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Rivlin at Sigd celebration: We will not allow race-based discrimination

President condemns episode at Barkan winery where Ethiopian employees weren’t allowed to touch wine; stresses efforts being made to return Hamas captive Avera Mengistu

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Ethiopian Israelis greet President Reuven Rivlin at a Sigd Celebration in Jerusalem on November 7, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Ethiopian Israelis greet President Reuven Rivlin at a Sigd Celebration in Jerusalem on November 7, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

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

Outgoing Jerusalem mayor said to endorse Moshe Lion

The Jerusalem branch of the Likud party endorses Moshe Lion for mayor of the capital in next Tuesday’s runoff vote against Ofer Berkovitch.

Lion is “the most suitable person to for mayor of Jerusalem,” it says in a statement, adding that the Jerusalem council member’s “nationalist views dovetail with ours.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will also back Lion, the Kol Hair daily reports.

The local Likud office had previously refrained from backing Likud Minister Ze’ev Elkin in the first round of voting last week.

Barkat, who also supported Elkin before the senior Likud member was knocked out in the first round, has yet to make a formal announcement. Barkat narrowly defeated Lion in the 2013 race.

But Berkovitch, earlier on Wednesday, slams the reported backing by the Jerusalem mayor for his former rival.

“The man who not long ago convinced Jerusalem that it cannot support the backdoor deal of [Shas leader Aryeh] Deri, [UTJ MK Moshe] Gafni, and [Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman], today has thrown Jerusalem under the bus on his way to Likud,” says Berkovitch, referring to Barkat’s acrimonious 2013 campaign, which underlined the longtime association between Lion, Liberman and Deri.

Berkovitch also highlights that Lion, despite winning some 33 percent of the vote last Tuesday, failed to win even one council seat (voters pick a mayoral candidate and list separately).

Lion, an accountant and former director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has the support of much of the ultra-Orthodox community in the city.

Netanyahu has yet to announce which candidate he will be supporting.

— Marissa Newman

MK apologizes for appearing to say minister slept her way to the top in army – sort of

Yesh Atid lawmaker Elazar Stern apologizes to women who might have been offended by his remark earlier this week in the Knesset in which he appeared to suggest that Culture Minister Miri Regev traded sexual favors for advancement in her military career.

“Since I am aware of what is happening on social media and understand that there are women who have been offended by (what I said), I express my sorrow to them and only to those women,” Stern says in the Knesset plenum.

“But Miri Regev is not one of them. She was not hurt by what I said. She used it for another round (of publicity) in the media.”

During a Knesset debate on Monday, Stern quipped about Regev that “I don’t want to talk about how you advanced in the army. It’s not worth it [for you]. It’s not worth it.”

The statement sparked a flurry of chauvinism allegations against Stern, who later denied his remarks were a reference to sexual impropriety and doubled down on his criticism of Regev.

After initially refraining from explaining his remark at the Knesset podium, Stern later said it was a comment on Regev’s “over-enthusiasm in serving her masters” and her being too willing to kiss up to get promotions, not about sexual favors.

Bennett vows to boycott cabinet meetings if deputy AG who criticized government attends

Education Minister Naftali Bennett vows that if a deputy attorney general who criticized government-backed bills and right-wing political rhetoric continues to come to cabinet meetings, his Jewish Home faction will not participate.

Yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber criticized the so-called “Loyalty in Culture” bill during a meeting of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee. She said the legislation, which threatens to strip state funding for cultural institutions that produce art seen as overly critical of the government or the state, “poses real difficulties.”

“I declare that if  Zilber is not fired, as long as she arrives at cabinet meetings, we will leave and not participate,” says Bennett in a statement.

“Her job is to provide legal advice, not to educate us. She is drunk on power and it’s clear that her grievances are political,” he adds.

Driver of truck that crashed into minibus near Dead Sea, killing 6, released to house arrest

The driver of the truck that hit a minibus earlier this week near the Dead Sea killing six East Jerusalem residents has been released to house arrest.

In a statement upon his release, Tufan Shuman offered his condolences to the families, but asserted that he was not responsible for the accident.

“I pulled the driver of the van and tried to help the wounded,” he says.

