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Live updates (closed)Latest: PM drops Arabic language article from Jewish state bill

Settlement leader warns White House that pressuring Netanyahu could topple him

UK Labour leader Corbyn denies honoring Munich attack killer; foreign journalists complain Netanyahu won’t answer questions

  • US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after giving final remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem before Trump's departure, May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after giving final remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem before Trump's departure, May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Britain's Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a meeting about social care in Birmingham central England on Tuesday April 18, 2017. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
    Britain's Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a meeting about social care in Birmingham central England on Tuesday April 18, 2017. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
  • A picture released by British authorities of Salman Abedi, the suspect behind a suicide bombing that ripped into young fans at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube via BBC News)
    A picture released by British authorities of Salman Abedi, the suspect behind a suicide bombing that ripped into young fans at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube via BBC News)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Jerusalem Day celebration at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, on May 24, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Jerusalem Day celebration at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, on May 24, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • This undated frame grab from video posted online Monday, May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS. (Aamaq News Agency via AP)
    This undated frame grab from video posted online Monday, May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS. (Aamaq News Agency via AP)
  • German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, left, listens to German domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen during a symposium in Berlin, Germany, Monday May 29, 2017. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)
    German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, left, listens to German domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen during a symposium in Berlin, Germany, Monday May 29, 2017. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)

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

Amid graft probe, police may request Deri be put in house arrest

Investigators probing the corruption suspicions against Interior Minister Aryeh Deri are reportedly considering requesting that the cabinet minister be placed under house arrest.

Deri and his wife Yaffa are being questioned separately by police on Monday morning, hours after officers arrest 14 other people in connection with a real estate-related graft probe.

Police are also said to be considering asking that Deri be suspended from his duties as interior minister, as the graft allegations constitute a possible conflict of interest.

As a member of Knesset Deri enjoys parliamentary immunity, so police require the approval of the attorney general as well as the Knesset itself to implement any direct sanctions against the interior minister without his agreement.

North Miami Beach Jewish school shuttered over bomb threat

A Jewish day school in North Miami Beach was emptied following a bomb threat.

The Yeshiva Toras Chaim Toras Emes school, which has enrolled 600 students from early childhood to high school, received a fax on Sunday demanding $25,000 in ransom and threatening to detonate explosives already in place at the school if the demand is not met, WSVN News 7 reports late Sunday.

The message warns school officials not to call police, saying if they do so “I’ll know.” The letter also says the would-be bomber has access to the school’s computers and email addresses, according to The Yeshiva World news website. The letter demands that the money be sent to a certain address in the United States via Western Union by May 31.

Roads near the school campus are shut down and bomb-sniffing dogs search the area. No bombs are found.

— JTA

Tunisian security forces kill IS fugitive who planned Ramadan terror attacks

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisian security forces killed a leader of the Islamic State group who was plotting attacks during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, authorities say on Monday.

The interior ministry does not identify the suspect, but says he was a leading member of IS and “dangerous” and was killed in an operation Sunday night by the National Guard near the Algerian border.

Judiciary spokesman Sofiene Sliti tells Shems FM radio the suspect is a Tunisian known as Houssem Tlithi, born in 1997.

The interior ministry says the suspect had been on the run since 2014 and hiding in the Mount Salloum region, a jihadist stronghold.

During Sunday night’s operation, another jihadist was wounded and weapons seized, including a Kalashnikov assault rifle and material used to make explosive belts.

The interior ministry says they were to be used for “terrorist” attacks during Ramadan, a holy month which started Saturday and during which believers abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.

— AFP

Lapid: PM must confront Trump over Saudi arms deal

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid criticizes the Israeli government for failing to block the massive US-Saudi arms deal inked in Riyadh some 10 days ago.

“The defense minister has expressed deep and justified concern about the deal, but the Prime Minister’s Office said it’s ‘not concerned.’ On what basis are they not concerned? The Saudi deal was not coordinated with us, and even right now its full details are unknown,” Lapid says at the start of his party’s weekly faction meeting in the Knesset Monday.

“The State of Israel has always known to act against these arms deals — in extreme cases to torpedo them, in other cases, to minimize the damage, in all cases to preserve our qualitative edge in the Middle East,” he says.

Lapid warns the weapons being sold to the Saudis are liable to fall into the wrong hands in the Middle East and ultimately be turned on Israel.

“The prime minister must demand public, not private, explanations, from the US president and his staff,” says Lapid, urging the Israeli security establishment to push for a compensation package from the Pentagon to uphold the country’s regional military edge.

“The prime minister must stop being afraid of President Trump’s short fuse and tell him publicly: For you it is a question of money and jobs — for us it’s a matter of life and death,” he says.

