search
Live updates (closed)

Boris Johnson named UK’s new foreign secretary in cabinet shakeup

PM Theresa May takes office, moves Hammond to finance ministry; Israeli Rabbinical court nixes conversions by prominent New York rabbi Lookstein

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

  • Rabbi David Stav (right), founder and president of Israel's Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, expressed his full support for New York's Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, whose US Orthodox conversions had been challenged by the rabbinate, following a July 5, 2016, meeting. (Yakov Gaon)
    Rabbi David Stav (right), founder and president of Israel's Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, expressed his full support for New York's Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, whose US Orthodox conversions had been challenged by the rabbinate, following a July 5, 2016, meeting. (Yakov Gaon)
  • Incoming prime minister Theresa May (2nd L) followed by her husband Philip John, arrive at Buckingham Palace in London on July 13, 2016 for an audience with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II where the former Home Secretary was invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEVE PARSONS)
    Incoming prime minister Theresa May (2nd L) followed by her husband Philip John, arrive at Buckingham Palace in London on July 13, 2016 for an audience with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II where the former Home Secretary was invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEVE PARSONS)
  • Britain's outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London, on July 13, 2016, as he prepares to address his last Prime Minister's Question Time at the House of Commons.(AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS)
    Britain's outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London, on July 13, 2016, as he prepares to address his last Prime Minister's Question Time at the House of Commons.(AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday, July 10, 2016 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday, July 10, 2016 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • Col. Eyal Karim on April 21, 2016 (Diana Khananashvili/Defense Ministry)
    Col. Eyal Karim on April 21, 2016 (Diana Khananashvili/Defense Ministry)
  • Britain's outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London, on July 13, 2016, as he prepares to address his last Prime Minister's Question Time at the House of Commons.(AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS)
    Britain's outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London, on July 13, 2016, as he prepares to address his last Prime Minister's Question Time at the House of Commons.(AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS)
  • President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (C) attends the 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit at Istanbul Congress Center (ICC) on April 14, 2016 in Istanbul. (AFP/SEBNEM COSKUN)
    President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (C) attends the 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit at Istanbul Congress Center (ICC) on April 14, 2016 in Istanbul. (AFP/SEBNEM COSKUN)
  • An item seized by the Defense Ministry at the Erez Crossing to the Gaza Strip (Defense Ministry Crossings Authority)
    An item seized by the Defense Ministry at the Erez Crossing to the Gaza Strip (Defense Ministry Crossings Authority)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s developments as they unfolded.

Nuke deal holding but more work needed — Iran negotiator

Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers is holding a year after it was agreed on but more needs to be done to ensure its full implementation, a top Iranian negotiator says Wednesday.

“The total process has been relatively satisfactory despite the difficulties that we see in the implementation,” Hamid Baeidinejad tells a press conference in Tehran for the first anniversary of the agreement.

“We believe that the deal has not been violated so far and efforts continue to resolve the remaining issues,” Baeidinejad says.

Asked if Iran had oversold the deal to its people, Baeidinejad says: “We knew exactly what was agreed upon in the deal and what was not.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press-conference following a meeting with his Swiss counterpart in the capital Tehran, on February 27, 2016. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press-conference following a meeting with his Swiss counterpart in the capital Tehran, on February 27, 2016. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

He says Tehran “had more expectations on the removal of economic, banking and financial restrictions, but despite all these deficiencies there is a feeling of hope inside our country to remove these obstacles” through more talks.

“We will not agree to anything less than the full implementation of the JCPOA,” he says, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the agreement.

The agreement caused “great optimism” in Iran on “unrelated issues,” Baeidinejad says, but those expectations are “fortunately being balanced and adjusted to reality.”

President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday also praises the “new atmosphere” created by the accord, saying it can lead to “better economic, defense, and technological activity” for Iran.

“In some fields, including banking, we still haven’t reached the expected level, although good steps have been taken in this regard and some connections have been made with big international banks,” Rouhani is quoted as saying by official news agency IRNA.

AFP

Iran ‘completely ready’ to restore nuke program — Rouhani

Iran’s president says the Islamic Republic could restore elements of its nuclear program that were halted under its landmark deal if world powers that backed the agreement don’t live up to their end of the bargain.

President Hassan Rouhani makes the remarks televised on state TV on Wednesday, a day ahead of the one-year anniversary of the deal between Tehran and the United States and other world powers. The agreement called for caps on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Rouhani hails the nuclear deal as widely beneficial, saying it promotes peace and stability and that violating it “will harm everyone.”

