The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Wounded cops recovering from surgery after Monday stabbing
The two Border Police officers injured in the early Monday stabbing attack outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls are recovering from surgery at the capital’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem.
A hospital spokesperson says Tuesday the condition of both is “stable and improving,” and that both are “fully conscious” after the surgery.
— Judah Ari Gross
One dead, 1 missing in blaze at fireworks warehouse
One person is found dead in a fire at a fireworks warehouse in the village of Porat in central Israel.
Firefighters are battling the complicated blaze and still searching for one additional missing person.
Seven are already known to have been wounded in the fire, including one seriously.
Dozens of nearby homes are damaged from the explosions emanating from the warehouse.
UN says Syria regime bombed Damascus water source, committed ‘war crime’
GENEVA — The Syrian government intentionally bombed the Ain al-Fijeh spring in December, leaving more than five million people in Damascus without access to water, a UN probe says Tuesday.
“The information examined by the Commission confirms that the bombing of (the Ain al-Fijeh) spring was carried out by the Syrian Air Force,” the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria says in a report, adding the attack constituted a “war crime.”
The report meanwhile dismisses regime allegations that rebels had contaminated the water.
High school teachers call for 2-hour strike against violence
The national high school teachers union is calling a two-hour protest strike for tomorrow morning to draw attention to acts of violence against teachers on the part of students and parents.
In a public letter, union head Ran Erez says the strike comes to highlight “the rise in violence against teachers on the one hand, and the apathy shown by the education minister [Naftali Bennett] on the other.”
The strike will shutter high schools from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. tomorrow.
Turkey denounces Dutch ‘rotten character’
ANKARA, Turkey — In a new verbal attack against the Dutch amid their growing diplomatic spat, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames the Netherlands for Europe’s worst mass killing since World War II.
Erdogan is referring to a Dutch battalion of United Nations peacekeepers who failed to halt the slaughter by Bosnian Serb forces of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, in 1995.
In a speech televised live on Tuesday Erdogan says: “We know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8,000 Bosnians there.”
Second person said dead in fireworks warehouse blaze
The death toll rises to two in a massive fire at a fireworks factory in the central Israeli village of Porat as firefighters locate the last person believed to have been missing.
At least seven others are wounded, one seriously.
Rotterdam mayor says police were ready to open fire on Turkish minister’s convoy
The mayor of Rotterdam says that specialized armed security forces he sent to a standoff with a Turkish minister on Saturday night had permission to open fire if necessary.
Speaking late Monday night on a television talk show, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb says he sent the special armed intervention unit to the Turkish consulate amid fears that a 12-man security detail that had driven to the Netherlands from Germany with Turkish Family Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya could be armed.
Aboutaleb says on the Nieuwsuur show that it was important to “be sure that if it came to a confrontation that we would be the boss” and that the unit had been given “permission to shoot.”
The Turkish minister was eventually escorted out of the Netherlands in the early hours of Sunday. Earlier, the Dutch also had refused Turkey’s foreign minister permission to visit. Both ministers wanted to address rallies about next month’s constitutional reform referendum on giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte repeats Tuesday, on the last day of campaigning for Dutch elections that have been overshadowed by the diplomatic crisis, that Dutch authorities are working to de-escalate tensions with Ankara.
German authorities ban Islamic extremist group
BERLIN — Authorities in northern Germany ban an organization they say is a “hot spot” for Islamic extremists and search a mosque that the group runs.
The state interior ministry in Lower Saxony on Tuesday announces a ban on the “German-speaking Islam Group Hildesheim,” known by its German acronym DIK.
The group, based in the city of Hildesheim, is known as a center for ultra-conservative Muslims known as Salafists, and the mosque had been raided last year. Apartments also are searched Tuesday.
News agency dpa quotes Interior Minister Boris Pistorius as saying: “With the ban on the group, a hot spot of the radical Salafist scene in Germany has been dismantled.”
Authorities suspect that Muslims were radicalized in the organization and motivated to take part in jihad.
Latin America’s largest synagogue welcomes first female rabbi
RIO DE JANEIRO — Latin America’s largest synagogue, the 2,000-family Congregacao Israelita Paulista in Brazil, inaugurates its first female rabbi.
Some 200 people attend the welcome ceremony for Rabbi Fernanda Tomchinsky-Galanternik held last week at the 80-year-old Sao Paulo temple, also known by the acronym CIP. Ordained in December in Argentina, the Brazilian-born psychologist and mother of one also will coordinate the synagogue’s teaching department.
