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Families of missing soldiers to meet Netanyahu, UN chief

On heels of Israel-Turkey deal, Erdogan apologizes to Putin for downing fighter jet in November; Liberman says he opposes Turkey deal

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome, Italy, on June 27, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome, Italy, on June 27, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

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

Netanyahu set to announce Israel-Turkey deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to announce the signing of a deal with Turkey to restore diplomatic ties after six years of fallout and months of bipartisan negotiations.

Deputy army head: Tens of thousands of rockets aimed at north

Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan says that in Israel’s next war — presumably with Hezbollah — “around 100,000 missiles will be directed into Israeli territory, some of them into the Tel Aviv area.”

He says that tens of thousands of rockets are aimed at northern Israel, and many heavier missiles are aimed at Israel’s densely populated center.

“I look at the Tel Aviv area — how many rockets are going to explode in the Tel Aviv area in a month. Dozens. No more than that. We know how to deal with this.”

Former Labor leaders hail Turkey deal

While opposition leader Isaac Herzog criticizes the imminent deal with Turkey, his predecessors as Labor Party leader, current Zionist Union MKs Shelly Yachimovich and Amir Peretz, praise the accord, Army Radio reports.

Yachimovich says that even though Netanyahu himself would have scorned the agreement had he been in the opposition, “it doesn’t change the fact that from the moment the deal is signed we need to bless it even if it’s hard to swallow.”

PM meets with Italian counterpart in Rome

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome on his state visit.

Netanyahu’s office says in a statement that Renzi told Netanyahu that the deal with Turkey will be a source of stability for the region. The two agreed to continue bilateral ties between Jerusalem and Rome.

Turkish PM announcing restoration of ties

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announces the deal to restore ties with Israel from Rome, and says that Ankara will increase aid to the Gaza Strip. He says the deal is a lifeline to the Palestinians.

Earlier, in a sign of the warming ties, Yildirim invited Israel’s envoy in Turkey to his iftar dinner, Daily Sabah reports.

Turkey deal of ‘strategic significance’ — Netanyahu

Netanyahu says the deal is important to Israeli security and economy and of strategic significance. He says that closer ties with Turkey will help provide stability in a tumultuous region.

Gaza blockade stays, but aid goes in, Netanyahu says

Netanyahu says the deal will protect IDF soldiers from prosecution by Turkey. He says the blockade on Gaza will remain and keeps Hamas in check, while allowing humanitarian aid into the Strip.

“This is in our interest,” he says.

The deal also blocks Hamas military and fundraising activity in Turkey, he says.

Turkey deal to give Israel ‘huge sums’ with gas deal: PM

The deal also allows Israel to enter international accords to which Turkey is party, Netanyahu says.

He says the prospect of a gas deal with Turkey now that ties are renewed will bring “huge sums” to the state’s coffers.

Turkey doesn’t control Hamas, PM says

Netanyahu says he updated the US, Russia, and regional allies Greece, Cyprus and Egypt about the restoration of ties with Turkey.

The PM says that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to work to help obtain information about the missing IDF soldiers held by Hamas, but that Ankara doesn’t control the Palestinian terrorist group.

Turkey deal ‘strengthens Israel,’ PM says

Responding to inquiries by the press in Rome, Netanyahu says he won’t “paint the deal with rose-tinted glasses — but the agreement strengthens Israel.”

Despite the Turkish PM’s remark that the Gaza blockade was “largely lifted,” Netanyahu emphasizes that the blockade remains but the deal allows Turkish aid to come through the Ashdod port.

No gas deal talks yet, Turkish PM says

Although Netanyahu says that the Turkey rapprochement deal will open the door to a gas deal with Turkey, the Turkish PM is more circumspect, saying that it’s too soon to talk about it, Channel 2’s Arad Nir reports.

Israel, Turkey to exchange ambassadors ‘as soon as possible’

Netanyahu and his Turkish counterpart both announce the restoration of diplomatic relations.

“We are returning to full normalization with Turkey, including the return of ambassadors,” Netanyahu says.

Yildirim says that the exchange of ambassadors will take place as soon as possible.

Goldin family rejects ‘bad, problematic deal’ with Turkey

The family of a soldier whose body remains in Hamas’s custody in the Gaza Strip responds to the Turkey deal harshly, saying that it “abandons Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul and doesn’t include the return of their bodies from Hamas captivity.”

