Cabinet to reconsider law authorizing PM to declare war without consultation
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Cabinet to reconsider law authorizing PM to declare war without consultation

Less than a week after Knesset passes legislation, ministers said to realize that it was too extreme and accept proposal requiring proposal to be clarified

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second right, leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, April 29, 2018. (Amit Shabi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second right, leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, April 29, 2018. (Amit Shabi/Flash90)

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

Cabinet ministers green-light controversial High Court sidestepping bill

Cabinet ministers authorize a controversial bill to curtail the powers of the High Court of Justice.

Despite disagreements within the coalition, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation votes in favor of the Jewish Home bill which would give 61 MKs the ability to overturn a Supreme Court decision to strike down Knesset legislation as unconstitutional.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday morning, Netanyahu says that he would have preferred to further delay the bill in order to reach agreement among all coalition parties, but would nonetheless allow the vote to take place and not use Likud’s veto to block it.

Coalition party Kulanu had vowed to oppose the bill but its representative on the committee, Construction Minsiter Yoav Galant, votes in favor.

The bill will now face a vote in the Knesset.

Jewish Home ministers laud advancement of High Court-curtailing bill

Responding to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s approval of a bill that would curtail the powers of the High Court of Justice, Jewish Home ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked say it “begins the process of building a separation wall between the three branches of government.”

“The High Court’s intervention in legislation and in government decision has for a long time breachds accepted norms. The supercession law will return public trust in the Supreme Court and will restore the original roles of the branches of government: The Knesset legislates, the government enacts, the court expounds,” they say in a statement.

“We must remember that the Knesset, as a representative of the people, is sovereign, as is the case in a proper democracy.”

Jewish Home leader Education Minister Naftali Bennett, center, with fellow Jewish Home lawmaker Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, right, and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan during a plenum vote on the Regulation Bill on November 16, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hamas vows payback for deadly Gaza explosion attributed to Israel

Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, says it views Israel as responsible for the Saturday explosion in Gaza that killed six of its militants and that it intends to ensure that the Jewish state pays the price for the attack.

The military wing says in a statement that the blast occurred while its fighters were monitoring Israel’s “espionage system” in the Gaza Strip, adding that a “heavy price” will “inevitably” be paid for the attack.

The IDF said Saturday that it was unaware of the cause of blast and had nothing to do with the incident.

Hamas says members killed by detonation of Israeli ‘espionage device’

Hamas’s military wing says its members uncovered an Israeli “espionage device” before its automatic detonation killed six of its members Saturday.

The statement from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is released as thousands gather in the central Gaza Strip for the funeral procession of the terror group’s fallen militants.

The military wing says despite the blast, its members were successful in their “complex security and intelligence operation.”

Dozens of casualties in blast at Afghan voter registration center

A blast at a voter registration center in east Afghanistan killed or wounded at least 30 people Sunday, officials say, capping a bloody week in the war-torn country.

The bomb had been placed in a tent being used to register voters on the grounds of a mosque, Khost provincial police chief Abdul Hanan Zadran tells AFP.

“A crowd of people who had come out of the mosque had gathered to register” when the blast took place, he adds.

At least 12 people had been killed and 33 wounded, provincial deputy director of public health Gul Mohammad Mangal tells AFP.

But he adds the toll could rise.

“Some wounded people are in critical condition and ambulances are still bring more people,” he says.

It was the latest attack on election preparations and comes almost a week after 25 people were killed in two attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul.

Nine journalists including AFP chief photographer Shah Marai were among the dead. BBC reporter Ahmad Shah was killed in a separate attack in Khost province.


Iraq says its warplanes targeted IS jihadists in Syria

Iraqi warplanes carry out a raid Sunday targeting Islamic State group commanders in eastern Syria, in the second such strike on the jihadists since mid-April, the premier’s office says.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the “painful strike” which targeted “a meeting of IS commanders south of Al-Dushashiya in Syrian territory,” a statement says.

F-16 fighter jets were used in the early morning strike and the raid was “successful,” the spokesman of Iraq’s security media center, General Yehya Rassoul, tells AFP.

Dushashiya is in a desert region of Syria’s Hasakeh province, where a US-backed Kurdish-led alliance is fighting the jihadists.

