search
Live updates (closed)

Ex-education secretary says she talked to Pence about removing Trump after January 6

Betsy Devos says she raised invoking 25th amendment with cabinet members after insurrection but that VP was against it; revelation comes ahead of House hearings on Capitol riot

In this January 6, 2021, photo, violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump scale the west wall of the the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
In this January 6, 2021, photo, violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump scale the west wall of the the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

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

‘The world is watching’: January 6 Congressional panel to say at opening hearing

Members of the Oath Keepers at the US Capitol, on January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Members of the Oath Keepers at the US Capitol, on January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The chairman of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election says “the world is watching” the US response to the panel’s year-long investigation into the Capitol attack.

“America has long been expected to be a shining city on a hill. A beacon of hope and freedom,” Rep. Bennie Thompson plans to say, according to excerpts released in advance. “How can we play that role when our own house is in such disorder? We must confront the truth with candor, resolve and determination.”

The committee plans to present never-before-seen video and a mass of other evidence to show the “harrowing story” of the deadly violence that day and also a chilling backstory as Trump, the defeated president, tried to overturn Biden’s election victory.

This evening’s prime-time hearing is providing eyewitness testimony from the first police officer pummeled in the mob riot and from a documentary filmmaker who tracked the extremist Proud Boys as they prepared to fight for Trump immediately after the election and then led the storming of the Capitol.

The hearing will also feature accounts from Trump aides and family members, interviewed behind closed doors.

“When you hear and understand the wide-reaching conspiracy and the effort to try to corrupt every lever and agency of government involved in this, you know, the hair on the back of your neck should stand up,” Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., a member of the 1/6 committee, says in an interview.

The 1/6 panel’s yearlong investigation will begin to show how America’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power came close to slipping away. It will reconstruct how Trump refused to concede the 2020 election, spread false claims of voter fraud and orchestrated an unprecedented public and private campaign to overturn Biden’s victory.

Republican Congressional candidate: Saying Hitler ‘kind of leader we need’ was mistake

Carl Paladino, left, speaks to members of the media at Trump Tower, on Dec. 5, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Carl Paladino, left, speaks to members of the media at Trump Tower, on Dec. 5, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Carl Paladino, a Republican running for Congress in western New York, admits he was wrong to invoke Adolf Hitler when he said in an interview last year he was “the kind of leader we need today” because of his ability to rally crowds.

In an interview on WBEN radio in February 2021, Paladino brought up Hitler when asked by host Peter Hunt about how to “rouse the population” and ”get people thinking about the possibility of change.”

“I was thinking the other day about somebody had mentioned on the radio Adolf Hitler and how he aroused the crowds. And he would get up there screaming these epithets and these people were just — they were hypnotized by him,” Paladino replied. “That’s, I guess, I guess that’s the kind of leader we need today. We need somebody inspirational. We need somebody that is a doer, has been there and done it, so that it’s not a strange new world to him.”

After a recording of the radio conversation was published earlier today by Media Matters for America, Paladino says in a statement that any implication that his comments meant he supported Hitler would be “a new low for the media.”

But he says he was wrong to mention the Nazi leader at all.

“I understand that invoking Hitler in any context is a serious mistake and rightfully upsets people. I strongly condemn the murderous atrocities committed against the Jewish people by Hitler and the Nazi’s, including towards my own Italian family,” the statement said.

Pro-Russia rebels sentence 3 foreigners who fought for Ukraine to death

Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, center, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, in the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, June 9, 2022.(AP Photo)
Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, center, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, in the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, June 9, 2022.(AP Photo)

Two British citizens and a Moroccan have been sentenced to death for fighting on Ukraine’s side, in a punishment handed down by the country’s pro-Moscow rebels.

The proceedings against the three captured fighters were denounced by Ukraine and the West as a sham and a violation of the rules of war.

A court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine finds the three fighters guilty of seeking the violent overthrow of power, an offense punishable by death in the unrecognized eastern republic. The men were also convicted of mercenary activities and terrorism.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reports that the defendants — identified as Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Brahim Saadoun — will face a firing squad. They have a month to appeal.

