The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey is preparing to take steps to launch an international investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In comments carried by state-run Anadolu Agency, Cavusoglu said Turkey had prepared the groundwork and would soon take the “necessary steps.” He does not elaborate.
The Washington Post columnist, who wrote critically about the Saudi crown prince, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.
The kingdom has indicted 11 people, including some from the prince’s entourage, over the killing and is seeking the death penalty against five of them.
Turkey has complained of a lack of cooperation by Riyadh to ensure that all those responsible are held to account and has said it could seek an international probe.
KIEV, Ukraine — Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko officially launches her bid for the country’s presidency, with polls showing her as a frontrunner.
“I’m running for the presidency,” she tells a session of her nationalist Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party to cheers from the crowd.
The Lod District Court sentences seven members of crime organizations to 18-24 months each for attempted attacks on members of other criminal groups.
Six of the men pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy and the seventh was convicted for arms possession.
The seven were convicted in a case linked to a police undercover agent, Anton Roman, who was assassinated by the Levi criminal organization in 2017.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri says his Shas party will back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lead the country after the April 9 elections, even if the premier is indicted in any of the three corruption cases in which he is embroiled.
In November, police recommended Deri himself be indicted on a slew of corruption charges, including alleged fraud and money laundering committed while in office.
Speaking at the launch of his ultra-Orthodox party’s election campaign in the Knesset, Deri says Netanyahu can stay in office as long as he is legally allowed to do.
The legal question is unclear. Israeli law forces a prime minister to resign only after he or she is convicted, but courts have ruled regarding other ministerial posts that ministers may be required to resign once indicted.
“We completely support Benjamin Netanyahu and will only recommend him for prime minister,” Deri says, “even if there is an indictment, as long as the law permits him. Prime Minister Netanyahu knows that we are his mostly faithful and sure partners, the members of the Shas party,” he continues. “We did not threaten him or turn on him. We were more faithful partners to him than some members of Likud.”
BRUSSELS, Belgium — European states must ensure Jewish people have a future on the continent, a senior EU official warns at the site of a notorious anti-Semitic attack.
Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova appears at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, where four people were shot dead in May 20l4, to demand a bloc-wide action plan.
In support of her argument, she cites figures showing that 90 percent of European Jews feel that anti-Semitism is rising, compared to one-third of the general public.
“In fact, four in 10 Jews (once again!) think about leaving Europe,” Jourova says. “When Jews have left Europe in the past, it has never been a good sign of the state of Europe.”
As she speaks, across the city in Brussels’ main criminal court, alleged French jihadist Mehdi Nemmouche is on trial accused of the museum murders.
VIENNA, Austria — Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad defends Malaysia’s ban on Israeli athletes, likening it to US President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Malaysia sparked a row with Israel after saying it would not allow Israeli swimmers to compete in a tournament later this year that serves as a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
“Every country has the right to accept or refuse entry of anybody,” Mahathir tells a press conference in Vienna.
“You can see that in America now they are erecting a very high wall to prevent Mexicans from going to America,” he says.
“We have the same idea, that people who are undesirable for our country will be kept out of our country,” Mahathir adds.
Last week Israel said the decision was motivated by “rabid anti-Semitism” on Mahathir’s part.
Mahathir, now 93 and in his second stint as premier, has in the past attracted criticism for attacks on Jews.
An Orthodox rabbi is appointed to serve in the Illinois State Legislature.
Rabbi Yehiel Kalish was sworn in to the Illinois House of Representatives on Sunday night. Kalish, 43, is the first rabbi to serve as an Illinois state representative.
“I may be the first rabbi in any state legislature. And that’s very exciting,” Kalish told the CBS affiliate in Chicago.
The rabbi is married and has six children.
He replaces Rep. Lou Lang, a Democrat who served in the legislature for 32 years. Lang resigned following his reelection after receiving a partnership offer from prominent lobbying firm Advantage Government Strategies. He was harmed last year by a sexual harassment allegation, though absolved of the allegations after an investigation by the Illinois Inspector General. Lang was on the three-member committee that selected Kalish from among 20 possible candidates.
Kalish will represent the Illinois House 16th District, which includes Rogers Park, Skokie, Lincolnwood and Morton Grove. Orthodox Jews comprise about 30 percent of the district, according to Yeshiva World News.
