Far-right MK who demanded justice ministry rips PM after being passed over
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Far-right MK who demanded justice ministry rips PM after being passed over

Bezalel Smotrich accuses Netanyahu of mistreating his national-religious political partners; ex-justice minister Shaked congratulates her successor Ohana

MK Bezalel Smotrich (right) with MK Amir Ohana at the Kneeset, August 8, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Bezalel Smotrich (right) with MK Amir Ohana at the Kneeset, August 8, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Nechama Rivlin’s coffin lies in state at Jerusalem Theatre

The coffin of Nechama Rivlin lies in state at the Jerusalem Theatre, where the public is invited to pay their respects to President Reuven Rivlin’s late wife.

Nechama Rivlin, 73, died Tuesday of complications from a lung transplant she underwent early this year.

Her coffin will be on display until 5 p.m., when it will be brought to Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery for burial at 6 p.m. The funeral is also open to the public.

Egyptian officials: Militant attack kills 10 police in Sinai

EL-ARISH, Egypt — Islamic militants attacked a checkpoint in Egypt’s restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, killing at least 10 policemen, security officials say.

The attack took place as Muslims in the city of el-Arish were holding prayers marking the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which follows the holy month of Ramadan, early in the morning.

Two officers and eight conscripts were among those killed, according to the officials, who speak on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

No group immediately claims responsibility for the attack.

The officials say the militants attacked the checkpoint, south of el-Arish, seized an armored vehicle to make their getaway but a warplane chased them in the desert, killing at least five.

The Interior Ministry later releases a statement, saying eight policemen were killed in the attack. The discrepancy between the casualty figures cannot immediately be resolved.

Egypt has battled jihadists for years in the Sinai Peninsula in an insurgency that has occasionally spilled over to the mainland, striking minority Christians and occasionally tourists.

At the center of the campaign is an Islamic State affiliate, based in Sinai. The Egyptian militant group had sworn allegiance to IS at the height of its power in Iraq and Syria in 2014. IS has now been mostly defeated and all the territory it once controlled in both Syria and Iraq taken back and liberated.

— AP

Germany rejects Greek demand for reparations over WWI, Nazi occupation

BERLIN — Germany rejects a fresh demand from Greece for reparations for crimes committed during World War I and II, saying the issue was settled long ago.

“I can repeat… that over 70 years after the end of the war and more than 25 years after the Two Plus Four Treaty (allowing German reunification) the question of reparations has been legally and politically settled,” says a foreign ministry spokesman.

A Greek parliamentary committee last year determined that Germany owes Greece at least 270 billion euros ($300 billion) for World War I damages and looting, atrocities and a forced loan during the Nazi occupation in World War II.

In addition, the Greek state accounting office has estimated that private claims for war dead and invalids could be worth an additional 107 billion euros.

Germany has repeatedly apologized for war crimes committed but argues that West German reparation payments in the 1960s settled the issue legally.

Berlin says all former claims were finally settled with the 1990 Two-Plus Four Agreement signed by the former West and East Germany as well as former Allied occupying powers the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union.


Teen hurt in Damascus Gate stabbing released from hospital

An Israeli teenager wounded in a stabbing attack last week at the Damascus Gate Jerusalem’s Old City is released today from the hospital.

Yisrael Meir Nachumberg, 16, was moderately hurt in Friday’s stabbing and was hospitalized at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.

In a statement from the hospital, Nachumberg’s father thanks the doctors and nurses at Hadassah who treated his son.

“Our great thanks to the entire nation of Israel, for the prayers… for the reinforcement we received from all over the world,” Rafael Nachumberg is quoted saying.

Another Israeli, Gabriel Lavi, was seriously wounded in the stabbing. Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center said Sunday Lavi’s condition had improved and he was now able to breathe without a respirator.

The suspected terrorist, a 19-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank, was shot dead by police officers at the scene.

Yisrael Meir Nachumberg (L) shakes hands with Dr. Michael Samir upon his release from Hadassah Hospital Ein Karem in Jerusalem on June 5, 2019. (Hadassah Hospital Ein Karem spokesperson)

Florida removes Airbnb from blacklist after West Bank settlements ban reversed

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announces he will remove Airbnb from the state’s blacklist of companies that boycott Israel.