The separatist side argues that the three were “mercenaries” not entitled to the usual protections accorded prisoners of war. They are the first foreign fighters sentenced by Ukraine’s Russian-backed rebels.

Ex-education secretary says she talked to Pence about removing Trump after January 6

President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos after their November 18, 2016 meeting at Trump International Golf Club, in Bedminster Township, New Jersey.  (AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Drew Angerer)
President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos after their November 18, 2016 meeting at Trump International Golf Club, in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. (AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Drew Angerer)

Former Education Secretary Betsy Devos tells USA Today that she raised the idea of invoking the 25th amendment to remove then-president Donald Trump from office following the January 6 insurrection.

Devos says she brought the idea up with other cabinet members including then-vice president Mike Pence but that the latter was against the idea.

“I spoke with the vice president and just let him know I was there to do whatever he wanted and needed me to do or help with, and he made it very clear that he was not going to go in that direction or that path,” DeVos says. “I spoke with colleagues. I wanted to get a better understanding of the law itself and see if it was applicable in this case. There were more than a few people who had those conversations internally.”

The revelation comes hours before the House of Representatives is slated to convene the first hearing of the January 6 committee tasked with probing the Capitol riot and the former president’s role in it.

Conspiracy behind 2021 US Capitol riot ‘not over’ — House probe chief

Supporters of President Donald Trump, including Aaron Mostofsky, right, who is identified in his arrest warrant, walk down the stairs outside the Senate Chamber in the US Capitol, in Washington, on January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Supporters of President Donald Trump, including Aaron Mostofsky, right, who is identified in his arrest warrant, walk down the stairs outside the Senate Chamber in the US Capitol, in Washington, on January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

The chairman of the House of Representatives committee investigating the 2021 assault on the US Capitol warns the conspiracy that fueled the violence was a continuing threat to democracy.

Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson says in prepared comments released just ahead of the first of a raft of summer hearings into the January 6 insurrection that “democracy remains in danger.”

“The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over. There are those in this country who thirst for power but have no love or respect for what makes America great,” he says.

Maryland Authorities: 3 dead, trooper wounded in latest US mass shooting

A man opened fire at a business in western Maryland on Thursday, killing three people before the suspect and a state trooper were wounded in a shootout, authorities say.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office says in a news release that three victims were found dead at Columbia Machine Inc. in Smithsburg and a fourth victim was critically injured. The suspect then fled in a vehicle and was tracked down by Maryland State Police, according to the news release.

The suspect and a trooper were wounded in an exchange of gunfire, the sheriff’s office said. Both were being treated for their wounds.

Authorities did not have information on whether the suspect and victims were employees of the company where the shooting took place, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Carly Hose said at a news conference.

News photographs showed a large law enforcement presence, including emergency vehicles, at the scene.

Smithsburg, a community of nearly 3,000 people, is just west of the Camp David presidential retreat and about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Baltimore.

Berlin, London, Paris urge Iran to ‘cease its nuclear escalation’

A person involved with security at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, on March 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
A person involved with security at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, on March 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Germany, the United Kingdom and France are urging Iran to “cease its nuclear escalation” and “urgently conclude the deal currently on the table” to revive the 2015 nuclear accords.

Their joint statement comes after the UN atomic energy watchdog said Iran was removing 27 surveillance cameras at its nuclear facilities, warning this could be a “fatal blow” to negotiations towards resurrecting the accords that saw a lifting of sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities.

Rights groups urges Biden to attach conditions to Saudi visit

US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Collage/AP)
US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Collage/AP)

A coalition of rights groups are urging US President Joe Biden not to visit Saudi Arabia in the absence of commitments by Riyadh on human rights, warning it could encourage “violations.”

Biden confirmed last week he was considering a trip to the conservative kingdom — a stark reversal after he called for it to be made a pariah state during his successful campaign for the presidency.

The oil-rich nation’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stands accused by US intelligence of ordering the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was dismembered by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in 2018.

The accusation is vehemently denied by Riyadh, which has also been accused of wide-ranging rights abuses at home.

“We urge your administration to secure genuine progress on human rights before acting in a manner that would bolster the status of the crown prince and his government,” 13 NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, say in an open letter to Biden.