Kalish is chief executive of S4 Group, a government affairs and business development firm that devises strategies for private companies. He also serves as a cantor for Congregation Shaarei Tzedek Mishkan Yair in Chicago. He formerly worked for more than 10 years at Agudath Israel of America, focusing on governmental advocacy in state capitols across the country.
SYDNEY, Australia — Australians farewell Arab Israeli student Aya Maasarwe in emotional vigils and ceremonies as her heartbroken father prepares to return home with her body today, a week after her rape and murder.
The 21-year-old’s body was found by passersby near a tram stop in Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne early Wednesday, hours after she was attacked on her way home. Aya Maasarwe’s murder shocked Australians and sparked a huge outpouring of grief that saw thousands attend gatherings in her memory, and raised questions about the safety of women on public streets.
A 20-year-old, Codey Herrmann, was charged with her rape and murder and remanded in custody pending another hearing on June 7.
Her father Saeed Maasarwe, who flew to Melbourne after news of his daughter’s death, says he was “very surprised” and comforted by the outpouring of support, and called for more forgiveness.
“This is the message we want to send, we want to make the world more peace and more safety, and more beautiful, and more smile; and more forgive each other,” a tearful Maasarwe told reporters late Monday.
“It’s not from me, this is Aya. I talk in my voice, but this is Aya’s mind,” he said, adding that he wished people would “see the light in the dark… and not be in the dark.”
Details of the attack have been withheld from the public by the court at the request of prosecutors as Maasarwe’s family have yet to be told, amid reports of the graphic nature of the information.
BERLIN — German prosecutors say they’ve pressed charges against a 29-year-old Syrian man who allegedly was a member of a foreign terror group and violated the war weapons control law.
The man, whose name is not given, allegedly joined the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham insurgent group in Syria from 2013 to 2014.
Frankfurt prosecutors say today he allegedly volunteered as a fighter and donated 50,000 Syrian lira, then worth about 250 euros ($284), to the group.
He was also in possession of a Kalashnikov and posed for photos for recruiting purposes showing him on pickup trucks using an anti-aircraft gun and a machine cannon.
The man was detained last February when he entered Germany for the second time. He first came to Germany as an asylum-seeker in 2015 but left again in 2017.
MOSCOW — The Russian military says that one of its long-range bombers has crash-landed in the Arctic, killing two of its crew of four.
The Defense Ministry says that the Tu-22M3 bomber crashed Tuesday while landing in a blizzard in the Murmansk region north of the Arctic Circle. The ministry says two crew were killed while two others were hospitalized.
The bomber wasn’t carrying weapons, according to the ministry’s statement carried by Russian news agencies. There is no immediate word on the cause of the crash.
The Tu-22M3 is a twin-engine supersonic heavy bomber built in the 1980s. Significant numbers have remained in service with the Russian air force, which has used the aircraft in its campaign in Syria.
One IDF soldier is lightly hurt from apparent sniper fire from Gaza, according to initial reports.
The fire targets an IDF force operating on the border fence near the Kissufim crossing.
The soldier is being treated in the field, and will shortly be taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.
The condition of the IDF officer shot on the Gaza border a short time ago is now characterized as moderate. He has bullet wounds in his upper body.
IDF forces are reportedly firing retaliatory rounds at Hamas posts in Gaza. Reports from the Gaza Strip say there are explosions heard in the central part of the Strip. There is no immediate confirmation from the IDF.
Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv’s “Skin” was nominated Tuesday for an Oscar for best live action short film.
The movie, which Nattiv wrote and directed, is based on the story of Bryon Widner, a former skinhead who later renounced white supremacy and had his tattoos removed in a years-long process.
The film focuses on Widner’s decision to break with his skinhead colleagues after becoming involved with a woman who forbade her children from being around his peers.
“RGB,” about the life and impact of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature.
The Oscar nominations are announced today. The 2019 awards ceremony will take place on February 24.
“BlackkKlansman,” a film about a Jewish cop who teams up with an African-American detective to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan, is one of eight films nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Adam Driver, who plays the Jewish police officer, is nominated for best supporting actor in the same film, which also nabs a Best Director nomination for Spike Lee.
