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

Marking Jerusalem Day, government approves East Jerusalem ‘sovereignty plan’

At a celebratory Jerusalem Day cabinet meeting held at the capital’s Bible Lands Museum, the cabinet approves a series of programs aimed at “deepening sovereignty” in East Jerusalem, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that government plans to “​build up and develop Jerusalem, east and west, north and south.”

The proposals given the go-ahead by the government include plans to formalize land ownership claims in East Jerusalem, claimed by Palestinians as the capital of a future Palestinian State; transfer Palestinian schools in the area to the Israeli curriculum; invest massive funds into developing increasingly Jewish areas of the majority Arab populated Old City and Mount of Olives; and build a cable car from West Jerusalem to the Western Wall.

In total, the plans are estimated at some NIS 2 billion ($500 million).

​”​It is not for nothing that we are marking Jerusalem Day today at the Bible Lands Museum​. ​Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible approximately 650 times. The reason is simple: For over 3,000 years it has been the capital of our people, and only of our people. We dreamed of returning to rebuild it, the city that is joined together – this is exactly what we are doing today​, ” Netanyahu tells ministers.​”

“​We will make a series of decisions to​ ​build up and develop Jerusalem, east and west, north and south, in all directions – to both reveal its past and build its future. I know that there will be difficulties along the way; there have been difficulties for the past 70 years. We have met them since 1949 and up to recent years. We will also meet them in the future​,” he says.

— Raoul Wootliff

Israeli Paralympic team takes silver medal at international rowing competition

The Israeli Paralympic team takes home the silver medal at the 2018 Para-rowing international in Gavirate, Italy.

The squad completes the 2,000 meter race in 07:27.84, finishing ahead of teams from Ukraine, USA and Italy.

The athletes who train at Tel Aviv’s Daniel Rowing Center will next compete at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria this coming September.

The Israeli Paralympic rowing team poses for a photo after winning the silver medal at the 2018 Para-rowing international in Gavirate, Italy. (Daniel Rowing Center)

Police recommend academy head, instructor be charged over flood disaster

Israel Police recommend that charges be filed against both the counselor and the former head of the Bnei Zion pre-military academy involved in last month’s desert hike, in which 10 teenagers were swept to their deaths by a flash flood.

Police recommend that the counselor, Aviv Bardichev, be indicted for manslaughter while former director Yuval Kahan — who resigned earlier this month — be charged with negligent homicide.

According to Hebrew media reports, Bardichev changed the route of the trip from the Tze’elim stream to the Tzafit stream despite being warned by a weather forecasting company not to travel in the area due to flooding. Bardichev had even received an email advising against traveling in the area.

Kahan was also said to have known about the route change but chose to trust Bardichev’s judgment.

Harley Davidson riders in convoy from US embassy in Tel Aviv to new location in Jerusalem

An Israeli motorcycle team leads a convoy of Harley Davidson riders from the current US embassy in Tel Aviv to the location of the new embassy in Jerusalem, in an event organized with The Israel Project.

Draped in Israeli and American flags, the 50 riders began in Tel Aviv and continued down the Ayalon Highway to Route 1 before reaching Jerusalem.

A convoy of Harley Davidson riders arrive at the US Consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood on May 13, 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Rivlin asks Ethiopian president for assistance in returning Avera Mengistu

President Reuven Rivlin says that during his recent trip to Ethiopia, he asked President Mulatu Teshome for assistance in returning Israeli citizen Avera Mengistu who has spent the last three and a half years in Hamas captivity in Gaza.

“I want to mention our commitment to Avera Mengistu,” he told the crowd at a ceremony memorializing Ethiopians who perished while making the trek to Israel.

PM: We will not rest until Avera Mengistu is returned home

Speaking at a government ceremony memorializing Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to continue efforts to return Avera Mengistu from Gaza.

Addressing Mengistu’s family directly, Netanyahu says, “We will not rest until we bring Avera home.”

Police said to threaten with fines Arab shop owners who don’t close for Jerusalem flag march

Arab shop owners in the Old City of Jerusalem have reportedly been threatened by police that if they do not close their shops ahead of the Jerusalem Day flag march they will be fined, according to a Walla news report..

A police spokesman has not responded to The Times of Israel’s request for comment.

