Live updates (closed)

With 2 hours’ notice, Channel 1 news airs final news broadcast

No indication of radioactive leak at US nuclear facility collapse; White House delays decision on Paris climate deal; police arrest London man threatening Jews with a meat cleaver

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Channel 1 news anchor Geula Even Saar announces the imminent last broadcast of the main nightly 'Mabat' news broadcast in an emotional farewell message during her news show earlier on the evening of April 9, 2017. (screen capture: Facebook)
Channel 1 news anchor Geula Even Saar announces the imminent last broadcast of the main nightly 'Mabat' news broadcast in an emotional farewell message during her news show earlier on the evening of April 9, 2017. (screen capture: Facebook)

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

German leader says ‘high time’ to begin working toward 2 states

Germany’s president says that it’s “truly urgent” to start moving toward a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks in the West Bank after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Steinmeier says much time has already been spent on efforts to set up a state of Palestine alongside Israel.

He says that “in our view there is no other solution,” and that “it’s high time to work on the requirements for it.”

Abbas met last week with US President Donald Trump who has promised to try to broker an elusive deal. Trump is visiting the Holy Land later this month.

Abbas said in an interview Monday that Trump gave him the impression that “he wanted to do something quickly, in a year, more or less.”

— AP

Ahead of Trump visit, Foreign Ministry calls strike over wage dispute

Foreign ministry workers declare a general strike to disrupt an expected upcoming visit by US President Donald Trump.

In a memo to all ministry employees in Israel and abroad, head of the workers union Hanan Goder instructs workers not to participate in any preparations for Trump’s visit effective Thursday.

The fight between the diplomatic service and the Finance Ministry over low pay has been ongoing for several years. The diplomats argue that past agreements are not being honored and budgets are not being approved.

Jerusalem and Washington are in talks to arrange a one-day visit by Trump to Israel, rumored to be on May 22.

— Stuart Winer

Death toll in Iran mine explosion rises to 42

Iranian search crews find seven more bodies at the site of last week’s coal mine explosion in northern Golestan province, raising the number of confirmed fatalities in the incident to 42, state TV reports.

The explosion last Wednesday at Zemestanyurt mine has been blamed on methane gas that had accumulated in the mine. The incident is believed to be the worst industrial accident to strike Iran in the last few decades.

Iranian media reports that at least 75 were injured in the explosion, and that the methane gas had sickened dozens of people who rushed into the mine to try to rescue those trapped.

— AP

German police arrest 2 alleged Syrian jihadists

German police arrest two suspected Syrian jihadists, one of them an alleged member of the Islamic State group accused of slitting the throat of a regime soldier, prosecutors say.

The alleged former IS member, identified only as 30-year-old Abdulmalk A., was arrested in Berlin, and his 23-year-old compatriot Mousa H. A. in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.

Both men allegedly first joined the Islamist rebel group then called Al-Nusra in 2012 to battle the regime of President Bashar Assad, with Abdulmalk A. commanding fighters.

He allegedly captured a Syrian army sniper in early 2013 near the city of Tabqa, forced him to dig his own grave and slit his throat, the prosecutors say in a statement.


April sees all-time record for Israel tourism

Last month saw the highest-ever influx of tourists for any single month in Israel’s history, the Tourism Ministry says in newly released figures.

The ministry recorded 349,000 tourists entering Israel in the month of April, a 38% increase from last April, and the highest number of visitor arrivals in the country’s history in a single month.

From celebrity endorsements to ad campaigns, Israel’s government is courting tourists from China and India. (Itamar Grinberg, Israeli Ministry of Tourism)
From celebrity endorsements to ad campaigns, Israel’s government is courting tourists from China and India. (Itamar Grinberg, Israeli Ministry of Tourism)

Since the beginning of 2017, 1.09 million tourists have visited Israel, an increase of 28% compared to January-April of 2016, the ministry figures show.

Tourism minister Yariv Levin calls the figures a “significant and exciting milestone.”

Exit poll indicates landslide win for Moon in South Korea election

Left-leaning former human rights lawyer Moon Jae-In wins South Korea’s presidential election by a landslide, an exit poll predicts as voting closes.

The election was called to choose a new president after Park Geun-Hye was ousted and indicted for corruption, and took place against a backdrop of high tensions with the nuclear-armed North.

They gave Moon, of the Democratic Party, who backs engagement with the North, 41.4 percent support, according to the joint survey by three television stations. Conservative Hong Joon-Pyo — who dubs Moon a “pro-Pyongyang leftist” was far behind on 23.3 percent, with centrist Ahn Cheol-Soo third on 21.8.


