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PM said pushing rare plan for Palestinian construction in West Bank’s Area C

Netanyahu seeking ministers’ unanimous okay for permits in areas under Israeli control, alongside settlement construction; development comes days before Kushner’s visit to country

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on April 14, 2019. (Ronen Zvulun/AFP)
Illustrative: Jewish winemakers inspecting grapes at a winery in the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, September 8, 2014. (Gershon Elinson/FLASH90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.

Over NIS 200,000 raised within hours for disabled wife, kids of slain man

An online fundraising campaign for the wife and children of a man shot dead yesterday in central Israel in a dispute over a parking spot has raised more than NIS 200,000 ($60,000) within hours, as more than 1,200 people make donations.

Ofir Hasdai, his wife Dikla and two of their three daughters (courtesy: Facebook)

Ofir Hasdai, 40, was trying to use a disabled spot on behalf of his wife, who has muscular dystrophy, when the fight broke out. He was gunned down in front of his wife Dikla and two of their three daughters, who were in their car in the parking lot of the Azrieli shopping mall in the central city of Ramle. Police arrested a suspect in the shooting, a 74-year-old resident of the nearby town of Lod.

Dikla told media that the couple have three children: nine-year-old twins, one of whom has cerebral palsy, and an 18-month-old who suffers from muscular dystrophy and needs respiration. Their third daughter does not have disabilities.

Ofir was the sole provider for the family. “I have no idea how I will manage alone,” Dikla said. “He did everything.”

Dikla appealed to the public for donations to help the family by making deposits to a bank account. In addition, family friends set up the web page on the Jgive platform for donations to be made online.

Bahrain activists say 22-year-old man dies after protest

Bahraini activists say a young man has died after participating in protests against the execution of two men whose trial drew concern from UN human rights experts.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy says Mohamed al-Miqdad died yesterday at a hospital after being found unconscious on the street shortly after protests against the executions on Saturday. The group says there were clashes at the protests with police firing tear gas, but that activists have been unable to verify the circumstances of his death.

In response to an Associated Press query, the government says a medical report confirmed illness as cause of death for the 22-year-old.

The statement says the individual died “due to natural causes” and that police confirmed that the circumstances leading to his death are not suspicious.

— AP

Britain rules out swapping seized tankers with Iran

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab rejects the idea of swapping seized oil tankers with Iran in a bid to ease escalating Gulf tensions.

“There is no quid pro quo,” Raab tells BBC radio. “This is not about some kind of barter. This is about international law and the rules of the international legal system being upheld. That is what we will insist on.”


Video from Iran shows Revolutionary Guard warning away UK warship

A new video released by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shows a British warship escorting a UK-flagged tanker being warned by the paramilitary troops not to interfere in their seizure of the commercial vessel earlier this month.

The nearly two-minute video shows the British warship Foxtrot 236 during the escort and subsequent seizure of the Stena Impero by the Revolutionary Guard on July 19 in the Strait of Hormuz, the critical shipping waterway between Iran and Oman.

In the video, an Iranian officer is heard telling the British warship: “You are ordered to not interfere in my operation.”

A British officer is heard telling the Iranian officer that the British warship is in international waters with the merchant vessel conducting transit passage.

The Iranian officer responds: “Don’t put your life in danger.”

— AP

Russian opposition leader Navalny to go back from hospital to jail despite ‘poisoning’

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was “poisoned” by an unidentified toxic substance, but doctors have sent him back from hospital to jail despite his condition, his lawyer and personal physician says.

“It is indeed poisoning by some unknown chemical substance,” lawyer Olga Mikhailova tells reporters outside the Moscow hospital that treated the top Kremlin critic. His personal doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva says Navalny had been sent back to jail despite his condition.


Foreign Minister Katz meets Croatian president, urges action against Iran

Foreign Minister Israel Katz meets Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Jerusalem and calls on the country to take firm action against Iran’s nuclear program.

He also thanks Grabar-Kitarovic for Zagreb’s efforts to curb anti-Semitism.

Two arrested in Galilee after 200 firebombs found in their yard

Two residents of the Arab town of Kafr Manda in the Lower Galilee are arrested after some 200 Molotov cocktails are found in their yard.

The two, in their 30s, are taken for questioning and are expected to be brought before a judge tomorrow for a remand hearing.

If finalized, new right-wing merged party will be called ‘The United Right’

If the merger between the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URWP) and New Right is finalized, the joint party will be named The United Right, Hebrew-language media reports say.

The reports add there has been progress in the negotiations, with both sides agreeing on which party will get the 9th slot on the merged party slate.