The crown prince’s government “routinely and callously abuses the rights of its own citizens, as well as those of Americans and others around the world,” the letter adds.

Abbas confidant tears into US for refusing to delist PLO in meeting with senior Biden aide

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr (second from top left) leads an American delegation meeting with Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh (second from top right) in Ramallah on June 9, 2022. (Hussein al-Sheikh/Twitter)
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr (second from top left) leads an American delegation meeting with Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh (second from top right) in Ramallah on June 9, 2022. (Hussein al-Sheikh/Twitter)

Senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh slams the United States’ continuing categorization of the Palestine Liberation Organization as a terror group during a meeting with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr in Ramallah.

Removing the PLO terror tag has been a key demand by Ramallah to current US President Joe Biden. Thus far, it remains unfulfilled.

Al-Sheikh also criticized Israeli policies that he said were destroying the possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state.

“[We] stressed that the absence of a political horizon and Israel’s continuation of its unilateral measures are killing the possibility of a two-state solution,” Sheikh says in a statement.

Amr’s meeting comes in advance of a planned visit by Biden to the region in July. The date was set for mid-June but was later delayed to the following month.

The two officials also discussed some matters to “prepare for the visit” of US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf in the coming days, Sheikh tweets.

US bill seeks Israeli security cooperation with Arab states against Iran

The Biden administration could soon facilitate cooperation between Israel and several Arab states on integrating air and missile defenses to counter Iran’s threats in the region, under bipartisan legislation unveiled in the US Congress.

The proposal would see Israel collaborate with states it doesn’t have diplomatic ties with — Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar — as well as Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Bahrain.

Members of the Abraham Accords Caucus in the House and Senate introduce the so-called DEFEND Act, defined as “a joint effort by Congress to develop a strategy for Abraham Accords and other countries to combat Iranian aggression threatening peace and security in the Middle East.

Teachers Union announces studies to start at 10 a.m. on Sunday in Jerusalem district

The Teachers Union announces a strike in the Jerusalem district that will see kindergartens, elementary schools and middle schools only start operating at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

The move comes amid a bitter standoff with the Finance Ministry over teachers’ poor salaries and conditions.

Studies in special needs classes and in all other districts will go ahead as usual.

The strike will be held in the following localities: Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Beitar Illit, Mevaseret Zion, Maale Adumim, Kiryat Arba, Abu Ghosh, Efrat, Ofarim, Beit El, the Jordan Valley, Givat Zeev, Gush Etzion, Har Adar, Hebron, Megilot, Modiin, Modiin Illit, Mateh Binyamin, Mateh Yehuda, Maale Efraim and Kiryat Yearim.

Footage emerges of Palestinians pursuing, attacking Israeli cops in Jerusalem

Footage emerges of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya pursuing and attacking Israeli Border Police troops who were in civilian clothes and not on duty at the time.

Last night’s incident, published by channels 12 and 13, allegedly began when the cops drove the car through Issawiya, with Channel 12 saying they may have shot in the air.

A group of around six Palestinians pursued them and entered the predominantly Jewish French Hill neighborhood. Footage shows them hurling bricks at the vehicle, smashing its windows and pulling the driver outside. They continued to beat him, causing him to require hospitalization.

As one cop shot in the air, another had his firearm snatched away.

Six residents of Issawiya have reportedly been arrested over the incident.

Report: MK Nir Orbach will bring down coalition if it doesn’t stabilize within days

Yamina MK Nir Orbach arrives for a party meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on May 16, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Yamina MK Nir Orbach arrives for a party meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on May 16, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Yamina MK Nir Orbach, who is due to meet Prime Minister Naftali Bennett shortly, intends to tell the premier that he, Orbach, will likely support bringing down the government within days unless rebel lawmakers aren’t immediately brought back in line, according to Channel 12 news.

“We promised to form a government that will focus on civil matters, but instead Palestinian nationalism is raising its head. This will not continue,” Orbach will allegedly tell Bennett.

Orbach has reportedly decided to vote in favor of dissolving the Knesset unless rebels Idit Silman and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi are brought back in, or unless there is a majority for forming an alternative government headed by opposition chief Benjamin Netanyahu.