He rejects allegations that he was drunk or tampered with evidence following the crash.

Merkel to be first German chancellor since Hitler to visit site where armistice ending WWI was signed

Angela Merkel will be the first German chancellor since Adolf Hitler to visit the remains of a train carriage where the armistice ending World War I was signed.

Hitler went in wartime for revenge in 1940, while Merkel plans a pilgrimage in the name of peace in a visit where she will stand by French President Emmanuel Macron.

An unusual journey took carriage 2419D from serving boeuf bourguignon to passengers in Deauville to serving up world peace on November 11, 1918.

The train car, located in a forest in northern France, was used because the official headquarters of Allied commander had been attacked by Germany.

For throngs of French mourners in the post-war years, the dining car became a shrine to peace and catharsis, and was made into a museum.

— AP

IDF troops surround West Bank home of Barkan terrorist

Israeli troops surround the northern West Bank home of a Palestinian man suspected of shooting dead two Israelis in a terror attack last month, local media reports.

Live video footage from the scene shows large numbers of soldiers, along with armored military jeeps and at least one bulldozer in the village of Shuweika, near Tulkarem.

The Israeli military would not immediately comment on the troops’ activities.

According to Palestinian media, residents of the surrounding buildings were told to evacuate the area surrounding the home of 23-year-old Ashraf Na’alowa, who is accused of killing two of his Israeli coworkers in the Barkan Industrial Park last month.

Na’alowa has been on the run since the terror attack.

#مباشر قوات الاحتلال تقتحم ضاحية شويكة شمال طولكرم وتحاصر منزل المطارد أشرف نعالوة

Posted by Shehab News Agency on Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Turkey hails US stance on PKK leaders, seeks same in Syria

Turkey’s defense chief has welcomed a US decision authorizing multimillion-dollar rewards for information on the whereabouts of top Kurdish rebel leaders, but urged the US to also adopt a tough stance against Syrian Kurdish militia.

The United States announced Tuesday that it would offer a total of $12 million for information leading to the “identification or location” of three senior leaders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which both Turkey and the United States have branded a terrorist organization.

US support to a Kurdish militia group in Syria — which Turkey considers an extension of the PKK — has raised tensions between the NATO allies, however.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said: “We expect the same stance, approach and viewpoint against (Syrian Kurdish militia), which is no different than the PKK.”

— AP

Trump to give post-election news conference

US President Donald Trump will speak to reporters today in his first public remarks since his fellow Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate and lost their House majority to Democrats.

Trump “will hold a press conference today at 11:30 a.m. local time at the White House in the East Room,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders says on Twitter. Earlier, the president hailed the Republican victories as a “tremendous success.”

Kremlin says Putin, Trump will speak ‘briefly’ in Paris this weekend

Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak “briefly” with his US counterpart Donald Trump at the Paris Peace Forum this weekend, a spokesman for the Kremlin says.

Abrams vows to wait for all the votes in Georgia

Democrat Stacey Abrams says votes remain to be counted in the tight Georgia governor’s race and vows to wait for them all.

Abrams told supporters at her election night party that they would “have a chance to do a do-over” in her race against Republican Brian Kemp, implying a runoff.

Kemp has a narrow lead in the vote count, but it was still possible the race could go to a runoff. In Georgia, a race goes to an automatic runoff if neither candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

Early returns showed Kemp running up large margins across rural and small-town Georgia, but parts of metro Atlanta, where Abrams’ strength is concentrated, had yet to report.

Some of those Atlanta-area counties had extended voting hours for some precincts to accommodate the crowds and compensate for problems.

AP

30-year-old man killed in car explosion; motive said to be criminal, not terror

Police respond to a report of a vehicle exploding on Route 2 near the Yakum Junction that killed a 30-year-old man.

Two others have been injured, moderately and lightly respectively, MDA medics say.

Police say the incident appears to have been motivated by crime, not terror.

5-year-old killed in hit-and-run near Umm al-Fahm

The five-year-old boy who was severely injured in a hit-and-run accident near the northern town of Umm al-Fahm has succumbed to his wounds, MDA medics say.