Arson investigation underway at Las Vegas Chabad

Las Vegas authorities open an investigation into the torching of several cars parked outside the city’s Chabad center last night.

Earlier that evening, suspected arsonists unsuccessfully attempted to set the restrooms on fire at the Chabad Jewish Center of Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Police are studying surveillance footage that shows a possible suspect in what local Jewish community leaders are calling a hate crime.

The center is closed off as a crime scene as police investigate the suspected arson attack.

Swedish ‘laserman’ killer of Jewish woman indicted in Germany

Prosecutors in Germany say they have indicted a 63-year-old Swedish man over the killing of a Jewish woman in Frankfurt 25 years ago.

The suspect, John Ausonius, is known as “Laserman” in Sweden for the gunsight he used in a series of shootings of immigrants in the Nordic country during the 1990s. He was convicted of one murder and nine attempted murders, and sentenced to life in prison.

John Ausonius, a convicted murderer, bank robber, and attempted serial killer, seen in Stockholm, Sweden in 1986. (CC BY-SA Wikimedia commons)
John Ausonius, a convicted murderer, bank robber, and attempted serial killer, seen in Stockholm, Sweden in 1986. (CC BY-SA Wikimedia commons)

Prosecutors in Frankfurt said Tuesday that Ausonius is also suspected of killing 68-year-old Blanka Zmigrod, an employee at a Moevenpick restaurant, on February 23, 1992, and taking her handbag.

German prosecutors reopened the case in 2014 as part of a nationwide effort to review suspected far-right killings.

Ausonius agreed to be extradited to Germany in December.

— AP

MK Oren Hazan fined, has license revoked for traffic violation

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court fines scandal-dogged Likud MK Oren Hazan 1,500 NIS ($417) and revokes his driver’s license for a period of 30 days for a December 2016 traffic violation.

Hazan was caught driving almost twice the legal speed limit as he made his way to the Red Sea resort of Eilat. The officer slapped Hazan with a ticket and a subpoena summoning him to a hearing with a senior traffic cop, as is the procedure for lawmakers.

Hazan, who entered the Knesset in the last election, has become known as the enfant terrible of Israel’s parliament.

Turkey seeks 40 life terms for nightclub attacker

Turkey’s state-run news agency says prosecutors in Istanbul are demanding 40 consecutive life sentences for the man who attacked a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year’s celebrations, killing 39 people.

Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbek citizen, was caught on January 16 after evading police for more than two weeks. The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pictures of victims of the New Year's Day attack on an Istanbul nightclub lie on Turkish national flags and flowers in front of the Reina nightclub on January 3, 2017 in Istanbul. (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)
Pictures of victims of the New Year’s Day attack on an Istanbul nightclub lie on Turkish national flags and flowers in front of the Reina nightclub on January 3, 2017, in Istanbul. (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

Anadolu Agency says that prosecutors want separate life sentences on charges of attempting to overturn Turkey’s constitutional order as well as for each of the 39 victims. Masharipov also faces separate charges for membership in a terror group, the attempted murder of 79 people wounded in the attack and other charges.

The indictment needs to be approved by a court before a trial begins.

— AP

Hundreds attend youth soccer tournament honoring late president Peres

The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation holds a soccer tournament for Israeli and Palestinian children in memory of the late president.

Ambassadors, diplomats, local politicians and professional athletes join some 800 Jewish and Arab youths in the opening round of games of the Mini Mondial for Peace in the central city of Herzeliya.

At the opening ceremony, participants and spectators pay tribute to the late Israeli leader by standing and applauding the memory of Peres who died last September.

“This is the first time that we are holding the Mini Mondial without my father, Shimon Peres. But despite his absence, I feel his spirit and vision here on the pitch and in the eyes of the children – and I promise that we will continue to uphold his legacy,” Peres’s son Chemi says at the opening ceremony.

Rivlin hits back at Erdogan, says Jerusalem’s Jewish majority dates back 150 years

President Reuven Rivlin tells visiting Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby that Israel remains committed to protecting religious freedom for all faiths, following critical remarks on the Jewish state by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Jerusalem is a microcosm of our ability to live together. And we will continue to ensure freedom of religion for all faiths,” Rivlin tells Welby.

Rivlin also responds to remarks by the Turkish president, who bitterly criticized Israel for its treatment of of Muslims and vowed to halt the judaization of Jerusalem.

“We have heard voices which attack Israel for building Jewish life in Jerusalem — for the last 150 years there has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, even under the Ottoman Empire,” the president says.

“Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community is flourishing. And Israel is committed to the values of freedom of religion for all people of faith,” he adds. “This is our value and our duty as a Jewish-democratic state.”

Anglican archbishop: Balfour Declaration ‘unfinished’ until peace is reached

Visiting Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby tells President Reuven Rivlin the legacy of the Balfour Declaration will remain “unfinished” until there is peace in the region.

“We are at the hundredth anniversary of Balfour, and it has led to extraordinary things,” he tells the president. “For some of us who are profound friends of Israel, who feel huge admiration, deep affection, and who loathe and hate anti-Semitism, and speak against it wherever it occurs, whether it is implicit or explicit, there is an element of unfinished business.”

“Because until there is peace in region, the Balfour Declaration has an element of unfinished business,” Welby says.

The archbishop goes on to say that peace cannot be reached until all sides are able to “pursue their lives, pursue their aims without fearing the bomb or the bullet, without fearing persecution, recognized as being validly and legitimately who they are, knowing they can bring up children, and educate them to love their neighbors, respect them, and listen to them even where they disagree.”

Welby also tells Rivlin that he is impressed by the tradition of Israel’s independent judiciary.

“That shows some of the immense strength and depth of this society, its culture and history,” he says.

Shas threatens to vote against broadcaster bill

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party is threatening to vote against the approval of the new public broadcaster in tomorrow’s plenum votes.

The coalition party is reportedly demanding the legislation that will restructure the new public broadcasting corporation include a clause that will create an ultra-Orthodox radio station.

Tomorrow’s second and third readings in the Knesset will see the March compromise reached by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon implemented.

Brush fire encroaching on West Bank settlement homes

Five firefighting teams are working to put out a brush fire raging outside the West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe.

Israel’s Channel 2 says the fire is nearing a line of homes in the central West Bank community.

Heavy traffic is reported in the area.

Rivlin again extends invitation to British royals after Israel visit canceled

President Reuven Rivlin extends an invitation to the British royal family to visit Israel, after recent reports in UK media said an upcoming trip to the Holy Land had been canceled.

“We would be happy to welcome a member of the Royal Family here in Jerusalem, especially marking 100 years since the Balfour Declaration,” he says during a meeting with visiting Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby.

In March, in a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Rivlin publicly extended an invitation to Prince Charles to visit Israel during the centennial year of the 1917 signing of the Declaration.

Netanyahu: Joint Israeli-US security relations ‘good for peace’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, meet with visiting US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford to discuss bilateral security relations.

“We have a great alliance between Israel and the United States, and a great alliance between the American military and the IDF. We appreciate it and we know that this alliance is good, not only for security but also good for peace,” Netanyahu tells Dunford.

The prime minister adds that he “look[s] forward to welcoming President Trump here very soon.”

Dunford says his “rock-solid” relationship with Eisenkot is representative of US-Israeli ties.

White House climate change meeting postponed

The White House has postpones a meeting to discuss whether the United States should withdraw from the landmark international climate deal struck in Paris under the Obama administration.

The White House said late last night that the meeting would be rescheduled. This is the second time a meeting of top aides on the issue has been delayed.

— AP

London man threatening Jews with meat cleaver arrested

An unidentified man armed with a meat cleaver and a large knife is reportedly arrested in the Jewish neighborhood of Stamford Hill in London.

According to a local neighborhood watch organization, the man brandished his weapons and shouted “you Jews run away from here before I kill you.”

The suspect is arrested by police responding to the scene in Upper Clapton.

It’s gonna be May: Lance Bass on vacation Tel Aviv

Former NSYNC boyband member Lance Bass is spotted in Tel Aviv on vacation with his husband Michael Turchin.

“Neither of us have visited the mother land before. Can’t wait to see the places I’ve read so much about,” he posts on his social media sites.

Pictures uploaded to Bass’s Instgram account show the couple eating in Tel Aviv’s famed Carmel Market and meeting Israeli fashion designers in Jaffa.

Iraqi forces advance in west Mosul

Iraqi forces are making swift progress in west Mosul, officers say, retaking several neighborhoods on their way to a final showdown with jihadists in the Old City.

With Iraq’s biggest military operation in years set to enter its eighth month in a week, the Islamic State group is only holding on to a handful of neighborhoods in west Mosul.

Forces from the elite Counter-Terrorism Service “liberated the Northern Industrial Area on the western side,” says the Joint Operations Command coordinating the war against IS in Iraq.