Rachel Weisz is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for portraying a friend of England’s Queen Anne in the 18th-century costume dramedy “The Favorite.” The film also picks up a Best Picture nomination and seven other nominations, including Best Costumes.
Composer Marc Shaiman is nominated for Best Original Score for “Mary Poppins Returns,” and for Best Original Song, “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” from the same film. “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” also receives a Best Original Song nomination for the writing and producing team which includes Jewish songwriter, producer and DJ Marc Ronson.
Filmmakers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen receive the nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”
“Roma,” a drama which follows the life of a live-in housekeeper to an upper-middle-class family in Mexico City, also receives 10 nominations, including Best Picture, followed by “A Star is Born” and “Vice” with eight. “Black Panther,” with seven nominations, becomes the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture.
The Israel Defense Forces says an officer was lightly injured by Palestinian rioters during clashes along the southern Gaza border, but says it is not yet sure if he was hit by rocks or by gunfire.
Earlier, Israeli media reported the officer had been shot and moderately wounded.
The IDF says the nature of the officer’s wounds are still being investigated and it cannot say definitively what caused them.
In response to the clashes and the injury of the officer, an IDF tank targeted a Hamas observation post in the southern Gaza Strip, the army says.
— Judah Ari Gross
AACHEN, Germany — The leaders of France and Germany lay out their commitment to a future joint European Army, an idea that has sparked angry reactions from US President Donald Trump.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says closer defense ties agreed on in a new friendship treaty aim to build a Franco-German “common military culture” and “contribute to the creation of a European army.”
Both Macron and Merkel have pushed the idea of a joint European Army for the bloc that would be part of the wider transatlantic NATO alliance.
Macron tells a forum after the signing ceremony that as “authoritarian powers are emerging everywhere … let’s build a real European army to protect ourselves and have a real foreign policy.”
Trump has strongly demanded that European NATO members, especially Germany, pay more for their joint defense but has attacked the idea of a separate European army.
In the new accord, meant as a followup to the 1963 Elysee Treaty, both France and Germany pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder in case of a military attack against either of them, reaffirming a commitment already written into EU and NATO treaties.
Paris and Berlin will also create a new joint Defense and Security Council and seek to harmonize rules for military equipment procurement.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reports that one person was killed and two others injured, one of them seriously, by Israeli tank fire on a Hamas observation post in the southern Gaza Strip.
The man who was killed is identified by the ministry as 24-year-old Mahmoud Abed al-Nabahin.
— Judah Ari Gross
The Israel Defense Forces confirms the officer hurt earlier this evening on the Gaza border was shot and lightly injured by a Palestinian sniper during a riot along the border fence.
“An initial investigation in the field found that during a riot, which included rock throwing, a terrorist opened fire at IDF troops. A bullet struck the helmet of an IDF officer who was stationed at the scene,” the army says.
The officer sustained light wounds and was taken to the hospital for treatment, the IDF says.
— Judah Ari Gross
MILAN — A senator with Italy’s governing 5-Star Movement apologizes for a tweet citing a century-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, which he later deleted.
Elio Lannutti came under fire after posting an article on Twitter that cited the fabricated, anti-Semitic “Protocols of Zion,” which asserted a Jewish plan for global domination, to attack the international banking system. A member of the opposition Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, called the words “the lowest point in this mix of hatred, negation-ism and racism that reappears more and more often.”
Lannutti says on Facebook today that he did not intend to offend anyone, “much less the Jewish community.” He says sharing a link didn’t mean endorsing the contents, adding, “I would like to stress that I am not, and will never be, an anti-Semite.”
The Hamas terror group’s military wing confirms the man killed in Israel’s artillery strike in Gaza was a member of the organization.
The Hamas operative was identified by Gaza’s health ministry as 24-year-old Mahmoud Abed al-Nabahin.
On its website, Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades says al-Nabahin was a “fighter” who was “martyred” in the Israeli attack on an observation post near the el-Bureij refugee camp, in a retaliatory strike following sniper fire from Gaza that wounded an IDF officer.
— Judah Ari Gross
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon’s army says it has arrested a suspected agent of Israel’s spy agency Mossad over a failed bid to assassinate a Hamas official in the south of the country.