New Right will get the 1st, 4th and 7th spots and had demanded the 9th as well, but URWP had refused. Is isn’t clear what what was resolved.

Talks are continuing regarding the makeup of spots 11-20.

Labor approves Peretz’s request for spot reserved for candidate of his choice

The Labor Party central committee confirms the party’s list of candidates for the upcoming election and approves chairman Amir Peretz’s request for a reserved spot for a candidate of his choice.

The slate will look like this:

1. Amir Peretz
2. Orly Levy-Abekasis (of the Gesher party)
3. Itzik Shmuli
4. Merav Michaeli
5. Omer Bar Lev
6. Revital Swid
7. Hagai Reznik (Gesher)
8. Reserved spot for a candidate of Peretz’s choosing
9. Eran Hermoni

Germany extradites Bosnian linked to Paris attacks to Belgium

Germany has extradited to Belgium a Bosnian man wanted in connection with the 2015 jihadist attacks in Paris, prosecutors say.

The 39-year-old arrested in June and suspected of having procured weapons for the attackers “was extradited this morning,” Naumburg prosecution service spokesman Klaus Tewes tells AFP.


Eight people injured as minibus crashes, overturns near Haifa

Eight people are injured as a minibus crashes into another car and overturns on Route 70 in northern Israel, near Haifa.

Their condition is not immediately known.

1 seriously, 2 moderately injured in minibus accident near Haifa

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says it is treating eight casualties in the minibus accident in Hatishbi junction near Haifa.

One of them is seriously wounded, two suffered moderate wounds and the rest suffered light wounds, according to paramedics.

Crashed minibus was transporting prisoners, prison guards

The minibus that crashed near Haifa belongs to the Israel Prisons Service and was transporting prisoners and prison guards.

Route 722 is closed to traffic going south as police investigate the circumstances of the crash.

A man in his 50s in serious condition and a man in his 40s in moderate condition are taken to Rambam hospital in Haifa.

New Right to get 9th slot on merged right-wing slate

New Right will get the 9th spot on the election slate of the merged religious right-wing party, for a total of four candidates in the top nine, Channel 12 reports.

The negotiations with the Union of Right-wing Parties have progressed significantly and an agreement could be announced today.

After marathon negotiations, religious right-wing parties announce merger

Religious right-wing parties announce that they will merge into a single electoral slate in the upcoming September elections, with New Right’s Ayelet Shaked leading the party.

New Right and the Union of Right-Wing Parties say they will hold coalition negotiations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the goal of forming a right-wing government led by him — a URWP demand reportedly pushed by Netanyahu himself.

They will demand that candidates from the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, which are not part of the merger, will get a reserved spot on the ruling Likud party slate.

1. Ayelet Shaked (New Right)
2. Rafi Peretz (Jewish Home)
3. Bezalel Smotrich (National Union)
4. Naftali Bennett (New Right)
5. Moti Yogev (Jewish Home)
6. Ofir Sofer (National Union)
7. Matan Kahana (New Right)
8. Idit Silman (Jewish Home)
9. Roni Sassover (New Right)
10. Orit Strock (National Union)

Shaked says she will try to include Otzma Yehudit, Zehut in right-wing union

Ayelet Shaked, leader of the new right-wing alliance, says she will try to include the far-right Otzma Yehudit and the quasi-libertarian Zehut parties in the new party, reportedly to be called United Right.

“This is wonderful news for the right-wing bloc,” Shaked says in a statement. “Weeks of efforts have now borne fruit. We merged the right-wing parties for a joint run to ensure precious votes don’t go into the wastebasket.

“Now I am turning to more mergers,” she adds. “I intend to continue with the efforts to also unite Otzma Yehudit and Zehut. We all need to be in one big party. We will make the most of unity efforts until the last minute.”

Parties have until Thursday to hand in their lists of candidates to the Central Elections Committee. Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin yesterday announced that Zehut would be running alone, accusing Shaked of ignoring his party throughout the negotiations.

Otzma Yehudit slams new right-wing alliance for excluding it

The far-right Otzma Yehudit party denounces a right-wing merger between New Right and the Union of Right-Wing Parties that doesn’t include them, saying it has “nothing to do” with the agreement.

In a statement, Otzma Yehudit mocks the parties for dragging on for weeks negotiations that “could’ve taken two hours,” saying “ego” considerations had prevented a deal thus far.

It dismisses a claim made by the merged parties that they will demand that the ruling Likud party reserve spots for Otzma members, saying there is no such agreement.