On April 19, Iraq said it had carried out an air raid against IS in Syria that killed 36 IS fighters, near the town of Hajin in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

Iraq declared victory in December against IS, which launched a sweeping offensive in 2014 and at one point controlled a third of the country.

The jihadists still control pockets of desert along the border with Syria.


Kahlon says his party will oppose Knesset vote on High Court curtailing bill

Kulanu leader and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon says his party will oppose High Court curtailing legislation green-lighted by cabinet ministers Sunday.

He claims the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s decision “breaks the coalition agreement not to pass legislation to damage the rule of law.”

“The Kulanu faction will continue to fight against the supercession law and will not let extreme factions dictate the agenda of the state of Israel,” Kahlon says in a statement.

Kulanu’s representative on the committee, Construction Minsiter Yoav Galant, however, voted in favor.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon leads a faction meeting of his Kulanu party at the Knesset on March 5, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Macron says US pullout from Iran deal could lead to war

French President Emmanuel Macron says a decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal could spark a war.

While admitting that he didn’t believe that result is something Trump is interested in, Macron tells the German magazine Der Spiegel that a US withdrawal “would open the Pandora’s box.”

Trump is slated to make a decision by May 12 on whether to pull out of the Iran deal.

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

IDF says two Gazans killed attempting to infiltrate Israel

The IDF says it thwarted an attempt by three Gazans to cross the security barrier  into the coastal enclave, killing two men in the process.

“A short while ago an IDF unit opened fire at three terrorists who tried to cross the security barrier from the southern Strip toward [Israeli] territory, and to damage security infrastructure in the area of the fence,” the IDF says in a statement.

“Two of the terrorists were killed.”

The Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry in Gaza confirmed the two deaths.

Police arrest 14-year-old as he drives with friends through East Jerusalem

Police arrest a 14-year-old boy after noticing him driving a vehicle through the streets of Jerusalem with three of his friends.

The boy was pulled over in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina and detained for driving without a license, police say.

The owner of the vehicle — a father of one of the young passengers — has also been detained.

Vehicle driven by a 14-year-old boy arrested in East Jerusalem on May 6, 2018. (Israel Police)

Henkin, Salomon, Shevach and Ben-Gal killers to receive NIS 10 million by age 80

The Palestinian terrorists responsible for killing Eitam and Naama Henkin; Yosef, Elad and Chaya Salomon; Raziel Shevach; and Itamar Ben-Gal will each receive at least NIS 10 million ($2.77 million) by their 80th birthdays, statistics from the Defense Ministry show.

The numbers have been released ahead of a Knesset vote to cut payments to the Palestinian Authority until it stops paying terrorists.

Omar al-Abed, who was convicted of murdering three members of the Salomon family, has so far earned NIS 12,200, with a monthly salary of NIS 1,400 for the first three years. He is expected to reach a cumulative salary of NIS 12,604,000 by the age of 80.

Karem Lufti Fatahi Razek, who was convicted of the 2015 Henkin murders and was sentenced to two life sentences and another 30 years, has earned NIS 40,600 and is expected to receive a cumulative salary of NIS 11,232,000 by the age of 80.

Zaid Ziyad, who was also convicted over the Henkin murders and sentenced to life in prison, has earned NIS 40,600 and is expected to earn a cumulative wage of NIS 10,056,000 by age 80.

Asi Abed El-Hakim, who was charged with the murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal and was arrested a month ago, has already earned NIS 1,400. If he is sentenced to life imprisonment, he is expected to earn NIS 12,604,800 by the time he’s 80.

Gabbay: Ministers who advanced High Court curtailing bill turning Israel into Turkey

Zionist Union chair Avi Gabbay slams government ministers who voted to authorize a controversial bill to curtail the powers of the High Court of Justice, suggesting they are destroying Israel’s democracy.

“Every minister who voted today in favor the embarrassment of the supercession law will be remembered as one who tried to turn Israel into Erdogan’s Turkey,” he says in a video posted on his Facebook page following the bill’s approval in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

“We will not allow this to happen,” he vows, calling the now-upcoming Knesset vote “a battle for the future of Israel.”