But he also assures Iranians that Iran is “completely ready” and able to restore its nuclear program quickly if other parties violate the deal.

AP

Egypt working hard to renew peace talks, official says

A senior Egyptian official tells The Times of Israel that Egypt is aiming to reach a formula that will be accepted by both sides, the PA and Israel, regarding the renewal of peace negotiations.

The official says it may be premature to invite both sides to a summit without understandings regarding the goals of the talks.

Avi Issacharoff

France shuts missions in Turkey over security fears

France on Wednesday says it has closed its embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul until further notice for security reasons after canceling events to mark the July 14 Bastille Day holiday.

“The Embassy of France in Ankara, as well as the Consulate General in Istanbul will be closed from Wednesday July 13, 1:00 pm (1000 GMT), until further notice,” the embassy says in a statement after scrapping the July 14 receptions at the missions on security grounds.

AFP

Israeli who crossed into Gaza identified

The Israeli who crossed into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday is identified as Jouma’a Ibrahim Abu Ghanimeh, 19, of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Hashem Zana.

The teenager was in “emotional distress,” the Haaretz news site reports.

“He was irritated and didn’t want to work,” an unnamed relative is quoted as saying. “His brothers pressured him [to work] and that’s why he decided to leave. He doesn’t know any other area, and two days ago he went out with a herd of sheep, got close to the border and crossed it.”

Trump takes narrow lead over Clinton in Florida poll

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has overtaken his opponent Hillary Clinton in the battleground state of Florida, with the race too close to call in two other swing states, a new poll shows Wednesday.

“Donald Trump enters the Republican Convention on a small roll in the three most important swing states in the country,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

Trump is leading 42-39 percent in Florida, compared to a 47-39 Clinton advantage in a June 21 poll.

In Ohio, Clinton and Trump are tied at 41 percent, while in Pennsylvania, Trump has 43 percent support over Clinton’s 41 percent.

These are slight changes from June 21, when they were tied 40-40 in Ohio and Clinton had a 42-41 lead in Pennsylvania.

AFP

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. (Jessica Kourkounis, Jogn Sommers II/AFP)

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. (Jessica Kourkounis, Jogn Sommers II/AFP)

Israel ‘secretly’ pushing for restitution for Jews from Arab lands

Israel is working covertly on restitution for Jews who immigrated to Israel from Arab countries, an official from the Social Equality Ministry tells the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee.

“At this time, there are classified activities with the Foreign Ministry in which we will invest millions to retrieve the property of the Jews from Arab countries and Iran, which will come together in the next month, month and a half,” says Avi Cohen.”I can’t elaborate beyond that.”

Pharrell Williams said to cancel Israel show

Singer Pharrell Williams has canceled his show in Israel due to “unforeseen scheduling conflicts,” Channel 2 reports.

The show was scheduled for July 21.

Ticket-holders will be reimbursed, starting Sunday, the report says.

Williams’ manager says he hopes to schedule another Tel Aviv show in the future.

The king of happy, Pharrell Williams, is coming to Israel on July 21, with a performance at Rishon Lezion's LIVE Park (Courtesy Pharrell Williams' Facebook page)

Pharrell Williams (Courtesy Pharrell Williams’ Facebook page)

Defense Ministry thwarts ‘unusual’ smuggling efforts to Gaza

The Defense Ministry says it has thwarted efforts to smuggle items into the Gaza Strip through the Erez Crossing.

“Among the items unearthed are security cameras, 14 small UAVs, UAV components and model airplanes, binoculars, laser pointers for weapons, communications equipment and electronic boards, tasers, weapons components, diving watches equipped with flashlights, flippers, miniature cameras, GoPro cameras, DVR cameras, banned electronic components, satellite communications equipment, surveillance cameras, telephone switchboards, Wi-Fi antenna, packages of motion sensors, routers and slingshots. This is a partial list,” it says.

An item seized by the Defense Ministry at the Erez Crossing to the Gaza Strip (Defense Ministry Crossings Authority)

An item seized by the Defense Ministry at the Erez Crossing to the Gaza Strip (Defense Ministry Crossings Authority)

Today’s “discovery was unusual, even to those familiar with the most creative smuggling attempts and methodologies,” it says.

The items, discovered in postal shipments, are confiscated.

Auschwitz memorial says playing ‘Pokemon Go’ not allowed

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum says it does not allow people to play “Pokemon Go” on their smartphones during visits to the former German death camp because it is “disrespectful on many levels.”