The driver who hit him, a 25-year-old woman from Mu’awiya, independently checked herself in to HaEmek Hospital where she will be interrogated by authorities upon her release.

Her vehicle has been confiscated by police.

Yemen rebel chief vows to ‘never surrender’

Yemen’s rebel chief vows his fighters would never surrender to Saudi-backed pro-government forces, as the two sides battle for control of the insurgent-held port city of Hodeida.

“Does the enemy think that penetrating this or that area, or seizing this or that area, means we will be convinced that we should surrender and hand over control?” Abdulmalik al-Huthi says in a televised address.

“This is not happening and will not happen ever.”

— AFP

Kremlin ‘hopes’ Kim will visit Russia next year

Moscow hopes that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit the country next year, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adviser says.

“I hope this visit will be possible next year,” Kremlin foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov says.

He does not confirm recent reports by South Korean media that Kim could visit Russia this month.

Last month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he believed the youthful North leader could visit Russia “soon.”

Moscow has repeatedly invited Kim to visit Russia but he has yet to respond to the offer to meet Putin.

The rapid diplomatic thaw on the Korean Peninsula since the Winter Olympics has seen Kim meet with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in twice, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump.

In June, Trump and Kim signed a vaguely worded agreement on denuclearization but little progress has been made since then.

— AFP

Warsaw mayor bans far-right independence march

The mayor of Warsaw has banned a march that radical Polish nationalists planned to hold to coincide with the centennial of Polish independence, saying she made the decision to curb “aggressive nationalism.”

Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz says she wants to put a stop to extremist displays that have appeared during the past decade at far-right events on Poland’s November 11 Independence Day holiday.

At a march in Warsaw last year, some nationalists carried banners calling for a “White Europe” and white supremacist symbols like the Celtic Cross.

The event brought international criticism, and lawmakers in the European Parliament called the participants “fascists” — a label that infuriated the Polish government.

This year, Poland is celebrating the centenary of its independence, gained in 1918 at the end of World War I.

“This is not how the celebrations should look on the 100th anniversary of regaining our independence,” Gronkiewicz-Waltz says at a news conference she called to announce the decision.

A similar ban was announced Tuesday by the mayor of the western Polish city of Wroclaw. It is not clear if authorities will be able to enforce the prohibitions, which are subject to appeal.

The bans followed signals that radical far-right groups planned to travel to Poland for Sunday’s march in the capital. Mass walk-outs by police officers in recent days also raised concerns that clashes between participants and counter-protesters could get out of hand without officers intervene.

One of the organizers in Wroclaw, former priest Jacek Miedlar, vowed to defy the city’s ban, writing on Twitter that “no leftie or Jew will forbid us from this!”

Also today, a controversial statue of late President Lech Kaczynski was installed in a central Warsaw square ahead of its weekend unveiling as part of the centennial celebrations.

Kaczynski, who was killed in a 2010 plane crash in Russia, was the identical twin of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the right-wing Law and Justice party that is currently in power.

While Poles universally mourned the deaths of the president and the 95 people who perished with him, they remain divided on whether his presidency was a good one and whether he deserves hero status now.

More than 140 memorials to him exist across the nation of 37 million people.

Authorities in Warsaw’s local government — in the hands of the political opposition — opposed the statue and its central location. Pro-government provincial authorities were in favor. It’s a clash playing out in the courts even as the 7-meter (23-foot) statue went up.

— AP

5 minors briefly detained on suspicion of assaulting their classmate

Five girls and one boy ages 14 and 15 from central Israel have been released from police custody after being arrested on suspicion of carrying out an aggravated assault against their classmate, a 14-year-old girl.

The 15-year-old boy is said to have filmed the assault and sent it to others in the class on the WhatsApp messaging app.

US Syria envoy says US to contest Iran activities in region

The US envoy on Syria says Washington will focus on pressuring Iran financially and contesting its activities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen where the Persian nation enjoys wide influence.

Ambassador James Jeffrey tells a group of journalists via a telephone conference Wednesday that Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that US President Donald Trump pulled America out of in May had a bad effect on Iran’s behavior that “accelerated its activities.”