The march, in which primarily religious teenagers march through the Old City decked out in white and blue, the colors of the Israeli flag, has raised tensions over its route through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. In previous years, the march has sparked sporadic incidents of violence between Israeli revelers and local Palestinian residents.

Jewish woman found stabbed to death in Frankfurt park

A Jewish woman due to testify in court next month has been found stabbed to death in a Frankfurt park.

The body of a woman identified as Irina A., age 29, was discovered on May 9. The woman allegedly had been involved in inventing a “sex-mob” story of mass rape and abuse by “foreigners” on New Year’s eve 2017 in Frankfurt. Police found no evidence of an incident and reportedly Irina A. was not even in the city at the time.

On Friday, police arrested the man charged for the false crime report along with her – identified publicly as the 50-year-old restaurateur Jan. M. – as a suspect in her brutal murder.

A man walking his dog in Nidda Park at 6:30 on Wednesday morning discovered the blood-smeared body of Irina A., who ran a real estate and jewelry business, according to news reports. An autopsy confirmed that her death was a murder. Her jewelry and purse were missing. Reportedly the attack left her face unrecognizable. Her white Mercedes later was found parked nearby.

News reports identified Irina A. as a member of Frankfurt’s Jewish community. Photographs show her wearing a silver Star of David pendant. A Facebook profile that apparently was hers has been changed to a “memorialized account.” Among her many friends is a restaurateur Jan. M.

Using cellphone records, police reportedly have placed him close to the crime scene. Traces of his blood were allegedly found there as well.

Both have been described as active in club scenes.


Upon arrival in Israel, Jared Kushner meets with Netanyahu

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon his arrival in Israel.

Kushner is part of the US delegation in town for Monday’s opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem. He is joined by his wife Ivanka Trump — also a senior White House adviser — deputy secretary of state John J. Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt and 14 Republican members of Congress.

Top Hariri aides out after poor showing in Lebanon vote

Three key aides of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri were fired or resigned, his office reveals, a week after a disastrous showing in the country’s first general election in almost a decade.

Hariri’s Future Movement lost a third of its seats in the May 6 vote, ceding ground to its Christian former allies and parties on the other side of Lebanon’s political divide, including the Shiite Hezbollah movement.

The premier’s chief of staff, his cousin Nader Hariri, “resigned from all his functions,” according to a statement late Saturday, without specifying a reason.

The movement says its coordinator, who was also in charge of the party’s election campaign, had been relieved of his duties following a review. It says another unnamed cabinet official had also been dismissed.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Despite seeing his movement lose its status as the largest party in parliament, Lebanon’s delicate sectarian balance of power means Hariri is likely to remain prime minister once a deal on a new government is reached.

Hariri blamed some of the movement’s losses on Lebanon’s new electoral law, but admitted he and his party had “betted on a better result.”


Iran conservatives attack government over nuclear deal

Ayatollah Ali Jannati, the ultra-conservative head of the Assembly of Experts in Iran whose responsibilities include choosing the next supreme leader, says the government had already failed to guarantee the country’s interests.

President Hassan Rouhani, the key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal, should “present his apologies to the Iranian people for the damage caused in the cadre of the nuclear deal,” Jannati says.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Beijing on Sunday for the first stop of his tour of the remaining members of the nuclear deal. He is due in Moscow and Brussels in the coming days.

Mirroring the line taken by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Jannati says there was little chance the Europeans would provide the assurances needed for Iran to stay in the deal.

The Europeans “have never stopped taking actions against Iran,” he writes.

The head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, also criticizes “certain officials” who “look to outsiders.”

“I hope recent events will lead us ending our trust in the West and the Europeans. The Europeans have repeated on several occasions that they will not be able to resist US sanctions,” says Jafari, according to the conservative Fars news agency.

Around 100 Iranian lawmakers have also signed on to a parliament bill that would set a clear deadline for the government to “obtain necessary guarantees from the Europeans” without which Iran would resume high-level uranium enrichment, according to parliament’s official website.

— with AFP

Islamic State claims deadly Indonesia church attacks

The Islamic State group was responsible for suicide attacks against three churches in Indonesia that killed at least 11 people on Sunday, it says via its propaganda agency Amaq.

“Three martyrdom attacks killed 11 and wounded at least 41 among church guards and Christians,” it says via the Telegram messaging app.

The jihadist group’s toll tallied with that of police following the seemingly coordinated attacks against three churches in the city of Surabaya at around 7:30 a.m. local time.

IS has claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in Indonesia, most of them carried out by its affiliate Jamaah Ansharut Daulah.


Flaming kite from Gaza sets Israeli field along border ablaze

A flaming kite sent from Gaza sets an Israeli field ablaze just east of the security fence around the coastal enclave.

According to Hadashot news, the kite was flown from the city of Abasan al-Kabira in southern Gaza.

Illustrative: Palestinians prepare an incendiary device attached to a kite before trying to fly it over the border fence with Israel, on the eastern outskirts of Jabaliya, on May 4, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

State comptroller chides government for being all talk on Jerusalem development

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira chides the government for failing to implement various projects meant to develop the capital, in a new report released on Jerusalem Day.

“In order to bring about a significant change in the status of Jerusalem, it is not enough to make solemn declarations, but actions must be taken,” Shapira writes.

The state comptroller highlights several programs introduced over the past decade that have stalled due to lack of coordination between various government offices.

Shapira also points out the lack of desire government ministries have had to move their offices to Jerusalem, despite statements from officials stressing the importance of such a move.

200 Jewish activists hand out flowers to Muslims in Old City ahead of ‘harmful’ flag march

Some 200 activists distribute flowers to Arab residents in the Old City of Jerusalem ahead of the flag march — a mass rally of thousands of Jewish nationalists that has been criticized as provocative.

The alternative Jerusalem Day demonstration was organized by the Tag Meir grassroots group, which says that the flag march “harms the routine of life and commerce for the residents of the Muslim Quarter.”

Tag Meir chairman Gadi Gvaryahu says, “We came to extend a hand in peace to our Arab neighbors. We recognize the complexity of this day for them. We expressed regret over the damage to their livelihood due to the flag march.”

A Tag Meir activist hands out a flower to a Muslim woman in the Old City of Jerusalem on May 13, 2018. (Rafi Kutz/Tag Meir)

Thousands parade through Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem Day flag march

Thousands of Jewish religious nationalists stride through the Muslim Quarter in one of the more controversial section’s of the route of the annual Jerusalem Day flag march.

Demonstrators, many of them teenage boys, dance through the streets near Damascus Gate, which was largely empty after police ordered Arab shop owners to shutter their businesses.

Pompeo: US wants to work with Europeans on new Iran deal

The US wants to work with its European partners on a new agreement to counter Iran’s “malign behavior” after its withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.

“I’m hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well,” he tells Fox News.

“And I will work closely with the Europeans to try and achieve that.”


In gesture to US President, soccer club renames itself Beitar ‘Trump’ Jerusalem

In an expression of gratitude to US President Donald Trump for his decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, the Beitar soccer team announces that it has changed its name to “Beitar ‘Trump’ Jerusalem.”

“For 70 years has Jerusalem been awaiting international recognition, until President Donald Trump, in a courageous move, recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel,” the soccer club says in a Facebook post.

“President Trump has shown courage, and true love of the Israeli people and their capital, and these days other countries are following his lead in giving Jerusalem its rightful status.”

“The football club Beitar Jerusalem, one of the most prominent symbols of the city, are happy to honor the President for his love and support with a gesture of our own [and]… have decided to add to the club’s title the name of the American President who made history, and from now on will be called Beitar Trump Jerusalem.”

“We have the greatest love for the President, and it will win!” the statement concludes.

70 שנה המתינה ירושלים להכרה בינלאומית, עד שהנשיא דונלד טראמפ החליט לעשות מעשה והכיר בה כבירת הנצח של עם ישראל. הנשיא…

Posted by ‎מועדון הכדורגל בית"ר ירושלים – F.C. Beitar Jerusalem‎ on Sunday, 13 May 2018

Israeli and US heavyweights mingle at Foreign Ministry reception ahead of embassy move

Hundreds of Israeli and US politicians are gathering at the Foreign Ministry for a reception celebrating the inauguration of the US embassy tomorrow in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood.

In addition to some 30 foreign diplomats, many ministers, members of Knesset, US Congressmen, religious leaders are in attendance.

Well-known names in pro-Israel circles including Alan Dershowitz, Yeshiva University president Ari Berman and Pastor John Hagee mingle at the event, which is catered like a fancy wedding.

— Raphael Ahren

Greenblatt pans ‘Hamas rioters’ for looting Gaza crossing

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt chides “Hamas rioters” who sabotaged infrastructure on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing on Friday.

“As the world tries to ease humanitarian suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas rioters vandalize and burned the primary humanitarian crossing point,” Greenblatt tweets.

“When will the people see Hamas is destroying what could be a thriving metropolitan area? Peace is the only hope for a future,” he concludes.

Israel approves controversial Jerusalem cable car project

The Israeli government gives the green light to a controversial cable car project planned to run between West Jerusalem and the Old City in annexed East Jerusalem.

The decision comes on the eve of the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

“The cable car project will change the face of Jerusalem, offering tourists and visitors easy and comfortable access to the Western Wall,” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin says.

The one-mile line will cost $56 million and is planned to be up and running by 2021.

Austrian ambassador: Embassy will remain in Tel Aviv for now

Austrian Ambassador to Israel Martin Weiss tells The Times of Israel at the US embassy reception that while his country has no plans to move its embassy to Israel “for the time being…that doesn’t change the fact that today is a very joyous day for Israel and the Israeli people.”

“This is a day of celebration for Israel from across the political spectrum. If you ask any Israeli on the street, whether he’s left-wing or right-wing, what the capital of Israel is, they’ll look at you weird. It’s obvious,” he says.

“However, the EU and Austria have a different position. The Austrian embassy is in Tel Aviv and will also remain in Tel Aviv for the time being. But that doesn’t mean that when the Israeli prime minister invites me to an event that I can’t go.”

“We can have a policy disagreement but that doesn’t change the fact that today is a very joyous day for Israel and the Israeli people.”

— Raphael Ahren

PM calls on world leaders to join US in moving their embassies

Addressing the Foreign Ministry reception celebrating the US embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls on world leaders to follow Washington’s suit.

Netanyahu thanks the governments of Guatemala and Paraguay for their decisions to do so, and adds that others will follow but “we won’t say who because that’s a state secret.”

“We don’t reveal our state secrets. We reveal other’s state secrets,” he says, in a clear allusion to the secret Iran nuclear archive.

Netanyahu to US delegation: No greater supporters of Israel on the face of the earth

Thanking the US delegation in Jerusalem for tomorrow’s embassy relocation, Netanyahu says “there are no greater supporters of Israel on the face of the earth.”

“We are eternally grateful,” the prime minister says.

Explaining why he thought other countries will follow the US, Netanyahu says that “in any peace that you could possibly imagine, Jerusalem will remain as Israel’s capital.”

Netanyahu also thanked the US president for withdrawing from the Iran deal. “I thank President Trump for his decision to confront Iran rather than appeasing it.”

The prime minister presents US Ambassador David Friedman with a framed version of Trump’s presidential order announcing the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

US deputy secretary of state: Embassy move ‘essential for peace’

US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan tells the crowd at the Foreign Ministry’s embassy relocation celebration that Trump’s decision is “essential to creating a roadmap for peace in region.”

“We look forward to welcoming you tomorrow at the US Embassy in Jerusalem,” says Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.


Jaffa resident shot dead in apparent criminal incident

A Jaffa resident succumbs to his wounds after being shot in an apparent criminal incident.

The 22-year-old had been rushed to the hospital after gunfire was heard in the coastal city, police say.

Likud MK boasts largest 1-day total of Jewish Temple Mount visitors in 2,000 years

Likud MK Yehudah Glick praised the largest amount of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount since its destruction some 2,000 years ago.

“2,084 Jews ascended the Temple Mount as well as tourists from Uganda, Australia the Netherlands, California, Nigeria, Indonesia and more,” he tweets.

“Slowly the Prophecies of the Prophets are coming true and the world is returning to the mountain and to God.”

IED explodes in Gaza Stip, injuring several Palestinians operating device

An IED explodes in the Gaza Strip, injuring several Palestinians, who were said to have been operating the device at the time.

According to the Ynet news site, one of the Palestinians is in serious condition from the blast.