In January 2018, Mohammed Hamdan, a security official with the Lebanese branch of Hamas, was wounded in the leg in a car bomb blast in the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon. Lebanon and Hamas blamed Israel for the attack, and days after the January 14 blast Beirut authorities said they had arrested a man suspected of involvement in the car bombing.
A statement at the time said he was “one of the main perpetrators of the crime, who confessed to being tasked by Israeli intelligence.”
Today, the Lebanese army says in a statement a second male suspect “who carried out surveillance” before last year’s bombing had also been arrested. The second suspect “has admitted to being a Mossad agent since 2014,” it says, without specifying his nationality.
Airbnb, which has taken heat for removing listings in West Bank Jewish settlements, has updated the areas it would delist, adding two contested autonomous areas in the republic of Georgia.
South Ossetia and Abhkazia has been added to the places where Airbnb will not offer rooms and homes for rent.
In November, Airbnb announced that it would remove listings in the settlements, citing the “dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“As a global platform operating in 191 countries and regions and more than 81,000 cities, we must consider the impact we have and act responsibly,” the company said late last week in an updated statement titled “Framework for Evaluating Listings in Disputed Areas.” “Accordingly, we have developed a framework for evaluating how we should treat listings in disputed territories, including territories some consider occupied where homes — the core of our business — are central to ongoing tensions.”
The company said it is continuing to review other areas of the world that are the subject of disputes.
A visit to the Airbnb website shows that rentals in Jewish settlements remain posted and are rentable for the next several months in most cases.
According to the statement, the company is “working with experts to develop and validate the means to implement our policy,” including to “appropriately identify the precise boundaries of the areas subject to our policy.”
But at least one critic points out that the ban on listings in the West Bank is discriminatory, despite the addition of other banned areas.
Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at George Mason University and the director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, says in a series of tweets that Airbnb said it will delist the entire area in South Ossetia and Abhkazia, but in the West Bank it singles out Israeli settlements while continuing to allow rentals in Palestinian cities and villages.
ROCHESTER, New York — Three men are charged with plotting to attack an upstate New York Muslim community with explosives.
WHEC reports that three Rochester-area men are accused of plotting to attack Islamberg, a rural Muslim enclave west of the Catskills.
Police in the Rochester suburb of Greece this weekend arrested 20-year-old Brian Colaneri, 18-year-old Andrew Crysel and 19-year-old Vincent Vetromile. Each was charged with weapons possession and conspiracy.
Court papers say they had multiple, cylinder-shaped explosive devices and mason jars wrapped in duct tape.
Followers of a Pakistani cleric settled Islamberg in the 1980s to flee crime in New York City.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t allow the next installment of $15 million of Qatari funds into the Gaza Strip, according to a source familiar with the decision.
“In the wake of the recent events in the Gaza Strip and after consultations with the security services, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided not to allow the transfer tomorrow of the Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip,” the source says.
The infusion of cash into the Gaza Strip is meant to stabilize Hamas’s rule over the territory and prevent the deterioration of the humanitarian situation there.
Netanyahu has faced criticism from right-wing politicians for allowing previous transfers.
According to unconfirmed reports on social media, explosions are being heard in the northern Gaza Strip in a suspected Israeli air force attack.
Hebrew media report the IDF has shuttered areas near the border to civilian traffic.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi convenes a briefing with Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevy and other top officers after a Gazan sniper shoots and nearly kills and IDF officers at the border.
The officer was only lightly hurt when his helmet absorbed the brunt of the sniper bullet aimed at his head.
WASHINGTON — The top US diplomat for Europe is resigning after only 16 months on the job in a blow to Trump’s administration efforts to maintain trans-Atlantic unity.
The State Department says Wess Mitchell will leave his post in mid-February. He’s the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs.
The department’s deputy spokesman Robert Palladino says Mitchell has been a “valued and effective leader” and a “good friend to our allies and partners in Europe.”
Mitchell’s departure comes at a time of fractious relations between Washington and European capitals amid disagreements over trade, defense spending and the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
Mitchell took up the job in October 2017 under former secretary of state Rex Tillerson after 12 years at a think tank focused on Central European issues.
A Hamas official calls Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to block the entry of Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip later this week “a crime.”
“These funds are to support institutions and people in the Gaza Strip,” the official, who asks not to be named, tells The Times of Israel. “Netanyahu’s decision to prevent their entry is a crime that will push Gaza toward an explosion.”