“CIP began to tread a path that is possible only within Judaism and particularly within such a pluralist community. But it can only be done with the presence and the action of all. I look forward to working with everyone in many different ways,” the rabbi says.
Rabbi Fernanda, as she has been commonly called, is the third female rabbi to serve at a Brazilian synagogue. Rio’s Reform temple ARI was the pioneer, hiring Paraguayan Rabbi Sandra Kochmann in 2003. Brazilian-born Luciana Pajecki Lederman has been Conservative Comunidade Shalom’s rabbi in Sao Paulo since 2005.
Hadassah hospitals to commemorate nurse killed Tuesday
The two campuses of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem will hold commemorations Wednesday for the nurse killed by a patient at a health clinic in Holon Tuesday morning, the hospital says.
Tova Kararo was killed when a suspect poured flammable liquid on her and set her on fire.
A memorial gathering will take place at noon at the hospital’s Ein Kerem campus in the city’s south, and at 12:15 p.m. at the Mt. Scopus campus in the north.
Poll: Most Palestinians skeptical of Trump peace efforts
A poll shows that the vast majority of Palestinians believe US President Donald Trump’s policies will lead to more Israeli-Palestinian tensions or to stagnation.
Tuesday’s survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research says only 9 percent believe Trump will be able to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The survey among 1,270 respondents has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
It was published as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hosts Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt to discuss peace efforts. Greenblatt met Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A US statement says Greenblatt told Netanyahu that Trump hopes to work out an approach to settlement building that is consistent with the US goal of reaching a peace deal. The envoy says Trump is interested in promoting Palestinian economic growth.
Iraq forces retake Mosul train station, once a major rail hub
MOSUL, Iraq — Iraqi forces say Tuesday that they recaptured Mosul’s train station, once one of the country’s main rail hubs and the latest in a series of key sites retaken from jihadists.
The forces launched a major push last month to oust the Islamic State group from west Mosul, taking back a series of neighborhoods as well as sites including the city’s airport, the Mosul museum and the provincial government headquarters.
Some, including the museum, which was vandalized by IS, have been heavily damaged, and it will likely be a long time before trains are again plying the rails to and from Mosul.
But retaking the sites are symbolic victories for Iraqi forces and also bring them closer to fully recapturing west Mosul, though tough fighting remains ahead.
Trump peace envoy meets Palestinian entrepreneurs in Ramallah
US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Jason Greenblatt, is in Ramallah meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Earlier, he met with Palestinian entrepreneurs, tweeting from the meeting: “Important mtg. Talked tech w/ Palestinian entrepreneurs who are launching startups & growing economy.”
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 14, 2017
Greenblatt is in the region to push a new Trump effort at a peace deal.
Countdown to start of Brexit after bill passes parliament
LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May could announce the start of the countdown to Brexit Tuesday after parliament gave her the green light — and Scotland wrong-footed her by launching a fresh bid for independence.
Downing Street is playing down speculation that May could announce Tuesday that she is triggering the Article 50 process to leave the European Union, indicating that it would take place later in the month.
But coming just hours after lawmakers approve a bill empowering her to begin the divorce, the prime minister’s statement in the House of Commons could be an opportunity to set out her plans in more detail.
May appeared to be caught off guard Monday when Scotland’s nationalist government announced plans for a second referendum on breaking from the United Kingdom.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had warned that the prospect was on the cards since the June vote to leave the EU — in which a majority of Scots voted to stay — but an announcement had not been expected so soon.
Dead in fireworks blaze identified as Qalanswa residents aged 17, 24
The two people killed today in a massive blaze at a fireworks warehouse in central Israel are identified as residents of Qalanswa: 24-year-old Amir Abed Almalek Takrouri, and 17-year-old Anes Abu Abed.
Their bodies are found after firefighters manage to put out the blaze, which also left seven wounded and several houses damaged nearby from the explosions.
The two were employed at the warehouse, in the village of Porat.
According to the Ynet news site, police are launching an investigation into the warehouse, which may have been operating without a permit and without the required approval of the local fire department.
The owner of the warehouse is among the wounded.
Iran sentences son of opposition head to 6 months in jail
Iran sentences the son of an opposition leader to six months in prison for propaganda against the regime, Iranian media report Monday.
Hossein Karroubi, eldest son of Mehdi Karroubi, is detained by officials for publishing a letter his father sent last year to President Hassan Rouhani, according to Ebtekar daily and ILNA news agency.
“Karroubi wrote a letter in (April 2016) to the president and demanded… a trial from an authorized court to examine his charges,” says Hossein’s lawyer, Mohammad Jalilian.
Mehdi Karroubi has been under house arrest along with fellow opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi since 2011, following the violent protests that erupted against the re-election of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
Mousavi and Karroubi alleged that the vote was rigged and encouraged people to take part in public protests. They were eventually put under house arrest in 2011 but have never been officially charged by a court.
Security officials have filed a complaint against Karroubi’s son for “propaganda against the regime,” the lawyer adds.
Hossein Karroubi denies the charges and said he will appeal the decision.
Abbas, Trump peace envoy meeting ends in Ramallah
The meeting between US President Donald Trump’s peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ends in Ramallah. There is no word yet on what the two discussed.
Greenblatt met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday as part of a bid by the Trump White House to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
German official wants $53M fines for social media hate posts
BERLIN — Germany’s justice minister is proposing fines of up to 50 million euros ($53 million) for social networking sites that fail to swiftly remove illegal content, such as hate speech or defamatory “fake news.”
The plan proposed Tuesday marks a further step in Germany’s attempt to impose its strict domestic laws against incitement on the free-wheeling world of online chatter.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party, says social media companies had already taken voluntary steps to crack down on hate crimes that have resulted in improvements.
“This isn’t sufficient yet,” Maas says, citing research that he says showed Twitter deletes just 1 percent of illegal content flagged by users, while Facebook deletes 39%.
The proposal would require companies to provide a round-the-clock service for users to flag illegal content, which would have to be removed by the site within seven days. All copies of the content would also have to be deleted and social media companies would need to publish a quarterly report detailing how they have dealt with such material.
Sites would also have to nominate a person responsible for handling complaints, who could face fines of up to 5 million euros personally if the company fails to abide by mandatory standards.
Iran arrests journalist shortly after release: judiciary
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran arrests a reformist journalist after he was released from custody, a prosecutor in Tehran confirms on Tuesday.
Ehsan Mazandarani, who runs the reformist daily Farhikhtegan, was initially detained in late 2015 and sentenced last April to seven years for “acting against national security.”
“The arrest of this convict on security charges is in line with the continuation and completion of his previous sentence,” Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi tells the judiciary-linked Mizan Online website on Tuesday.
Mazandarani was temporarily released in October for health concerns after a hunger strike but was required to return to prison following treatment.
His re-arrest on Monday comes after he was reportedly released in February when unofficial sources suggested that his sentence had been reduced to less than two years.
Another reformist journalist, Hengameh Shahidi, is also reportedly detained in recent days.
Shahidi’s lawyer confirms her arrest to the ISNA news agency on Sunday and says he awaits approval from authorities to work on the case.
Four other journalists are thought to have been arrested around the same time as Mazandarani and have been given sentences ranging from two to 10 years.
Abbas, Trump’s peace envoy talk of ‘how to make progress toward peace’
US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt ends a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by tweeting that the two discussed “how to make progress toward peace.”
The two met in Ramallah Tuesday afternoon, one day after Greenblatt met with Netanyahu as part of the Trump White House’s bid to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Greenblatt tweets: “Just met with Palestinian President Abbas. We had a positive, far-ranging exchange about the current situation.”
Just met with Palestinian President Abbas. We had a positive, far-ranging exchange about the current situation pic.twitter.com/DaKYbm2fRx
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 14, 2017
And adds: “President Abbas & I discussed how to make progress toward peace, building capacity of Palestinian security forces & stopping incitement.”
President Abbas & I discussed how to make progress toward peace, building capacity of Palestinian security forces & stopping incitement.
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 14, 2017
Iran’s biggest cargo line looks at London IPO
Reuters reports that Iran’s largest shipping company is looking to list on the London Stock Exchange, but is having trouble doing so:
Iran’s top cargo shipping company has held meetings in London to discuss a possible listing on the London Stock Exchange, but has so far been thwarted by US sanctions that still scare banks off Iranian business, four Iranian and two Western sources said.
Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) was removed from international sanctions blacklists last year and after years of isolation aims to raise funds to modernize its fleet. It has already placed an order for new ships estimated to be worth $626 million.
A flotation on the LSE would make it the first Iranian company to list on Britain’s main exchange since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Israel releases Palestinian ex-negotiator in East Jerusalem
The Palestinian cartographer who was arrested by Israeli authorities says he has been released from custody and will be allowed to reopen his East Jerusalem office.
Police broke into the office of Khalil Tufagji early Tuesday, accusing him of conducting illegal political activity on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
Tufagji says he was questioned by police for several hours before he was released.
He says: “I proved that I have no direct connection with the Palestinian Authority. We are an NGO funded by foreign donors.”
Tufagji is a former peace negotiator and is considered the foremost Palestinian expert on Israeli settlements.
He says he will reopen his office on Thursday.
German state seeks to ban Turkish rallies
The governor of a German state says that she wants to prevent Turkish government officials from holding political rallies there before Turkey’s constitutional referendum.
The western state of Saarland says it would use “all opportunities” to prevent such rallies. Governor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says in a statement that “Turkish domestic conflicts have no place in Germany. Campaign appearances that threaten the domestic peace in our country should be banned.”
The move would mirror a similar move by the Netherlands that has stoked tensions between Turkey and Western Europe.
So far, Germany’s federal government has said that it won’t impose a blanket ban on members of the Turkish government holding political rallies in the country.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, who faces a state election on March 26, is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union.
It’s unclear whether Turkish officials had any plans to campaign in Saarland, a small state on the French border.
Egypt releases 203 prisoners after presidential pardon
Egypt on Tuesday releases 203 prisoners who received a presidential pardon after having been jailed for taking part in unauthorized protests, security and prison officials say.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Monday pardons “203 youths who had court rulings issued against them in protest cases,” his spokesman Alaa Youssef says on his official Facebook page.
A 2013 law used to jail activists for up to two years banned all but police-approved protests.
Egypt’s constitutional court ruled in December that part of the law violated the constitution which guaranteed freedom of association and the right to peaceful protest.
Sissi, a former army chief who won elections after toppling Morsi, had promised to look into pardoning prisoners at a youths’ conference in October.
The president pardoned 82 “youths” last November, including a prominent advocate of Islamic reform jailed for “insulting” religion.
He also pardoned 100 people in September 2015, including two journalists and several prominent dissidents.
UN Report: Syrian military deliberately bombed Idlib school
BEIRUT — A UN investigative commission says Tuesday it believes government forces deliberately bombed a school complex in the country’s northern countryside in October, killing 21 children, in a scathing report on crimes committed over the last seven months of the Syrian war.
The UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria says government forces and their allies had shown a “complete disregard for civilian life and international law” through continued use of cluster munitions, incendiary weapons and chlorine gas as weapons of war.
It also fingers an al-Qaeda-aligned insurgent group fighting on the side of Syria’s rebels and a US-backed Kurdish group for conscripting adolescents for combat.
The commission says the Oct. 26 attack on the Haas village school complex in the rebel-held province of Idlib constituted a war crime. It says the Syrian air force is the only one known to operate the jets identified in the attack, which was widely reported at the time.
French presidential candidate Fillon charged in jobs probe
PARIS — French presidential candidate Francois Fillon is given preliminary charges Tuesday in an investigation of taxpayer-funded jobs his wife and children received but allegedly never performed.
The charges further damage the former prime minister’s chances at winning the two-round April 23-May 7 presidential election in which he once was viewed as the leading contender.
Investigating judges file the charges Tuesday, Celine Clement-Petremann of the national financial prosecutor’s office says. It is a surprise move — Fillon had said the judges summoned him for Wednesday, but they apparently moved up the decision.
Fillon is accused of misusing public funds, receiving money from the misuse of public funds, complicity in misusing public funds and improper declaration of assets, among other charges, the prosecutor’s office says.
Fillon denies wrongdoing and vows to continue his campaign.
Mobileye-like sensor systems to be mandatory for all cars imported from 2018
The day after the announcement of a historic buyout of Israeli car-sensor technology Mobileye by Intel, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz says Israel will begin requiring a safety sensor system to be installed on every car imported from 2018.
Katz speaks at a press conference Tuesday with the heads of Mobileye.
Jordan to host Israeli-Palestinian-American peace summit in May – report
Jordanian media report Tuesday that the kingdom is set to host a trilateral summit between Israeli, Palestinian and American leaders in May.
The meeting is said to be intended to launch a new round of long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely tells Army Radio that Israel has not yet heard about the proposed Jordanian summit.
US revokes white nationalist group’s tax-exempt status
The US government revokes the tax-exempt status of a group run by prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer for its failure to file tax returns.
Internal Revenue Service records show Spencer’s National Policy Institute automatically lost its tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit after failing to file tax returns for three consecutive years.
Spencer doesn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment Tuesday. But he tells The Los Angeles Times, which first reported the story, that he would appeal the revocation. He blames it on an IRS error that led him to believe his group was not required to file tax returns.
“It’s a bit embarrassing, but it’s not good. We’ll figure it out,” Spencer tells the newspaper.
Spencer popularized the term “alt-right” and is a leading figure in a fringe movement that has been described as a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism. Spencer, an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, hosted a postelection conference in Washington that ended with audience members mimicking Nazi salutes after Spencer shouted, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”
‘Punch a Zionist’ tweeter quits last McGill student government post
MONTREAL — The McGill University student who tweeted “punch a Zionist today” gives up his last remaining student government title, citing “personal reasons related to mental health.”
Igor Sadikov, 22, a political science major at the Montreal school, resigned last week from the Student Society legislative council.
Sadikov, who had described his Feb. 6 Twitter post as nothing more than a bad joke, had faced pressure to resign but refused. He cited his own Jewish roots and the fact that he had pro-Israel parents, and also issued a carefully worded apology.
But the McGill administration and pro-Israel students and organizations who considered him anti-Semitic or as inciting violence against Jews never relented. He resigned from the board of directors of McGill’s Student Society on Feb. 23, and pre-empted a move by the Student Society’s legislative council to impeach him on March 9 by resigning from the body a day earlier.
In the wake of Sadikov’s actions, the society’s president also resigned, without explanation.
Efforts continue through an online petition to have Sadikov expelled.
Top EU diplomat unveils Syria aid plan
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat unveils a plan to help war-torn Syria seal a peaceful end to fighting, improve stability and rebuild once a real political transition is happening.
Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says Tuesday that “there is much the European Union is ready to do,” using its aid and reconstruction might plus diplomatic efforts among Syria’s neighbors.
Mogherini says she hopes peace talks in Kazakhstan combined with the EU’s clout could spark meetings between Syria’s political parties in Geneva under UN auspices.
The bloc would step up contributions once a lasting political process is underway.
The EU is the biggest donor to Syria, providing more than 9.4 billion euros ($10 billion) in humanitarian, development and economic assistance since 2011. It plays no military role.
Netanyahu: Israel in ‘authentic and honest dialogue’ with Trump administration
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells reporters at a press conference Tuesday evening that his conversation yesterday with US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt was “good” and “mutual.”
“As for my conversations with Greenblatt,” he answers a reporter’s question, “I have to say that I had good conversations, in-depth ones. I can’t say we finished or came to an agreement. We’re in a process, but it’s a process of mutual dialogue, authentic and honest in the positive sense.”
He adds that this process is “not yet visible to media.”
— Raphael Ahren
US man alleged to have made bomb threats to JCCs denied bail
The St. Louis man accused of making at least eight bomb threats against Jewish community centers and the Anti-Defamation League must remain in jail until his trial, a federal judge in that city rules.
The allegations against Juan Thompson, 32, are “very serious,” US District Court Judge David Noce says Monday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Noce says that allowing Thompson to post bail and leave jail would “not reasonably assure the court that he will not endanger the safety of any other person or the community.”
Thompson, who was arrested March 3, has been charged with cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He has no previous criminal record. He made some of the threats in the name of a former romantic partner he had been cyberstalking, according to the US Attorney of Southern New York.
The judge says Monday that allowing Thompson to stay in the home from which he had allegedly made some threats might not stop him from making more and that GPS monitoring might prevent him from fleeing but would not stop threats, according to the Post-Dispatch.
More than 150 threats have been received by JCCs, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions since the beginning of the year, according to the Secure Community Network, which coordinates security across Jewish organizations in North America.
Israel treats more than 2,600 wounded Syrians: IDF
Israel’s medical services have treated more than 2,600 Syrians wounded during their country’s conflict since 2013, despite the two nations being officially at war, the Israeli army says Tuesday.
“The wounded are transferred to the border where they receive first aid from Israeli medical teams before being taken to hospitals,” the army says on its website.
It does not say whether rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad are among those treated.
Assad’s regime regularly accuses Israel of supporting “terrorists” — a label it applies to all its opponents.
Israel and Syria have been officially at war for decades, though the border between the two countries was largely quiet until the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011.
The Jewish state has carried out a number of strikes inside Syria, several of them targeting Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, an Israeli arch-foe and ally of the Syrian regime.
Netanyahu tells Greenblatt he still intends to establish new settlement
During his five-hour meeting with US special envoy Jason Greenblatt yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised Jerusalem’s intention to establish a new settlement to compensate the evicted settlers from Amona, The Times of Israel has learned.
Netanyahu is holding to his promise to the evacuees to establish a new settlement in the West Bank in Amona’s stead.
— Raphael Ahren
Abbas: Historic peace deal possible under Trump
In a press readout from the meeting Tuesday between US President Donald Trump’s peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Abbas is quoted as saying that “a historic peace deal is possible” under Trump.
“They reaffirmed the commitment of both the Palestinian Authority and the United States to advance a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” the readout says.
“President Abbas told Mr. Greenblatt that he believes that under President Trump’s leadership a historic peace deal is possible, and that it will enhance security throughout the region. President Abbas said he looked forward to discussing the possibilities for peace directly with President Trump during his upcoming visit to Washington.”
The statement adds: “Mr. Greenblatt underscored President Trump’s commitment to working with Israelis and Palestinians to achieve a lasting peace through direct negotiations. Mr. Greenblatt emphasized the importance of all parties working to de-escalate tensions. President Abbas committed to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and incitement.”
The two also spoke of their joint determination “to combat violence and terrorism,” and Abbas “assured Mr. Greenblatt that he is fully committed to creating an atmosphere that is conducive to making peace and would heighten his outreach efforts to the Israeli public.”
The statement concludes by noting that the discussion dwelt also on “plans to grow the Palestinian economy and the importance of ensuring economic opportunities for Palestinians, which would enhance the prospects for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace. President Abbas stressed to M. Greenblatt that the Palestinian strategic choice is to achieve a two state solution.”
Trump dines with Saudi defense minister at White House
President Donald Trump is sitting down for lunch with Saudi Arabia’s second-in-line to the throne at the White House.
Trump shakes hands with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the State Dining Room before joining several White House and Saudi officials for lunch.
The Saudi royal is the highest-level visit to Washington since November’s presidential election. The prince is leading the kingdom’s economic overhaul to become less dependent on oil and serves as its defense minister.
Trump is expected to spend the rest of the day focused on the Republican health care overhaul. He’ll be speaking by phone with Health Secretary Tom Price, Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish and two Republican lawmakers: House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
J Street calls on Trump administration to openly back two states
The left-wing American Jewish Mideast policy group J Street is urging the Trump administration to “make clear, as it so far has not at least publicly, that the US firmly supports a two-state solution and that the two-state framework is the only viable route to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
In a response to US President Donald Trump’s peace envoy Jason Greenblatt’s meetings this week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, J Street puts out a Tuesday statement calling the meetings “the latest indication that the new administration has made the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a major focus of its early foreign policy and diplomatic efforts.”
But it warns that Greenblatt “should refrain from legitimizing any actions that could undermine the two-state solution, including settlement construction and expansion. No private understandings or agreements between the US and either party can stand in for serious negotiations that respect the rights and needs of both sides.”
Budapest rabbi raises hackles after interview with far-right news website
A senior rabbi from Budapest stirs controversy in his community by granting an interview to a news website that is widely identified with the far-right Jobbik party.
Zoltan Radnoti, the chairman of the rabbinical council of the Mazsihisz Jewish umbrella group in Hungary, speaks with a reporter for the Alfahir news website in a wide-ranging interview published Friday about the meaning of Hungarian Jewish identity.
The interview follows two unusual gestures made recently by Jobbik Chairman Gabor Vona amid an effort by the party, which has been shunned by Hungarian Jews and labeled a neo-Nazi party by European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor, to gain greater respectability in Hungarian society.
In December, Vona sent a holiday greeting to Mazsihisz and other Jewish groups, and the following month said his country would cease to single out Israel for criticism. Jobbik leaders have frequently inveighed against Jews, Israel and Zionism.
Although Alfahir is not officially part of the party apparatus, it features content consistent with Jobbik’s radically nationalistic point of view.
Radnoti tells JTA in an interview Monday that he decided to grant the interview to facilitate a departure, also within Jobbik, from anti-Semitic sentiments.
“I’m no Jobbik fan, but you can’t ignore the million voters and supporters this party has,” he says. “We need to overcome our own reservations and explain who we are rather than pretend they don’t exist.”
But the Szombat Jewish-Hungarian weekly published an article Sunday that raised the question of whether Radnoti perhaps “gave Jobbik a kosher certificate” by granting Alfahir the interview.
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