— Marissa Newman

Lithuanian Jewish leader sorry for insulting Russian-speaking Jews

The contested leader of Lithuania’s Jewish community apologizes for the publication of an article on the community’s website accusing her opponents of being Russians claiming to be Jews.

The apology Friday by Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the LZB umbrella group of Lithuanian Jewish organizations, follows the publication Wednesday of an article on the LZB website about an election that day for the board of the Jewish community of Vilnius, the capital — LZB’s largest affiliate. Kukliansky declares the election void after a critic of her administration, Simonas Gurevicius, won the vote in Vilnius.

The LZB website refers to people who voted for Gurevicius as “mainly Russian speakers calling themselves Jews, with only a minority of people with Litvak blood.” The statement says the vote took place while “military exercises are currently underway rehearsing the scenario of Lithuania and Poland under attack” — a clear appeal to Lithuanian nationalism amid fear of Russian expansionism. The statement angers many Russian-speaking Lithuanian Jews. Some of them say it reinforces a recurrent claim popular among anti-Semites who claim Lithuanian Jews are Russian stooges.

Kukliansky on Friday says in a statement: “We apologize for the appearance on the community webpage of a hasty, unedited news item.”

— JTA

Jerusalem official questioned in Deri graft probe identified as former PMO director

One of the 14 people being questioned today in the graft probe of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri is former Prime Minister’s Office director general Moshe Lion.

Lion, a businessman who now holds a seat on the Jerusalem City Council, insists he is not a suspect in the case, but is being questioned on a specific matter involving Deri.

Deri and his wife Yaffa are being questioned this morning at the Lod headquarters of the Israel Police’s National Serious Crimes Unit.

Herzog slams Kara appointment to Communications Ministry

Zionist Union leader MK Isaac Herzog vows he will petition the High Court of Justice again if he finds that the new appointee for communications minister, Likud MK Ayoub Kara, is acting in accordance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s instructions.

Netanyahu relinquished the portfolio to Kara on Sunday following a court petition by Herzog which accused the prime minister of a conflict of interest in holding the position.

“The appointment of MK Kara could have been an important event,” says the opposition leader at the weekly Zionist Union faction meeting in the Knesset, “if only it were not another one of Netanyahu’s tricks to control the media.”

He says that if he finds the slightest indication Netanyahu is directing Kara’s actions in the ministry, in contravention of a High Court ruling that Netanyahu cannot function as communications minister, “I will take action — until there are no Likud members to hold the portfolio.”

— Marissa Newman

Putin arrives in France for talks with Macron

PARIS — Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in France for talks with newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron greets Putin with a firm handshake on a red carpet leading into the Palace of Versailles before both men walk inside.

Putin’s trip is likely to shape Russia-France ties for years, with Putin trying to mend strained ties with the West and with Macron after the Russian leader backed Macron’s far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Putin and Macron will hold a joint news conference after their talks.

— AP

Netanyahu praises Norway for defunding from terrorist-named women’s center

Netanyahu praises Norway for withdrawing funding from a Palestinian women’s center named for a terrorist who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre.

Dalal Mughrabi and several other Fatah terrorists landed on a beach near Tel Aviv, hijacked a bus on the Coastal Road and killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded over 70.

The new West Bank center, which opened last month and was funded in part by the Scandinavian country, is named in her honor.

The prime minister says he instructed Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem several days ago to press Norway and the United Nations to pull its donations from the West Bank project.

Norway’s foreign minister “did precisely that. And it’s good that he did,” the prime minister says.

He says “according to his understanding,” the UN will also distance itself from the organization.

“We implement this policy even with regard to our closest friends, and warn them we cannot accept it that friendly governments support organizations that glorify terrorism and act against IDF soldiers,” he says. “It’s a process.”

Netanyahu also defends his policy of boycotting foreign leaders who meet with far-left NGOs Israel accuses of setting up Israeli soldiers for future prosecution in foreign tribunals.

“You can meet me. But you cannot meet with these organizations and also meet with me,” he says, adding that this message is sinking in.

“Our soldiers protect us. And we will protect them,” he concludes.

— Marissa Newman

In Syria, more airstrikes hit IS de facto capital of Raqqa

BEIRUT — More airstrikes and artillery shelling on Monday hits the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group, as US-backed fighters push closer to the extremists’ stronghold, activists say.

The developments come ahead of what is expected to be a major battle for Raqqa in the coming weeks.

