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Shin Bet head met Abbas in bid to renew leadership ties — report

TV report says Nadav Argaman was dispatched by PM to Ramallah to meet with PA chief, who rebuffed offer of joint economic projects

Head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense committee meeting at the Knesset on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense committee meeting at the Knesset on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Leaving for Bulgaria, Netanyahu calls on EU to end its ‘hypocritical and hostile stance’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes off to Bulgaria for meetings with political leaders from Balkan nations, which he says will focus on strengthening diplomatic ties and pushing for a change in the European Union’s “hypocritical and hostile stance” toward Israel.

“This is a process that will take time, but I believe in setting a goal and methodically striving for it and I also believe this too we will achieve over time,” Netanyahu says before departing for the Black Sea city of Varna.

“This is an important thing for the State of Israel whose status is on the rise in the world,” he adds.

Netanyahu does not specify which of the EU’s policies he takes issue with, but he has previously been at loggerheads with the bloc over the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Iran nuclear deal.

In Bulgaria, Netanyahu will meet with the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia. The latter is not a member of the EU.

Turkey calls for Saudi cooperation in probe on murdered journalist

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s justice minister has renewed a call on Saudi Arabia to cooperate in the investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, saying “no one can escape responsibility.”

Abdulhamit Gul says Thursday that Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor — who spent three days in Istanbul — failed to answer Turkey’s questions.

His comments come a day after Istanbul’s chief prosecutor announced that Khashoggi was strangled immediately after entering the consulate on October 2 and his body was dismembered and removed.

Turkey wants Saudi Arabia to reveal the location of Khashoggi’s remains as well as who gave the orders for a 15-member alleged “hit squad” that it says was sent to kill the journalist.

Gul says: “Our expectation is for these questions to be answered swiftly.”

— AP

Liberman announces plans for new apartment building in Hebron

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announces that he has ordered his office to advance plans for the construction of an apartment building for Israeli settlers in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron.

The residential building will be constructed above a section of the Palestinian market that was shuttered following a 1994 terror attack at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in which Israeli extremist killed 29 Palestinian worshipers.

The building sits on land that belonged to Jews who fled after the 1929 Hebron massacre in which Muslim rioters killed nearly 70 Jews and expelled the remainder of the Jewish population.

The market stalls have since been rented to Palestinians who have been granted protected tenancy.

— Jacob Magid

Avigdor Liberman, center, visits the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron on January 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Knesset speaker praises Hebron building plans, calls on Jews to spend Shabbat there

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein praises the advancement of plans to build an apartment complex for Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron and calls on Israelis to spend Shabbat in the divided city.

“The development of the Jewish settlement in the City of the Fathers is important like no other and we’ll strengthen our hold on a place in which our roots are deep as we’ll read in the weekly [Torah] portion,” Edelstein writes on Twitter, referring to the biblical story of Abraham’s purchase of land in the city for a burial plot.

Gaza factions said to agree on reining in border violence

Armed factions in the Gaza Strip have agreed to temporarily rein in violence along the security fence with Israel ahead of Friday’s weekly border clashes, according to Hebrew media reports.

This will include an end to launching incendiary devices toward Israel, burning tires and approaching the border fence, an unnamed senior Hamas member tells the Haaretz daily.

The reported decision comes amid Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, as well promote reconciliation between the terror group and the Palestinian Authority.

Despite the reports, an explosive device apparently flown from Gaza was found outside a kindergarten in southern Israel earlier today, while a security jeep went up in flames due to an incendiary object launched from the Strip.

A Palestinian waves a flag during a demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 22, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)


Father of missing soldier calls on security cabinet to reject Hamas ceasefire

Amid ongoing efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the father of an Israeli soldier whose remains are held by the Gaza-based terror group calls on the security cabinet to reject any deal that doesn’t include the return of his son’s body.