Likud denies claim that it will reserve spots for Otzma Yehudit members

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party denies a claim by the new religious right-wing alliance that members of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party will get reserved spots on Likud’s slate in the upcoming elections.

“Likud has already exhausted its quota of reserved spots with the merger with [Moshe] Kahlon,” Likud says, referring to the leader of the Kulanu party.

“There will be no more reserved spots in Likud.”

Killer in parking dispute named as Victor Katan, remanded for a week

The suspect in the deadly shooting of Ofir Hasdai in a parking lot in Ramle yesterday is named as Victor Katan, 74, as a court lifts a gag order.

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court remands Katan for seven days.

Likud denounces right-wing merger as ‘fake, dangerous’ since it excludes some parties

Sources within the ruling Likud party denounce the new right-wing merger as a “fake union” if it doesn’t also include the far-right Otzma Yehudit and quasi-libertarian Zehut parties.

“If the process is not continued, while on the other side all the Arab parties have already united, the right-wing bloc is at risk of losing the leadership,” the statement says. “Bennett, Shaked, and Smotrich intentionally left out 5-6 Knesset seats on the right — and they are knowingly jeopardizing the continuation of a right-wing government. It’s not too late to fix this dangerous mistake.”

Trump signs 9/11 victims’ compensation fund extension

US President Donald Trump signs a bill ensuring that a victims’ compensation fund related to the September 11, 2001, attacks never runs out of money.

Appearing in the Rose Garden with more than 60 first responders from the terrorist attacks, Trump sets into law an extension of the fund through 2092, essentially making it permanent.

“You inspire all of humanity,” Trump says of the “true American warriors” who rushed to assist victims on the day of the attacks and searched for remains for months after.

He adds that the nation has a “sacred obligation” to care for the responders and their families.

The $7.4 billion fund had been rapidly depleting, and administrators recently cut benefit payments by up to 70 percent.

The bill passed US Congress on a bipartisan basis but only after delays by some Republicans exposed the legislative branch to withering criticism from activists, including comedian Jon Stewart.

More than 40,000 people have applied to the fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the attacks.

— AP

HRW director says he objects to Israel’s definition as Jewish state

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth says he objects to Israel’s definition as a Jewish state because it is a “nationalistic term.”

Roth is asked about Israel’s right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people during a radio interview with the Kan public broadcaster.

“Nobody has ever questioned Israel’s right to exist,” he replies. “Israel can define itself anyway it wants, many states define themselves in nationalist terms.”

Asked by the interviewer why he is reluctant to define Israel as a Jewish state, Roth says: “Well, because there are many Palestinians who live in Israel too, who are citizens who deserve full rights.”

Asked whether he would object to Egypt calling itself an Arab state, Roth says he would, “if that means that therefore people who are not Arabs are second class citizens and don’t get respect for their rights.”

Greenblatt calls for full UN probe into UNRWA misconduct claims

US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt calls for a full UN investigation into its agency for Palestinians, after an internal report was published alleging widespread failures and misconduct within UNRWA.

Egypt, Jordan leaders hold talks over Israeli-Palestinian peace

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II met today to discuss efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reaffirming their support for a two-state solution, Sissi’s office says.

The meeting comes ahead of an expected visit to the region by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is pushing a controversial peace plan rejected by the Palestinians and criticized by Jordan.

In a statement, Sissi’s office says the Egyptian and Jordanian leaders have agreed on “the importance of intensifying efforts” to resume peace talks.

They stress the talks should abide by the two-state solution long accepted internationally as the basis for a solution: a “Palestinian state based on the June 1967 boundaries with East Jerusalem as its capital.”


Center-left parties blast new right-wing ‘alliance of extremists’

Center and left-wing parties blast a political union between right-wing parties

“An alliance of extremists was formed tonight,” says the centrist Blue and White. “The insistance by [Rafi] Peretz and [Bezalel] Smotrich to only recommend Netanyahu [as prime minister] is their payment for being appointed interim ministers.

“We are disappointed that [Naftali] Bennett and [Ayelet] Shaked joined forces with extremists who undermine the rule of law and gave a hand for [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s immunity” from prosecution in three corruption cases.”

Meretz party leader Nitzan Horowitz.(Flash90)

Nitzan Horowitz, head of the newly formed Democratic Camp, recalled past statements by members of the new alliance, including Smotrich saying he is a “proud homophobe,” Peretz supporting gay conversion therapy, and Shaked starring in a mock perfume ad called “fascism,” in a campaign spot earlier this year.

“We need to take a clear stand against the homophobic, chauvinistic, racist right,” he adds.

Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List combining four Arab or Arab-majority parties, says “the real deal is annexation in exchange for immunity.”

PM’s son requests restraining order against activist who harassed him

Avner Netanyahu, the premier’s son, asks the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court to issue a restraining order against self-described activist Barak Cohen, who has filmed himself harassing Netanyahu at a restaurant in the city.

The document asks for Cohen to be barred from coming within 200 meters of Netanyahu and from shouting towards him in public.

Funeral begins for Ofir Hasdai, killed in Ramle after dispute over parking

The funeral for Ofir Hasdai, who was shot dead yesterday in a parking lot in Ramle following a dispute over a parking spot, begins, as dozens convene at the Ramle cemetery.

Among those in attendance is Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel.

Hasdai’s wife, Dikla, has muscular dystrophy. She told Israeli media outlets the couple have three children: 9-year-old twins, one of whom has cerebral palsy, and an 18-month-old who suffers from muscular dystrophy who needs to use a respirator. Their third daughter is not disabled.

She said her husband was the sole breadwinner for the family.

An online fundraising campaign for the wife and children of a man shot dead in parking dispute in central Israel has raised over NIS 433,000 ($122,000) within hours.

Canadian court rules West Bank wines can’t be labeled ‘Made in Israel’

In a dramatic ruling, sure to anger Jerusalem, Canada’s Federal Court rules that Israeli wines produced in West Bank settlements can no longer be labeled “Made in Israel.”

Responding to a law suit by Dr. David Kattenburg, a Jewish Canadian critical of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, the presiding judge ruled that allowing settlement wines “to be labeled as ‘Products of Israel’ … does not fall within the range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of the facts and law. It is, rather, unreasonable.”

The presiding judge, Anne L. Mactavish, says she does not want to determine how exactly settlements wines should be labeled, saying this is a matter for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to decide.

In the ruling, the court decides that the agency’s previous decision to allow settlement wines to be labeled as Israeli products was mistaken, as Canada does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty outside the pre-1967 lines. Hence, the labels currently in use are “false, misleading and deceptive.”

— Raphael Ahren

Netanyahu trying to arrange Putin visit to Jerusalem before elections — report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office is trying to arrange a visit to Israel by Russian President Vladimir Putin, seeking to bolster support for his Likud party among immigrants from the former USSR ahead of the September elections, Channel 12 reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 27, 2019. (MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP)

The Jerusalem municipality has approved the possibility of dedicating a new memorial in the capital for victims of siege of Leningrad during World War II — an event Putin has expressed interest in attending in past meetings with Netanyahu, the TV report says.

Netanyahu is aiming for the event to occur in September, before the Knesset vote.

The initiative is described as a move by the premier against Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman, a Moldova native whose base of supporters is Russian-speaking immigrants. Netanyahu has blamed Liberman for the new elections after the latter insisted on passing a law regulating ultra-Orthodox draft, a non-starter for the Haredi parties.

PM said pushing rare plan for Palestinian construction in West Bank’s Area C

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to get the approval of his ministers for an extremely rare plan to promote Palestinian construction in areas of the West Bank under full Israeli control, alongside settlement construction, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers have held two lengthy discussions on the matter in recent days, without reaching an agreed outline, the report says.

Another detail that stands out is that Netanyahu is trying to achieve unanimous approval among the ministers for the controversial plan, which is guaranteed to raise the ire of right-wing ministers such as Bezalel Smotrich.

The development comes days before an expected visit by Jared Kushner, special adviser to US President Donald Trump and the main author of the White House’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Kan says it is unknown whether Netanyahu’s plan is connected with the peace plan or Kushner’s visit, but quotes unnamed ministers saying the matter is “extremely sensitive.”

Netanyahu trying to convince Otzma Yehudit and Zehut to merge — report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to push a merger between the far-right Otzma Yehudit party and the quasi-libertarian nationalist Zehut, in a bid to ensure right-wing votes are not lost on parties that will not pass the electoral threshold, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The ruling Likud party was said to have conducted a poll that found such a union would clear the mark of 3.25 percent of the votes in the upcoming elections and enter the Knesset.

Otzma Yehudit and Zehut were both left out today of a merger between other, larger religious right-wing parties.

Woman shot, seriously wounded in Lod

A woman is shot and wounded in Lod, near the central Israeli city’s central station, Hebrew-language media reports.

The woman, in her 50s, is found suffering from gunshot wounds in her upper body and is taken in serious condition to Asaf Harofe hospital.

Details of the incident are not immediately clear.

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