Iran enjoys influence in several countries in the region where it backs well-armed militias.

Jeffrey says the Trump administration is now focusing on putting financial pressure on Iran and “secondly contesting more actively Iran’s activities particularly in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”

Washington this week imposed a new list of sanctions against Iran’s vital oil exports, banking and transport industries.

— AP

Trump said to have watched election results with Sheldon Adelson

US President Donald Trump watched the election results last night at the White House with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Bloomberg reports.

Guests at Trump’s viewing party are reported to have eaten pizza, mini hotdogs, hamburgers and French fries off of elegant dishware.

Netanyahu to visit Austria in first trip by PM to Vienna since 1997

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweets that it is his “distinct pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu for an official visit to Austria!”

“I look forward to attending the conference together with you,” he adds.

Netanyahu will hold a bilateral meeting with the Austrian leader and attend a conference on anti-Semitism on November 21-22.

This is the first trip by an Israeli prime minister since Netanyahu went during his first term in 1997.

Sissi pledges Egypt’s military support if Gulf ‘threatened’

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has pledged military support for Gulf Arab states if their security comes under threat, the state daily Al-Ahram reports.

“If the security of the Gulf is directly threatened, Egypt will mobilize its forces to support its brothers,” Sissi is quoted as saying in a meeting with the press in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“Egypt stands body and soul by the side of our Gulf brothers,” he says, without specifying the source of any outside threat.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pumped billions of dollars into Egypt’s economy since its military — then headed by Sissi — toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Sissi successfully ran for Egypt’s presidency in 2014 and has cracked down on opposition, including Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. He was re-elected with 97 percent of the vote in elections in March this year.

Along with the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Egypt severed diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of links to extremist groups and being too close to Iran — charges Doha denies.

Shiite powerhouse Iran is Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival.

Egypt is also a member of the Saudi-led coalition which has since 2015 been fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

— AFP

Rail from Israel to Gulf ‘makes sense,’ says minister

Transportation Minister Israel Katz pitches his plan to link the Mediterranean to the Gulf via the Jewish state, as his country pushes unprecedented public rapprochement with the Arab region.

“It makes sense and is beyond political and ideological disagreements,” says Katz, whose country has diplomatic ties with only two Arab states — Jordan and Egypt.

The “Tracks of Peace” rail link, which Katz says is supported by the administration of US President Donald Trump, is “based on two central ideas — Israel as a land bridge and Jordan as a regional transportation hub.”

Katz, who was speaking at an international transport conference in Oman, says the proposed railway was favorable to Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf states — as well as the Palestinian economy.

“It will create an additional trade route in the region, which is shorter, faster and cheaper, and will contribute to the economies of Jordan, the Palestinians — who will also be connected to the initiative — Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and in the future Iraq as well,” Katz says.

— AFP

 

Knesset chair calls on public to vote out MKs who lower public discourse

Knesset chairman Yuli Edelstein releases a statement calling on members of the Israeli public to vote out lawmakers who are lowering public discourse in the country.

The statement comes after two incidents in the Knesset — one in which a lawmaker called a handicapped colleague “half a human” and another in which an MK suggested that a female minister had advanced during her military career by sleeping with her superiors.

“In the last 24 hours, I have received many complaints regarding the conduct of MKs in the plenum,” says Edelstein. “Unfortunately, this is not a new matter.”

“I understand the hearts of these concerned citizens. I myself, am foremost a concerned citizen. But the message I want to convey to you is this one: democracy is the rule of the people.”

“You, the citizens, choose who will get to sit in the Knesset and represent you and who will remain on the outside.”

“By registering for membership in parties, for example, you can influence the list that the party presents to the Knesset,” he says.

Edelstein calls on citizens “not to lend a hand to this heated and inflammatory discourse on the internet.”

“You will prove to those Knesset members who are trying to gain publicity through provocations, that you cannot be bought with dirty speech.”

PM calls Merkel following decision not to run in next elections; thanks her for contribution to Israel’s security

On the backdrop of Angela Merkel’s decision not to run in her country’s next elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls the German chancellor to express his appreciation for her “contribution to the security of Israel.”

“We will continue to work together to advance our common goals,” Netanyahu tells Merkel according to his office.

UN applauds Damascus for allowing Yarmuk Palestinians to return

The United Nations welcomes a Syrian regime plan to allow Palestinians back home to the ravaged Damascus suburb of Yarmuk after expelling jihadists.

Tens of thousands of pre-war residents have been unable to return to the large Palestinian refugee camp in the south of the capital since regime forces ousted the Islamic State group in May.

On Tuesday, deputy foreign minister Faisal al-Meqdad said Damascus had created a “plan for the return of all refugees to the camp,” though he did not give a date.

The UN agency for Palestinians refugees, UNRWA, has applauded the decision.

“UNRWA welcomes the decision by the Syrian government to allow Palestine refugees to return to their homes in Yarmuk camp,” spokesman Chris Gunness says.

Some 160,000 Palestinians lived in Yarmuk before the start of Syria’s seven-year conflict.

— AFP

PM condemns recent offensive remarks made by MKs during Knesset debate

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns the recent offensive remarks made by lawmakers during Knesset debates.

On Monday, Oren Hazan called handicapped MK Ilan Gilaon “half a human” and Elazar Stern appeared to suggest that Miri Regev gave sexual favors in order to advance in the IDF.

“The recent remarks heard in the Knesset are inappropriate and have no place in the Israeli discourse,” Netanyahu says.

“I am in favor of sharp and occasional arguments, even pointed ones, as long as they unfold with dignity and relate to the matter at hand and not to a person’s body.”

“I am against offensive or chauvinist discourse that does not respect the Knesset and us as public emissaries.”

McConnell: Will be ‘fun’ to watch Senate Democrats run for president

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking forward to watching Senate Democrats run for president.

The Kentucky Republican, flush with victory from Tuesday’s midterms, tells reporters morning that with the midterm elections over, “it’s going to be fun to watch the Democratic presidential aspirants” compete.

He quips that Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, “may have some attendance problems from time to time.” That’s because Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California are among those considering presidential bids in 2020.

— AP

Jewish Home slated to back Lion in Jerusalem mayoral race

The national-religious Jewish Home party is expected to endorse Moshe Lion in the run-off election for Jerusalem mayor next week, Hadashot news reports.

Delivery of aid to Syria’s Rukban camp completed

The UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent complete a desperately needed aid delivery to displaced Syrians in a remote desert camp near the border with Jordan.

Fadwa Abed Rabbou Baroud, of the UN Office of the Resident Coordinator, says the delivery to the Rukban camp included a month’s worth of food, as well as medicine, clothes and vaccinations.

Nearly 50,000 people are stranded in the desert and had received no aid since January. At least four people have died in the past month due to malnutrition and extremely limited access to medical care.

The Syrian government and its ally Russia have blamed US troops stationed nearby for failing to provide security for aid shipments, allegations denied by the Americans. Jordan closed the border over security concerns.

— AP

Trump: Midterm election a ‘big day’ for Republicans

US President Donald Trump hails a “big day” for Republicans after his party lost the House of Representatives in the US midterm elections but increased their majority in the Senate.

“It was a big day yesterday, an incredible day,” Trump tells a news conference at the White House.

“And last night… the Republican Party defied history to expand our Senate majority while significantly beating expectations in the House.”

— AFP

Gaza fisherman killed at sea by Egyptian fire

A Palestinian fisherman has been killed at sea by Egyptian fire near the Gaza border on Wednesday, the fishermen’s union says.

The health ministry in Gaza confirms that Mustafa Abu Awda, 32, had died but did not give further details.

The union said in a statement that he had been killed by “Egyptian fire.”

A fisherman who had been in the same area said Egyptian forces had opened fire on Abu Awad’s boat when it apparently approached or crossed the border.

The union has announced a one-day strike in protest at the killing.

The heavily populated Gaza Strip is wedged between Egypt, the Mediterranean and Israel, which imposes strict limits on how far Gaza fishermen can venture out to sea.

The enclave’s land border with Egypt had been largely sealed in recent years, but reopened in May as relations improved between the Egyptian government and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

— AFP

US hopes Russia remains ‘permissive’ of Israel strikes in Syria

The US envoy on Syria says he hopes to see more of Damascus ally Moscow’s “permissive approach” to Israeli air strikes on Iranian assets in the war-torn country.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets.

It accuses its arch-enemy Tehran, which like Moscow supports the Syrian regime in the seven-year civil conflict, of seeking to entrench itself militarily in the country.

“In the past Russia has been permissive in consultation with the Israelis about Israeli strikes against Iranian targets inside Syria,” US envoy James Jeffrey says.

“We certainly hope that that permissive approach will continue,” he tells journalists in a conference call.

His comments come after Syrian regime forces accidentally downed a Russian plane during an Israeli air strike over Syria in September.

Moscow blamed the incident, which killed 15 Russians, on the Israeli plane using the larger Russian one for cover, which Israel disputed.

Following the incident, Russia sent advanced air defense missiles to Damascus.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month told Russia his country must continue to hit hostile targets in Syria to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence across the border.

“We understand the existential interest and we support Israel,” Jeffrey says.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has withdrawn from a landmark deal with Iran over its nuclear programme and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have regained large swathes of Syria from rebels and jihadists since 2015.

In October, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a pro-Israel group Washington would refuse any post-war reconstruction assistance to Syria if Iran was present.

Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions more since starting in 2011.

— AFP

Trump calls on Republicans, Democrats to ‘work together’

US President Donald Trump expresses hope that Republicans and Democrats can “work together” after midterm elections that left the lower house of Congress under Democratic control.

Trump also praises Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader and likely next speaker of the House of Representatives, saying he gave her “a great deal of credit” and extending an olive branch of sorts.

“Hopefully we can all work together next year to continue delivering for the American people. Including on economic growth, infrastructure, trade, lowering the cost of prescription drugs,” he says at a White House news conference.

— AP

President Trump says Mia Love ‘gave me no love’

US President Donald Trump is calling out Republican candidates who apparently did not support him enough and lost congressional seats in Tuesday’s elections.

At a news conference in the White House East Room, Trump crows that Republicans held control of the Senate and then took aim at members of the House, where the GOP lost.

Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado blames his loss on resentment toward Trump in his Denver-area district. The president responds: “Too bad, Mike.”

As for Utah Rep. Mia Love’s loss Tuesday, Trump says: “Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost,” adding, “Sorry about that, Mia.”

Trump says his vigorous campaigning stopped a so-called “blue wave,” ”if there ever was such a thing.”

The GOP is expected to add to its Senate edge, but Democrats regained control of the House.

— AP

Trump warns Democrats against using new house majority to investigate him

US President Donald Trump is warning Democrats against using their new majority in the House of Representatives to investigate his administration. He says in a tweet Wednesday that if they do, the Republican-controlled Senate may investigate Democrats.

With the Democrats in the majority they will have the power to launch investigations and subpoena records, including possibly Trump’s tax filings and private business dealings.

Trump says that if the Democrats plan to “waste taxpayer money investigating us at the House level” then Republicans “will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of classified information, and much else, at the Senate level.”

He says that “two can play that game!”

It wasn’t clear what leaks he was referring to.

Asked about potential investigations, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said in a CNN interview earlier Wednesday that “the president is not nervous about anything.”

— AP

Trump: Infrastructure, healthcare two areas where Congress can unite

US President Donald Trump says he envisaged Republicans and Democrats working together on infrastructure and healthcare after US voters delivered a split verdict in hard-fought midterm elections.

“Maybe we will make a deal, maybe we won’t. That is possible. But we have a lot of things in common on infrastructure. We want to do something on healthcare, they want to do something on healthcare. There are a lot of great things that we can do together,” he tells a news conference at the White House.

— AFP

Trump suggests cabinet changes may be coming

US President Donald Trump says he’s happy with “most” of his cabinet as he suggests changes may be coming.

Trump says at a Wednesday press conference that he is “looking at different people for different positions,” adding that “it is very common after the midterms.”

Asked specifically about the future of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Trump says, “I’d rather answer that at a little bit different time.”

Trump has long been frustrated with Sessions over his recusal from the Russia investigation. Rosenstein’s future appeared uncertain after reports that he discussed secretly recording Trump.

On Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (ZIN’-kee), Trump says he wants to “study whatever is being said.” Trump adds that he’s doing an “excellent job.” Zinke faces a series of inquiries into his conduct.

— AP

Coalition strikes kill 20 IS fighters in eastern Syria — monitor

US-led coalition air strikes against the Islamic State group killed 20 of the jihadists Wednesday as they attacked an oil field in eastern Syria, a monitor says.

“Coalition air strikes killed 20 IS fighters during their attack on the Tanak oil field” where US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are based, says the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

— AFP

Trump: This is a ‘hot’ White House

“This is a hot White House,” Trump says. “A lot of people want to work here.

Trump says Pence will be his 2020 running mate

US President Donald Trump says Vice President Mike Pence will be his running mate in 2020, impromptu confirmation that could give sign makers a head start on printing political signs for the next presidential election.

In the middle of a news conference at the White House, the Republican president has unexpectedly asked if Pence would be on the ticket.

Trump says he hadn’t asked Pence yet but then turned to the vice president and says: “Mike, will you be my running mate? Will you?”

Pence acknowledges that he would.

— AP

Meretz MK refuses to accept apology from Likud badboy who called him ‘half a human’

Meretz lawmaker Ilan Gilon, who is handicapped, refused to accept the apology of Likud lawmaker Oren Hazan after the latter called him “half a human” during a Knesset debate on Monday, Channel 10 reports.

The news channel releases footage of Hazan approaching Gilon in the plenum and stretching out his hand as he apologizes.

Gilon refuses to shake his hand.

Trump spars with reporters at post-election news conference

US President Donald Trump spars with reporters at his post-election news conference, ordering several to sit down and telling another he’s a “rude, terrible” person.

He tells yet another reporter he’s “not a fan of yours, either.”

The president’s mood turns sour after reporters pressed him on why he referred to a migrant caravan making its way to the US on foot through Mexico as an “invasion.” Trump ramped up his anti-immigrant rhetoric against the caravan in the final days of the midterm elections.

Trump is also pressed on why his campaign aired an ad featuring a Mexican immigrant convicted of killing American police officers and linking the man’s actions to the caravan.

Several television networks pulled the ad after airing it or declined to air it at all.

— AP

Trump: No meeting with Putin planned for Paris visit

US President Donald Trump says he has no meetings scheduled with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at World War I commemoration ceremonies in Paris.

Trump will be among leaders of 70 to 80 countries expected in Paris on Sunday to kick off the commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the war.

“I believe that President Putin will be there, we do not have anything scheduled,” Trump says at a White House news conference. “I do not think that we have anything scheduled in Paris. And I am coming back very quickly.”

— AFP

Trump says Pompeo-North Korea meeting postponed

US President Donald Trump says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with his North Korean counterpart was postponed but is being rescheduled.

Pompeo had been scheduled to meet with Kim Yong Chol in New York on Thursday.

Trump says he’s likely to meet with the North Korea leader early next year and there’s “no rush” to engaging in denuclearization talks with Pyongyang.

Trump met Kim Jong Un in June for a landmark meeting in Singapore, where the two leaders agreed on vague goals of denuclearization. There’s been little progress since then.

North Korea has continued a yearlong halt in weapon tests but wants U.S. sanctions eased. In recent days, North Korea criticized the U.S. for its continued support of sanctions and hinted it may resume nuclear development.

Trump says he’d “love to take the sanctions off” but North Korea has to make concessions, too.

— AP

NYPD launches search for youths suspected of anti-Semitic attacks

The New York Police Department is circulating surveillance video of a group of youths it says has carried out a series of anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn.

The incidents include the throwing of a metal pipe through the window of a synagogue in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood of Williamsburg on November 3 during afternoon services on Shabbat. The same day, police say the group pushed a 10-year-old Hasidic girl to the ground. In a separate incident, the group also knocked the hat off a 14-year-old Hasidic boy.

The 12-to-15-year-olds seen on the video are black and wearing hoodies, the online news site Vos Iz Neias reported, citing investigators.

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Unit is investigating the incidents.