In addition to Lt. Hadar Goldin, Hamas holds the remains of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul. There bodies were captured during the 2014 Gaza war.

“If you again vote for a ceasefire with Hamas without fixing the previous cease-fire, you are endangering IDF soldiers,” Simcha Goldin writes in a letter sent to members of the security cabinet.

Hadar Goldin was killed and captured by Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah during a UN-backed ceasefire.

Iran’s FM accuses Mossad of running ‘program to kill’ nuclear deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accuses Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency of working to scuttle the 2015 international meant to curb Iran’s program.

“Incredible series of coincidences. Or, a simple chronology of a MOSSAD program to kill the JCPOA,” writes Zarif on Twitter, referring to the agreement by its official name.

His tweet includes intelligence revelations by or attributed to the Mossad that coincided with developments related to the nuclear deal, as well as a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Europe in July. Zarif mistakenly writes the trip took place in June.

Jerusalem baby dies from measles

An 18-month-year-old baby from Jerusalem dies due to complications form measles.

The baby girl is declared dead at the city’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where she was brought as paramedics tried to resuscitate her.

It was not immediately clear how the baby was infected, but Channel 10 news reported she was not vaccinated.

Israel has seen a rash of measles cases this year, with the Health Ministry recording an over 2,000 percent rise from the year before.

Pittsburgh synagogue shooter pleads not guilty

PITTSBURGH — The anti-Semitic truck driver accused of gunning down 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue pleads not guilty to federal charges that could put him on death row.

Robert Bowers is arraigned Thursday, one day after a grand jury issued a 44-count indictment that charges him with murder, hate crimes, obstructing the practice of religion and other crimes.

It is his second brief appearance in a federal courtroom since the weekend massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Authorities say the 46-year-old Bowers raged against Jews during and after the rampage. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.

Funerals for the victims are being held all week.

— AP

Driver’s License photo of Pittsburgh synagogue massacre suspect Robert Bowers. (Pennsylvania DOT)

Ultra-Orthodox protesters block Bnei Brak roads over military draft

Members of the extremist anti-enlistment Jerusalem Faction block a number of roads in the mostly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak to protest the conscription of seminary students to the Israel Defense Forces.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad say ‘March of Return’ to continue until Gaza siege lifted

Following a meeting of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, the Gaza-based terror groups vow clashes on the border will continue until Israel lifts its blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

“The leaderships of the two movements affirmed the following positions: Continuing the March of Return and breaking the siege until it achieves its goals…and preserving its peacefulness,” the groups say in a joint statement.

The statement comes after reports said armed factions in Gaza agreed to temporarily halt violence along the border amid Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

— with Adam Rasgon

9 arrested in ultra-Orthodox anti-enlistment protest

Nine protesters have been arrested during a demonstration in Bnei Brak against the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox students.

Police say the protesters were arrested for disturbing the peace, blocking roads and assaulting police officers.

Police remove demonstrators blocking a road in the ultra-Orthodox city during a protest against the enlistment of seminary students on November 1, 2018. (Israel Police)

Deputy FM calls for booting observer group from Hebron

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely calls for ejecting a civilian observer group from Hebron, charging it “damages” Israeli security forces operating in the divided West Bank city.

Israel in July renewed the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron but censured it after one of its members was filmed slashing the tires of a settler’s car and another slapped a Jewish boy.

“The state renews TIPH’s mandate to maintain order every six months. They are not fulfilling their mandate by representing only the Palestinian side while harming Jewish citizens. The only purpose TIPH serves is to present a distorted picture of Israel,” Hotovely says after meeting with leaders of Hebron’s settler community.

Hotovely says she told Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, not to renew TIPH’s mandate in Hebron. “It is time for the role of this temporary entity to end,” she says.