Airstrikes have intensified over the past days as US-backed fighters push on toward the city, getting closer to it from all sides. The Kurdish-led Syria Democratic Forces capture dozens of towns and villages under the cover of airstrikes by the US-led coalition since November, when the group began an operation entitled Euphrates Wrath, aiming to eventually surround and capture Raqqa.

SDF fighters surround Raqqa from the north, west and east. The extremists still have an exit from the south, even though the US-led coalition destroyed two bridges on the Euphrates River south of Raqqa.

This undated frame grab from video posted online Monday, May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS. (Aamaq News Agency via AP)
This undated frame grab from video posted online Monday, May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS. (Aamaq News Agency via AP)

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the city is pounded by warplanes and artillery since early morning. The activist group has no immediate word on casualties from the new airstrikes, adding that about 38 people have been killed in Raqqa and its suburbs over the past three days.

The activist-operated Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently says that since Sunday, the US-led coalition carried out more than 30 airstrikes on the city, killing 35 people and destroying a school on Raqqa’s northern outskirts.

On Sunday, opposition activists say the US-led coalition dropped leaflets in Arabic on Raqqa, urging residents to leave the city. Some leaflets gave instructions of how to leave Raqqa, calling on people to keep their plans secret from IS and to leave without any weapons and waving a white banner.

— AP

Sabbath-observant U of Maryland students receive diplomas in alternative ceremony

The University of Maryland hosts an alternative graduation to accommodate 22 observant Jewish students who could not receive their diplomas at the regular graduation, which took place on Shabbat.

The full university commencement was held on Sunday, May 21; however, 19 of the university’s 34 individual colleges held their ceremonies on Saturday, according to Chabad.org.

The campus Chabad Jewish student center and campus Hillel requested that the administration hold an alternative ceremony on Sunday, to which the university agreed.

On Sunday afternoon in the atrium of the student union building each student was called up by name and received his or her diploma from William Cohen, the associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies, who represented the university.

Paul Hamburger, a senior partner in the international law firm Proskauer Rose LLP and a member of the Chabad on Campus international advisory board, said during his commencement speech that: “This graduation ceremony is separate from and still a part of the University of Maryland graduation exercises. It is a testament to how you can find a balance between your Jewish identity and your integration into the world at large.”

— JTA

German security chiefs upbeat on intel cooperation with US

BERLIN (AP) — Senior security officials in Germany say Monday they are optimistic about intelligence sharing with the United States and Britain, despite friction in other policy areas in recent months.

Speaking at a gathering of intelligence experts in Berlin, Germany’s top security official says cooperation with the Trump administration is “excellent” when it comes to combating terrorism.

While a meeting in Sicily exposed deep differences between the United States and other members of the Group of Seven on issues such as climate change and trade, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says there was relative unanimity when it came to joint anti-terrorism measures.

“The issue of security brings everyone together,” he says.

De Maiziere’s comments echo those of Germany’s domestic intelligence chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, who told public broadcaster ARD that “we have always viewed the Americans as reliable partners, despite all the problems we had in recent years” — a reference to US spies eavesdropping on German government phones.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, left, listens to German domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen during a symposium in Berlin, Germany, Monday May 29, 2017. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, left, listens to German domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen during a symposium in Berlin, Germany, Monday May 29, 2017. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)

“We need the Americans because the Americans have good and reliable information,” Maassen adds. “On the other hand … the Americans need the information of German and European intelligence services.”

Germany saw a number of violent attacks by Islamic extremists last year, including the deadly truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that left 12 victims dead. The attack, carried out by a young Tunisian man who had been denied asylum in Germany, was later claimed by the Islamic State group.

— AP

Netanyahu: We don’t have a blank check from Trump administration

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells fellow Likud lawmakers in the Knesset today that the Trump administration is not automatically on Israel’s side.

“Anyone who thought Israel has an blank check from the Trump administration is wrong,” the prime minister says in the Likud’s weekly faction meeting in the Knesset.

“There is warmth and understanding, but not an automatic adoption of our positions.”

Arrested cousin of Manchester bomber posted anti-Semitic messages on Facebook

A cousin of the Manchester bomber arrested last week in connection with the attack that left 22 dead posted anti-Semitic messages on social media.

Abderahman Forjani, 21, was arrested on May 23, hours after the suicide bomb attack by Salman Abedi outside the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by American popstar Ariana Grande. His brother, Abdalla Forjani, was also arrested.

London-based The Times reports on Monday that Abderahman Forjani had posted anti-Semitic messages on Facebook. His account has since been taken down.

Among the Facebook posts were: “If only Hitler was still alive – these Jews would be burnt in chambers.”

He also posted his animosity toward his hometown of Manchester.