Meretz MK says Lapid promised her to repopulate Arab towns destroyed in 1948

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on May 22, 2022. (Oz Avital)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on May 22, 2022. (Oz Avital)

Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, who several weeks ago said she was defecting from the coalition but was then brought back in, claims in an Arabic-language interview that to persuade her to return, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid promised her to repopulate two Arab villages whose residents were expelled in 1948.

“We started working, but it was thwarted,” she says, referring to the plan to revive the Galilee communities of Iqrit and Biram.

Opposition figures, including opposition chief Benjamin Netanyahu, are quick to blast Lapid for allegedly planning to accept the Palestinian “right of return,” referring to the return of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled during the Independence War surrounding Israel’s creation.

Israel says accepting such a demand would be the end of its existence as a Jewish state, adding that hundreds of thousands of Jews were similarly expelled from neighboring Arab countries.

Lapid denies Rinawie Zoabi’s claim, tweeting that it is a “hallucination.”

Greek military chief concludes 1st official visit to Israel

Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff General Konstantinos Floros (right) is greeted by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi (left) at the Israeli army's headquarters in Tel Aviv, June 8, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff General Konstantinos Floros (right) is greeted by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi (left) at the Israeli army's headquarters in Tel Aviv, June 8, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The chief of the Greek military, General Konstantinos Floros, has concluded his first official visit to Israel, the Israeli army says.

Floros held meetings with his Israeli counterpart Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, along with Maj. Gen. Tal Kelman, the military official in charge of Iran affairs, a senior intelligence officer, and other officials.

“The meetings discussed a number of topics, including shared challenges in the Mediterranean region,” the Israel Defense Forces says.

“The bilateral cooperation between the two militaries, with an emphasis on intelligence-related cooperation and joint training opportunities,” was also discussed, a statement adds.

Floros was given a tour of various IDF bases, including the Intelligence Directorate’s Unit 9900, Navy’s Shayetet 13, Air Force’s Palmachim airbase, and an Iron Dome air defense battery.

Blinken: Iran risking deepening nuclear crisis by removing cameras from nuke sites

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Iran is risking greater isolation and heightened tensions after the country removed cameras meant to monitor its nuclear program.

Iran’s actions threaten the possible restoration of the 2015 six-party nuclear deal, Blinken says in a statement.

“The only outcome of such a path will be a deepening nuclear crisis and further economic and political isolation for Iran,” he says.

Israel confirms its 4th monkeypox case

Israel confirms its fourth monkeypox case in a 28-year-old man who returned from abroad.

The first case of monkeypox was confirmed in Israel on May 20, a second case on May 28, and a third case on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the World Health Organization said more than two dozen countries that haven’t previously identified monkeypox cases reported 780 confirmed infections, a more than 200% jump in cases since late May. No monkeypox deaths outside of Africa have yet been identified.

Amid reports of planned defection, Yamina MK Orbach to sit down with Bennett

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) speaks with Yamina MK Nir Orbach at the Knesset on October 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) speaks with Yamina MK Nir Orbach at the Knesset on October 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Amid mounting reports that he is in talks to defect from the coalition, Yamina MK Nir Orbach is set to meet his party chief, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, at 8:30 p.m. (Israel time) in Tel Aviv.

Orbach has denied the reports that he’s in talks with opposition chief Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

The developments have come as the coalition careens from one crisis to the next, with government lawmakers increasingly fighting among themselves.

British, Moroccan fighters captured in Ukraine sentenced to death by pro-Moscow separatists — Russian media

Pro-Moscow separatists have sentenced to death two British fighters and a third from Morocco who were captured by Russian troops while fighting for Ukraine, Russian news agencies report.

The “supreme court of the Donetsk People’s Republic” orders the death penalty for Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Saaudun Brahim after the three were accused of acting as mercenaries for Ukraine.

In rare occurrence, Hamas forces clash with residents in northern Gaza

Hamas security forces clash with Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip in rare public disturbances in the coastal enclave.