“The prime minister’s declarations were hollow. He acted contrary to his promises to us,” the Goldin family says, calling the accord “a bad and problematic deal.”


Syrian refugee gives ice cream to Israelis to celebrate deal

A Syrian refugee working as an ice cream vender on Istanbul’s Istiklal Boulevard gives free cones to Israelis to celebrate deal with Turkey, Walla news reporter Moshe Stainmetz reports.

UN chief welcomes normalization of Israel-Turkey ties

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday welcomes a deal between Israel and Turkey to normalize relations after years of acrimony, calling it a “hopeful signal for the stability of the region.”

“I welcome today’s announcement of the normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey,” Ban told journalists as he met President Reuven Rivlin.


Missing soldier’s mother pans Turkey deal for not bringing son back

The family of Oron Shaul met with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and the missing soldier’s mother says that it’s unacceptable that the deal struck with Turkey didn’t include the return of her son’s remains from Hamas captivity.

“If the prime minister and the Knesset and the whole cabinet aren’t with us, I don’t know when we’ll see Oron,” she says.

Edelstein says that everyone’s mission is to ensure the return of the four missing Israelis, including Shaul, but would neither praise nor criticize the agreement reached with Turkey because he had yet to see its final form.

Turkish PM ducks question on return of Israeli soldiers

Responding to inquiries by Channel 10 whether Turkey will secure the return of the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in 2014 and held by Hamas in Gaza, Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim avoids the question and says Ankara “will decide according to the advancement of relations how to act going forward.”

Garbage truck tire hits hospital security guard

A security guard at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center is lightly injured after being struck by a runaway tire that flew off a passing garbage truck. A security camera caught the incident on video.

Peres meets with children rescued in Entebbe

Former president Shimon Peres meets with the children taken captive and rescued 40 years ago in Entebbe.

“Everyone speaks about the operation — today we honor you,” Peres, who was defense minister at the time, says. “When we made the difficult decision to move forward with this operation it was you, the children, who were foremost in my mind.”

Former president Shimon Peres meets with Israelis rescued from a hijacking in Entebbe 40 years ago, on June 27, 2016. (Courtesy: Gidi Levyatan)

Former president Shimon Peres meets with Israelis rescued from a hijacking in Entebbe 40 years ago, on June 27, 2016. (Courtesy: Gidi Levyatan)

Former president Shimon Peres meets with Israelis rescued from a hijacking in Entebbe 40 years ago, on June 27, 2016. (Courtesy: Gidi Levyatan)

Former president Shimon Peres meets with Israelis rescued from a hijacking in Entebbe 40 years ago, on June 27, 2016. (Courtesy: Gidi Levyatan)

Ex-general: Turkey deal to have ‘very little’ effect on Gaza security

This normalization will have “very little” impact on Israel’s security arrangements in Gaza in the short term, according to Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who formerly led Israel’s National Security Council.

“In the future, it depends,” Amidror tells reporters in the hours following the announcement of the agreement. “But the potential is huge.”

While Hamas maintains its overseas headquarters in Turkey and has ideological ties with Erdogan, the former head of Military Intelligence doubts this deal will change the terrorist organization’s opinion of Israel.

“I don’t see the Turks having a lot of influence over the military wing of Hamas in Gaza,” Amidror says.

French town approves Israel settlement boycott

A municipality near the French capital passed a motion declaring a boycott of Israeli settlement goods and vowing further research and labeling on other products from the Jewish state.

The council of Bondy, located north of Paris, whose mayor, Sylvine Thomassin, belongs to French President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party, passed the resolution with only five objections last week on June 23, the news website Rezo Citoyen reported on Saturday.


Herzog rejects, Rivlin praises Israel-Turkey deal

Criticizing Netanyahu for agreeing to compensate the families of Turks killed in the Mavi Marmara incident and not bringing home Israelis held captive in Gaza, opposition leader Isaac Herzog says the deal is “important,” but hedges his praise by saying Ankara “is the ally of Hamas.”

“Like in the [Gilad] Shalit incident and in Operation Protective Edge, Netanyahu is weak against Hamas because over the years he’s given in to the political threats of [Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor] Liberman and has been dragged along unnecessarily at the expense of Israeli citizens’ security interests,” he says.