Polish minister denies blacklisting filmmaker for Holocaust films

Polish Culture Minister Piotr Glinski denies an allegation by Oscar-winning film director Pawel Pawlikowski that Poland’s right-wing government has a “blacklist” of artists.

“The most complete freedom of creation rules in Poland,” Glinski tweets, adding “I wish Polish artists success at Cannes, and not only at Cannes.”

Pawlikowski, 60, who won the best foreign-language movie Oscar for “Ida” in 2015, told AFP at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday that the film had been banned from being shown on television or in Polish cultural institutes abroad.

Glinski, who is also deputy prime minister, tweeted, “There is no blacklist of artists in Poland, and the culture minister has never accused Mr. Pawlikowski of anything whatsoever.”

“Ida,” about a young Catholic nun who learns she is a Holocaust orphan, touches on the killing of Jews during the Nazi occupation by Poles with whom they had sought refuge — a fact swept under the carpet for decades.

The film became the target of attacks and a petition by Glinski, then in opposition, when it was nominated for an Academy Award.


Due to anticipated Palestinian rejection, US mulls not presenting peace plan at all

In their meeting earlier today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner discussed US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, Channel 10 reports.

The two were joined by Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

According to Channel 10, the American team is hesitant to present its plan, knowing that the Palestinians will likely reject it outright.

Where before the question may have been when the plan would be presented, now the White House is wondering whether to present it at all.

However, a senior US official tells Channel 10 that despite the delay in presenting the peace plan and the deterioration in Washington’s relationship with the Palestinians, the Americans are pleased with the warming of ties between Israel and the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

Greenblatt goes after Palestinians again; this time for flaming kites

US Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Jason Greenblatt publicly criticizes the Palestinians for the second time in a matter of hours, this time taking issue with the flying of flaming kites into Israel.

“Kites with bombs and molotovs attached are not ‘peaceful demonstrations’ — it is terrorism plain and simple,” Greenblatt tweets.

“Hamas is responsible and making matters worse for Palestinians in Gaza,” he concludes.

Earlier Sunday, Greenblatt chided “Hamas rioters” who sabotaged infrastructure on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing two days prior.

“As the world tries to ease humanitarian suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas rioters vandalize and burned the primary humanitarian crossing point,” Greenblatt tweets.

“When will the people see Hamas is destroying what could be a thriving metropolitan area? Peace is the only hope for a future,” he concludes.

Pastor who said Holocaust spurred by gay men to run against Massachusetts governor

An anti-LBGT attorney and pastor who said gay men spurred the Holocaust will run against Massachusetts’ incumbent governor in the state’s Republican primary.

Scott Lively received the support of 626 of the more than 2,000 delegates at the Massachusetts Republican Party Convention last month, almost double the amount he needed to be listed on the ballot.

Lively is the author of a 1995 book titled “The Pink Swastika,” in which he claimed that the Holocaust was coordinated by gay men who ran the Nazi Party.

He is the founder of an anti-LGBT group, Abiding Truth Ministries, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

He will face Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in the September 4 primary, as long as he collects the necessary 10,000 voter signatures seeded for ballot certification, Mass Live reported. He ran as an Independent against Baker in 2014.


Friend of Paris knifeman arrested, home searched

Heavily armed police arrest and search the home in Strasbourg of a friend of the knifeman who carried out a deadly attack in Paris, according to AFP.

Police leave the home with a man in handcuffs, his face hidden by a hood, wearing  a black T-shirt with “Grozny,” the capital of Chechnya, on the front and a drawing of a Kalashnikov rifle on the back.

A source close to the case says the young man was the “individual closest” to the Chechen-born Azimov, who went on a stabbing spree in central Paris that left one dead and four wounded. Both were born in 1997.

A laptop is also seized in the police raid.

Azimov had lived for several years in Strasbourg, home to a sizeable Chechen community.


Satellite images aftermath of Israeli counterattack on Damascus airport

New satellite photos show the damage incurred to Syria’s airport in Damascus from the Israeli military response to an Iranian rocket barrage at the Golan Heights last week.

Before and after photos show the destruction of a large storage facility near the airport as well as the disappearance of all military personnel which had been active at the site prior to the May 11 attack.

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