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Jordan’s King Abdullah calls Abbas to urge calm

With Abbas okay, Fatah leaders to mobilize mass Friday protests throughout West Bank; Fatah youth movement vows to ‘isolate all settlements’ in Friday violence

  • File: Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a press conference with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)
    File: Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a press conference with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)
  • Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
    Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
  • Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters during clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the  West Bank on July 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
    Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters during clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank on July 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
  • Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett speaks during a party faction meeting at the Knesset, on July 24, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett speaks during a party faction meeting at the Knesset, on July 24, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
  • Thousands of Muslim worshipers participate in evening prayers outside the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, refusing to enter the Temple Mount enclosure to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque inside, July 25, 2017. (Dov Lieber /Times of Israel)
    Thousands of Muslim worshipers participate in evening prayers outside the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, refusing to enter the Temple Mount enclosure to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque inside, July 25, 2017. (Dov Lieber /Times of Israel)
  • Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon speaks during the Gush Katif conference at the Tel Aviv Museum on March 23, 2017. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
    Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon speaks during the Gush Katif conference at the Tel Aviv Museum on March 23, 2017. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
  • Illustrative: Members of Hamas's military branches take part in a military parade in Gaza City on July 26, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)
    Illustrative: Members of Hamas's military branches take part in a military parade in Gaza City on July 26, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.

Turkey condemns Israeli criticism of Erdogan over Temple Mount

The foreign ministries of Turkey and Israel are trading barbs over the Temple Mount crisis.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu on Wednesday accuses Israel of making “arrogant” statements after the country’s foreign ministry called remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a day earlier “delusional, baseless and distorted.”

In an emailed statement, Muftuoglu “condemned” the Israeli ministry’s comments and calls on Israel to fulfill its responsibilities by “acting with good sense, restoring the status quo (at the holy site) and lifting all hurdles to the freedom of worship.”

Mufuoglu says: “Trying to cover up the fact that East Jerusalem is under occupation will not serve peace and stability in the region or the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

On Tuesday, Erdogan accused Israel of using security measures as a pretext to take over holy sites in Jerusalem from Muslims.

— AP

Top Muslim official: Worshipers won’t return to Al-Aqsa

A senior Muslim official in Jerusalem says worshipers won’t return to a contested shrine until Israel removes new railings and cameras it installed after a deadly attack there.

Ikrema Sabri says Wednesday that even after Israel removed metal detectors more steps were required. He says mass prayer protests would continue outside the site until the gates of the compound were opened and the metal railings and an iron bridge with cameras on it were removed.

Sabri, the head of the Supreme Islamic Committee, says a lawyer on behalf of the Muslim administration of the holy site will be in touch with Israeli police to demand the changes.

— AP

US Muslims see friendly neighbors, but a foe in White House

US Muslims say they have experienced widespread suspicion about their faith in the first months of Donald Trump’s presidency, but also received more support from individual Americans, and remain hopeful they can eventually be fully accepted in American society, a new survey finds.

Nearly three-quarters of US Muslims view Trump as unfriendly to them, according to a Pew Research Center report released Wednesday. Sixty-two percent say Americans do not view Islam as part of the mainstream after a presidential election that saw a surge in hostility toward Muslims and immigrants.

At the same time, nearly half of Muslims say they had received expressions of encouragement from non-Muslims in the past year, an increase over past polls. And Muslims remain optimistic about their future. Seventy percent believe hard work can bring success in America, a figure largely unchanged for a decade.

“There’s a sense among the American Muslim population that others are beginning to understand them and beginning to sympathize with them,'” said Amaney Jamal, a Princeton University political scientist and adviser to Pew researchers. Prejudice against Muslims has “pushed the average American to say, ‘This is really not fair. I’m going to knock on my neighbor’s door to see if they’re all right,'” Jamal said.

The latest poll of 1,001 adults was conducted by phone, both landline and cellphones, between Jan. 23 and May 2, in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.8 percentage points.

— AP

One killed in Haifa collision, concrete tubes roll onto Tel Aviv highway

A 17-year-old youth is killed in Haifa when his motorcycle slams into a truck on Halutzei Hataasiya Street.

After the collision, the youth became trapped under the truck’s wheels. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

Also Wednesday, drivers on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv were forced to swerve out of the way as a truck carrying massive concrete tubes lost its cargo. One rolled off the truck bed onto the adjacent lane and stopped there, and the second rolled the other way, crushing the metal lane divider and rolling into the island separating the north- and south-bound lanes.