French bishops to ‘shed light’ on decades of child sex abuse

French bishops announce they are setting up an “independent” commission to “shed light on the sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic church since 1950.”

The Bishops’ Conference of France (CEF) says in a statement the panel would seek “to understand the reasons which led to the way these affairs were handled” and make recommendations.

The CEF, meeting in the pilgrim city of Lourdes in southwestern France, says a senior figure would soon be appointed head of the commission and other members named.

The commission would draw up a report within two years, the statement adds.

The Vatican has been shaken by a string of pedophile scandals committed by clergy in Australia, Europe, North and South America.

In a devastating US report last August, more than 300 “predator” priests were accused of abusing over 1,000 minors over seven decades in the state of Pennsylvania.

The most senior French Catholic cleric to be caught up in the abuse scandal is Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who is to go on trial in January for allegedly covering up for a priest accused of abusing boy scouts in the Lyon area in the 1980s.

The scandals have put pressure on the bishops who indicated financial compensation could be offered to victims.

The statement says the commission’s work would include “collecting the stories of victims in order to better understand the reasons that led to these acts” and help prevention efforts.

AP

Frenchman accused of Gaza gun-running was ‘tricked,’ his lawyer says

A Frenchman formerly employed by his country’s Jerusalem consulate and accused by Israel of smuggling guns between the Palestinian territories will argue he was “tricked,” his lawyer says.

Romain Franck, who worked as a driver for the consulate, is standing trial for exploiting reduced security checks for diplomats to transport 70 pistols and two automatic rifles from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Shin Bet internal security agency says Franck, who was arrested in February, was motivated by money in the five instances he smuggled guns for a network involving several Palestinians.

Speaking after a hearing at the district court in the southern city of Beersheba, Franck’s lawyer Kenneth Mann stresses that his client’s actions were not those of an ideologue seeking to empower Palestinian militants in their battle with Israel.

Mann says his client had been “tricked” by his alleged Palestinian accomplices.

“He was scared, he is young and inexperienced,” Mann tells reporters.

“He has no ideological or political involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The Shin Bet says Franck had been paid a total of around $5,500 for his efforts.

Israeli officials have stressed he acted on his own without the consulate’s knowledge, adding that diplomatic relations with France were not affected.

The hearing was limited to procedural discussions. Franck had attended but said nothing.

— AFP

Trump hopes to meet N. Korea leader next year

US President Donald Trump says he hopes to meet again early next year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but that he was in “no rush” to negotiate.

In a wide-ranging news conference after congressional elections, Trump says he was willing to accede to North Korea’s key demand of easing sanctions “but they have to be responsive to us.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been set to meet Thursday in New York with a top North Korean official to arrange a new summit between Kim and Trump, who held a landmark meeting in June in Singapore.

But Pompeo abruptly postponed the talks in New York. Trump, asked about the delay, attributed it to a scheduling issue.

“We will make it another day. But we are very happy how it is going with North Korea,” Trump says.

“But I will say this, I will say this very simply — We are in no rush, the sanctions are on,” he says.

— AFP

Rivlin at Sigd celebration: We will not allow race-based discrimination

President Reuven Rivlin condemns race-based discrimination while speaking at a Sigd holiday celebration in Jerusalem.

“Citizens of Israel will not be party to discrimination on the basis of skin color. We are brothers and sisters, and anyone who tries to undermine that has no place among the tribes of Israel,” he says.

The president also condemns the episode at the Barkan Wineries factory in which Ethiopian employees were prevented from coming in contact with its wine due to alleged doubts about their Jewishness.

Rivlin emphasizes the efforts being made to secure the release of Avera Mengistu, who is currently in Hamas captivity in Gaza. “At this time, I would like to speak about Avera. Fate has made him everyone’s son, and his absence and our concern for his safety have already cast a shadow over the celebration of this holiday for four long years,” the president says.

“This year, I had the privilege to be the first Israeli president to visit Ethiopia. On my visit, I asked the president and the prime minister to work for Avera’s release, and said I was hopeful that because of the Ethiopian-Israeli community here, the relations between the two countries will become stronger,” he concludes.

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