It is also reported on Monday that the bomber had prayed at Didsbury mosque in south Manchester, which was attended by at least two British members of the Islamic State terror organization who had traveled to Syria.

Some 14 people have been arrested in Britain in connection with the bomb attack.

— JTA

Natan Meir, whose wife was killed in a terror attack in their home, remarries

Natan Meir, whose wife Dafna was killed in a terror attack in their home last year, marries in a ceremony in Jerusalem.

Only close family attended the wedding ceremony on Thursday, Israel National News reports, and says that no photos from the wedding will be released to the public.

Meir announced in March that he was engaged to Zohar Morgenstern of Jerusalem. The announcement came over a year after the terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Otniel. His daughter, Renana, 18, who witnessed the attack, became engaged a week before her father.

Dafna Meir, 38, a mother of four and foster mother of two young children, was stabbed to death in January 2016 at the entrance of her home by a teenage Palestinian attacker. She was fighting off her attacker in what is believed to have been an attempt to save three of her children who were in the house at the time.

In a Facebook post after his engagement, Meir thanked his children for their support and sharing in his happiness. Without them, he wrote, “I could not open my heart to love again.”

— JTA

Number of nationalist-religious women volunteering for IDF doubles

The number of women from nationalist-religious backgrounds joining the IDF doubled between 2010 and 2015, the Knesset hears on Monday.

The figures come from the Knesset’s in-house research arm, which presents the findings to lawmakers at a meeting in the parliament Monday dealing with military service for religiously-observant women — who are not obligated to serve under law.

The total figure of women from the nationalist-religious education system who joined the IDF rose from 930 in 2010 to just over 2,000 in 2015. That figure constitutes 26 percent of the entire female graduating cohort from nationalist-religious schools that year.

In recent years, several prominent rabbis from the community have railed against women serving in the IDF, arguing it contradicted their religious commitments.

Knesset votes to approve Ayoub Kara as communications minister

The Knesset plenum formally approves the appointment of Likud MK Ayoub Kara as communications minister.

The approval carries the day in a 44 to 20 vote, with one abstention.

France’s Macron says he drew ‘red line’ in Putin talks

French President Emmanuel Macron says after talks with President Vladimir Putin of Russia that he believes they can work together on Syria and that he wants to forge a reinforced partnership against the Islamic State group.

Macron says he wants a democratic transition in Syria, but not at the cost of the war-torn country becoming a failed state.

After talks with Putin at the Palace of Versailles that ran far longer than planned on Monday, Macron says the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a “red line” for France.

He says any use of such weapons in Syria would lead to “reprisals” from France — without specifying exactly what form they would take.

Macron says he also spoke to Putin about LGBT rights in Chechnya and about NGOs in Russia.

He vows to be “constantly vigilant on these issues.”

— AP

Foreign journalists complain Netanyahu won’t answer questions

The Foreign Press Association that represents journalists from foreign news outlets stationed in Israel complains of a lack of meaningful access to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a letter to PMO spokesperson Boaz Stempler, FPA chair Josef Federman, who is also the AP bureau chief in Israel, writes that the group finds it “troubling” that Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump “did not make themselves available for any questions” during Trump’s visit last week. “Adding to these concerns, the prime minister mysteriously scheduled and then canceled a press briefing the following day to discuss the visit.”

“This is part of a broader problem,” Federman says in the letter, “that the prime minister rarely is available for questions on basic policy issues. With the exception of a lone event each year to celebrate the New Year, the international media has almost no opportunity to interview or pose questions to him.”

Federman chastises: “Speaking to the media is a standard practice of leaders in democratic societies around the world. At such an important time for the region, I believe it is even more critical for the prime minister to address the media and communicate his strategy. We hope that you will rethink your policies and provide some increased access to him.”

UK Labour leader Corbyn denies honoring Munich attack killer

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party, denies reports that, in 2014, he had honored a Palestinian perpetrator of the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes in Germany.

Corbyn, who became the head of Labour in 2015, is a far-left politician who the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said “most people in the Jewish community can’t trust” because of Corbyn’s past praise for Hezbollah and Hamas and perceived failures in addressing anti-Semitic rhetoric by some of his supporters.

An article published Sunday in the Sunday Times quotes a column written by the Labour leader in October 2014 for the Morning Star in which Corbyn wrote about attending a ceremony in Tunisia “where wreaths were laid…on the graves of [those] killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991,” as Corbyn explained it.

This prompted speculation that Corbyn, whose party will contend in the general election on June 8 against the ruling Conservative Party, had honored the memory of Atef Bseiso, who was head of intelligence for the PLO and was involved in the murder of the Israeli athletes as part of the 1972 Black September terrorist operation in Munich. Bseiso was killed in Paris in 1992.

But spokespeople for Corbyn told Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush that “Jeremy Corbyn condemns the Munich massacre and its perpetrators, and that what he was attending was not anything to do with perpetrator Atef Bseiso, but an event to commemorate the 1985 bombing of the PLO headquarters,” the board writes in a statement Monday.

“Whilst of a different order, this would still be a matter of concern to us,” the board statement reads, recalling that 1985 bombing by Israel “was a retaliation against the PLO-inspired murders of 15 Israeli civilians in Palestinian terror attacks the previous month.”

Corbyn, the board also says, “has too often in the past been in sympathetic encounters with terrorist individuals and organizations, with the by-product of lending legitimacy to their violence. This new revelation follows part of that disturbing pattern.”

Corbyn last year said he regrets calling Hezbollah and Hamas his friends during a speech in Parliament.

— JTA

France’s Macron attacks Russian media outlets

French President Emmanuel Macron makes an extraordinary attack on two Russian media outlets, saying they acted as “propaganda” organs during France’s election campaign.

Speaking at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Macron accuses the two outlets, Russia Today and Sputnik, of spreading fake news.

He says that’s why he banned their reporters from his campaign headquarters during the race for the French presidency, which he went on to win May 7.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and French President Emmanuel Macron, left, at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday, May 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and French President Emmanuel Macron, left, at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, France, May 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, pool)

— AP

Settlement leaders warn White House that pressuring Netanyahu could topple him

Channel 2 reports that Israeli settlement leaders are warning the Trump administration not to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu too strongly on peace — or risk his downfall.

According to the report, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan is telling White House officials, “If you press Netanyahu too much, he’ll fall.”

The report follows Netanyahu’s own warning to his fellow Likud lawmakers Monday that “anyone who thought Israel has an blank check from the Trump administration is wrong,” and that the US is keen to see the start of a new peace initiative.

“There is warmth and understanding, but not an automatic adoption of our positions,” Netanyahu said.

Putin rejects allegations Moscow meddled in French vote

Russian President Vladimir Putin rejects allegations that Moscow meddled in France’s presidential election.

Speaking after talks Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, Putin says Moscow didn’t try to influence the French vote.

But he also defends his March meeting with Macron’s rival in the presidential race, far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Putin describes Le Pen as a politician who wants to develop friendly ties with Russia.

Putin says it would be strange if Russia rebuffed overtures from European politicians who want to strengthen relations.

He says the meeting with Le Pen didn’t represent an attempt to sway the race.

Putin adds that Russia had been well-aware of opinion polls predicting Macron’s victory.

— AP

Egypt’s president ratifies law restricting NGOs

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi ratifies a law which heavily restricts the registration and work of non-governmental organizations.

The law, which el-Sissi signs on Monday, gives security agencies extensive power over the financing and activities of NGOs.

International rights groups describe the law as draconian and a “death warrant” to rights groups, saying it would effectively lead to the shutdown of many groups. The law comes as part of el-Sissi’s wider crackdown on dissent since he rose to power in 2013, when he led a military overthrow of his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi.

Supporters believe the law is necessary to regulate the groups accused of feeding chaos starting from the 2011 uprising that led to the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

— AP

Trump calls slayings of men defending Muslim, black teens ‘unacceptable’

US President Donald Trump on Monday condemns as “unacceptable” the stabbing deaths of two men who defended two young women being targeted by a suspected white supremacist on a train in Oregon.

“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them,” Trump says on Twitter.

Rick John Best, 53, an army veteran, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, a recent college graduate, died after having their throats cut on the crowded train. They had come to the defense of two teenage girls, one of them a Muslim wearing a headscarf and the other an African-American.

A third man, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was wounded and hospitalized.

The attacker, identified as 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian, had been hurling abuse at the teenagers when the men intervened. The Portland Mercury newspaper said Christian — who has been charged on two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder — was a known white supremacist and right-wing extremist.

Trump’s message, sent just before he attended a Memorial Day ceremony at the Arlington military cemetery near Washington, came amid rising pressure on the president to condemn the slayings of the two men, dubbed “heroes” by local media and law enforcement in Portland.

— AFP

PM drops Arabic language article from Jewish state bill

Channel 2 reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin have agreed to drop the controversial article in the so-called Jewish nation-state bill that defines Hebrew as Israel’s official language and gives Arabic the lower stature of a “special status.”

The bill, which seeks to formally define Israel’s character as a Jewish nation-state in a constitution “basic law,” has drawn criticism from the left and Arab rights groups for allegedly hurting the status of Israel’s minorities and diminishing the position of Arabic in official state institutions.

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