No one is hurt in the Ayalon accident.

Hamas declares ‘victory’ at Temple Mount in Gaza military parade

Hamas’s Ministry of Interior and National Security in Gaza organizes a military parade in Gaza City in which some 2,000 officers and members of the security forces march as part of “solidarity activities” with West Bank protests over new security arrangements on the Temple Mount, the ministry says in a statement.

Citing the purported Palestinian “victory” over Israel — a reference to Israel’s removal of metal detectors at the site early Tuesday — Hamas calls for a “day of rage” on Friday throughout the West Bank.

— Dov Lieber and Times of Israel staff

Hamas, Fatah call for mass protests, ‘rage’ on Friday

Hamas calls on its followers in the West Bank on Friday to participate in “marches of rage” over recent Israeli security measures taken at the Temple Mount following a terror attack there.

This is the second week in a row that Hamas has made such a call.

The Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party also called on its supporters, for the second week in a row, to take to the streets in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday in opposition to Israel’s security measures at the holy site.

Israel removed metal detectors from entrances to the Temple Mount, but left in place metal railings and scaffolding.

— Dov Lieber

Some 40,000 asylum seekers remain in Israel, government figures show

Some 40,000 asylum seekers, chiefly from Eritrea and Sudan, lived in Israel as of the end of 2016, the government’s Central Bureau of Statistics says in figures released Wednesday.

Most, or 71 percent, are from Eritrea, and another 20% are from Sudan.

Another 169,000 foreign laborers were in the country at year’s end, some 95,000 with work visas and 74,000 with tourist visas, according to the Ynet news site.

The figure marks a drop of some 8-9 percent in both figures over the course of 2016. At the end of 2015, the CBS reports, Israel was home to 43,000 asylum seekers and 183,000 foreign laborers.

Jewish athlete barred from 1936 Berlin Olympics dies at 103

Margaret Bergmann Lambert, an outstanding high jumper who was barred from the 1936 Berlin Olympics because she was Jewish, dies in New York aged 103.

Her niece, Doris Bergman, confirms that Bergmann Lambert had died Tuesday, the New York Times reports.

In June 1936, just a month before the Olympics, Bergmann Lambert, then a German citizen known as Gretel Bergmann, won a meet against some of the best German high jumpers with a leap of 5 feet 3 inches. That height tied a German record and would have been good enough to win the gold medal.

Shortly after winning that June meet, held at Adolf Hitler Stadium in Stuttgart, she received a letter from Nazi officials informing her that she had not qualified. “Looking back on your recent performances,” the letter stated, “you could not possibly have expected to be chosen for the team.” Her accomplishment was removed from the record books.

In 1937, Gretel Bergmann was able to obtain papers that allowed her to immigrate to the United States. In 1938, she married a fellow German refugee, Bruno Lambert, who was a sprinter. He died in 2013.

The couple is survived by two sons, Glenn and Gary; two grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Ms. Lambert continued to compete in track and field events, but for only a few more years. She won the United States women’s high-jump and shot-put championships in 1937 and the high jump again in 1938. She was preparing to try out for the 1940 United States Olympic team when war broke out in Europe, after which she focused her attention on trying to get her parents out of Germany, which she was ultimately able to do.


Rogue Likud MK slams coalition backing for nation-state bill

Speaking in the Knesset plenum, Likud MK Benny Begin slams the coalition for supporting his fellow party member Avi Dichter’s Jewish nation-state bill.

Decrying the lack of explicit mention of minority rights in the proposal, Begin tells lawmakers he will vote against the legislation when it comes to a Knesset vote.

“I don’t support it and I won’t support it in the way it was submitted,” he says.

“There cannot be any conflict between nation-state, nationalism, and equal rights,” adds Begin.

Begin, who has drafted his own version of the bill, says his Jewish nation-state proposal could have earned the support of 90 of the 120 Knesset members.

Both the opposition Yesh Atid and Zionist Union parties have said they would support Begin’s version, which affirms Israel is the Jewish nation-state that upholds the rights of all of its citizens.

— Marissa Newman

Israeli-owned Berlin bookstore shuttered after far-left protests

A bookshop owned by two Israelis in Berlin closes its doors amid speculation that its shuttering is the result of threats and pressures by far-left activists.

The store, described by its owners as a “conceptual English bookshop” was situated at the Neukölln district.

Co-owner Doron Hamburger writes in a statement on Facebook this week that the “the real reason for closing [is] first and foremost financial.”