“Pokemon Go” is a hugely popular new reality game that uses GPS and allows players to search locations in the real world to find virtual little creatures.

There have been reports of people playing the game at Auschwitz and other somber memorial sites across the world.

The Auschwitz memorial writes Tuesday on Twitter: “Do not allow playing #PokemonGO on the site of our Memorial and similar places. It’s disrespectful on many levels.”

The museum could not be reached for comment Wednesday on the matter.

AP

Germany to apologize over genocide in Namibia

Germany plans to formally apologize to Windhoek for the genocide of indigenous Namibians a century ago, a foreign ministry spokeswoman says Wednesday, but added the move would not carry any obligation of reparations.

“We are working towards a joint government declaration with the following elements: common discussions on the historical events and a German apology for the action in Namibia,” the spokeswoman, Sawsan Chebli, tells reporters.

The joint declaration with the Namibian government can serve as a basis for a parliamentary resolution, she says, adding however that the step would not translate into legal repercussions for Germany.

“On the question of whether there could be reparations or legal consequences, there are none. The apology does not come with any consequences on how we deal with the history and portray it,” she says.

Berlin ruled what was then called South-West Africa as a colony from 1884 to 1915.

Surviving Herero after their escape through the arid desert of Omaheke in German Southwest Africa (modern day Namibia) circa 1907 (Ullstein Bilderdienst, Berlin)

Surviving Herero after their escape through the arid desert of Omaheke in German Southwest Africa (modern day Namibia) circa 1907 (Ullstein Bilderdienst, Berlin)

Incensed by German settlers stealing their land and cattle and taking their women, the Herero people launched a revolt in January 1904 with warriors butchering 123 German civilians over several days. The Nama tribe joined the uprising in 1905.

The colonial rulers responded ruthlessly and General Lothar von Trotha signed a notorious extermination order against the Hereros.

Rounded up in prison camps, captured Namas and Hereros died from malnutrition and severe weather. Dozens were beheaded after their deaths and their skulls sent to German researchers in Berlin for “scientific” experiments.

Up to 80,000 Hereros lived in Namibia when the uprising began. Afterwards, only 15,000 were left.

AFP

Shira Banki’s parents urge attendance at Jerusalem Pride March

The parents of Shira Banki, the 16-year-old girl who was killed in an attack on participants in last year’s Jerusalem gay pride march, call on the public to participate in this year’s march.

“After Shira’s murder, there were many voices saying that even though they don’t agree with the way of life LGTBQ community members live, and moreover they resist the concept of the Jerusalem Pride March — they still cannot accept violence as a legitimate demonstration of disagreement,” Ori and Mika Banki write in a Facebook post Wednesday.

“To all of these voices, and everyone who feels and thinks that way — we expect to see you march this year and in the years to come,” they write.

Shira’s parents invite participants in the march to bring flowers to place at the site where the 16-year-old was stabbed and 10 others injured by Yishai Schlissel, who had been released from prison several weeks before the parade after serving 10 years for a similar though nonfatal attack at the Jerusalem gay pride parade in 2005. He was sentenced to life in prison in June in Jerusalem District Court, and ordered to pay compensation to Shira’s parents.

Shira Banki. (Courtesy of the family)

Shira Banki. (Courtesy of the family)

“Marching on Jerusalem’s Pride March is not just about showing support to the LGTBQ community, it is also about supporting ideas of tolerance and equality for all. To us it also means standing in resistance to violence as a way of solving any dispute or argument,” the Bankis write.

“Shira was not a LGTBQ community member, she believed that every human being has a right to be treated like one, no matter his or her sexual orientation. We all deserve to be treated respectfully, certainly not with violence or disrespect,” the post says.

The 15th Jerusalem Pride March, which is being held in memory of Shira Banki, is scheduled for July 21.

JTA

Friends of Shira Banki around her grave following her burial on August 3. Banki was stabbed during Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade and later died from her wounds (Flash 90)

Friends of Shira Banki around her grave following her burial on August 3. Banki was stabbed during Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade and later died from her wounds (Flash 90)

In final appearance as PM, Cameron urges UK to stay close to EU

Outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday urges his successor Theresa May to try to keep Britain close to the EU even while negotiating to leave it, following last month’s Brexit vote.

“My advice to my successor, who is a brilliant negotiator, is that we should try to be as close to the European Union as we can be, for the benefits of trade, of co-operation and of security,” he tells MPs.