Palestinians in the so-called “Bedouin Village” in northern Gaza live on land claimed by the Hamas-run Gaza government. Officials have sought to advance government projects in the area, causing tension with the residents, whom Hamas views as squatters.

“We have the right to live in dignity, in our homes,” one resident says in a clip circulating on social media.

The Hamas terror group keeps a tight lid on public dissent in Gaza and has cracked down viciously on Palestinians critical of its governance.

It isn’t immediately clear whether the incident is linked to errant gunfire from Gaza earlier today that hit a farm building near the Israeli town of Netiv Ha’asara.

Study claims Israel made 22,000 Lebanon overflights over past 15 years

A new study claims that the Israeli air force has made at least 22,000 overflights into Lebanese airspace over the past 15 years alone and expounds on the “psychological effect on the country.”

According to the research, conducted by AirPressure.info and reported in the Guardian, the majority of the incursions into Lebanese airspace have been documented over the last eight and a half years, each lasting an average of four hours and 35 minutes.

Most were allegedly conducted by advanced fighter planes or surveillance aircraft “that basic Lebanese ground defenses offer no match for,” the Guardian adds, citing the study.

The study examines the routes taken by Israeli aircraft and reveals that most of the flights were concentrated in the south of the country, where they appear to follow regular routes. Beirut and other areas north of the capital, close to the Syrian border, also saw Israeli aircraft fly over them.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, who assembled the research, which he says is the most comprehensive of its kind, tells the newspaper that AirPressure.info’s data shows how “regular exposure to overflights by warplanes had taken a toll on those living below.”

Bennett departs UAE after snap visit that included 2-hour meeting with president

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ends his snap visit to the United Arab Emirates and returns to Israel after meeting the country’s new ruler Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan (MBZ) and Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed.

According to Bennett’s office, he sat down with MBZ for two hours in the latter’s palace to discuss “a range of economic and regional issues,” in all likelihood referring to the stalled Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Iran’s proxy forces, the Abraham Accords, and fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Berlin car-ramming driver to be taken into psychiatric care

Prosecutors will seek to have the German-Armenian man accused of plowing a car through a crowd in central Berlin placed in psychiatric care after he showed signs of mental illness, a spokesman for the prosecution says.

The 29-year-old appears to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, spokesman Sebastian Buechner says. A schoolteacher was killed and 32 other people were injured in yesterday’s incident.

Litzman convicted over Malka Leifer extradition case, as part of plea deal

MK Yaakov Litzman seen at the Israeli parliament during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on June 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
MK Yaakov Litzman seen at the Israeli parliament during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on June 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court convicts veteran ultra-Orthodox politician Yaakov Litzman of breach of trust as part of a plea deal over his involvement in the Malka Leifer sexual abuse case.

The former United Torah Judaism leader, a 23-year veteran of the Knesset and former minister, resigned his seat last week as part of the plea deal, which saw him confess to trying to prevent the accused pedophile from being extradited to Australia.

His plea bargain, which has come under public criticism as a sweetheart deal that is expected to drop an obstruction of justice charge, excludes prison time for the lawmaker and carries a nominal fine of NIS 2,800 ($865). It also does not include the designation of moral turpitude, which would have blocked Litzman from Knesset office for seven years.

Israelis to be allowed to travel to soccer World Cup in Qatar

Israelis will be able to attend the soccer World Cup in Qatar later this year, after the Israeli government has reached agreements with the sport’s governing body, FIFA.

According to a joint statement by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper, FIFA has confirmed that Israelis will be able to enter Qatar — which has no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state — and attend matches during the tournament in November and December.

After purchasing match tickets, Israelis are required to apply online for a Fan ID card, approval of which grants its holder entry to Qatar and enables them to order accommodation.

Efforts are still being made to facilitate flights for Israelis traveling to the World Cup.

Reversing Trump, Biden restructures diplomatic mission to boost Palestinian ties

US envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Hady Amr meets with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, in Ramallah on July 13, 2021. (WAFA)
US envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Hady Amr meets with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, in Ramallah on July 13, 2021. (WAFA)

US President Joe Biden’s administration has implemented a bureaucratic yet symbolic move aimed at strengthening diplomatic ties with the Palestinians in lieu of reopening the US consulate in Jerusalem.