But a columnist for the Zeit newspaper, Armin Langer, who has looked into the matter, wrote in an article published Tuesday that the store “has to close because of threats.”

But he also says the decision is connected to an anti-fascist protest against a planned event at the shop last March that was to focus on the philosophy of fascist Italian Julius Evola, who today is considered an inspiration to the alt-right movement in the United States. The event was cancelled. Hamburger refers to the protest as the last straw that led to closure.

Langer says the discussion about Evola was not scheduled to celebrate his views, but rather to deconstruct or mock them.


Billionaire unjustly jailed in Putin’s Russia to represent Jewish communities

Eight years after his release over wrongful imprisonment in Russia, the Israeli billionaire Mikhael Mirilashvili is elected to lead the World Jewish Congress’s Euro-Asian affiliate, representing communities from Ukraine to Singapore.

Mirilashvili, who had spent eight years in a Russian prison until 2009 on trumped up charges connected to his father’s abduction, was voted president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress Monday, the organization says, replacing the Austrian baking magnate Julius Meinl.

Mirilashvili, a 57-year-old physician turned industrialist who was born in the Caucasian republic of Georgia, presented a relatively conservative agenda in his acceptance speech delivered in Ramat Gan during the general assembly meeting of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.

“We need to strengthen the connection of the Diaspora with Israel and help to reduce assimilation, educating the younger generation, based on the values ​​and traditions of the Jewish people,” said Mirilashvili.

The dark-haired, blue-eyed Mirilashvili is one of Israel’s wealthiest citizens, according to Haaretz. The owner of an estimated fortune of $3 billion, his leadership role at the helm of the EAJC may, especially if it is coupled with the allocation of new funding for projects, reposition the organization as a more influential player in Jewish community politics than it has been in recent years.

Mikhael Mirilashvili’s son, Yitzhak, is the owner of Israel’s Channel 20, a right-leaning television channel in Israel.


French justice minister won’t act on Halimi ‘cover up’ trial

Citing the constitutional principle of separation of powers, France’s justice minister says she would not intervene in the trial of a killer whom French Jews said should be charged with a hate crime.

The minister, Nicole Belloubet, says this at the beginning of a meeting she has with the president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, Francis Kalifat, and two of his deputies, CRIF says in a statement. The meeting is about the April 4 slaying of Sarah Halimi, a physician and teacher in her sixties. A neighbor, Kobili Traore, hit her and threw her out of the window of her third-story apartment in Paris.

Traore prayed to God during the incident, which he has admitted perpetrating but maintains was the result of temporary insanity. He has no record of mental illness. Halimi’s daughter says Traore had called her, the daughter, a “dirty Jew” in the elevator of her mother’s building.

Kalifat and many other leaders of France’s Jewish community say Traore’s behavior suggests the killing of Halimi was an anti-Semitic hate crime and demanded he be prosecuted accordingly. However, an indictment filed against him does not mention anti-Semitism or any other aggravating element.

CRIF has called the indictment a cover-up.

Belloubet says she empathizes with Halimi’s relatives and is following the trial closely, but that she would not intervene, the CRIF statement Tuesday says.


Bennett slams handling of Temple Mount crisis, backs Netanyahu

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett says Israel must not “broadcast weakness” in its fight against terrorism and mustn’t make short-term decisions that will have dire effects in the long term, an apparent criticism of the government’s decision to remove the metal detectors at the Temple Mount.

But the education minister says that while it’s “no secret” he opposed the security cabinet decision, he nonetheless “supports the prime minister.”

He also criticizes the opposition for slamming the government handling of the crisis, saying they must “choose a side.”

“There are those who are right — and there are terrorists,” he says. It’s “black and white. Choose a side — a fight against terrorism must be fought with a unified and determined front,” he says.

Bennett accuses Arab MKs of perpetuating a “blood libel” about alleged Israeli efforts to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, saying they know the claim is false.

He says Arab lawmakers who participated in Palestinian protests outside Jerusalem’s Old City are fanning the flames and “praying for another escalation,” while they know full well “there is no attempt to change anything” at the Mount.

— Marissa Newman

Police block journalists from parts of Old City

The Israel Police acknowledges it is preventing journalists from entering parts of the Old City of Jerusalem as part of its efforts to lower tensions around the Temple Mount.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says Wednesday that “journalists are being prevented from coming in those specific areas where there have been disturbances and riots.” He says it is a decision made by the Jerusalem Police.

