abbas to launch consultations on the creation of a government” of national unity, senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad tells a press conference, speaking in Arabic.

Ater the government is formed, the Palestinians would set up a national council, which would include Palestinians in exile, and hold elections.

“Today the conditions for (such an initiative) are better than ever,” says Ahmad.

Abbas’s secular party Fatah and the Islamist Hamas have been at loggerheads since the latter seized Gaza in a near civil war in 2007.

The last time the Palestinians staged elections in which both Hamas and Fatah took part was in 2006.


State prosecutor to probe Mossad chief for receiving improper gifts – report

The State Prosecutor’s Office will take over a probe into suspicions that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen accepted improper gifts from an Australian billionaire, Channel 10 reports.

The TV says they are taking over the investigation from the State’s Comptroller, who had been looking into reports Cohen received illicit benefits from James Packer.

Packer is also connected to a separate probe into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is suspected of received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cigars, champagne and other gifts.

Channel 10 says the state prosecutor will have to decide whether or not to open an official investigation into the spy chief.

UN Mideast envoy warns against Israeli West Bank annexations

Calls for Israel to annex parts or all of the West Bank risk destroying prospects for peace, the UN envoy for the Middle East warns.

Some Israeli ministers have called for an annexation of land and US President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has voiced support for such a move.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov delivers the warning to the Security Council, which met for the first time since the adoption of a contentious resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements.

“In the aftermath of the vote, emotions on the ground have been heightened,” he says. “Calls have been made for the annexation of parts of or the whole of Area C,” which constitutes about 60 percent of the West Bank.

“Such divisive positions risk destroying the prospects for peace,” he says.


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