“The Channel will not get any wider once we leave the European Union and that is the relationship that we should seek, that would be good for the United Kingdom.”

It is “vital” that British businesses continue to have “proper access to the single market,” adds the prime minister.

Cameron is speaking during his final appearance in parliament as prime minister, before he tenders his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II and May takes over later Wednesday.

AFP

Britain's outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London, on July 13, 2016, as he prepares to address his last Prime Minister's Question Time at the House of Commons.(AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS)

Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London, on July 13, 2016, as he prepares to address his last Prime Minister’s Question Time at the House of Commons.(AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS)

IDF chief upholds appointment of military rabbi

IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot upholds the appointment of Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim to head the military rabbinate.

Karim has been criticized for several days for various past remarks, including that women’s enlistment is “entirely forbidden” and a statement from over a decade ago that appeared to imply that rape during wartime could be justified.

Col. Eyal Karim on April 21, 2016 (Diana Khananashvili/Defense Ministry)

Col. Eyal Karim on April 21, 2016 (Diana Khananashvili/Defense Ministry)

Ritual baths bill approved for final votes

A bill to prevent non-Orthodox Jews from using state-run ritual baths for conversions is approved for its final votes in the plenum by the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment committee.

“There is no change in the status quo,” says MK Moshe Gafni from the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party. Gafni says the law will not prevent anyone who wishes to use the baths for ritual purposes from doing so. “We must not prevent any man or woman from immersing. A problem was created when the mikvehs were rented out for purposes other than regular purity immersion, so the law allows the religious council not to agree to [rent out the baths].”

Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the Reform movement in Israel warns, “It will start with the Reform converts and within a year it will harm the rights of women who want to immerse. Religious Zionists have already learned that what is done to the Reform and Conservatives, the belligerent ultra-Orthodox establishment also does to the Religious Zionists.”

Likud MK David Bitan says the bill will not be defensible in the High Court of Justice unless a Jewish Agency plan to build several mikvehs for the Reform and Conservative communities goes ahead.

Erez crossing opens for goods for first time in 9 years

A major crossing point between Gaza and Israel is set to reopen for the passage of merchandise for the first time in nine years, the Israeli government announces Wednesday.

“The Erez crossing point will again be open to goods entering Gaza” from Thursday, a spokesman for COGAT, the defense ministry body responsible for implementing government policies in the West Bank and Gaza, tells AFP.

“This measure has been taken to facilitate the work of Palestinian importers and thus help the economy of the Gaza Strip,” adds the spokesman.

Since 2007 Erez has been restricted to individuals, with goods going through Kerem Shalom in southern Gaza. The Turkish aid trucks appeared to enter Gaza through the Erez crossing last week.

AFP, Times of Israel staff

International Red Cross members securing transport for sick Palestinians from Gaza into Israel for medical treatment at the Erez Crossing on June 19, 2007. (Ahmad Khateib/ Flash90)

International Red Cross members securing transport for sick Palestinians from Gaza into Israel for medical treatment at the Erez Crossing on June 19, 2007. (Ahmad Khateib/ Flash90)

Deputy defense chief hails incoming army rabbi as ‘worthy’

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan praises Eisenkot for his decision to stand by the appointment of Karim as the army’s chief rabbi.

“There is no doubt that this is a very worthy appointment,” says Ben-Dahan. “I am certain that Rabbi Karim, as military chief rabbi, will learn to connect with all male and female IDF soldiers, of all stripes, and will be a educational figure and leader.”

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Sexual transmission of AIDS on the rise in Iran

A senior Iranian health official warns Wednesday that sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS was on the rise, in part because of taboos about discussing sex.

Iran’s deputy health minister Ali Akbar Sayari says the share of HIV transmissions through sexual intercourse had doubled in the last decade from 15 to 30 percent.

“The pattern of AIDS transmission through sex is on the rise and people need to be openly informed about it if it’s going to be controlled,” Sayari says at a press conference with Oleg Chestnov, a senior World Health Organization official.

The majority of AIDS transmissions in Iran continue to be through syringes shared among drug addicts, though Sayari says authorities have sought to limit infections by giving out free syringes.

Sayari gives no explanation for the rise in sexual transmissions, but laments that the issue could not be discussed openly in the conservative Islamic republic.

“We cannot explain all these issues openly and transparently to the people,” he says, according to official news agency IRNA.

“For instance, we cannot talk freely about condoms… people need to be given contraceptives.”