Zionist Union #2 Tzipi Livni says she has to admit that she would have signed the same agreement if she had been in the government.

President Reuven Rivlin praises the accord to restore ties, saying that while many people feel hurt by the deal, “it’s for the sake of Israel’s interests.”

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid says the deal with Turkey is “difficult to swallow, but states make agreements such as these.”

“There’s what we all feel and there’s the security and national interest, and they take precedence,” he says at a party meeting in the Knesset.

Turkey apologizes to Russia for downing jet — report

Turkey has reportedly apologized to Russia for downing a Russian military aircraft last November.

Russian media quotes the Kremlin saying President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote to President Vladimir Putin saying he wanted to mend ties.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Erdogan was “sorry” that the Su-24 pilot was killed in November when his plane was shot down after entering Turkish airspace.

Turkish deputy PM: Ankara working to mend fences with Moscow

Amid reports of a thawing in chilly ties between Turkey and Russia, with Erdogan reportedly apologizing to Putin for the downing of a Russian jet in November, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus says the two sides were accelerating the restoration of relations, the Daily Sabah reports.

Erdogan’s office confirms Russia apology

Turkish presidential sources confirm to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that Erdogan apologized to Putin for the downing of a Russian warplane in November.

It remains unclear whether there was Israeli diplomacy involved in the detente between Russia and Turkey, but the apology came just after Israel and Turkey announced a deal to restore ties.

PA welcomes Israel-Turkey rapprochement deal ‘in principle’

Palestinian Authority Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki says Ramallah welcomes the agreement between Turkey and Israel “in principle,” but he asks Ankara to work with Ramallah on matters concerning the Palestinians.

Speaking to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, al-Maliki says the PA wouldn’t interfere with the terms of the agreement between Israel and Turkey, but says the aspects of the deal relating to the Palestinians “were of core interest to the Palestinian leadership” and Ramallah should have been kept in the loop.

While Ramallah welcomes Turkey’s plans to build a desalinization plant in Gaza, Maliki says the PA is already building a €400 million plant in Gaza sponsored by the European Union.

“If Turkey wants to help,” Maliki says, “it should all be part of the national plan for the development of all the Palestinian territories, and it must be done through full coordination with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian government.”

— Dov Lieber

Liberman says he opposes Israel-Turkey deal

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says he’ll oppose the Israel-Turkey detente deal in the cabinet.

“Compensation has bad consequences,” Channel 2 quotes him saying. “I won’t make a campaign of it as I did against the Shalit deal, but my stance is known.”

Unnamed cabinet minister rejects Turkey deal

An unnamed cabinet member criticizes the Turkey deal set to come before ministers later this week.

“It’s a contemptible move that the prime minister brings before the cabinet as a fait accomplit,” the minister is quoted by Ynet saying. “He’s turned us into a rubber stamp.”

Shaked: Compensation unlinked to Mavi Marmara

With the announcement of the Turkey deal, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked says, “There’s no connection between the compensation and the [Mavi Marmara] incident.”

“IDF soldiers defended themselves and I am proud of them. This is not compensation to those terrorists,” Channel 2 quotes her saying, referring to the 10 Turkish citizens killed in a skirmish with Israeli troops aboard the ship attempting to break the Gaza blockade in 2010.

Former Likud minister spurns Turkey deal

Former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar comes out swinging against the Turkey deal, saying it was a “blow to national pride” and sets a dangerous precedent by compensating the families of the Turks killed in the Mavi Marmara incident.

“A deal that begins in paying terrorists will end in releasing terrorists,” he says.

Biden congratulates Netanyahu on Turkey deal

Netanyahu speaks with US Vice President Joe Biden and thanks him for supporting detente efforts with Turkey.

The White House says in a statement that Biden congratulates Netanyahu “for progress toward reconciliation with Turkey, noting the significant positive security and economic benefits for both countries and the wider Eastern Mediterranean region.”

Police arrest 3 for Temple Mount disturbances

The Israel Police arrested three Palestinians suspected of involvement in public disturbances and throwing rocks at police on the Temple Mount earlier today.

The suspects were taken in for questioning, the Israel Police says.