Following cross-border violence in and around Gaza on Tuesday, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office announced Netanyahu decided to bar the transfer of Qatari funds to the coastal enclave on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Qatari envoy Mohammad al-Emadi told Reuters that $15 million in funds for Hamas-appointed civil servants and poor Gazans would arrive in the coastal enclave on Wednesday.
— Adam Rasgon
The police will request tomorrow to once again extend the remand of the prime suspect in the killing of a Palestinian woman, his lawyer says, in what appears to indicate a further setback in the investigation into the October killing of the mother of eight.
On January 15, prosecutors announced they intended “in the coming days” to indict the Jewish teen alleged to have hurled a stone that struck 47-year-old Aisha Rabi in the head while she was driving with her husband and daughter in the northern West Bank. In making the announcement, the prosecution requested to extend the suspect’s remand until Sunday in order to complete the investigation against him.
However, on Sunday police asked the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court to order the teen remain behind bars an additional four days. The suspect’s attorney said the decision was granted in order to allow investigators time to look into new testimony given by his client, who had remained silent until late last week. The lawyer predicted that upon corroborating the teen’s testimony, they would be forced to release him.
— Jacob Magid
Border Police officers arrest a Palestinian youth caught carrying a knife in the Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site in Hebron in the West Bank.
The youth, a 16-year-old resident of the Palestinian town of Yatta, was reportedly the subject of an intelligence alert, according to Hebrew-speaking media.
He is taken for questioning.
Former Israel Police commissioner Roni Alsheich reportedly believes Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will announce his intention to indict Netanyahu in three corruption cases before the April 9 elections.
“Mandelblit crossed the Rubicon and won’t break,” Alsheich is quoted as saying in a Hadashot TV news report. “I have no doubt the indictment against the prime minister will include charges of bribery,” Alsheich reportedly adds.
The United States says today an international conference next month to promote peace and stability in the Middle East is not aimed at demonizing Iran.
US deputy ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen told the Security Council that the conference in Warsaw on February 13-14 sponsored by the United States and Poland is also not aimed at discussing the merits of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal known as the JCPOA, which US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
Cohen’s comments follow a tweet by the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who denounced the upcoming conference as America’s anti-Iran “circus.”
Cohen called the ministerial meeting a brainstorming session to “develop the outline of a stronger security architecture” in the Mideast with sessions on the humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen, missile development, extremism and cybersecurity. “It’s also important to state clearly what this ministerial is not: It is not a forum to re-litigate the merits of the JCPOA. While we’ve made our concerns with the JCPOA clear, we respect other states’ decisions to support it,” he says. “It is also not a venue to demonize or attack Iran.”
Cohen says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has outlined a clear strategy to reach a new comprehensive deal with Iran built on the shared global understanding that Iran must cease its destabilizing activities.” But the US envoy says the conference will acknowledge the need for action against Iran’s missile program, Iranian proxy Hezbollah’s tunnels from Lebanon into Israel, and the “unacceptably provocative act by the Iranian and Syrian regimes” in launching a rocket from Syria at Israel over the weekend.
Cohen says these activities, among others, are “drivers of instability in the Middle East, but the scope of the discussion will be much broader than any one country or set of issues.”
The IDF officer who was lightly injured by a sniper attack along the Gaza border earlier today has been sent home from the hospital.
The bullet struck the officer’s helmet. He sustained a cut to the head, which was bandaged in Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center.
“He has been released,” the hospital says.
— Judah Ari Gross
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US will “work” on a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians “immediately following the Israeli elections.”
Speaking by video-conference to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Pompeo says of the Trump administration’s peace plan:
“We’ve been working on this for a long time. Mr. [Jared] Kushner has been in the lead along with Jason Greenblatt in developing our program. We’ve begun to share elements of this across the region. It won’t be a US-driven process. Ultimately, the Israelis and the Palestinians will have to come to an agreement. But we think that the foundations that we have laid and the work that we’ll do immediately following the Israeli elections will set conditions where we can have a constructive conversation.”
He adds, “this problem has troubled the region for decades and decades now. It seems to me that we’re at a point in time where there are ways that we can resolve the primary differences and encourage those two places, the Israelis and the Palestinians, to come together to resolve their differences and get a solution there that has bedeviled the world for an awfully long time.”