Sex outside marriage is illegal under Iran’s system of Islamic sharia law and in recent years the country has passed a series of laws restricting contraception in an effort to increase the birth rate.

As part of its efforts against HIV/AIDS, the government has for the first time set up centers to provide assistance to prostitutes, including checks for sexually transmitted diseases, education on prevention and free contraceptives.

The health ministry said on Tuesday that there are about 32,000 people infected with HIV in Iran, without providing figures from previous years.

AFP

Aiming for Friday announcement, Trump narrows his VP list

Donald Trump has reached the final phase of his search for a running mate, narrowing his list to three leading contenders and directing his staff to prepare for a Friday announcement.

“It’s a little bit like ‘The Apprentice,'” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of Trump’s finalists, says in a Tuesday interview with Fox News Channel. “You find out sooner or later who the last one standing is.”

Along with Gingrich, a boisterous rabble-rouser who has spent decades in Washington, the finalists include Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a steady, staunch conservative who would help to calm nervous Republicans wary of Trump’s style. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka and her husband, Jared, are among those who visited Pence at his residence on Wednesday. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a one-time rival, has become one of Trump’s most trusted advisers and also is said to be among those Trump is considering as a running mate.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R) introduces Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally at the Sharonville Convention Center July 6, 2016, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (John Sommers II/Getty Images/AFP)

Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R) introduces Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally at the Sharonville Convention Center July 6, 2016, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (John Sommers II/Getty Images/AFP)

That’s according to a person familiar with Trump’s thinking, who speaks on condition of anonymity because the person is not authorized to discuss the vetting process. Trump said in a Tuesday interview with The Wall Street Journal that Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is also still in the mix.

Trump has spent weeks consulting with friends and family as he weighs the most important decision of his campaign to date. He’s also met with the candidates and brought his finalists on tour to test their receptions before his crowds. On Monday, it was Christie’s turn in Virginia. On Tuesday, he was joined in Indiana by Pence.

AP

UN says two-state solution ‘slipping away as we speak’

UN special Middle East coordinator Nickolay Mladenov tells Reuters that without a two-state solution, Israel and the Palestinians will live in “perpetual violence.”

“(The two-state solution) is perhaps the furthest away it’s ever been, and in fact it is really worse than that — it is slipping away as we speak,” he says.

“It’s time for the international community and the leadership on both sides to wake up.”

“The only alternative (to a two-state solution) that I see is perpetual violence here in Israel and Palestine and entangling this conflict into the broader problems of the region,” he says, likening it to “writing a blank check to violence and radicalism.”

He says there has been a “dramatic” collapse of trust between the two parties, and predicting renewed negotiations is “close to daydreaming.”

25 Israelis said evacuated from Gondar due to violence

Twenty-five Israelis are evacuated from Gondar, Ethiopia, as violence breaks out between rival tribes, Israel Radio reports.

The Israelis are Jewish Agency emissaries, the radio report says.

Ashkenazi chief rabbi congratulates head military chaplain

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau congratulates Col. Eyal Karim on his nomination to military chief rabbi.

“Rabbi Eyal Karim is a beloved rabbi in Israeli society and will be a exemplary model,” Lau writes in a letter.

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau (center) and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (right) attend a meeting of the Rabbinate Council in Jerusalem in November 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau (center) and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (right) attend a meeting of the Rabbinate Council in Jerusalem in November 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Arab Israeli party slams Egypt FM for meeting Netanyahu

The Hadash party, which is part of the Joint (Arab) List faction in the Knesset, slams Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s “puzzling” visit to Jerusalem.

Shoukry’s trip is a “puzzling step, in light of the Israeli government’s open refusal of peace, and its attempts to annihilate the two-state solution and the right for self determination for the Arab-Palestinian nation,” it says in a statement, according to Haaretz.

“The Israeli government, which rejects all diplomatic initiatives, including the Arab Peace Initiative, is taking advantage of its ties with Arab countries and its open alliance with Turkey and the Gulf states to advance a plan against the Palestinian people which comes at no political or economic cost.”

In March, Hadash — which is led by Joint (Arab) List leader Ayman Odeh — condemned Gulf Arab states for designating the Lebanese group Hezbollah a terror organization, arguing that the move serves Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday, July 10, 2016 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, July 10, 2016 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

ADL ‘disappointed’ with GOP departure from two-state solution

The Anti-Defamation League is “disappointed” that the Republican Party’s draft platform omits any mention of the two-state solution.