The JOC says the forces “raised the Iraqi flag after inflicting losses to the enemy.”


Germany arrests second soldier in alleged far-right plot

German authorities arrest a second soldier on allegations he was part of a far-right plot to assassinate prominent political figures and blame the attack on refugees in a case that has raised concerns about extremism within the country’s military.

Maximilian T., 27, was arrested in the southwestern city of Kehl on charges of preparing an act of violence, federal prosecutor’s spokeswoman Frauke Koehler says.

A judge later ordered him held as the investigation continues into a case that authorities have called “more than strange.”

His apprehension follows the arrest last month of 28-year-old 1st Lt. Franco A., a Bundeswehr soldier stationed with a Franco-German brigade in Illkirch, just across the border from Kehl in France.

— AP

Tunnel with nuclear waste collapses in Washington state

An emergency is been declared at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington state after a portion of a tunnel that that contains rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed.

Randy Bradbury, a spokesman for the Washington state Department of Ecology, says officials detected no release of radiation and no workers were injured.

He says there were no workers inside the tunnel when it collapsed this morning but that nearby workers were evacuated and others who were farther away were told to remain indoors.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons and is now the largest depository of radioactive defense waste that must be cleaned.

The sprawling Hanford site is about half the size of Rhode Island.

Court urges bill aimed at reducing housing prices revised

The High Court of Justice recommends the government send a law that would impose a tax on Israelis who own three or more homes back to a Knesset committee for revision and another two votes.

Responding to a petition against the measure, the top court criticizes the expedited process of advancing the legislation in the Knesset, saying lawmakers were not given sufficient time to study the proposal. It suggests the proposal go back to the Knesset Finance Committee and face another two readings in the plenum.

The state has not yet responded to the court’s recommendation.

The brainchild of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the proposal — which successfully cleared the Knesset in December as part of the two-year budget — has been touted as a way to drive down housing prices. According to the Finance Ministry, over 50,000 Israelis own three or more properties – a total of some 180,000 houses and apartments nationwide.

— Marissa Newman

US to arm Syrian Kurds with heavy weaponry despite Turkey objections

A senior US official says the Trump administration has approved providing heavier weapons to Syria’s Kurds as they move closer to the key Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.

The decision comes despite sharp objections from Turkey.

While Washington considers the Kurds, known as the YPG, to have most effectively fought IS in northern and eastern Syria, Turkey considers them an extension of a banned terrorist group in its territory.

The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the decision and demanded anonymity.

— AP

US officials say no indication of leak at Washington nuclear plant

There is no indication so far that any radioactive material has leaked from a tunnel that collapsed at a nuclear facility in the US state of Washington, federal officials say.

“There is no indication of a release of contamination at this point,” a statement by the US Department of Energy says. “Responders are getting closer to the area where the soil has subsided for further visual inspection.”


With 2 hours notice, Channel 1 news airs final news broadcast

With two hours’ notice, Israel’s Channel 1 nightly broadcast airs for the last time after a 49-year run.

Teary-eyed anchor Geula Even Saar announces the last broadcast of the nightly “Mabat” news broadcast in an emotional farewell message.

David Hahn, the Official Receiver of the Justice Ministry, announced earlier in a Knesset committee the channel was going off-air tomorrow morning as part of the changeover to replace the public broadcaster with a new entity, known as “Kan.”

Employees conclude their final broadcast with an emotional rendition of the national anthem.

Palestinians seek Pizza Hut boycott for ‘mocking hunger strike’

Palestinians are calling for a boycott of Pizza Hut after the company’s franchise in Israel was accused of mocking hunger-striking prisoners.

The franchise’s Facebook page was said to have shared an image released by Israeli police which appears to show Palestinian hunger-strike leader Marwan Barghouti secretly breaking his fast.

“Barghouti, if you are going to break your (hunger) strike, isn’t pizza the better choice?” a screenshot of the post said, with a pizza box seemingly photoshopped into the picture.

The image was later removed from the Facebook page, though it was still found on the page of at least one local branch.

A spokeswoman for Pizza Hut International apologized for the “completely inappropriate” post.


Ultra-Orthodox boy attacks ‘immodest’ woman in Beit Shemesh

Police say an ultra-Orthodox boy in Beit Shemesh attacked a woman for wearing “immodest” clothing.

Spokeswoman Luba Samri says the boy threw a rock at a 50-year-old woman before fleeing the scene.

The woman was treated for light injuries by Magen David Adom paramedics, and was taken to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Police are searching for the boy, and have opened an investigation into the incident.

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