The de facto mission to the Palestinians was shuttered by former US president Donald Trump in 2019 and the diplomats in the office were moved under the auspices of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, making them a subdivision of Washington’s ties with Israel called the Palestinian Affairs Unit.

Earlier today, the PAU’s name was officially changed to the Office of Palestinian Affairs.

A spokesman for the newly named office tells The Times of Israel that the OPA remains under the auspices of the embassy but now “reports on substantive matters directly” to the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Bureau in Washington, rather than to the US ambassador to Israel as had been the case for the past three years.

The PAU will continue to be led by George Noll, who has headed the PAU for the past several years.

“The name change was done to better align with State Department nomenclature,” the OPA spokesman says. “The new OPA reporting structure is designed to strengthen our diplomatic reporting and public diplomacy engagement.”

The move is the first in a series of steps aimed at boosting ties with the Palestinians as the Biden administration holds off on reopening the US consulate due to Israeli opposition.

The more significant step the US planned to announce before Biden’s upcoming trip to Israel was to elevate Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to the role of special envoy to the Palestinians, two US and Palestinian officials told The Times of Israel last month.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared the plan with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a phone call last week, but the latter did not take well to the idea, demanding that the Biden administration uphold its repeated pledges to reopen the consulate, the two officials said. Abbas asked Blinken to hold off on announcing Amr’s new position.

The US has not given up on the move and will discuss the issue further with the PA when an advance team for Biden’s trip visits Ramallah at the end of the week, an American official said. The delegation will be led by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf.

Firefighters put Jerusalem-area brush fire under control

Firefighters gain control of a brush fire in the Jerusalem area, after battling it for 1.5 hours, the Fire and Rescue Services says.

Dozens of schoolchildren hiking in the area of Bar Giora and Tzur Hadassah were evacuated from the area. The flames didn’t reach any residential areas and didn’t cause any evacuations.

British PM says forcing peace deal on Ukraine would be ‘morally repugnant’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says any attempts to impose a “bad peace” on Ukraine, through granting territorial concessions to Russia, would be “morally repugnant.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin “would be able to continue to twist the knife in the wound, the crocodile would simply come back for more, and he would be able to claim that his aggression and his violence had paid off,” Johnson says in a speech.

Supreme Court upholds sale of Jerusalem church land to right-wing group

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) leads the Palm Sunday Easter procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) leads the Palm Sunday Easter procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)

The Supreme Court rules that a right-wing group legally purchased an East Jerusalem property from the Greek Orthodox Church, ending a nearly two-decade battle over the Old City property.

The Ateret Cohanim organization, which seeks to expand Jewish presence in East Jerusalem, bought three buildings from the church in a controversial deal struck in secret in 2004. The sale triggered Palestinian anger and led to the dismissal of Patriarch Irineos I the following year.

The church brought charges against Ateret Cohanim, claiming the properties were acquired illegally and without its permission.

In a decision released last night, the Supreme Court dismisses the church’s appeal, noting that the “harsh allegations” of misconduct by the parties involved in the original sale were “not proven to be true” in earlier proceedings.

The church blasts that ruling as “unfair” and without “any legal logical basis.”

The church’s lawyer, Asaad Mazawi, tells AFP that the ruling marks “a very sad day.”

“We are talking about a group of extremists that want to take the properties from the churches, want to change the character of the Old City and want to invade the Christian areas,” he says. “Unfortunately they are succeeding.”

The Greek Orthodox Church is the largest and wealthiest church in Jerusalem with extensive land holdings there dating back centuries.

IDF: Nobody hurt by errant gunfire from Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces says nobody was hurt by the errant gunfire apparently fired from the Gaza Strip toward an agriculture field near Netiv Ha’asara in Israel.

Earlier reports said a foreign worker was lightly injured.

IAEA accuses Iran of removing 27 surveillance cameras from nuclear sites

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, attends the quarterly IAEA Board of Governors meeting at the agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria, June 6, 2022. (JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, attends the quarterly IAEA Board of Governors meeting at the agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria, June 6, 2022. (JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency says Iran is removing 27 surveillance cameras from nuclear sites in the country.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, makes the comments at a suddenly called news conference in Vienna.

Grossi says the move poses a “serious challenge” to its efforts. Iran does not immediately acknowledge it.

Grossi says that would leave “40-something” cameras still in Iran. The sites that would see cameras removed include Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, as well as its facility in Isfahan, Grossi says.

Yesterday, Iran said it shut off two devices the IAEA uses to monitor enrichment at Natanz. Iranian officials also threatened to take more steps amid a years-long crisis that threatens to widen into further attacks.

That came ahead of a vote before the IAEA’s board censuring Iran over what the agency calls Iran’s failure to provide “credible information” over man-made nuclear material found at three undeclared sites in the country.

Foreign worker in Israel said injured by errant gunfire from Gaza Strip

A foreign worker is lightly hurt in the shooting incident on the Gaza border, according to Hebrew-language media reports. Some reports say the casualty is a Thai national, while others say he’s Palestinian.

He does not require hospitalization.

The gunfire is believed to be errant shots from the Gaza Strip.

Brush fire breaks out in Jerusalem area for 2nd day in a row

A brush fire breaks out near Jerusalem for the second straight day, this time near Moshav Bar Giora, Tzur Hadassah and Beit Shemesh.

The Israel Fire and Rescue Services says 13 teams and five firefighting planes are battling the flames, trying to prevent them from nearing residential areas.

The nearby Route 386 has been blocked to traffic in both directions.

IDF looking into reports of gunfire in town near Gaza border

Smoke rises from the Gaza Strip following an IDF attack in response to an anti-tank guided missile attack from the enclave on an Israeli jeep near the community of Netiv Ha'asara on May 12, 2021. (Screen capture)
Illustrative: Smoke rises from the Gaza Strip following an IDF attack in response to an anti-tank guided missile attack from the enclave on an Israeli jeep near the community of Netiv Ha'asara on May 12, 2021. (Screen capture)

The Israel Defense Forces says it is looking into reports of a shooting in the town of Netiv Ha’asara along the border with the Gaza Strip.

According to Hebrew-language media reports, an agricultural structure was damaged in the incident.

It is not immediately clear if the gunfire came from the Gaza Strip.

Ukrainian defense minister: ‘Every day we have up to 100 of our soldiers killed’

Ukraine says it is losing up to 100 soldiers every day in frontline fighting against Russian troops and that as many as 500 are being wounded in “difficult” battles.

“The situation at the front lines is difficult. Every day we have up to 100 of our soldiers killed and up to 500 wounded. The Kremlin continues to press by sheer mass, stumbles, faces strong resistance and suffers huge casualties,” Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov says on social media.

New Knesset lobby aims for rehabilitation of polluted rivers and streams

A Knesset lobby that will press for the rehabilitation of rivers and streams is launched in the presence of Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg at the Mekorot Hayarkon National Park in the central Israel city of Petah Tikva.

It will be led by lawmakers Gaby Lasky (Meretz) and Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism).

“People always say that those who deal with environmental issues are secular, not ultra-Orthodox. It’s not true,” says Gafni. “The environment is not just for the secular, it is for everyone, for anyone who cares about the world.”

Dana Tabachnik, director of the streams rehabilitation unit at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, tells the launch event that there is no supervision over the daily mishaps that occur in the sewage system, no proposed solution for dealing with excess effluent, and no economic deterrent to stop the discharge of pollutants into streams.

PA says 27-year-old killed by Israeli forces near Hebron

A 27-year-old Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces in Halhul, near Hebron in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says.

The Israeli army does not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a video from the scene, soldiers can be seen arresting a Palestinian suspect — identified by a prisoners’ group as Majdi Abu Yousef — in Halhul.

Palestinian health officials say three other Palestinians were rushed to Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron after being struck by live fire. Another two were wounded with rubber bullets, according to the PA Health Ministry.

According to the PA, 62 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem so far this year. The tally includes many killed while committing violent terror attacks or participating in clashes with Israeli forces. Others appear to have bystanders who were not involved in hostilities.

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