“We are pleased that the platform draft affirms the GOP’s unwavering support for a strong and secure Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and unequivocally rejects the BDS movement. Both party platform drafts reflect and reinforce the broad bipartisan consensus in favor of strong US support for Israel that has endured for decades,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, says in a statement.

“We are disappointed that the platform draft departs from longstanding support of a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict – and the shared vision of successive American presidents and prime ministers of Israel, including the current leadership in both countries, who believed it was the only viable way to secure Israel as both a Jewish and democratic state. We hope the delegates will reconsider and reaffirm this pillar of US policy toward Israel in the final platform.”

Syria must explain chemical warfare agents — watchdog

The world’s chemical weapons watchdog is pressing Syria to explain why it has four undeclared warfare agents, its head says Wednesday, after a US official accuses Damascus of continuing to hoard a toxic stockpile.

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons chief Ahmet Uzumcu says despite previous declarations by Syria, OPCW teams have found indications of five additional chemical agents.

After recent consultations with The Hague-based OPCW’s secretariat, Syria “declared research and development of one more chemical agent,” Uzumcu says in a report released last week, of which AFP was given a copy on Wednesday.

But “at present, Syria has not yet adequately explained the presence of indicators of four chemical warfare agents,” Uzumcu says.

The OPCW chief adds that “new information” offered by Damascus has failed to resolve outstanding issues on Syria’s chemical warfare program.

“In many instances, such new information presents a considerable change in narrative… from previous information — or raises new questions,” Uzumcu says.

Uzumucu says the OPCW’s secretariat believed if Syria’s effort continued “without a change in approach” its declaration “is unlikely to yield concrete results.”

AFP

Turkey says 36 IS suspects charged over peace rally attack

Turkish prosecutors are seeking several consecutive life sentences for dozens of suspects accused of involvement in twin suicide bombings that killed 103 people outside Ankara’s train station last year, the state-run news agency reports Wednesday.

There was no claim of responsibility for the October 10, 2015, attack that targeted a peace rally, but Turkish authorities blamed the attack on home-grown Islamic State militants.

Anadolu Agency says that in its indictment, the Ankara prosecutor’s office has charged some of the 36 suspects with crimes against the state, killing some 100 people, attempting to kill 391 people who were hurt in the attack and possession of arms and explosives. Anadolu says they would collectively face more than 11,000 years in prison, but didn’t provide a breakdown. Others face more than 22 years in prison for membership in an armed terror group, the agency said.

A trial date has not yet been set.

The suspects include Ilhami Bali, an alleged IS chief in Turkey and a Kazakh national identified as Walentina Slobodjanjuk, according to Anadolu.

AP

Beersheba gay parade route changed over threats

The High Court of Justice rules the Beersheba gay pride parade, scheduled for Thursday, may not run through the main street in the southern city due to security fears.

The court adopts police recommendations to steer the march away from the city center due to threats of violence against the participants.

Police had told the court they would not be able to sufficiently secure all parade participants, warned that the threats were credible, and urged an alternate route.

UK’s Cameron heads to palace to resign as leader

David Cameron has left 10 Downing St. to go to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation as prime minister.

Cameron says Wednesday it was the “greatest honor” of his life to serve as prime minister. Surrounded by his wife and children, Nancy, Elwen and Florence, Cameron offers an assessment of his tenure saying he left the country stronger and better off.

He wishes his successor Theresa May luck in her negotiations to have Britain leave the European Union — the matter that caused his political career’s demise.

He poses for images in front the shiny black door, waves, and embarks on the brief trip to the palace.

AP

Outgoing British prime minister David Cameron (2nd L) leaves after speaking outside 10 Downing Street with his family (L-R) son Arthur Elwen, his daughter Nancy Gwen, daughter Florence Rose Endellion and his wife Samantha Cameron in central London on July 13, 2016 before going to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II.(AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS)

Outgoing British prime minister David Cameron (2nd L) leaves after speaking outside 10 Downing Street with his family (L-R) son Arthur Elwen, his daughter Nancy Gwen, daughter Florence Rose Endellion and his wife Samantha Cameron in central London on July 13, 2016 before going to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II.(AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS)

Far-right German party expels lawmaker over anti-Semitic comments

A regional lawmaker for Germany’s right-wing populist AfD party is forced out Wednesday over anti-Semitic comments that have deepened a leadership rift and sent support for the party sliding.

Wolfgang Gedeon sparked an uproar after he labeled Holocaust deniers “dissidents” in his pamphlet “Green Communism and the Dictatorship of Minorities.”