Palestinian woman arrested at Qalandiya checkpoint with a knife in her bag

Border Police at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem arrest a Palestinian woman after finding a knife in her bag.

Police say they are still investigating the intentions of the 47-year-old, who has been transferred for questioning.

The knife found on a Palestinian woman at the Qalandiya Crossing on May 6, 2018. (Israel Police)

Turkey vows to launch new military operations in Syria

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey would launch cross-border offensives like previous military operations in Syria in the “new era” after snap polls on June 24.

“Turkey will launch additional offensives like Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations to clear its border of terror organisations in the new era,” Erdogan says as he revealed the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) manifesto in Istanbul.

He is referring to previous operations in northern Syria against Kurdish militia and the Islamic State extremist group.


Liberman urges lawmakers to support bill to cut PA funding over ‘terrorist’ payments

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman calls on lawmakers to support his party’s legislation on cutting Israeli payments to the PA until it stops bankrolling Palestinian security prisoners.

“I call on all MKs to join us in voting for the law and to put an end to this theater of the absurd,” Liberman says.

“Every shekel that will be transferred to the murderers will be deducted from the PA’s tax revenues,” he adds.

Army now says 3 terrorists killed attempting to cross into Israel

Updating its earlier statement on an attempted infiltration from the Gaza Strip, the IDF now says that three terrorists were killed in the incident.

The three had been part of a four-person squad. The status of the fourth member remains unclear.

A camera, an ax, wire-cutters, an oxygen mask, gloves and two bottles of gasoline were found at the scene, the IDF says.


Lapid: Ministers who advanced High Court-curtailing bill playing politics at public’s expense

Criticizing the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s authorization of a bill to curtail the powers of the High Court of Justice, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid of the opposition says government ministers are playing politics at the expense of the Israeli public.

Writing on Twitter, Lapid slams Netanyahu and Bennett for fighting over credit for the bill.

“If everyone won, then who lost?” he asks. “Democracy, the rule of law and the weaker sectors of our society who will no longer have someone to turn to against the autocratic rule,” he says.

“That’s what happens when leaders focus on public opinion of them rather than the good of the country.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Israel doesn’t know if Trump will pull out of Iran deal — source

US President Donald Trump has not informed Israel of whether he will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal it opposes by a May 12 deadline, a senior Israeli official says.

The comments come as Israel pushes its case to have the deal changed or eliminated, arguing intelligence documents it recently unveiled on Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions helped demonstrate why.

“In effect, I don’t know what Trump will decide because he hasn’t told me,” the senior Israeli says on condition of anonymity, making clear Israel had not yet been informed of Trump’s decision.

The official adds, however, that “I think that he has the same skeptical view.”


PM: If you don’t violate a dangerous deal, it doesn’t make it less dangerous

In a briefing with foreign reporters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disputes arguments from deal proponents that the intelligence trove he unveiled last week had no new details.

“My point is very simple: if you don’t violate a dangerous deal, it doesn’t make it less dangerous,” Netanyahu says.

“And to those who say that this proves why you need the deal, I say that a deal that enables Iran to keep and hide all its nuclear weapons know-how is a horrible deal,” he adds.

The deal “has to be either fully fixed or fully nixed,” he says. “But if you do nothing to this deal, if you keep it as is, you will end up with Iran with a nuclear arsenal in a very short time.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, May 6, 2018. (Jim Hollander/Pool Photo via AP)


Italy’s Elia Viviani wins 3rd stage of Giro d’Italia in southern Israel

Italian cyclist Elia Viviani wins the final stage of the Giro d’Italia bike race, which took place over the past three days in Israel.

Sunday’s segment departed from Beersheba with cyclists heading south 142 miles all the way to Eilat.

Viviani also finished first in the race’s Saturday Tel Aviv segment.

Italian cyclist Elia Viviani reacts as he crosses the finish line during the third stage of 2018 Giro d’Italia, Tour of Italy cycling race, in the Red Sea city of Eilat on May 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

45 said dead in attack by armed bandits in northern Nigeria

Forty-five people died in an attack by armed bandits in northern Nigeria, civilian militia members say, amid growing levels of rural violence often involving cattle theft, robbery and kidnappings for ransom.

“The 45 bodies were found scattered in the bush. The bandits pursued residents who mobilized to defend the village after overpowering them,” says a vigilante who did not give his name.


Court extends remand of 8 Beit Shemesh municipal workers in corruption probe

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extends the remand of eight of 11 suspects arrested this morning on suspicion of bribery and corruption linked to the Beit Shemesh municipality.

Several senior municipal officials, along with businesspeople and contractors, were detained for questioning on suspicion of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, tax evasion and other crimes, police said in an early morning statement.

The court orders two of the suspects to be held until Tuesday while a further six are to remain in custody until Thursday.

Two additional suspects were released to house arrest. Another suspect was arrested during the day and will face a remand hearing tomorrow, police say.

— Raoul Wootliff

German soccer club fires two coaches for a Nazi salute

Lokomotiv Leipzig fires two youth coaches and suspends several players for making the Nazi salute while posing for a photo.

The club, which carries the name of a perennial first division team in the old East Germany, plays in the regional fourth division and is overshadowed by the recently-created RB Leipzig.

Lokomotiv says one of the coaches pushed the youngsters into making the Hitlerian salute with arm outstretched for the photo, which then appeared in an internet forum.

“We have studied this incredible incident very closely,” says club president Thomas Loewe.

He adds that the incident will be monitored with the local authorities. “So that we meet our educational responsibilities.”

The Nazi salute is banned under the German penal code.


Obama aid calls Trump team’s hiring of Israeli firm to discredit him on Iran deal ‘thuggish’

Former US president Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser calls the Trump administration’s hiring of an Israeli intelligence agency to “get dirt” on Obama officials in order to discredit the Iran deal “thuggish.”

“This is not behavior that should be acceptable in a democracy,” Ben Rhodes tweets.

“It is thuggish, mean-spirited, and casts a chilling and threatening cloud over public service that risks extending far beyond me and @ColinKohl,” he adds, referring to the other Obama official who was targeted by the Trump administration.

Police arrest three East Jerusalem residents for hurling Molotov Cocktails

Israel Police arrest three teenage residents of East Jerusalem who are suspected of hurling Molotov Cocktails toward the Ma’ale Adumim highway outside the capital.

No damage has been reported and the suspects have been transferred for questioning.

Dutch police probe city center stabbing; motive unclear

Dutch police are investigating a broad daylight stabbing in the center of The Hague, which left three people in a serious condition in hospital.

But they have refused to describe Saturday afternoon’s incident close to the city’s main train station as terror related, after they had to shoot the attacker in the foot and taser him when he refused to drop his knife.

“Extensive investigations are taking place into the suspect’s background, and his home has been searched,” The Hague police says in a statement, adding the man was “being questioned about his motives.”

They describe the 31-year-old attacker as “confused” saying he was already known to them and to the city’s emergency services.

The Dutch public broadcaster NOS, however, says the man was a Syrian, who lived in the city, but was not on a list of potential terror suspects.

Witnesses also tell NOS that he had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) at the moment of the stabbing.

But both the police and city authorities say they could not confirm such reports, and Mayor Pauline Krikke urges people “not to speculate,” adding “the investigation must first be properly carried out.”

Police also say that videos of the attack and the man’s comments form part of their investigation.

Three people, aged between 21 and 41, were seriously injured in the stabbing and remained in hospital Sunday. But police said their injuries were not life-threatening.

The attacker was also given medical treatment for his gunshot wound. Video images on social media appeared to show a bearded man lying on the ground, a knife in his hand, with blood flowing from his foot.


Giuliani says Trump could defy potential subpoena in Russia probe

Presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani says that Donald Trump would not be required to comply with a potential subpoena from the special counsel investigating possible collusion with Russia.

But Giuliani, whose statements since he recently joined Trump’s legal team have created some confusion, also says that the president “wants to testify” and that “we may actually work things out with Bob Mueller,” the special counsel.

The former New York mayor and one-time prosecutor had been asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether Trump would comply with a subpoena if Mueller were to issue one.

“We don’t have to,” Giuliani replies . “He’s the president of the United States. We can assert the same privileges other presidents have.”


Israel said to be preparing for missile barrage from Iran proxies in Syria

The defense establishment is said to be preparing for a barrage of missiles from Iranian proxies in Syria, directed at military targets in northern Israel, in response to a number of recent attacks at Tehran’s infrastructure in Damascus that have been attributed to the Jewish state.

Channel 10 reports that Iran does not want its strike against Israel to escalate into an all-out conflict with the Jewish state. Therefore the assessment in Jerusalem is that Tehran will use a Shiite militia group, under the direction of Hezbollah, to carry out the attack, rather than involving its Revolutionary Guard.

In response, Israel is said to have warned that it will continue hitting Iranian targets wherever they are.

Cabinet members decide to reconsider law authorizing PM to declare war without consulting them

The cabinet has decided to reconsider legislation authorizing the prime minister to declare war, less than a week after the Knesset approved the proposal.

The key ministerial body has accepted a proposal from Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. calling for the law to be clarified before Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit would be forced to recommend it be struck down, due to constitutional overreach.

Hebrew media reports that the cabinet recognized that the version passed last week — requiring the prime minister to only have to consult with the defense minister before declaring war — was too extreme and are now interested in toning down the language of the bill.

In testimony over exorbitant food costs, Sara Netanyahu says she wasn’t one in charge

In recordings of recent testimony given by Sara Netanyahu for probes into her misuse of public funds, the prime minister’s wife is said to have claimed that she was not the one in charge of making the food orders that cost Israeli tax payers hundreds of thousands of shekel.

Channel 10 reports that Netanyahu told investigators that she is “a very busy woman who does not deal with household matters.”

“I’m a psychologist and I care for families with children, and I do not have time to deal with the home,” the TV channel quotes her as saying.

The prime minister’s wife is said to have boasted rarely having hosted friends at the Jerusalem residence, “as opposed to our predecessors.”

Channel 10 reports that she told investigators that former caretaker Meny Naftali was responsible for the high food costs, which included fees for private chefs as well as take-out food.

When pressed on whether the Netanyahus hired chefs when they had friends over in addition to ordering take-out, she insisted that they did not.

When the investigators assured her that was not the case, Netanyahu corrected herself, saying she meant that they did not hire chefs when close friends were over.

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on January 22, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Several dozen Haredi protesters block major Jerusalem intersection

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox protesters have blocked a major intersection in Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood.

Police have not said the reason for the protest, but are working to clear the road to traffic flow.

Student groups at California college call for increase in funding for all but ‘Zionist’ clubs

Student groups at California Polytechnic State University, led by the Black Student Union, are calling on the university to increase the funding of all cultural clubs at the university except those that are “aligned with Zionist ideology.”

The Black Student Union, along with other student organizations, have created a list of demands in the wake of an incident last month, in which a member of a campus fraternity wore blackface during the university’s multicultural weekend.

Among the demands by the so-called Drylongso Collective are training for all sororities and fraternities in “Structural Inequality, Sexual Consent, and Cultural Awareness”; devoting more than $55,000 — the cost of security for a 2017 campus lecture by Milo Yiannopoulos — to several ethnic and cultural departments for upgrades in staff and programming; an endowed professorship for the Ethnic Studies Department; and a graduation requirement of courses in ethnic studies.

“We want an increase in ASI (Associated Students, Inc.) funding for ALL cultural clubs, with the exception of organizations that are aligned with Zionist ideology,” the document also says.

Posted by Mustangs United For Israel on Thursday, 26 April 2018

Opposition faction leader praises Supreme Court president’s defiance

Zionist Union faction chairman Avi Gabbay praises Supreme Court Chief Justice Hayut for her public comments slamming the bill that aims to rein in the power of her institution to strike down Knesset legislation as unconstitutional.

“We must praise Hayut for her words, for not backing down and not cowering to the efforts to silence her and the court,” Gabbay says at the opening to his faction’s weekly meeting in the Knesset.

“This is an assassination attempt against the Supreme Court, against freedom and against Israeli democracy,” he says of the bill authorized by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation yesterday.

Gabbay also praises the coalition’s Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon for vowing to oppose the bill in the Knesset and for “standing up to the extremists in the government.”

— Raoul Wootliff

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