The state suspended the use of Airbnb for state-paid travel and had considered preventing its pension fund from investing in the firm when it goes public, reportedly by 2020, after it announced in November 2018 that it would remove listings of rooms and homes for rent in West Bank settlements. Airbnb said at the time that it consulted with experts to learn about the historical disputes in the region to decide whether it should be doing business in “the occupied territories.”

DeSantis and his Cabinet in January voted to place the company on the list of scrutinized companies following a recommendation by the state Board of Administration.

The company announced in April that it would keep the West Bank listings and donate any profits from them to humanitarian groups. The decision appears to be part of settlements between Airbnb and two groups of American Jewish plaintiffs who had sued the company.

“As Governor, I have an obligation to oppose policies that unfairly target Israel. Once @Airbnb ended their discriminatory policy toward Israel, we decided to remove them from the @FloridaSBA Scrutinized Companies List,” DeSantis tweets.


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a visit to the Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank on May 29, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Police say Ramat Hasharon stabbing likely not terror-related

Police say a stabbing earlier today in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Hasharon does not appear to be terror-related.

“The main direction of the case is that the stabbing was criminal,” a police spokesman says.

A manhunt has been launched for the assailant, who fled the scene after stabbing a man multiple times. The victim, who was moderately hurt, was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.

Blue and White MK calls on AG to make Netanyahu give up justice portfolio

A lawmaker from the opposition Blue and White party is calling on Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to make Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately give up the justice portfolio, citing pending corruption charges against the premier.

Netanyahu became acting justice minister yesterday, after firing right-wing rival Ayelet Shaked from the post. He also dismissed fellow New Right member Naftali Bennett as education minister.

“As is known, the prime minister is serving under three indictments and is in a stormy political struggle with the judicial system. There is no disagreement that this is an impossible situation in which a person who is actively working against the judicial system and is in the middle of complex and highly sensitive legal proceedings will hold the justice portfolio,” MK Karine Elharrar writes in a letter to Mandelblit.

“This is a sharp conflict of interest in which a person accused of the crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust is responsible for the state prosecutors and your office,” she adds in the letter.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, Netanyahu is expected to announce a replacement as acting justice minister later today. Among the names reportedly under consideration are Likud ministers Ze’ev Elkin and Ofir Akunis, as well Likud MK Amir Ohana.

Blue and White MK Karine Elharrar speaks during a Knesset plenum session on May 20, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

7-year-old in Haifa seriously hurt by falling bookshelf

A 7-year-old boy in the northern city of Haifa is in serious condition after a bookshelf at school fell on him.

Paramedics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service take the boy, unconscious and suffering from a head wound, to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.

President Rivlin arrives at Jerusalem Theatre to pay respects to late wife

President Reuven Rivlin arrives at the Jerusalem Theatre, where his late wife Nechama is lying in state.

Rivlin, accompanied by his grandson and other family members, kisses Nechama’s coffin and bows his head in mourning.

3-year-old girl in critical condition after being hit by car in Jerusalem

A 3-year-old girl is in critical condition after being struck by a car in Jerusalem.

Paramedics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service bring her to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the city as they work to resuscitate her.

Ex-UN atomic agency chief: Iran could produce nuclear bomb in 6-8 months

The former deputy head of the UN’s atomic watchdog says that Iran is currently capable of producing a nuclear bomb in six to eight months.

In an interview with Army Radio, Olli Heinonen says that Israel and the Gulf states “have a reason to worry.”

Heinonen says that despite claims to the contrary by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, which he left in 2010, Tehran is not adhering to the 2005 nuclear deal. “Iran is actually weaponizing uranium enrichment without making a weapon,” he claims.

Heinonen currently serves as a fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative Washington think tank that has been highly critical of the Iran deal that was finalized by former US president Barack Obama.

“My personal, perhaps back of envelope calculation is [that perhaps in] half a year, seven-eight months maximum [they will be able to reach a nuclear bomb] if they put in their maximum effort,” Heinonen tells Army Radio in a rare interview to Israeli press while he was in the country for a conference hosted by the ISDEF Defense & HLS Expo.

Rivlin: Only thing Nechama worried about in the hospital was who will care for me

President Reuven Rivlin speaks with well-wishers who came to pay their respects to his late wife Nechama, whose coffin is lying in state ahead of her funeral this evening.

“The only thing that worried her when she was in the hospital was who will take care of me,” he says.

Rivlin adds: “You all like me because of Nechama — and rightly so.”

Iran’s FM says Mossad ‘fabricating intelligence’ about oil tanker sabotage

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accuses the Mossad of fabricating intelligence, after an Israeli report said information gathered by the intelligence agency linked Iran to the sabotage last month of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Coffin of Nechama Rivlin makes its way to Mt. Herzl for funeral

The coffin of Nechama Rivlin, President Reuven Rivlin’s wife, is being brought to Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem, after it lay in state at the Jerusalem Theatre.

The funeral will take place at 6 p.m.

US senators launch bipartisan bid to block Saudi arms sales

WASHINGTON — Republicans and Democrats are banding together to try and stop the Trump administration’s sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and others are introducing 22 Senate resolutions to halt the sales. The move threatens to tangle up the Senate in a series of votes this summer.

It’s unclear whether the resolutions will pass, but the support of Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Ran Paul underscores the breadth of bipartisan opposition to the administration’s policy.

Trump invoked emergency powers to sell arms to the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates without congressional review. The senators say the use of the power was unprecedented and can be challenged.

Lawmakers have grown increasingly critical of US-Saudi ties since the killing of US-based columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

— AP

US President Donald Trump shows a chart highlighting arms sales to Saudi Arabia during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on March 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Funeral for Nechama Rivlin begins at Mt. Herzl

The funeral for Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, begins at Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem.

President Rivlin joins members of his family and others in placing dirt on top of his late wife’s coffin.

On hand are leading politicians, cultural figures, ambassadors and other dignitaries, as well as friends of the Rivlin family and the general public.

President Rivlin recites mourner’s prayer for wife Nechama

Accompanied by his children, President Rivlin recites the traditional Mourner’s Kaddish prayer for his wife Nechama during her funeral at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem.

President Rivlin eulogizes wife Nechama

President Reuven Rivlin eulogizes his wife Nechama during her funeral at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem.

“Nechama, my Nechama, our mother,” Rivlin says, his voice cracking.

The president recalls how when he visited his wife at the hospital a few weeks ago, she asked to come home. “Today, Nechama, you came back home,” Rivlin says.

Rivlin to late wife Nechama: ‘All of Israel loves you’

President Reuven Rivlin eulogizes his late wife Nechama, recalling the outpouring of support in recent months after she underwent a lung transplant.

“All of Israel loves you. How much they loved you Nechama, how much they worried for your well-being and prayed for your recovery during these months,” he says.

Rivlin says he’s thankful he got to be the ‘spouse of the president’s wife’

President Rivlin finishes his eulogy for his wife Nechama.

“Nechama, my wife, Nechama, my love. It is hard for me to believe that these are [our] parting words. I’m sure I will search for your during nights and also days. Thank you for the intimacy and love, that I got to be the spouse of the president’s wife. You brought me great honor,” Rivlin.

YouTube to ban videos that promote Holocaust denial, racism

WASHINGTON — YouTube says it will ban videos that promote or glorify racism and discrimination as well as those denying well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the Sandy Hook school shooting.

The announcement by the Google-owned video-sharing platform is the latest of a series of industry moves to filter out hateful and violent content, which have spurred calls for tougher regulation.

“Today, we’re taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status,” YouTube says on its blog.


Netanyahu said to request further delay to pre-trial hearing, citing elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has submitted a request to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to delay his pre-trial hearing in October, citing elections for the Knesset the month before, according to Israeli television reports.

Analysts say Mandelblit is expected to reject the request. The Ynet news site reports Netanyahu will likely appeal to the Supreme Court if Mandelblit does indeed reject the request.

Last month, the attorney general agreed to postpone the hearing — originally scheduled for July 10 — to October 2-3. Netanyahu’s lawyers had asked for a full-year delay, arguing the amount of evidence was too large to review in three months, but that request was rejected.

Mandeblit announced in February he intends to charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases, as well as with bribery in one of them.

The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing and has claimed the investigations are part of an effort by political opponents to force him from office.

Netanyahu taps Likud ally to serve as justice minister

Prime Minister Netanyahu has tapped Likud MK Amir Ohana to serve as justice minister.

A statement from Netanyahu’s spokeswoman cites Ohana’s legal experience, noting he has a law degree and worked as a lawyer before entering politics.

A spokesman for Netanyahu’s Likud party tells reporters that with his appointment, Ohana will be the first gay minister to serve in the security cabinet.

Ohana, a vocal supporter of the prime minister in the Knesset, had been considered one of the front-runners for the position, which opened up after Netanyahu fired right-wing rival Ayelet Shaked as justice minister on Sunday.

Netanyahu became acting justice minister Tuesday when Shaked’s firing took effect, but faced pressure to hand over the portfolio in light of pending indictments in a trio of corruption cases.

France launches project to return Jewish assets stolen during WWII

PARIS — The French government says it has launched a project to return cultural artifacts stolen from Jews in World War II.

The new task force aims to “shed light on cultural assets of dubious origin held by public institutions,” stolen between 1933 and 1945, the culture ministry says in a statement.

Around 2,000 artifacts sent from Germany to France after the war are held in French museums under special status as their owners have not been identified.

Their status also means they should never leave the country.

Researchers will work alongside museums, libraries, archives and the Foreign office to “examine cases one by one, whether they are filed by victims’ families or uncovered by the investigation,” the statement says.

France and Germany signed an agreement last month to improve cooperation on returning seized objects to their rightful owners.

The move comes after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe pledged during last year’s commemorations of the Vel d’Hiv round-up of Jews in 1942 that the culture ministry would take “a much more active role in restitution work.”


Far-right MK who demanded justice ministry rips PM after being passed over

Union of Right-Wing Parties MK Bezalel Smotrich, who was lobbying for the post of justice minister, congratulates Likud MK Amir Ohana after Prime Minister Netanyahu selects him for the role.

“But he isn’t the story,” Smotrich writes on Twitter. “The story is that Netanyahu wouldn’t treat any of his other partners like he allows himself to treat religious Zionists.”

“It is time we draw conclusions,” he adds.

MK Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Right-Wing Parties speaks during a Jerusalem Day event at Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, June 2, 2019. (Aharon Krohn/Flash90)

Ex-justice minister Shaked congratulates Likud’s Ohana on nomination for post

Ayelet Shaked, who was fired as justice minister by Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier this week, congratulates Likud MK Amir Ohana after he is picked to serve as the next justice minister.

“I wish Amir Ohana tremendous success in the position of justice minister. This is an important and challenging ministry with very skilled employees. I am at his disposal for any help or questions,” Shaked, a member of the New Right party, writes on Twitter.

Then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked (R) and Likud MK Amir Ohana attend a Knesset committee meeting on July 26, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Lapid accuses PM of ‘impertinence’ for requesting further delay of pre-trial hearing

Blue and White MK Yair Lapid lashes out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after reports say the premier has requested additional delay to his pre-trial hearing on corruption charges.

“There is no limit to [Netanyahu’s] impertinence. Mandelblit, you can’t allow him to again disparage the legal process. You can’t delay the hearing only because Bibi pushed (again!) for unnecessary elections,” Lapid writes on Twitter, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

“If it isn’t convenient for Bibi to be a politician, he should go deal with his legal issues. It will only make it easier for us and Likud to form a unity government,” adds Lapid, referring to Netanyahu’s party.

Likud’s Ohana says a ‘great honor’ to be picked as justice minister

Likud MK Amir Ohana, who was picked by Prime Minister Netanyahu this evening to be the next justice minister, reacts to his selection for the post.

“It is a great honor to serve the State of Israel in the role of justice minister. Thanks to the prime minister for the tremendous trust and thanks to the well-wishers,” Ohana writes on Twitter.

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