In the text, Gedeon also criticized the fact that one of Germany’s biggest memorials, in Berlin, is dedicated not to the nation’s heroes, but to victims of the Holocaust, which he referred to as “certain misdeeds.”

AFP

Wolfgang Gedeon, member of the right-wing populist party AfD (Alternative for Germany) in the regional parliament of Baden-Wuerttemberg, southern Germany, leaves a session of his party's parliamentary group on July 5, 2016 at the regional parliament in Stuttgart.(AFP PHOTO / dpa / Bernd Weissbrod)

Wolfgang Gedeon, member of the right-wing populist party AfD (Alternative for Germany) leaves a session of his party’s parliamentary group on July 5, 2016 at the regional parliament in Stuttgart.(AFP PHOTO / dpa / Bernd Weissbrod)

Israelis, Palestinians swept up in Pokemon Go craze

Israelis and Palestinians are increasingly being caught up in the Pokemon craze sweeping the planet but, like many things in the region, it has quickly turned political.

The Israeli military and president have jumped on the popularity of the Pokemon Go game, while Palestinians have used it to highlight their lack of movement.

Since its release last week, the smartphone game has been winning legions of fans around the world, downloaded millions of times and topping the rankings at official online shops.

The free app, based on a Nintendo title that debuted 20 years ago, has been adapted to the mobile internet age to overlay play on the real world.

The game uses GPS and mapping capabilities in mobile phones to let players roam the real world to hunt cartoon monsters.

This photo illustration taken in Tokyo on July 13, 2016 shows the Pokemon official site through a Japanese internet website announcing the latest information for "Pokémon GO".(AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI )

The Pokemon official site via a Japanese website announcing the latest information for “Pokémon GO,” .July 13, 2016 (AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI )

Roy Latke, managing editor of the Hebrew version of tech website Geektime, says despite the app not being officially released in Israel, it has become a huge hit — with widely publicized ways of cheating the system to download it.

“Everyone is playing it,” he says, adding that in tech-savvy Tel Aviv, like in other cities, what he dubs Pokemon “zombies” can be seen wandering with eyes riveted to smartphone screens.

The Israeli navy shares an image of its forces capturing a Pokemon at sea, with the caption “There are some Pokemon that only we can get to.”

President Reuven Rivlin shares a picture of a cat-like Pokemon in his meeting room where he has greeted world leaders.

“Someone call security,” the caption reads.

Palestinians have been using the app to make political points about Israel’s control over the West Bank and Gaza.

One post widely shared on Twitter showed Pikachu, the most famous Pokemon, emerging from the rubble of a house in Gaza destroyed during war with Israel.

Another post shared by a Palestinian from Hebron in the West Bank referred to Israeli settlements, which most Palestinians are forbidden from entering.

“There is a Pokemon down the street in the settlement… how the hell am I going to catch it?” he writes.

AFP, Times of Israel staff

Cameron formally resigns as UK prime minister

Buckingham Palace says David Cameron has officially resigned as prime minister, AP reports.

Theresa May confirmed as Britain’s new PM

Theresa May becomes Britain’s prime minister after accepting an invitation from the queen at Buckingham Palace to form a government.

AP

Netanyahu congratulates May, thanks Cameron

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sends a letter congratulating Theresa May.

Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Cameron on Tuesday night, thanking him for his support for the Jewish state, a statement from the prime minister’s office says.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also extends his congratulations to May.

German police carry out raids against online incitement

German police on Wednesday launch nationwide raids targeting social media users who posted racial hatred on Facebook and other online networks.

Police swoop down on the homes of some 60 suspects across 14 of Germany’s 16 states, the BKA federal crime bureau says, in a crackdown on “verbal radicalism” and related criminal offenses.

No arrests are made but computer equipment, cameras and smartphones were seized in the first-ever such mass raids targeting online hate crime.

Most of the suspects allegedly belong to a neo-Nazi Facebook group whose users have posted xenophobic, anti-Semitic or other far-right messages.

BKA chief Holger Muench says police are taking a “clear stance against hate and incitement on the internet,” which has increased amid the refugee crisis and is poisoning public discourse.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says that “violence, including verbal violence, in any form and in any context” is “unacceptable.”

He says there are “moral principles offline and online” and stresses that “criminal law applies on the internet.”

AFP

May pledges ‘bold, new, positive’ UK role outside EU

New Prime Minister Theresa May pledges to forge a “bold, new, positive” role for Britain outside the EU, as she takes office on Wednesday.