Reporters have complained this week that they were being prevented from covering the unrest around the shrine while tourists were able to freely move about the city and film with their mobile phones.

The Foreign Press Association says journalists have been shoved and it has created “a dangerous situation” where accredited journalists were blocked from doing their jobs.

— AP

Netflix goes Hebrew, a year and a half after arriving in Israel

Netflix, the online video streaming service, announces it is launching a Hebrew-language interface roughly a year and a half after becoming available in Israel.

The new Hebrew-language version will also stream Israeli television and cinema for an additional monthly fee of NIS 29.90 ($8.30), Channel 2 reports.

Soldier lightly hurt in gun accident on army base

A soldier is lightly hurt from a ricocheting bullet after a gun is set off accidentally in a base in the center of the country.

The soldier is taken to hospital.

Jailed blogger in Azerbaijan seeks extradition to Israel

The lawyer for a Russian blogger jailed in Azerbaijan for traveling to a separatist-controlled region of the former Soviet republic says his client has petitioned to be extradited to Israel.

Alexander Lapshin was detained in Belarus last year and extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was charged for his trip to Nagorno-Karabakh via Armenia several years ago. He was sentenced to three years in prison earlier this month.

Defense lawyer Eduard Chernin says that his client has met with an Israeli consul in prison and petitioned to be extradited there. Lapshin holds Russian, Ukrainian and Israeli citizenship.

Since a separatist war ended in 1994, Nagorno-Karabakh has been under the control of forces that claim to be local ethnic Armenians but that Azerbaijan alleges include Armenian troops.

— AP

Trump says transgender people barred from US military

US President Donald Trump announces that transgender people may not serve “in any capacity” in the US military, citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” their presence would cause.

In late June, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis delayed for six months a plan put in place under Barack Obama’s administration to start accepting transgender recruits.

An estimated 2,500 to 7,000 transgender people are among the 1.3 million active duty service members.

“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military,” Trump tweets.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

The issue of transgender rights in America has been increasingly in the spotlight in recent months, especially over how states regulate the use of public restrooms.


Ex-defense minister blasts cabinet for failing to coordinate with Jordan

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon says Muslim leaders’ protests over the Temple Mount are not about the metal detectors, but about control of the site.

“There’s a blood libel against us that we’re allegedly going to destroy Al-Aqsa. This isn’t a new thing. This is about some elements that want to take over the Temple Mount,” he tells Channel 2.

He points an accusatory finger at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who he says “is challenging Jordanian control over the Temple Mount.”

And he castigates Israeli decision-makers for failing to consult with the Jordanians before imposing new security arrangements after the July 14 terror attack at the site.

“Because of that sensitivity, you have to understand that if you’re going to put metal detectors, you have to coordinate it with the Jordanians. That wasn’t done,” he says.

US senators criticize FBI, Justice in Russia probe

The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee are criticizing the FBI and the Justice Department for lax enforcement of a law that requires registrations of foreign agents in the United States.

The law, known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, has received renewed attention as federal investigators probe potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, belatedly registered in June with the Justice Department for political consulting work he did for a Ukrainian political party. He acknowledged that he coached party members on how to interact with US government officials.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the committee, says there’s been weak enforcement of the law for decades.

— AP

US congressman shot in baseball field attack leaves hospital

Steve Scalise, the US congressman shot last month by a gunman angry about US President Donald Trump, is released from the hospital and will undergo extended rehabilitation, the hospital announces Wednesday.

“Yesterday, he was discharged from MedStar Washington Hospital Center and is now beginning a period of intensive inpatient rehabilitation,” the hospital says in a statement.

The 51-year-old Scalise “is in good spirits and is looking forward to his return to work once he completes rehabilitation.”

Scalise, the majority whip who rallies Republican votes in the House of Representatives, was shot in the hip at a congressional baseball game practice on June 14, in an attack that stunned Washington.


With Abbas okay, Fatah leaders to mobilize mass Friday protests throughout West Bank

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has given his okay for the leaders of the Fatah Tanzim militia to take part in planning mass demonstrations this Friday, and in the days that follow, over the continuing tensions on the Temple Mount.

Meetings were held today between representatives of various Palestinian factions at the office of Fatah deputy chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul. Jabal al-Mheissen, responsible for Tanzim on the Fatah central committee, and former Palestinian intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi were at the meetings, along with the heads of Fatah’s regional branches in the West Bank.

The assembled leaders call to conduct Friday prayers in public places — not in mosques, in protests at continued security measures at the Temple Mount — as well as general readiness and “escalating” protests “in all of Palestine as an [act of] victory for the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Abbas approved the meetings, their content, and the decisions that were taken.

— Avi Issacharoff

Fatah youth movement vows to ‘isolate all settlements’ in Friday violence

The “Shabiba” youth movement of the Fatah calls on Palestinians to remain “steadfast” in the defense of Jerusalem.

In a statement Wednesday, the movement backs Fatah leader and PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to freeze all coordination with Israel, and calls for widespread participation in planned protests on Friday.

The movement promises “the expansion of the circle of confrontation with the occupation forces, isolation of settlements and the opening of all fronts, in villages, cities and refugee camps.”

The statement says the planned actions will target all settlements and roads leading to them.

— Avi Issacharoff

Waqf renews demand to cancel new security arrangements

Palestinian sources say a meeting was held earlier today between a representative of the Islamic Waqf, which administers the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound atop the Temple Mount, and Jerusalem Police chief Deputy Commissioner Yoram Halevy.

It’s the second meeting between the two.

The Waqf representative, an attorney charged with carrying out talks with Israeli officials, demands that conditions at the site “return to what they were before” the July 14 terror attack that left two Israeli cops dead.

That includes reopening five gates to the Temple Mount closed in the latest crisis, removal of five new cameras installed in the Mount area, and removal of metal railings placed at the entrances.

The Israel Police says in response that it maintains regular contact with the Waqf over the situation at the Mount, but there are no negotiations taking place.

With the security arrangements ordered by Israel’s cabinet completed, the Temple Mount is now open to Muslim worshipers, and a few dozen worshipers are visiting the site on a private basis, police say.

When the Waqf agrees to renew regular prayer at the site, it will enjoy the cooperation of the police, a spokesperson adds.

— Avi Issacharoff

Two boys seriously hurt after iron gate falls on them in E. Jerusalem

An 8-year-old boy is in critical condition and another is in serious condition at Shaare Zedek Medical Center after an iron gate falls on them in the Tsur Baher neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

The accident is under investigation.

Knesset advances bill to make it harder to withdraw from East Jerusalem

Amid continuing tensions over the Temple Mount, the Knesset advances an amendment that seeks to make it more difficult to hand over parts of Jerusalem in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The bill would amend the Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel to require 80 votes in the Knesset — or two-thirds of parliamentarians — to relinquish Israeli control over any part of municipal Jerusalem.

The bill, authored by lawmakers from the Jewish Home party, passes its first reading by a vote of 51 to 41.

It now returns to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee for further changes, and will come up for its final two votes in the Knesset’s winter session that begins in October.

Jordan’s King Abdullah calls Abbas to urge calm

Jordan’s King Abdullah II appears to be calling on the Palestinian Authority to work to calm tensions over the Temple Mount, just hours after PA President Mahmoud Abbas called on leaders of his Fatah faction to escalate protests over the holy site planned for Friday.

In a phone call, the two leaders “stressed the importance of continuing coordination to bring the situation back to what it was before the outbreak of the crisis and ensure that the historical and legal status in the Holy Mosque is respected,” according to a statement carried by the official Petra news agency.

Items from Auschwitz death camp to tour Europe, America

An exhibit of some items from the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz are going on a tour of Europe and North America to bring its tragic truth about the Holocaust to a wider audience.

The exhibit — called “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away” — will be the first-ever traveling show done by the museum and will include 600 original items. Most of them will come from the Auschwitz museum, but also from other collections, like Israel’s Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, and from survivors.

“Today, when the world is moving in uncertain directions,” the exhibition can be a “great warning cry for us all” against building a “future on hatred, racism, anti-Semitism and bottomless contempt for another human being,” museum chief Piotr M.A. Cywinski said.

The exhibit aims to tell victims’ stories through their personal items. It will also show an original barrack from the Auschwitz-Monowitz part of the camp and a German freight train wagon that the Nazis used to bring inmates to the camp.

The project will visit seven cities in Europe, starting in Madrid later this year, and seven in North America. The names of the cities in North America have not been released yet.

— AP

Hamas slams EU court’s upholding of its terror designation

Hamas slams the European Union’s top court, which decided earlier today to uphold the group’s designation as a terror organization.

It says the decision “has no bearing on politics.”

“We will keep up our legal battle to have Hamas removed from the list of terrorist organizations,” a statement from the terror group says.

AFP contributed to this report.

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