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 5 days

Hamas officials say that Egyptian authorities said they will be opening the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula for five days starting next Wednesday, ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Hamas: No talks to free Israelis unless ‘Shalit prisoners’ released

Hamas official Ismail Radwan says the Islamist group will not negotiate the release of Israeli soldiers and civilians until the group’s preconditions are met.

Radwan, according to a report on the Palestinian news site Quds Press, says Hamas’s decision not to negotiate the release of Israelis until all of the “Shalit prisoners” are freed is “final.”

In 2011, kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian detainees. Israel rearrested some of those released in the deal in the summer of 2014 during a search for three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and, it later emerged, killed by a Hamas cell.

— Dov Lieber

Trump says EU doomed

Following the UK’s Brexit referendum, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump predicts the EU’s demise.

“The people have spoken. I think the EU is going to break up. I think the EU might break up before anybody thinks in terms of Scotland,” he tells The Times. “I really think that without the immigration issue [the EU] wouldn’t have had a chance of breaking up … the people are fed up, whether it’s here or in other countries. You watch: other countries will follow.”

Families of soldiers killed in Gaza protest outside PM’s residence

The families of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul are holding a press conference outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem and say that Netanyahu “promised us on Thursday that there wouldn’t be a deal with Hamas and Turkey without Oron and Hadar being brought home.”

“It doesn’t appear on the horizon, apparently we need to increase our fight,” Zahava Shaul, the soldier’s mother, says. “Only screams will bring our boys home. It’s not worth waiting for the guarantees of the prime minister. He always promises me and I’ve been disappointed. He didn’t take into account the grieving families.”

Liberman honors reservist soldiers

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hands out awards to outstanding reservist units at a ceremony in the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

“I think you’ll agree with me if I say that the State of Israel is not always generous enough in saying thanks and in appreciation,” Liberman says to President Reuven Rivlin at the ceremony.

“Tonight, I am glad to say that we’re breaking from that tradition. This is a time of warm handshakes and great, honest thanks from the bottom of our hearts,” he says.

“Reservist units have taken part in important missions, both covert and public, and have given a great boost to the deterrent power of the State of Israel, while around us regimes are crashing and hundreds of civilians are being killed each day as a result of civil wars and terror attacks by radical Islam,” Liberman says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Palestinian journalist flees after threats from PA

A Palestinian journalist says he’s been forced into exile after receiving death threats from the PA for exposing police brutality, the Middle East Eye reports.

Abed al-Qaisi, 24, says he was he was intimidated and threatened for months by the PA for sharing a video online showing PA police beating Palestinians in Bethlehem at a September protest following clashes at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Families of Shaul, Goldin to meet Netanyahu, UN chief

The families of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul will meet with Netanyahu and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon tomorrow, Channel 10 reports.

France opens manslaughter inquiry into EgyptAir crash

French authorities opened a manslaughter inquiry Monday into the May crash of an EgyptAir plane that killed 66 people, saying there is no evidence so far to link it to terrorism.

Prosecutor’s office spokesman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre says the inquiry was launched as an accident investigation, not a terrorism investigation. She said authorities are “not at all” favoring the theory that the plane was downed deliberately, though the status of the inquiry could eventually change if evidence emerges to that effect.

Investigators decided to start the probe before waiting to analyze the plane’s flight data and voice recorders, based on evidence gathered so far, she said, without elaborating.

— AP

US mulls Iron Dome for Europe

The US tested Israel’s Iron Dome system with the hope of using it in European air defenses, a US Army general says.

According to a Reuters report, Maj.-Gen. Glenn Bramhall says the Pentagon is looking to incorporate the short-range missile defense system.

“With all that is happening in Europe, especially the fact that Russia has really awakened itself and has really decided to rebuild its military and is really posing a threat, we are looking at how we can do the multi-tiered defense,” Bramhall says.

Most Israelis oppose Turkey detente deal

A Channel 10 poll finds staunch opposition to the Israel-Turkey rapprochement deal announced today.

Out of 600 respondents queried in the survey conducted this morning, 33 percent voiced support for the Turkey deal, 56% were opposed and 11% were undecided.

There was significantly greater support for the deal among the 100 Arab Israelis surveyed — 72% supported it, compared to just 24% of the 500 Jews polled. Jewish Israelis were overwhelmingly opposed — 65%, according to the poll.

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