“Following the referendum, we face a time of great national change and I know, because we are Great Britain, we will rise to the challenge,” she says outside the premier’s Downing Street office, referring to the June 23 vote to quit the EU.

“As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world.”

AFP

The new leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May, left, is greeted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace on July 13, 2016 where the queen invited the former home secretary to become prime minister and form a new government. (AFP/ POOL / Dominic Lipinski)

The new leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May, left, is greeted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace on July 13, 2016, where the queen invited the former home secretary to become prime minister and form a new government. (AFP/ POOL / Dominic Lipinski)

Rabbinical court nixes conversion by Ivanka Trump’s rabbi

The Supreme Rabbinical Court has decided not to recognize conversions performed by US rabbi Haskel Lookstein.

At an appeal hearing regarding the conversion of an American-Israeli woman identified only as Nicole, the court upheld a lower ruling by the Petah Tikva rabbinical court not to recognize her as Jewish. She will be forced to undergo a giyur l’chumra, namely an expedited conversion to Judaism.

Nicole and her fiance agreed to the compromise by the court so as to be able to get married.

The rabbinical court says in a statement they believe she is sincere in her commitment to Judaism. But they say they don’t recognize Lookstein’s conversions, and since the Chief Rabbinate does not have a formalized list of rabbis abroad who may perform conversions, all conversions done outside of Israel must be appraised on a case-by-case basis.

The Chief Rabbinate protested this ruling, saying it was incorrect.

American immigrant Nicole and her Israeli fiancé Zohar. Engaged in April 2016, their marriage has been put on hold because the Israeli rabbinate rejects Nicole's US Orthodox conversion. (courtesy)

American immigrant Nicole and her Israeli fiancé Zohar. Engaged in April 2016, their marriage has been put on hold because the Israeli rabbinate rejects Nicole’s US Orthodox conversion. (courtesy)

“I feel degraded. Essentially, they are saying they don’t recognize my Judaism,” says Nicole, according to a statement. “I love Rabbi Lookstein, he’s my rabbi, he brought me into the world as a Jew, and I don’t want his conversions not to be recognized.”

“I ask that even if I go through the process today, recognize Rabbi Lookstein’s conversions. If you don’t recognize the conversions, then know that I — and many other people — will lose faith in the rabbinate.”

Lookstein also oversaw the conversion of Ivanka Trump.

After Israel’s Chief Rabbinate rejected a conversion performed by prominent modern Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein (right), Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky (left) protested on his behalf. (Ben Sales/JTA)

After Israel’s Chief Rabbinate rejected a conversion performed by prominent Modern Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein (right), Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky (left) protested on his behalf. (Ben Sales/JTA)

Five held for tear-gassing pro-Hebron shooter rally

Five people have been arrested in Tel Aviv on suspicion of tear-gassing a group of youths rallying in Tel Aviv in support of Elor Azaria, a soldier on trial for shooting and killing a wounded Palestinian assailant, Walla news reports.

The group of dozens of right-wing Israelis were marching from Kikar Habima toward the IDF headquarters in the center of the city when they were attacked, according to the report.

 

UK’s Hammond leaves top diplomatic post to become finance chief

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, right, talks to Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders, left and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond at a Foreign Affairs meeting in Luxembourg, June 20, 2016. (AFP/ JOHN THYS)

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, right, talks to Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders, left and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond at a Foreign Affairs meeting in Luxembourg, June 20, 2016. (AFP/ JOHN THYS)

Philip Hammond has become Britain’s new finance minister, Downing Street has announced, replacing George Osborne who quit the government after Theresa May was appointed prime minister.

Hammond was the foreign minister in the outgoing government of David Cameron. It’s not clear who the new foreign minister will be.

AFP

Boris Johnson named new British foreign minister

Boris Johnson, the former London mayor and “Leave” campaign figurehead in Britain’s EU referendum, was appointed foreign secretary on Wednesday in Prime Minister Theresa May’s new government.

Former London Mayor and "Vote Leave" campaigner Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in central London on June 24, 2016. Johnson spearheaded the successful campaign for Britain to leave the European Union. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Mary Turner)

Former London Mayor and “Vote Leave” campaigner Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in central London on June 24, 2016. Johnson spearheaded the successful campaign for Britain to leave the European Union. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Mary Turner)

“The queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Boris Johnson MP as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs,” Downing Street said in a statement.

Johnson will replace Philip Hammond, who is becoming finance minister.

— AFP

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed