Gantz slams Netanyahu over campaign, warns it could end in ‘civil war’
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Gantz slams Netanyahu over campaign, warns it could end in ‘civil war’

With elections just 9 days away, Blue and White leader lays into PM for spreading ‘muck’ rather than ‘building civil unity’

Benny Gantz during a Blue and White party event in Ashdod on March 30, 2019. (Flash90)
Benny Gantz during a Blue and White party event in Ashdod on March 30, 2019. (Flash90)

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

Saudi king ‘absolutely rejects’ undermining of Syrian sovereignty over Golan

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman says his kingdom “absolutely rejects” any move that negates Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights, following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the area as Israeli.

The Saudi monarch is speaking in Tunisia’s capital of Tunis, where Arab leaders are meeting for the Arab League summit.

Trump last week officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War and later effectively annexed.

Trump’s decision has been condemned by Syria and its allies Russia and Iran, as well as European and Arab countries that enjoy close ties with the US, which view the Golan Heights as occupied Syrian territory.

In his remarks, Salman also repeats Riyadh’s call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem, according to Reuters.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (C) gestures as he stands between Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz (L) and Jordan’s King Abdullah II (R) during the group family photo with other Arab leaders at the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (Zoubeir Souissi/Pool/AFP)

Son of rabbi killed in terror shooting dies following car crash

The son of a rabbi killed in a 2016 terror attack dies of injuries sustained in a car crash.

Shlomi Mark was injured Friday near the southern city of Kiryat Gat. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Mark was the son of a Miki Mark, the director of the Otniel yeshiva in the West Bank who gunned down while driving with his family.

Likud MK Yehudah Glick, a resident of Otniel, says the funeral will be held tomorrow in Jerusalem.

London police hunt for suspect behind ‘random’ stabbing spree

British police are searching for a suspect behind a series of stabbings in London.

London’s Metropolitan Police say the first stabbing took place on the capital’s Aberdeen Road Saturday evening and was followed by three more stabbings, the last of which was this morning.

A detective says the incidents appear to be linked and that at this point there is nothing indicating they were terror related.

“We are working on the hypothesis that the single male suspect is acting alone and mental health issues may be a factor,” Stuart Smillie says in a police statement.

2 East Jerusalem men to lose their residency status for terror involvement

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri says he will revoke the residency status of two East Jerusalem residents over their involvement in terror attacks.

Deri announces the move after he says he received a green light to do so from Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

The two East Jerusalem men whose status as permanent residents will be pulled are Azhak Arfa, who is imprisoned for his role in a 2011 bombing attack at a Jerusalem bus stop in which two people were killed, and Munir Rajbi, who was involved in a 2003 suicide bombing on a bus in Haifa that killed 17 people.

UN chief says ‘no plan B’ to two-state solution

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the Arab League summit in Tunisia and calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

“There is no Plan B. Without two states, there is no solution,” he says.

Guterres also notes recent violence between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip, calling it “a tragic reminder of the fragility of the situation.”

Turning to Syria, Guterres says any plan for resolving the Syrian civil war must respect the country’s territorial integrity, “including the occupied Golan.”

US President Donald Trump last week recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and later effectively annexed in a move rejected internationally.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a meeting in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 30, 2019, to discuss the situation in Libya. (Fethi Belaid/AFP)

After Golan move, Abbas says US will let Israel annex parts of West Bank

Following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas says the White House will next allow Israel to annex parts of the West Bank.

“What is coming from the United States is more dangerous. It will tell Israel, ‘annex part of the Palestinian land and give what remains of it self-rule and grant the Gaza Strip a nominal state for Hamas to play with,’” Abbas says at the Arab League summit in Tunisia.

— Adam Rasgon

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and and Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat (L) attend the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (Fethi Belaid/Pool/AFP)

Attorney general rejects demand to order security cabinet meeting on Gaza

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit rejects Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s request that he order the security cabinet to convene for talks on the Gaza Strip.

Mandelblit’s pronouncement comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a security cabinet meeting in response to Bennett’s demand.

Bennett, who is campaigning to be appointed defense minister after elections on April 9, has strongly criticized Netanyahu over his policies toward Gaza in the wake of recent violence emanating from the Palestinian enclave.

Rocket warning sirens sound in Gaza area communities

Air raid sirens sound in the Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regions of southern Israel.

The military says it is investigating what triggered the system.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

— Judah Ari Gross

Warning sirens set off by mortar that landed in Gaza — army

The Israeli military says the rocket sirens in southern Israel were triggered by the launch of a mortar shell from the Gaza Strip, which failed to clear the border and landed inside the coastal enclave.

— Judah Ari Gross

Brazil’s FM said to confirm planned opening of trade office

Visiting Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo has informed his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz that Brazil will open a trade office in Jerusalem, Channel 13 reports.

The office will be a branch of the Brazil’s embassy in Tel Aviv and will mark a first step toward opening an embassy in Jerusalem, according to the network.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro promised on the campaign trail to move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem but has since held up the move over reported concerns it would damage Brasilia’s ties with Arab states and exports of halal meat.

High Court rejects extremist candidate’s request to be moved up on right-wing list

The High Court of Justice rejects a petition to allow Itamar Ben Gvir of the extremist Otzma Yehudit party to be moved up on the Union of Right Wing Parties electoral list.

The appeal was filed after the court barred Otzma Yehudit member Michael Ben Ari from running in Knesset elections on April 9. Ben Ari had been placed in the fifth spot on URWP’s slate and Ben Gvir requested to be bumped up into his slot, despite Israeli law barring parties from changing their lists after they submit them to the Central Elections Committee.

“This is the last time the High Court will decide about us. After the elections we will decide about the High Court,” URWP says in a statement.

Ben Gvir implies the decision was motivated by opposition to the prospect of him being appointed to the parliamentary panel that appoints judges, as part of the agreement that brought Otzma Yehudit into an electoral alliance with the Jewish Home and National Union parties.

“The judges know that unlike cosmetic changes by other politicians, I’m the only one who will put an end to the High Court of Justice’s rule,” says Ben Gvir, who is a lawyer.

Otzma Yehudit member Itamar Ben Gvir visits a Chabad yeshiva in the northern city of Safed on March 28, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)

FM Katz says Brazil to open ‘diplomatic office’ in Jerusalem

Foreign Minister Israel Katz announces Brazil will open a “diplomatic office” in Jerusalem, after meeting with his visiting Brazilian counterpart Ernesto Araujo.

“Israel and Brazil are true friends sharing common values and we will strengthen the cooperation between our two countries,” Katz writes on Twitter.

Katz does not give any further details on what the office’s responsibilities will include.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who vowed on the campaign trail to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, appeared to back off his promise last week when he said he considering opening a trade office in Jerusalem.

Bahrain MPs condemn planned appearance of Israeli speakers at upcoming conference

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Several Israeli speakers are to appear at a business conference in Bahrain next month, a move condemned by MPs in the tiny Gulf state.

At least three Israeli speakers, including the Israel Innovation Authority’s deputy chief Anya Eldan, are scheduled to speak at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Manama, according to the forum’s website.

Members of parliament say Sunday they were against hosting Israeli speakers in Bahrain, which — like most Arab states — does not recognize the Jewish state.

“Parliament stresses its support for the just cause of the brotherly Palestinian people, and it will remain a priority for the Bahraini and Arab people,” it says in a statement published on its official Facebook page.

“The end of the Israeli occupation and the withdrawal from all Arab land is an absolute necessity for the stability and security of the region and for a fair and comprehensive peace.”

— AFP

Brazil says Jerusalem office to be part of Tel Aviv embassy

Brazil’s foreign ministry says that the new diplomatic facility it will open in Jerusalem will be part of its embassy in Tel Aviv.

“Brazil decided to create an office in Jerusalem to promote trade, investment, technology and innovation as a part of its embassy in Israel,” it says in a statement, according to Reuters.

Blue and White to unveil plans for home stretch of election campaign

With nine days to go until the national election, Blue and White party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are set to unveil their “strategy for the final stretch of the campaign” at a press conference in Tel Aviv.

“Our focus is on being the biggest party, making sure we are ahead when we reach April 9,” a spokesperson for Blue and White, currently polling at around the same as Netanyahu’s Likud party, tells The Times of Israel ahead of the press conference.

Suggesting that the campaign will be directed in part against fellow parties campaigning on an anti-Netanyahu platform, Blue and White is claiming that the only certain way to ensure the prime minister is ousted is to rally around his chief rival’s flag.

“Anyone who wants to see us building the coalition has to vote for us; anyone who wants Benny Gantz as prime minister needs to vote for us,” the spokesperson says. “Once we are the biggest party, the task of building the government will be placed in our hands.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Gantz vows to pass law limiting prime ministers to 2 terms

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz says he’ll pass legislation limiting prime ministers to two terms in office, if he becomes premier following elections on April 9.

Gantz is speaking at a press conference alongside Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid to lay out the party’s plans for the final days of the campaign.

Gantz slams Netanyahu over campaign, warns it could end in ‘civil war’

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz slams Prime Minister Netanyahu over his election campaign and warns it could end in “civil war.”

“What luck we have that Israelis are above all this muck you are trying to spread. They will not let it continue. They will not let the prime minister give millions to his pals at the expense of the people,” says Gantz, referring to corruption suspicions against Netanyahu.

“Something has happened to Bibi,” Gantz continues, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “Instead of building civil unity, he could get a civil war.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Teen seriously injured in Jerusalem stabbing; police probing motive

A teenager has been taken to the hospital in serious condition after being stabbed in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, according to police.

Police say they are looking into whether the stabbing was terror-related.

Gantz said to ask Shin Bet to probe whether Mossad behind leak of phone hack

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz has asked the Shin Bet security agency to probe whether the Mossad leaked to the media that his cellphone was hacked by Iran, Channel 12 reports.

Both the Shin Bet and Blue and White refuse to comment on the report, with the latter saying it is a security matter.

The Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, is currently headed by Yossi Cohen, who was chosen for the post by Prime Minister Netanyahu after serving as his national security adviser.

Members of Gantz’s Blue and White party have suggested Netanyahu was behind the leak, which the premier has denied.

Comedian rumored to be Jewish wins first round of Ukraine elections — exit polls

KIEV, Ukraine — Comedian and political novice Volodymyr Zelensky topped the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election on Sunday, exit polls show, leading incumbent Petro Poroshenko into a run-off.

Zelensky is projected with 30.4 percent of the vote, handily beating Poroshenko on 17.8%.

Ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who had been scrambling for a place in the second round, was knocked out with 14.2%, according to combined figures from three pollsters.

— AFP

Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky holds his ballot at a polling station during Ukraine’s presidential election in Kiev on March 31, 2019. (Genya Savilov/AFP)

Palestinian Authority says it will recall envoy to Brazil over Jerusalem office

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry says it intends to recall its top diplomat in Brasilia over Brazil’s announcement that it will open a new trade office in Jerusalem.

“We will be communicating with our ambassador in Brazil in order to recall him for consultations and in order to take the appropriate decisions to confront such a situation,” the PA Foreign Ministry says in a statement.

The new Brazilian office in Jerusalem will “promote trade, investment, technology and innovation as a part of its embassy in Israel,” the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday, according to Reuters.

The PA Foreign Ministry adds that it considers Brazil opening a new office in Jerusalem “a brazen violation of international legitimacy and resolutions, direct aggression against our people and its rights and an affirmative response to Israeli-American pressure aimed at reinforcing the occupation, settlement building and the Judaization of occupied Jerusalem.”

— Adam Rasgon

More than half of Israelis think Netanyahu will again be PM — poll

A majority of Israelis think incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will again be premier following Knesset elections on April 9, according to a Channel 12 poll aired this evening.

Asked who will be the next prime minister, 56 percent of respondents say Netanyahu, more than double the 22% who say former military chief Benny Gantz.

Another 4% of respondents say neither, while 18% don’t know.

Gantz’s Blue and White party beats out Netanyahu’s Likud in most surveys, but would have a more difficult path to forming a ruling coalition.

Blue and White keeps top spot in poll, still no clear path to forming coalition

2 Gazans arrested near border fence, soldiers find ax

IDF soldiers arrest two Palestinians near the border fence with Israel in the southern Gaza Strip, the army says.

The two suspects are taken in for questioning, and troops find an ax during searches of the area they were caught, according to the IDF.

PM on reported call to probe if Mossad behind phone hack leak: Don’t involve them

Prime Minister Netanyahu responds to a television report that his political rival Benny Gantz has asked the Shin Bet to whether the Mossad leaked to the media that his cellphone was hacked by Iran.

“Don’t drag the Mossad into political arguments. These are people who can’t defend themselves,” he says at a press conference alongside Brazil’s president, according to Channel 12.

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