TIPH is tasked with “monitoring and reporting efforts to maintain normal life in the city of Hebron, thus creating a sense of security among the Palestinians in Hebron.” It also reports alleged human rights abuses and violations of accords in the city between Israel and Palestinians.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely during a tour of Hebron today: "TIPH has become a hostile presence that damages Israeli security forces. The time has come to make the decision not to renew their mandate."*Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely met with the heads of the Jewish community in Hebron, and listened to complaints, explaining that TIPH acts unilaterally against the Jewish population and in favor of the Palestinian population."They treat us like foreigners, they photograph every move we make, including our children, despite the fact that it is forbidden. Recently there was an incident where one of the children of the Jewish community was attacked.”They added that there is tension between the TIPH observers and the Israeli security forces on a regular basis.Deputy Minister Hotovely said, "The state renews TIPH’s mandate to maintain order every six months. They are not fulfilling their mandate by representing only the Palestinian side while harming Jewish citizens. The only purpose TIPH serves is to present a distorted picture of Israel."Therefore, I turned to the Prime Minister and recommended not renewing their mandate in Hebron. It is time for the role of this temporary entity to end."

Posted by ‎Yishai Fleisher ישי פליישר‎ on Thursday, 1 November 2018

Norway summons Iranian ambassador over Denmark attack plot

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway’s foreign minister has summoned Iran’s ambassador to Norway in for talks in connection with Danish allegations about an Iranian plot to kill an opposition activist in Denmark.

Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said Thursday that Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Hassan Habibollah Zadeh was informed “that we look at the case with great concern,” Norwegian broadcaster NRK says.

A suspect in the case, a Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent, was arrested October 21 in Sweden, extradited to Denmark, and is being held in pre-trial custody there until November 8. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Denmark’s intelligence agency says a police operation last month that briefly cut off Copenhagen from the rest of Denmark stemmed from an alleged Iranian plot to kill an opposition activist.

— AP

After Netanyahu barb, EU touts strength of ties with Israel

The European Union’s mission in Israel stresses the strength of the bloc’s diplomatic and economic ties with the Jewish state after Prime Minister Netanyahu accused it of harboring a “hypocritical and hostile stance” toward the country.

Further arrests in Bnei Brak anti-conscription protests

13 protesters have now been arrested in Bnei Brak during demonstrations against the conscription of ultra-Orthodox seminary students, police say.

Police arrest a protester during a demonstration in Bnei Brak against the conscription of ultra-Orthodox seminary students on November 1, 2018. (Yehuda Haim/Flash90)

Report: Hezbollah paying ex-rebels to fight for Syrian regime

The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has been paying rebel fighters formerly backed by the United States in southern Syria to switch sides in that country’s civil war, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Iranian proxy, which is fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, has so far recruited some 2,000 fighters, according to the report, which cites unnamed activists and a former rebel commander.

Israel has said it won’t tolerate an Iranian presence in Syria and during the summer Syrian ally Russia announced Iranian forces would pull back to at least 85 kilometers from the border with Israel.

“Russia pushing Iran out is an illusion. It can’t rely on the Syrian army,” the Journal quoted the former rebel commander saying.

Netanyahu said to defend Saudi crown prince amid Khashoggi fallout

Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid growing criticism of the young leader over the killing of a Saudi journalist in Istanbul, The Washington Post reports, telling Trump administration officials he is a strategic partner in the Middle East.

Netanyahu has refrained from publicly weighing in on Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, which has brought down heavy international criticism on Saudi Arabia.

Though Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic ties, both country’s view Iran as the main security threat in the region and reportedly cooperate behind the scenes.

Egyptian intelligence officials arrive in Gaza for ceasefire, reconciliation talks

Egyptian intelligence officials entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday through the Erez border crossing with Israel, the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center reports.

The intelligence officials are expected to meet Hamas leaders to discuss intra-Palestinian reconciliation and a possible ceasefire between the terror group and Israel, the Palestinian Information Center report says.

In the past month, Egyptian intelligence officials have come to Gaza to hold talks with Hamas leaders several times.

— Adam Rasgon

Official to Israeli TV: Khashoggi murder ‘very problematic’ due to interests with Saudis

A senior diplomatic official tells Channel 10 news that the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is “very problematic” in light of Israel’s shared interests with Riyadh.

“What happened with Khashoggi’s murder is very problematic and this is an understatement but we have significant interests regarding Saudi Arabia,” the unnamed official tells the network.

F-16 lightly damaged after brakes fail during landing

An F-16 fighter jet sustained light damage after its brakes failed as it rode along the runway, the army says.

“After landing from a training flight, during its ride along the runway, a brakes malfunction occurred in a fighter jet. The pilots were uninjured, and the plane only sustained light damage,” the army says.

A photograph from the scene that was sent to Channel 10 news showed the plane inside a ditch alongside the runway.

“The malfunction is being investigated by technical teams,” the IDF says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Israeli special forces hold counterterror drills in Cyprus

Israeli special forces conducted counterterrorism training exercises in Cyprus this week, simulating warfare in urban and mountainous regions of the island nation, the army says.

This was the third such joint exercise by Israeli troops in Cyprus in the past two years.

The Israeli military says the drill was meant to simulate warfare against “different terror groups.” In the past, the army has acknowledged that the mountains and forests of Cyprus are similar to some of the terrain of southern Lebanon, the home of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group.

The elite Maglan reconnaissance unit led the exercise in Cyrpus. Israeli Air Force helicopters and planes also took part in the drill, the army says.

Troops from the Cypriot army also took part in some aspects of the exercises.

“Maglan forces along with units from the Cypriot military… simulated a variety of scenarios and capabilities in the areas of counterterrorism, urban combat, field combat, breaching, demolitions and in battlefield medicine,” the military says in a statement.

— Judah Ari Gross

Shin Bet head said to have met Abbas in bid to renew leadership ties

Prime Minister Netanyahu is working to renew ties with Mahmoud Abbas and dispatched the head of the Shin Bet security agency to meet the Palestinian Authority leader, Hadashot TV news reports.

During their meeting in Ramallah, Nadav Argaman told Abbas that Israel is willing to set up a joint industrial area and open up gas production off the shores of Gaza, according to the network, which says Abbas rebuffed the offer.

The report does not specify when the meeting took place, but says it came amid a series of meetings Argaman held with senior PA officials in recent months in which he stressed they would benefit from renewed contact between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Report: Israel asked France to warn Lebanon’s PM over Hezbollah missile factories

Israel asked France to send a warning to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that Israel will act against Hezbollah missile factories in Lebanon if the country’s government does not, Channel 10 news reports.

The message was relayed by Deputy National Security Adviser Eitan Ben-David during a meeting in Israel this week with an envoy of French President Emmanuel Macron, according to the network.

“The Lebanese government needs to be careful about Hezbollah’s missile factories. If the issue isn’t dealt by Lebanon’s government using political means, Israel will act on its own,” the report quotes an unnamed Western official said to be familiar with the meeting saying in regards to the Israeli message.

Netanyahu to Bulgarian PM: Our civilization under attack by ‘militant Islam’

Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov and warns both countries are under attack by Islamic extremists.

“We are part of the same civilization, a civilization that values liberty, peace and progress, and today this civilization is under attack, most notably by the forces of militant Islam,” Netanyahu says after meeting Borisov in the Black Sea city of Varna.

Netanyahu charges Iran is the “most potent force” in this front and accuses the Islamic Republic of gobbling up countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

He notes Israel’s role in uncovering a number of alleged Iranian attack plots in Europe and says Israel stands with European states in combating terrorism.

“This is not merely a battle for the future of our countries, but for the future of our common values and our common civilization, and by cooperating, we are stronger,” Netanyahu says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets his Bulgarian counterpart Bokyo Borisov ahead of their meeting in the Black Sea coastal city of Varna, Bulgaria, on November 1, 2018. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
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